Teri and I like to combine morel mushroom hunting with the opening of trout season in the high Cascades. This year we opted to fish a high mountain creek instead of one of the lakes. As is usually the case, April 25 is very cold and early for the black morels. So we hiked in, skirting melting snow and tiny rivulets, very much anticipating the trout fishing.
We could not help noticing some of the early fungi. These photos will definitely not go on my Wild Edible Mushroom page. The first we found was a Gyromitra species.
One of the first mushrooms we see alongside the melting snow is the false morel. This red Gyromitra species is definitely not for consumption. Commonly I’ve also heard this mushroom called the snow mushroom or the calf brain mushroom. Some people say you can eat this mushroom. I would not even consider doing so. The scientist say that this mushroom contains gyromitrin… known as N-methyl-N-formylhydrazine. In the human body, gyromitrin is changed into monomethylhydrazine (MMH), which is a chemical used in rocket fuel. (1) Would you drink rocket fuel? They say people suffering from gyromitrin poisoning experience nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea and so on. In severe cases convulsions and jaundice, and in a great many documented cases, coma or death!
Another early mushroom Teri and I observed on the trout opener was this dark, round, jelly-like fungi. The jelly-like fungi feel something like a rubbery gelatin. Some you can eat.
I wouldn’t eat one, as the cup-shaped mushrooms are very diverse and hard to identify. As near as I can research this species is possibly Peziza violacea, a California fungi. At any rate it is very dull looking…ediblity most likely unknown and insignificant.
Our first glimpse of the little creek showed it’s wild and hidden nature. She fairly peeked out at us from her woody covering.
We really lucked out on our first decent to the little creek. Though steep, we chanced upon fairly easy walking through some clear grasslands. Teri was delighted to find a little snow at the bottom of the hill.
I delighted in the remoteness of the mountain creek. There would certainly be wild trout hiding within the rushing snowmelt. The brush, trees, downfall and rocks along the creek, threatened to offer as much challenge as the wild fish of the creek. If there were any to catch?
I found a few…wild, dark redband trout…not numerous and their bite was very deceptive in the cold, strong, rushing flow of the creek. I anticipated having time to react to a pause in the drift, a pulling at the end of the line, a set of the hook and the fight was on. Something like the hooking of a Rogue River steelhead! What I got was a quick, mouthing of the offering, and an equally quick rejection of the fraud. These were wild trout, naive but honed to survival in the wild, extreme setting of the high Cascade mountains. I connected with but just a few. One I kept…for dinner. He was delicious!
(1) Gyromitra information from Michael Kuo’s fine book Morels.
Kuo,Michael. 2005. Morels. The University of Michigan Press. 2:21-27
Michael Kuo’s website: Mushroom Expert.Com http://www.mushroomexpert.com/index.html