While on hands and knees and wedged against a muddy embankment at Hurricane Gulch, a curious passerby gawked down the ravine and smiled at me. “It’s rained for twenty days straight,” she yelled as I helplessly slid further down the slope. Mushroom photo opportunities abounded and certainly were not to be missed along the steep grade—my husband lingering on safe, level ground above, peering below. Little did I know this initial precarious introduction to mushroom photography would launch me into several more zealous sessions with the fleshy, spore-bearing fungi during our three-month adventure to and from Alaska. My insatiable appetite for mushroom photography only to be satisfied on bended knees and partying with wretched mosquitoes.
Mushrooms were spied immediately upon entering Denali State Park just south of Hurricane Gulch. The overgrown understory created a closed-in, almost suffocating feeling as I later perused the campground. The earth a damp, musty, pungent dirt basement odor—lingering long after on my clothing. Recollections of a dank root cellar came to mind as I rummaged through vegetation, capturing outrageous fungi shapes, sizes, and colors of what some might think ugly. For me, the unusual, intriguing, unique creations captured my undivided attention and camera lens for hours.
The lichen, varieties of mosses and berries, and sedges in the spruce forest at Sourdough Campground near Tok were my personal ecosystem for one blessed evening. I could have stayed for hours in the spruce forest behind our campsite, but following the mushrooms deep into the darkness not a good idea in bear country. Inspecting every inch of the campground for the beauties and the beasties was one of the highlights of last year’s extended road trip. The smells of the forest floor and surrounds; the feel of the spongy moss beneath my feet; and the beautiful odd shaped and colored mushrooms were a photographer’s delight. Truly, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Tempted to purchase every reference book pertaining to mushrooms, I settled on Alaska’s Mushrooms by Harriette Parker. A futile attempt to identify the fungi in my photographs became apparent within minutes of turning the pages of this book. The unidentifiable images created would have to suffice my obsessive attraction to mushrooms. No need for knowing each one’s name, for its magnetism spoke for itself.
Captivated by fungi shapes and forms; enticed by forest understory vegetation diversity; and trapped at times by pesky blood-sucking mosquitoes, my intense, arduous love affair with mushrooms finally being revealed.
I hope you enjoy their uniqueness as much as I have. Thanks for stopping by. Additional Alaska mushroom photographs can be viewed on my website: www.corinthrose.com
All photos were captured with a Canon PowerShot SX20 IS.