Intrigued by a brochure offering a mushroom identification camp-out at Breitenbush Hot Springs, a trip to the forest was launched. Since Breitenbush was already in session, the two exploratory trips ended up being to Eagle Creek and to Elk Rock Island.
Eagle Creek offered a lot of mushroom sitings including one with the mycelia on the surface of the dirt and another with mushrooms growing out of moss and ferns on a trunk of a living tree. Most of the mushrooms were in the greyish to light pinkish tan color range and there seemed to be some at the base of most of the trees. The mushroom mycelia perform a soil remediation process by soaking up petroleum products from the soil and preventing erosion.
Elk Rock Island had an abundance of Oak Galls which are round growths on the underside of oak leaves. These contain small wasps that are still growing. Intertwined in the branches of the Oak Trees were Madrone branches. These trees rely on fungal structures to bring them more moisture to help them grow. In the leaves of the trees there appeared to be a flock of Cedar Waxwing passing through to enjoy the abundant berries on the Madrone. The Waxwing are noisy eaters and it was a treat to hear them foraging on the branches and watch the debris falling. It sounded like what it must be like to be at one of those Medieval dinner places where you eat with your hands.
In any case, you could plan ahead for next year for the Breitenbush trip which includes wool dying, cooking and identification sessions. Or, since mushrooms are in season, why not purchase some at a local Farmers Market or Fruit Stand. If you wish to camp on your own, Eagle Creek has a few designated camping spots, with one at 7 and a half miles in. If you're new to mushroom hunting maybe join a group such as Oregon Mycological Society. They have a few more outings scheduled in October.
Please note, even though the weather is good, it's really cold out. Do dress for the weather!