Mushroom Picking at SCHC: Searching off the Beaten Path


Fall on the coast is a lovely time of year that brings a distinct change in the weather. With the change in season, many favourite outings are no longer on the table, but as always, one door closing often means another one is opening.

The change in season initiates many natural cycles taking place; fall foliage, gushing rivers, and the return of spawning salmon. They afford us different opportunities that occur during a short window and must be seen up close to truly appreciate. Last week, with our window of opportunity rapidly closing, we set out on a hike like many other days, except on this day, we would be venturing off the beaten path in search of Chantrelle mushrooms.

We headed into the backcountry to the Duck Lake trail network some 15 minutes from SCHC. Typically, our hikes are brisk and reserved to the trails in order to reach whatever stunning destination we are in search of. Mushroom picking, on the other hand, is a different experience altogether.

After a five-minute walk along the trail, we stopped and branched out in search of the elusive fungi. As the group slowly spread out, each client found their own path and direction. Random calls sprung out, “Is this one?”, as I hurriedly tried to find an example of what we were after.

Despite a slow start, clients seemed happy just to be out and in nature. It was one of those misty fall days in which the clouds hung in the trees and mist, rather than rain for a change, hung all around us. While the goal was the same, without a path to follow, everyone went about it in different ways. I couldn’t help but think about how the individualized experience in the forest mirrored the work each of these guys was doing at SCHC. 

After finding no more than a few tired-looking chanterelles at the first destination, we hiked onwards and stopped again on a moss-covered slope some 10 minutes down the trail. Now, knowing what we were looking for, and every guy with his own idea of where and how best to look, we fanned out and began a slow ascent of the hillside. 

The movement of our group was noticeably slower and less rushed as guys realized that these little suckers often lay hiding under tufts of moss, sometimes requiring digging to unearth the real bounty. By the top of the hill, we had two good-sized bags in tow. We had found what we were looking for, that was the easy part, now we would just have to decide what in the heck we would do with them…

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