I love foraging! I love the simpleness and purity of the very act. I love being alone in nature and taking a second to step away from the very busy and chaotic 21st century. I love going to my hidden spots that only a select few have been invited in to see. The woods are my sanctuary and my place of peace. But like I said even the most solitary of foragers has those few friends who he lets his (or her) secret slip to.
As most of you know I have a pretty hectic schedule between my foraging life, my chef life and trying to set up my permaculture plot at my house. But every now and again it's nice to take a step back and just relax for a bit. This past week, that's exactly what I did. As luck would have it my two of my very good friends from home just so happened to be able to finagle the same days off (my folks live in upstate New York on the Hudson. Even though I'm from Hawaii, upstate NY and the Adirondacks have always been very much home to me). Nostalgia is a strong force so we decided to go camping at a spot we had all grown up visiting.
Now it's by no coincidence we picked this spot. I had been visiting this spot for probably about 10 years before I got into foraging. It's right on the upper Hudson (way up stream from where you catch the fish with three eyes), it's got 4x4 trails, hiking trails and a natural rock water slide! So this place is an outdoor playground to begin with. When I first started learning about foraging I though maybe this place would have mushrooms....and it does, a shit load of them! Even though I had been visiting this place for years, it would became my one of my very first "spots". I knew almost every nook and cranny of this place, and yet it all became brand new to me when I started foraging. I learned the bright pink/orange mushrooms that I had been walking over for a better part of a decade next to the streams were Cinnabar Chanterelles. The brightly colored mushrooms growing off the trees that I enjoyed beating down with sticks just a few years earlier suddenly became valuable Chicken of the Woods. Yellow and brown mushrooms dotting the forest floor were no longer part of the background, they became highly sought after Hedgehog Tooth, and Chanterelles. When I was there this last time we found several pounds of Hemlock Varnish Cap (Reishi), a highly sought after medicinal mushrooms that has strong evidence of cancer fighting abilities, and proven antioxidants. We also found some Chaga which is another medicinal mushroom with a host of benefits. For Choice edible we brought home some Black Trumpets, Chanterelles, Oysters, and Bear's Tooth (Lions Mane is an extremely close cousin). This place is truly an outdoor paradise for those that enjoy roughing it a little.
As I mentioned nostalgia is a very strong force. Between the two guys I spent the week with there's over 30+ years of unwavering friendship and shenanigans. One became a doctor and the other a semi conductor designer. We all live pretty comfortable yet very different lives now. But when the stars align and the need for those nostalgic moments get too great, you can usually find us deep in the woods of upstate New York's Adirondack park. Usually getting rained on, hailed on, snowed on or a good combination of all three going on. Look for us in an old lean-to, or at a hastily made camp site laughing at memories past and wondering around the forest looking for something to put in our cast iron pot for dinner.
*sigh* There really is no place like home.