In Bloom: ‘shrooms
“In Fruit” might be a better title for this week’s column, as the mushrooms are currently giving the flowers a run for their money in the showy department. Three key conditions – good winter snowpack, warm days and recent heavy rains – have combined to make for what may turn out to be one of the best mushroom seasons in years. A hike sure to please both mushroom and flower-lovers alike is the Last Chance Creek Trail to Tellurium Lake in the upper Fryingpan Valley. Starting at 9,400 feet near Burnt Mountain in the Holy Cross Wilderness, this gentle trail follows lovely Last Chance Creek for two miles. Here the classic late-summer bloomers – yarrow, asters, harebells and goldenrods – dominate the meadows. In the woods, diminutive wintergreens like wood nymphs and one-sided wintergreens reward the alert flower hunter.The prime flower action, though, is in the high, wet meadows near Tellurium Lake. Here, elephantheads and fringed gentians paint the meadows purple. Also to be seen are clusters of delicate, white orchids, including lady’s tresses and white bog orchids. As you move into the border between the meadow and the spruce forest, the mushrooms take over. As all local mycophagists (mushroom eaters) know, one of our most delicious local mushrooms, Boletus edulis, aka king bolete or porcini, is usually found near spruce. This is because spruce, like 90 percent of land plants, have developed a mutually beneficial relationship with fungi by which the plants’ roots receive minerals from the fungi’s underground parts. In turn, the fungi, which lack chlorophyll and thus are unable to make sugar on their own, get sugar from the plants’ roots. It is for this reason that king boletes and other choice edibles like chanterelles (usually found near pines) can’t be commercially cultivated.Near the boletes and as colorful as any flower is the famed Amanita muscaria, or fly agaric. As if advertising its mind-altering properties, this bright red mushroom with white spots looks right out of “Alice in Wonderland.” It is, however, quite poisonous, and like all the other jewels currently decorating our mountains should be marveled at, photographed, but otherwise left alone.Getting there: From the intersection of Two Rivers Road and Midland Avenue in downtown Basalt, drive just under 27 miles past Ruedi Reservoir to dirt road 501 on your left; drive 2 1/2 miles to Burnt Mountain Road on your left; drive 4 miles to the Last Chance Creek trailhead.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Aspen Outfitting Company took us out to Woody Creek for some winter fly fishing on the Roaring Fork River. If you need a break from skiing, this is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon in our little slice of paradise.