Mushrooms are pretty cool. Fungi help recycle dead plants and turn them into rich soil. They are an important part of the forest’s ecosystem. They are a natural source of protein, fiber, vitamin D, vitamin B, potassium, and amino acids, among other valuable nutrients. So it’s no wonder people have been foraging for mushrooms since cave man days. I’ve recently taken up the hobby of mushroom hunting. Luckily, here in the Bay Area, we’ve got so many great spots to go to hunt for these little treasures.
After being taken on my first and very successful hunt with a veteran hunter, I was instantly hooked. I love hiking and being out in the woods already and Mushroom hunting is basically a hiking treasure hunt. You’ve got to keep your eyes open searching for that little hump of fungus pushing its way up. It’s oh-so-satisfying when you find a prize!
The first trip we hunted for the king bolete, commonly known as Porcini. My mushroom guru / sensei already has her “spots” so it was just a matter of timing. We got lucky! We ended up with about 13lbs of Porcini by the end of our mission. I caught on quick and was spotting them all over the place poking up from under the pine needles.
Since that day I’ve been eager to get out and go hunting again. I quickly learned on our second trip out where we ended up empty handed that not every trip would be like the first. Oh, bummer. At least we got a nice hike out of it anyway.
For Christmas I received some great guidebooks to deepen my funky fungi knowledge and I am pretty stoked about them! However, I’ve quickly realized that without a guru around it’s pretty hard to identify mushrooms based on a guidebook only. Unfortunately, my mushroom sensei lives on the east coast for most of the year so I won’t be able to adventure on any hunts with her anytime soon.
If you are reading this and are an experienced mushroom hunter in the bay area, let’s be friends! I’m looking for a local mentor. I’ll be posting photos of my fungi finds on Instagram, so follow me there: @mamatakesahike.