Date: November 25, 2014
Place: Van Damme State Park, Mendocino, California
Coordinates: 39.276754, -123.781831
Length: our hike, in and out - 2 miles
It was nearly 4 pm when we left the beach where we sat after checking out the Pygmy Forest. Late in November - that meant we had just over an an hour of daylight left. We parked at the Fern Canyon trailhead and headed into the quickly darkening gulch.
We saw the ferns immediately. In that sense, the name was totally appropriate. There were ferns all over the place, green and lush.
The chikas inspected tyne fern more closely and found a sleepy slug snuggled in the crease of its leaf :-)
The trail is flat and wide and very comfortable to hike. It stretches along Little River and goes on well beyond where we went.
Some logs rested right by the trail. In a couple of places they were over the trail itself.
And it was on the underside of those logs where I found some of the most beautiful fungi.
These fungi consume dead wood and live inside it as a web of thin threads called hypha (it looks similar to mold). The outside part is the fruiting body - the part that makes and releases the spores.
Taking a different angle and illumination, these mushrooms transport me into a magical woodland. I wish I could post here that wonderful earthy smell of the wet NorCal forest, it is full, rich and overwhelming, and mushrooms make a huge part of it.
The creek runs through a deep gulch, but I don't know if it qualifies as 'canyon'. Although there were some trail segments that came close to the expected image.
And then again - mushrooms. A slow walk along the creek, a quickly waning daylight, one birder and his mother having a deep discussion and two chikas turning logs over to look for crawlers.
I was looking at the mushrooms.
Some mushrooms looked more 'ripe' than others. They smelled so, too.
I grumbled a little. It was such a lovely evening and I didn't wish it to end.
It was also getting cold se we kept out of the water despite Little River's inviting tranquility.
We hiked back on the same trail we came on. Even so I found more new mushrooms; they must have escaped my eyes the first time I passed by. Some were already familiar to my from previous trails:
While others appeared new to me. Later I realized that one species can appear differently depending on its stage of development.
|Five Fingers Fern|