Friday, October 30, 2015

Oregon is Ridiculous.

I'd never been to Oregon, or even looked at pictures of Oregon, before I moved here last year. I think that Oregonians do a really great job of keeping this place a secret. It is just unbelievably beautiful here, and since we live pretty much smack dab in the middle of the state, we can be anywhere in Oregon in about 3 hours.

It's chanterelle season, and our schedules allowed us to plan a random Wednesday off to go mushroom hunting. This is our second chanterelle season, and we are slowly learning what type of environment these mushrooms favor. Of course, I usually get totally distracted from hunting, because the forest is just completely surreal. I feel like I'm in some contrived movie set. It's cool and quiet, there are no bugs (seriously!), and everything is soft, lush, and green. 

Imagine being completely surrounded by this, no other humans in sight.

I wish I could share the smell. Fresh, clean, totally oxygenated.

I found the first chanterelle of the season, and it was a big one! I was pretty proud of myself.

Chanterelles are a weird mushroom in that they like a little bit of sun. A lot of times we find them on slopes, or in a bare patch of ground, but always near trees, and usually in groups. They are social that way.

The un-cool thing about them is that they have these gills that just trap dirt. It's a lot of work to clean them, cook them, and freeze them when you get home (this is one mushroom that is awful dehydrated). But hey, that's better than paying $38-$40/pound for them, fresh.

Another pretty forest shot!

We met a little forest friend on the way. It's a rough-skinned newt, which are really common on the west side of the Cascade Mountains (the rainy side). They're lethally poisonous, but only if you eat them. They're safe to pick up and are super cute with orange or yellow bellies. 

Golden chanterelles - my favorite - poking up out of the dirt.

We hit up Proxy Falls on our way back to Bend, which is only accessible from late May to late October. The trail to get there is about 1/2 mile. The full trail is a loop, takes you past two waterfalls, and is only 1.5 miles in total. Completely worth it, and an easy hike.

We looped to the right, which ascends through a cinder rock field, covered in moss.

Next was an old growth forest, with a well maintained trail.

We weren't really prepared for what the falls looked like. They were STUNNING. And so much larger than we could have imagined. And just....well, magical. We were hungry and tired from hiking 5 miles that morning, and we still sat there for a good 30 minutes, just breathing it all in.

For perspective, Mike is sitting on that log at the bottom of the falls, in a dark plaid flannel shirt. You can just barely see him to the right of the middle of the picture.

The moss to the left of the falls kept making me think there was a rainbow in my picture!

Close up shot, standing under the falls.

Oregon continues to amaze us, every day. There are so many places we still haven't seen yet, but we're knocking them off the list, one by one. It'll take us at least a few years to see everything in this state, so we might be here for awhile!

The Three Sisters mountains, seen as we passed over Mt Washington on our way home.