Opening Your Eyes to Fungi

August 31, 2009 at 5:00 am 5 comments

Earlier this year, I ran across a wonderful quote by Alexander Graham Bell:

We are all too much inclined to walk through life with our eyes shut. There are things all around us, and right at our very feet, that we have never seen; because we have never really looked.

Bell’s thoughts were particularly fitting a few weeks ago when Tony Airaghi and I hiked the 0.6 miles to the giant Keffer Oak. We brought along a copy of the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms. With our eyes on the lookout, this section of trail– mind you a section I have done numerous times before– unveiled a whole other world. We found mushrooms all around us, sometimes right at our very feet.

Sinking Creek Mountain - Possible Chrome Footed Bolete
Possible Chrome Footed Bolete
Sinking Creek Mountain - Possible Chanterelle
Possible Chanterelle
Sinking Creek Mountain - Yellow Unicorn Entoloma
Possible Yellow Unicorn Entoloma
Sinking Creek Mountain - Some Kind of Cup Mushroom
Some Kind of Cup Mushroom
Sinking Creek Mountain - Walnut Mycena Mushroom
Possible Walnut Mycena Mushroom
Sinking Creek Mountain - Emetic Russula and Baby Pine 2
Possible Emetic Russula
Sinking Creek Mountain - Spindle Shaped Yellow Coral
Possible Spindle Shaped Yellow Coral
Sinking Creek Mountain - Tacky Green Russula From Side
Possible Tacky Green Russula

We found so many mushrooms, in fact, our journey to the Keffer Oak was incredibly slow. Every few steps, we spotted another specimen and began flipping through the field guide again.

Sinking Creek Mountain - Tony Looking up Mushrooms
Tony Looking Up More Mushrooms

It took us well over an hour to make it to the tree. Where, with our eyes calibrated for fungus, we discovered yet another mushroom– this one growing right on the giant oak. : )

Sinking Creek Mountain - Tony, Mushroom  Book and Mushroom on Keffer Oak
Tony with Mushroom Growing on Keffer Oak

Sinking Creek Mountain - Tony, Mushroom  Book and Mushroom on Keffer Oak (Cropped)
Mushroom on Keffer Oak

With all these new discoveries on a familiar section of trail, I have to applaud Alexander Graham Bell. When it came to fungus, I was all too inclined to walk this section with my eyes shut.

More pictures of our mushroom discoveries and the hike to Keffer Oak can be found on my Flickr site.

P.S. Do not eat anything based on my photo captions. We are beginners and have very little confidence in our identifications!

Appalachian Trail – Keffer Oak

Length: 1.2 miles round trip

Elevation Gain: There is a brief hill near the beginning of the trail, but nothing too scary.

Driving and Parking: The roads are all paved and there is a small gravel parking lot at the VA-630 trailhead.

Directions from Blacksburg, VA
Take 460 West
Turn right on VA-42
Bear right to stay on VA-42

Turn right on VA-629
Turn right on VA-630
The trailhead will be on your left shortly after passing over a bridge

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Entry filed under: Appalachian Trail, Fungus, Hiking, Keffer Oak, Tony Airaghi. Tags: .

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anne  |  August 31, 2009 at 10:42 am

    I was going to make a comment “with all these probablys, please don’t try to eat one”. You beat me to it.

    Reply
  • 2. Anne  |  August 31, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Not probablys, possibles.

    Reply
  • 3. geekhiker  |  August 31, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    There’s a course up in Pt. Reyes where people can go out with a mushroom expert and sample the edibles. Apparently it takes years of training to reach that point…

    Reply
  • 4. tgaw  |  August 31, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    @geekhiker– I would TOTALLY love a course like that!

    @Anne – You don’t have to worry about someone with emetophobia in their past haphazardly eating mushrooms. I know what they could do. :)

    Reply
  • 5. Wildflowers at Keffer Oak « TGAW  |  September 2, 2009 at 5:03 am

    […] 2, 2009 Tony Airaghi and I may have been focused on mushrooms near Keffer Oak, but it was hard to ignore the summer wildflowers. Here are some of my favorite shots. So much to […]

    Reply

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