Date: July 14–16, 2017
Leaders: Charlotte Caplan
We met at Purchase Knob just after lunch on Friday, July 14, and learned the bad news: a bear had damaged a tent earlier in the week. No one was inside and the bear was later trapped, tranquilised, and subjected to a scary “alien abduction” examination before being released. It was judged unlikely to return, but nevertheless the camping platforms were closed. We decided we could manage with just the house.
We forayed along the Ferguson Cabin trail for a couple of hours, getting only a little wet. Then home to set up the classroom for our collections and welcome more forayers, including our mycologist, Jay Justice, who had driven 12 hours from Arkansas. About 16 of us sat down to dinner, with a lot of goodies to share, including a nice chicken of the woods found by Diego (who else!) and expertly cooked by his dad Jose. Somehow everyone found a bed, a sofa, a windowseat, or a patch of floor to sleep on. No one complained about anything, the whole weekend!
On Saturday we were joined by another 6 members and, after a little trail confusion, forayed north and south along the Cataloochee Divide trail. Saturday afternoon it rained – it always does – so we sat around, played card games, identified mushrooms, and caught up on missing sleep. In the evening we enjoyed our potluck. Ellen Chelmis’ cream cheese and lox canapes, beautifully decorated with edible flowers from the meadow, were a big hit. Then Jay gave us a presentation on nomenclature changes in the Chanterelle family: bye-bye Catharellus cibarius, hello C. flavus, C. phantasmus, C. velutinus and more.
Mushrooms didn’t seem that plentiful this year, but with Jay and Mike Hopping on the job we identified 145 species: a new record. Ten were new to the club records. But we didn’t find any of the new Chanterelles!
The whole weekend was enhanced by the ever-changing cloudscapes that form an exquisite, silent, accompaniment to life at Purchase Knob. What a place!