Marvel at the Mushrooms and Stay Healthy

Connie Gordon spots treasure along the Hansville Greenway trails where other hikers see decomposing alder leaves.

“There’s one,” the Hansville resident says, kneeling by a pile of wet leaves and fir needles, sticks from a recent windstorm, and inch-deep footprints in mud. She brushes off the leaves to reveal a clump of brown mushrooms shaped like rising dough balls. Even with the field guides she carries, she’s uncertain about the mushrooms’ identity, but that doesn’t diminish her delight.

“Unless you know for sure what you’re doing, enjoy looking. The thrill is in the hunt,” she says.

The Greenway trails are known for Chanterelle mushrooms in the soggy fall and morels in the spring. The animals dine on many of them before the mushrooms can do their part to help rotting logs decay and return to the earth.

Connie urges caution to hunters. She’s studied mushrooms in the wild for 30 years but doesn’t consider herself an expert. Carrying All That the Rain Promises and More by David Arora, The Mushroom Pocket Field Guide by Howard Bigelow, and “Edible Mushrooms,” a pamphlet she picked up at the Chimacum Ranger Station, she tries to identify giant white mushrooms with birdbath tops.

She turns them over and checks their gills. She shakes out spores that are smaller than poppy seeds and grow more mushrooms. Uncertain what they are, she shifts her attention to the white artist’s palettes sticking out from tree trunks and a cluster of mushrooms that resemble closed umbrellas.

“They’re as much fun to see as anything,” she says.

For those interested, there is a local club affiliated with the North American Mycological Association. The Kitsap Peninsula Mycological Society is located in Bremerton. Their website is

by Cynthia Taggart