Archive for the ‘Fungus Among Us’ Category

Early Autumn Scenes Along the C&O Canal

Paw Paw Bends

I really love these digital cameras.  I can take literally hundreds of pictures and keep the ones that aren’t blurry or close-ups of my thumb.  Candee actually has a bit of an eye for photography, but I’m not quite as lucky.  However, the C&O Canal NHP has enough great scenery to allow just about anybody to be a photographer–of sorts.

Paw Paw Tunnel

This image has kind of grown on me over time.  Visiting the Paw Paw Tunnel in the winter and seeing the upstream end boarded up is a little bit anticlimactic, but once you’re inside it’s even darker and scarier.  The “Tunnel Hollow” portal is left clear, so it’s still possible to get a look at the tunnel as it’s supposed to look.

Potomac at Little Orleans

This was taken on a frosty October morning.  An hour or two before, the Potomac Valley was covered in a heavy fog.  I’m actually standing at the Fifteenmile Creek boat ramp, and most of the time I would be about knee deep in water.  It has been a very dry year, and I suppose that’s a good thing, considering all of the work being done around Big Slackwater.

A baby fern on the cliffs of Big Slackwater

The Big Slackwater Project will make life a lot easier for hikers and bikers on the C&O Canal, and it offers a great view of the Potomac River.  However, some of the odd things growing on the bank and cliffs are also worth a look.  I suppose some will come for the river, and others for the trail, but a few will stop to check out the bugs and plants that we’ve been missing for years while taking the detour.

Mushroom on the trail

Fall is the perfect season for odd and colorful mushrooms.  Back in college, I must have gotten an F in Mushroom Identification 101, but apparently this little fellow is edible.  Something nibbled on the cap before deciding to move along.  Whether or not the diner left with a stomach ache is something that I’ll never know.

More Mushrooms

Actually, Candee is the main mushroom photographer.  At some point I yelled, “Give me my camera!  And quit taking pictures of those bleeping mushrooms!”  Nevertheless, when I go back and look through the pictures, some of the mushrooms look like a mixture of outer-space creature and modern art.

Satellite Dish?

Mushrooms seem to come in just about every shape and size.  This one kind of reminds me of the radio telescope at Green Bank, West Virginia.  While we were on the Appalachian Trail a couple of weeks ago, we ran into a group of people picking large, white mushrooms–for consumption I assume.  That all sounds well and good, but until I learn a lot more on the subject, I’ll continue to get my mushrooms from a can, courtesy of the Jolly Green Giant.

House near Bonds Landing

This is the house that can be seen from both the towpath and Kasecamp Road near Bonds Landing (mm 150).  The leaves are starting to change color in the background, and the scenery along the river should be spectacular in a matter of weeks.  The C&O Canal NHP and Green Ridge State Forest surround the house, so it’s an odd site for anybody that comes along, but it does add a bit of something to the view.  With that said, I can hardly wait to hit the canal again to see autumn in all of its glory.



Calling All Mycologists…

Interesting specimen

On a late summer day in 2011, Candee and I went for a hike near Bond’s Landing, and we ran into a dazzling array of mushrooms.  I think that’s when I began to develop an interest in the subject.  Today, we were out volunteering just below the Big Slackwater Project when we came upon an extremely delicate, paper-thin mushroom unlike anything we had seen before.

Fortunately (and unfortunately), Candee has a copy of the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Mushrooms.  It’s a great book with lots of excellent pictures, but making any sense of it can be difficult at times.  Using categories such as small, delicate, cup-shaped, etc. we filtered our way through dozens of pictures, but the answer was the same every time: No, that’s not it.

Mushrooms are odd in that they’re not like identifying–for example–a species of dogs.  I’m not saying that all beagles look alike, but an individual type of mushroom can look wildly different from place-to-place, so here I am…calling all mycologists.  Help!

A closer look

The Mushroom and the Grasshopper

Mushroom on the towpath

This is the tale of two would-be photographers who made way too much noise in the woods.  One day, they filled up the card in their best camera, and from that point forward they went on their journeys armed with a 3.2 megapixel cell phone.  Try as they might, all of the deer, birds, and rodents they attempted to photograph wound up blurry.  One day they decided to photograph turtles and wound up doing fairly well, but one can’t fill the flora/fauna section of a website with turtle pictures alone.

That’s when Tom decided that he should try to get a picture of a mushroom.  It wasn’t easy, but on the third attempt he managed to sneak up on one and got a decent closeup.  Being the fun guy (fungi…ha, ha) that he is, the mushroom decided to pose, and Tom got this once-in-a-lifetime shot.

Meanwhile, Candee slipped up on a hungry grasshopper on the new Big Slackwater section of the towpath.  The grasshopper generally could have gotten away, but today he had three choices: jump out onto the trail and risk being eaten by a bird, dive into the mouth of a hungry bass swimming in the Potomac River, or grudgingly sit tight and let Candee take his picture.  Against his better judgment, he chose the latter.  The moral of this story is…  Hmmm, I’ll have to think about that one for awhile!

Hungry grasshopper

Mushrooms Along the C&O Towpath

We recently bought the book, National Audubon Society Field Guide to Mushrooms, and it gives me just enough information to be dangerous.   Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic book loaded with beautiful pictures, but I have no grand illusions of becoming a mushroom expert.  I bring the book along with us on our hikes because I think its fun to try to identify different varieties and types of mushrooms.  There’s no stress involved, because I don’t plan to eat anything that I find.  So, if I make a mistake in identification…no biggie!  If you happen to be a mushroom expert and see that I’ve made a mistake, please drop me a line and let me know!  I would love to hear from you!

I was unable to identify these mushrooms, other than believing they belong to the pollypore group.


I believe this is a False Turkey-tail

This crazy mess appears to be a Turkey-tail.

One Little, Two Little, Three Little Mushrooms…

If I didn't know any better, I'd say these look like fried bananas!


'I'm Ready for my close up!


Yet another mushroom...


A splash of color!


Hiding from her parents!

I was amazed at how many different varieties of mushrooms that I found in one area!

Blending in with its surroundings!