Given how much rain has fallen in the month of July in the high country, I went scouting the past two weekends with high hopes for some good early flushes. Unfortunately there was still precious little to be found, probably a combination of how persistently cool and cloudy it’s been recently, and how much of a spring drought had to be overcome before the mycelium was ready to bear its fruit.
On the weekend of the July 20-21, I went up Mount Union outside Prescott, nearly to the top at almost 8000 feet. Things were plenty damp in the mixed conifer forest there, but the only discoveries were some unremarkable polypores, some yellow-orange jelly fungus that was probably a Dacrymyces, and quite a number of Polyporus arcularius growing on dead wood.
The following day I drove the length of the Rim Road between Highways 87 and 260. Despite walking three or four miles in the soaking wet forest, not a single terrestrial mycorrhizal fruiting body was observed. There was a nice fruiting of very fresh Ganoderma tsugae on dead Douglas fir, several of which I collected with the notion of making a medicinal tincture of it.
But Pivot Rock itself, pictured above, looked very much like a gigantic bolete. As I stared at it, I decided there must be some cosmic meaning for it to be here in the middle of Arizona’s greatest mushroom domain. It had to be nothing less than an avatar of Robigus, the Roman god of fungus! I walked around the rock three times and kissed it for luck. We shall soon see if Robigus retains any influence on earthly affairs. I am expecting big things from this monsoon season.
I then drove up the Lake Mary Road to Flagstaff, stopping for short hikes near Clint’s Well and Mormon Lake, and then drove up to the Snow Bowl base area at about 9500 feet on the side of the San Francisco Peaks for a longer excursion. A truly amazing thunderstorm whipped up as dusk approached, and once again I left empty-handed to drive back to my cabin in Groom Creek
The following day I took a short hike in the Ponderosa forest at about 6300 feet in the Bradshaw Mountains, but for the fourth consecutive day in the forest, I was skunked again. Not so much as a puffball is fruiting yet.
Next weekend, Aug. 3-4, we are going to the White Mountains outside Greer, where some 10 inches of rain has fallen this month. I think this trip will turn the corner on a month or six weeks of foraging to long remember.