Friday, November 12, 2010

Mendocino Mushroom Camp Weekend - Day 1

My cabin in the woods

The biggest annual event of MSSF (Mycological Society of San Francisco) is the 3-day Mendocino Camp in November. I am attending the camp for the first time since I joined MSSF five years ago. It's a 4-hour drive from El Cerrito to Mendocino. Since I have never attended an event like this before, I packed everything according to the "list of the things to bring" that Lou, MSSF President, emailed to all attendees.

As I enter Mendocino Woodlands Camp, it is as if I am entering a parallel universe. I am surrounded by tall trees, green moss and other vegetation. I can see mushrooms on both sides of the road as I drive further into the woods.

I arrive the camp around 2:30 PM. There are only a few early birds at the parking area. I check in shortly after and head over to my cabin, #35. The cabin in the woods looks like something out of a fairy tale. The cabin has a fire place, 4 beds, and a balcony. There is a shared bathroom with showers about 30 feet away. After I unload my stuff, I hike back to the dinning hall for the Early Bird Foray lead by Norm.

The kitchen inside of Dinning Hall

About 20 of us head over to Camp 2 with Norm in a 15-passenger van. Some people come as far as Salt Lake City and some come with their little kids. The attendees range from age 6 to 70 something (my guess). We all become fast friends as we roam in the woods. It gets dark around 4:30, so we have our mushroom ID session in the dark with flashlights. Each of us carries a flashlight as soon as the sun goes down. The forest is pitch black at night, and there is no lighting in our cabins.

Norm (wearing brown hat) IDs wild mushrooms for us

For dinner, we have wild mushroom lasagna loaded with porcini and chanterelle. After dinner, I see that Master Ken has gathered a full basket of beautiful golden chanterelle already! He is setting up his dehydrator to dry his chanterelle. I am going to follow Master Ken anywhere he goes tomorrow!

Master Ken and his basket of golden chanterelle

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