Posted by: Silver | July 5, 2010

The Hunting of the ‘Shroom

aka ‘Lost in the Yukon’

Mention wild mushroom picking to the average Brit, and the images that come to mind are of pleasant walks along dappled woodland paths, foraging a little in the undergrowth and merrily filling a wicker basket full of goodies as you go. Mushroom picking Yukon-style however, is, well, a little different…

Morel mushrooms, it seems, grow best after a forest fire, so the dappled woodland is replaced by something that would look far more at home in an apocalyptic sci-fi movie, with some blackened trunks still reaching uselessly to the sky whilst others litter the charcoal-covered ground in a menacing game of pick-a-stick. And, this being the Yukon, that charcoal-covered ground tends more often than not to the vertical, so the pleasant walk is replaced by something altogether more extreme. And there are certainly no paths. Add to this the terrifying green mist of ‘Shroom Greed’, and the ingredients are set for a mushroom-picking story of an entirely different sort.

Between myself and my two more experienced colleagues, I was the only one wearing a watch, so I was the only one, in the near-24-hour Yukon daylight, who seemed to know that it was starting to get a bit late. My friends only knew that there just had to be more great shroomage* just a little further on… And so, after twisting and turning for a little while longer in pursuit of yet more ‘killer patches’ of shrooms, my unofficial wilderness guides had completely lost their bearings (I, being a total wilderness newbie, never really had them in the first place). Thus, there then followed a 4-hour epic trek up pretty much any peak we could find in the certain belief that we’d surely be able to see the lake (beside which we were camped) from there… And of course, every peak you go up, you have to go down again…

‘Hey, Silver’ called fellow mushroom-picker Robbie from a little further ahead, ‘when you get to this bit, you just need to make sure you lean back and dig your heels in well…’ This turned out to be the recommended advice for descending a slope which is genuinely tending to the vertical. And to this advice, I would add the following: if you’re going to try this for the first time, don’t do it with 20lb of mushrooms on your back and a big plastic bucket in your hand…

Anyway, since I’m now here writing this entry, all tension regarding the outcome of this story is, of course, completely lost: yes, we made it out safely, and with our mushrooms still intact. Indeed, all I have to show for my adventure are a few bruises and the unshakeable conviction that my future career does not lie in mushroom picking.

But next time you eat a morel, do spare a thought for how it was won…

* See how I’m down with the mushroom pickin’ lingo already?! Shroomage (n.): area of mushrooms

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Responses

  1. I hadnt realised there was such a thing as extreme mushroom-picking… not for the faint-hearted it seems. Hope they were good and tasty : ) Really enjoying your news Silver. I am transported every time. More pics too please x

    • Hi Caroline,
      Glad you’re enjoying my posts! I’m certainly no professional writer (that’s my brother’s department – http://www.davidchart.com if you’ll forgive the shameless sibling plug!), so it’s a real boost to know that people are enjoying what I write 🙂 And I promise I’ll do my best to get co-ordinated with my camera to post more pics!

  2. On steep slopes like that, there’s can’t be ‘mush room’ for error…

    Sorry about that, Silv – couldn’t resist it!

  3. And were they fun guys to be with?

    • Oh dear, this post really has brought out the bad puns, hasn’t it?! Anyway, nice to hear from you, David – I suppose I should have expected no less from you 😉

  4. Hey Silver, I got those pictures for you. Where do you want them sent? Also, wasn’t getting lost in the bush just a little bit of fun?

    Robby


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