Cambria and Los Osos 12/23 and 12/26
No snakes (at least not this time of year) in the grass but the mushroom show is absolutely free.Are you a nut for fruiting bodies? Do you subscribe to the Cornell University Mushroom blog? (I highly recommend it by the way. Even if you are not a fungus kook the writing is really good.) Does Mycology ring your bell? Then the California central coast after a good rain will make you swoon. Fungi is a ubiquitous presence all over the world, and a true aficionado will know where and when to find the little caps poking up, but the show near Cambria, CA is like seeing the lights in Times Square... any fool can stumble on to it and stand and gawk.A cool windy clear day arrived after a week of soaking rain so we took the opportunity to get out and visit Moonstone Beach. The beach part of our day was detailed in the previous post and I hinted at our mushroom surprise later that day. Though we have made excursions following previous a wet spells specifically to see fungi, we had not been thinking about mushrooms that morning so the show surprised us.All around the public restrooms at one end of Moonstone Beach is a small area wooded with a variety of trees and a thick mat of fallen needles and leaves. The wild colors and assortment of sizes in the mushroom show in this small area kept us busy for at least an hour of gawking.Another favorite mushroom gawking zone near Cambria is the Fiscalini Ranch. It has much more than mushrooms to offer but in the right season apparently the place goes nuts with fruiting bodies. We have not visited yet so I can't give my personal review but Fiscalini Ranch is at the top of our list.When the mushrooms show their heads lots of critters come out to dine including the local mycophagists. Now, I'm too much of a beginner to have any confidence about eating wild mushrooms and I don't recommend you eat 'em without some heavy research and maybe a knowledgeable friend, but there are those who come out after a good rain to find their dinner. So, for the sake of critter and people alike please be kind to the mushrooms you see. Check that itch to kick the white rubbery thing or to mash that orange trumpet. There are critters big and small who would prefer to have some of them on their plate without your footprints on the caps.On our walks we have often seen the telltale trowel marks of the foraging mycophage that arrived before we could rouse ourselves for the morning.A few days (and a bit more rain) after our surprise in Cambria we took a walk specifically for the fungus. This time we visited Los Osos Oaks Park. This ramble through oak trees big and small offered lots of mushroom variety too, and we had a good two hours of muddy shoes to prove it.
The trails in Los Osos Oaks can be confusing and unmarked tracks lead off into the bushes. If you go pay attention, wear a whistle in case you wander off, and maybe bring a compass to help point the direction to the parking area (take note that Los Osos Valley Road is the North edge of the park area).Some of the best stuff comes out of rot, and by the way some of 'em smell good too. There are a few that smell like maple syrup, no foolin'. So go wild and stick yer nose in for a whiff.
oh yeah, and for some nifty time lapse viewing of mushrooms click here.