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Runtrails' Rocky Mountain Journal
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"I let my friends try them first.
If they're still alive the next day, I figure they're safe to eat."
- Brent Craven, running friend (?),
joking about the mushrooms he picks from the woods


Last year on the Appalachian Trail I had fun photographing a wide variety of mushrooms and other types of fungi. I still haven't done a photo essay to highlight some of those colorful fungi, but I will eventually. Meanwhile, I'd like to do a similar photo essay now for some of the species I've seen on the Colorado Trail this month.

I didn't notice any mushrooms down in the San Juan Range in July. I'm assuming they grow there, too, but weren't out yet. Some of the ones I've seen since we moved north near Leadville in early August were just emerging from the forest floor:

So I think not seeing them farther south was a matter of timing, not a regional thing.

Disclaimer: I know next to nothing about mushrooms and other types of fungi, and I don't have time to educate myself via the internet this week. I don't know the identity of any of the kinds I'll show you below, nor do I know which ones are edible and which are poisonous.

I do know that some of our friends are real mushroom aficionados. They LOVE to search the woods for edible types. Jim ran into Hans-Dieter Weisshaar's wife, Susi, recently as she gathered mushrooms between Twin Lakes and Hope Pass. Another German running/hiking couple that I knew in Atlanta, the Sherwoods, frequently searched the north Georgia woods for edible 'shrooms.

Our Utah buddy, Brent Craven, who is camped next to us, has also been busy hunting mushrooms recently and shared some good ones with us this past weekend. He jokes that he lets his friends try them first. If they're still alive the next day, he knows they're edible!

If you happen to know the names of any of these mushrooms, let me know and I'll add them. I'm not comfortable indicating if they're edible, however. I don't want to be responsible for someone's illness or death because they read here that a certain type of mushroom is safe to ingest!

With those caveats, here are some of the interesting fungi I've seen in the last couple of weeks along the Colorado Trail. Since I don't know any better, I'll categorize them by color:


I believe that every mushroom shown here was growing below treeline except the next golf ball-sized one, which was in the tundra in Segment 7:

That's a little larger than real life so you can see the details. Most of the rest of these photos show the fungi smaller than real life, and they were all growing under or near trees. Most fungi seem to like shade and some moisture.




















These are the ones that really stand out along the trail! I especially liked the ones with the white spots.








Hope you find your own fabulous fungi on your next trip in the woods!

Next up: Leadville's mining legacy.

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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2006 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil