August Rain and Mushrooms

Recently, after several wet days, we decided to take a drive to one of our favorite central Ohio hiking destinations, Clear Creek Metro Park. It’s a park that many frequent when they’re getting in shape for more exotic destinations like the Appalachian Tail or Rocky Mountain National Park. The tails are that challenging.  In our case it was more about seeing mushrooms that we wouldn’t find in parks closer to home, but a beautiful rugged trial lined with ferns that winds its way through old growth Hemlock and oak with a trailhead sign that says something like, “Caution, unimproved trail, proceed at your own risk”, is always a plus. Being located at the southern edge of the last glacier’s advance, on land that has for the most part never been disturbed by farming, logging, or other human activities, has a lot to do with the parks beauty. To optimize our chance of seeing mushrooms we decided to use the Creekside Meadows Trail to access the Fern/Hemlock trail loop. Certainly not the longest hike in the park but given our propensity to stop a look at things it made for a good day’s outing.

Park Trail Map

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Just a short note about the cameras used during the hike. We consider ourselves nature lovers who enjoy capturing the beauty of what we see. Often our outings involve a canoe or long hikes over relatively rugged terrain. For this reason hauling a lot of equipment may not be possible or may take away from the experience of “being” in nature. Recently I’ve been experimenting with a Canon 80D Tamron 18-400 mm combo while my wife continues to rely on a Panasonic FZ200 superzoom for many of her insect and fungi shots. Overall I’m happy with the performance of the DSLR combo and it’s potential for more creative control. However, in the sunny day darkness of Clear Creek’s deep woods, with auto ISO limited to 3200, handheld shots were chancy at best and mostly disappointing. A tripod would have resolved the problem but toting it around as well as setting it up for most shots would have changed the flavor of the hike. On the other hand the FZ200 with its fast 2.8 lens, and auto ISO limited to 800, much more consistently provided usable pictures without the use of a tripod. Something that is good to know because while there is no right or wrong when it come to how we pursue photography it is important to ask yourself what it is you are trying to get from an experience before investing in equipment.

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Chanterelles:

Yellow-footed Chanterelle

Chanterelle, (Donna).

Chanterelle, (Donna).

White Chanterelle

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White Phlox

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Shelf like mushrooms:

Turkeytail, (Donna).

Another look.

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Fall Phlox

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Boletes:

Shaggy-stalked Bolete, (Donna)

Shaggy-stalked Bolete another example.

Two-colored Bolete, (Donna).

King Bolete

Unidentified bolete.

Unidentified bolete

Russula, (Donna).

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A small, yet to be identified, wildflower.

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Other mushrooms:

Destroying Angel, not a good selection for the dinner table!

The fascinating underside of a free gill mushroom, (Donna).

Yellow Tuning Fork

Orange Mycena

Very large emerging free gill mushroom

Further along.

.   .   .  still further.

Unidentified small mushrooms.

Clustered Coral

An unidentified veiled mushroom.

Appears to be a more mature example of the above mushroom.

Unidentified veiled mushroom.

Very tiny unidentified mushrooms

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Pinesap, a parasitic plant classified as a wildflower.

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Along the Creekside Meadows Trail near the end of our day a hiking companion spotted this tiny Ring-necked Snake. The first one we’ve ever seen during our outings.

Ring-necked Snake, (Donna).

Another look, (Donna).

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Finally, I must admit that we are on the steep part of the learning curve when it comes to mushrooms. Using the guides we have available a frustrating number remain unidentified.  Perhaps that is a good thing in the world of mushrooms because if you wrongly identify a mushroom it could be hazardous to your health!

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Thanks for stopping by.

A Walk In The Smoky Mountains

Recently we got together with friends for a few days hiking in the Smoky Mountains near Ashville, North Carolina. Basecamp was the Sourwood Inn located right off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Many things of the seen are not unique to the area but put together they do paint a beautiful picture of one of the more interesting natural areas in the US. Our hikes were typically long, 6 – 10 miles, with a fair bit of climbing so camera equipment consisted of an Panasonic Fz200 and a Canon SX260.

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On the Looking Glass trail.

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Some of our group.

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The mountains of North Carolina are a great place for fungi so it always gets quite a bit of our attention. Unfortunately, based on visual characteristics alone, it can be very hard to ID so we’re always open to corrections and clarifications.

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A unidentified type of bolete.

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Turkey Tail

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Old Man of The Woods, (Donna)

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Bolete with a horizontal orientation which we had never seen before.

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Pestle-shaped Coral, (Donna)

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Shaggy-stalked Bolete, (Donna)

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Shaggy-stalked Bolete, a little older.

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Unidentified Mushroom

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Firm Russula, (Donna)

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Sharp-scaly Pholiota, (Donna)

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Crowded Parchment

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Sulfur Tuft, (Donna)

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Unidentified emergent mushrooms

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Tinder Polypore

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Fungus and moss.

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Mushroom Family

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Coral Fungus

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Rag-veil Amanita emerging.

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Rag-veil Amanita, too big to stand.

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Another type of bolete.

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Polypore on a fallen log.

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Puffball family.

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A view from the top during the Looking Glass hike.

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A great place to take a break before the trip down.

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Where there’s fungus there’s moss and lichen.

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Lichen and leaf abstract.

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Lung Lichen

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Lichen?

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Hanging garden.

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Old Man’s Beard

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Reindeer Lichen

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Parasitic plants, Beechdrops (Epifagus americana) along the Snowball Trail.

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The Mountain to Sea Trail is up and down with few long climbs.

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Mountain to Sea Trail

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Fascinating plants and flowers punctuated fungus and lichen sightings.

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Partridge Berry

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Aster

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Snakeroot and Alanthus Webworm Moth, (Donna)

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Foxglove?, (Donna)

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Coral Root, (Donna)

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Indian Pipe

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Late summer color

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Small Blue Flowers

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Butterfly Weed

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Lobelia?

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Aster

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Turtlehead

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Berries and Color

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Autumn Design

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Aster

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Some trails are easier than others.

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Just kidding.

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A few of our insect friends were also seen.

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Mating, (Donna)

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Red-spotted Purple

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It never hurts to be aware of your surroundings when your head is close to the ground looking for mushrooms .   .   .

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The first Black Bear we ever encountered on the trail, (Donna).

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We zoom in, (Donna).

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He’s curious, we’re curious.

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That’s close enough!, (Donna)

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The type of sign that most of us pay little attention to.

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When not running away from bears there are also reptiles to be seen.

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A Rat Snake checks us out.

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Then decides to wander off, (Donna).

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A skink plays hide and seek, (Donna)

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The group at the trail head after a long hike.

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Looking Glass trail head.

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The NC mountains are a wonderful place just to be.

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Sunrise from Sourwood Inn.

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The area around Ashville, NC is a hiker and nature lovers mecca. There are an almost infinite number of trails of varying degrees of difficulty to choose from. You may even get to see a bear!

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Thanks for stopping by.

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