posted by Sarah
Last weekend we ventured into prehistoric times (or so it seemed). Lured by the thought of spending a day away from the “big city” and the promise of viewing plants and animals (including hedgehogs–a disappointingly unfulfilled promise), we set our sights on Fern Canyon, a coastal spot about an hour north of Eureka. Fern Canyon is aptly named: it’s a steep, narrow canyon, the walls of which are covered with a variety of ferns. A small musical brook (it really did “babble” to us!) meanders through the bed of the canyon, and we teetered our way over strategically placed logs in the dark cool space. Even with our amazing balancing skills, we got a bit wet. It’s an altogether magical and lush place to spend a day.
I had an ulterior motive for exploring Fern Canyon: hidden treasure in the form of mushrooms. I don’t have enough knowledge about edible vs. poisonous mushrooms to actually gather any of these delicate woodland treats, but it was fun to hunt them down nonetheless.A happy little community of “fun guys.” HA.I think these are called “wood ear” mushrooms because they look like ears growing off of the trees. According to the “California Fungi” website, these are called Polypores.This one was the largest that we encountered; the top was about the size of a salad plate! We assumed it was poisonous because if it weren’t it wouldn’t be allowed to grow so big.
This mushroom is king of all he surveys.And this is what mushrooms look like when they die! There were a lot of these blackened hunks were scattered on the forest floor, and we thought perhaps that lightning had hit and scorched tree branches. Turns out they were shrivelled mushrooms. Some sort of oxidation process must happen here that befuddles my non-scientific brain.All in all, a very successful trip which ended with a viewing of Elk (this is their mating season so they’re especially visible to any passers-by who may want to take an interest in them). Huge herds congregate by the road, which makes for quite a sight!