“These people must think I’m nuts.” I had just finished an evening presentation for a couple of mushroom clubs on the Olympic Peninsula (WA), and passing on dinner and a warm bed, I headed into the darkness.
The target was Mount Rainier. Not the best place or time to look for Polyozellus multiplex, the “Blue Chanterelle”. However, considering that I was headed back to Florida soon, this would be my last chance for a long time. There had been vague reports of sightings around that area, so I was going for it.
That was on Thursday night, and my hunt the next day was fruitful in some regards, but did not yield what I really wanted to find-Polyozellus multiplex. And the clock was ticking.
On both Saturday and Sunday, I would be manning my table at the Seattle mushroom fair, and my return flight was on Monday morning. Sometime during the fair on Saturday, a volunteer and I were chatting. As the talk turned to my “hunt for this rare blue mushroom”, she said, “Oh yes, I saw a lot of those up Frying Pan Creek trail.” My head was spinning. I had passed that trail just the day before on Mt. Rainer. The problem now was time.
There was no chance of going up on the mountain just before my flight on Monday. So the only possibility was to get up early Sunday, do the hunt, and return to Seattle and to the mushroom fair.
The alarm went off at 4:30 Sunday morning. There were plenty of java joints on the way to rev me up (it was Seattle!) and I was off in the dark to the mountain.
By 7:00 I arrived at the trail, flashlight in hand. But Polyozellus multiplex appear black from the top and are not easy to find in the dark.
Though I found nothing by flashlight, the sun was coming up making the hunt for black and blue mushrooms a little easier. I went up and down the trail for a mile or so as well as up and down the hillside to the left and right of the trail. And then, there was one; one beautiful clump of perfect “blue chanterelles” waiting for their cameo shot.
Back in Seattle I had cleaned out my camera storage card, and as I turned on the camera, it said “card empty”. Perfect. Lots of room to take lots of shots. But as I went for my second photo, it said “card full”. Yikes! Then I realized that when I cleaned out the card by putting all in the trash, I had forgotten to “empty” the trash. This could have been a disaster if it weren’t for the backup card in my case. Though it was almost full as well, I manually edited the photos on it to make enough room for a few shots. Polyozellus multiplex went from the “wanted” list to the “got it” list.
By 11:30 I was back at the mushroom fair where I changed from my field to fair clothes in the bathroom. And as I shared the photos on my camera and retold the morning’s events, I was asked repeatedly, “What? That happened this morning?” At this point my job was to stay awake-not a problem with lots of talkative show goers and the kind of coffee that coded the computer world.