Eating Out

A better way to get to know your favorite wilderness this harvest season: Pick, haul, fish, and forage your way from breakfast to dinner

Sep 29, 2008
Outside Magazine
Cascade Range, Oregon

Forage for mushrooms in Crater Lake, Oregon    Photo: courtesy, National Park Service

Shroomin', Cascade Range, Oregon
Yes, mushroom picking sounds like an activity for grandmothers and jam-band fans between tours. And sometimes it is. But every September and October in the Cascades, it becomes a form of extreme sport: Thousands of foragers descend on the Crater Lake area with dreams of plucking prized chanterelles and matsutakes, which they can later sell for up to $300 per pound. While the professional scene can be fiercely competitive, the recreational pickers are after more than just a cash crop. Walking through old-growth Douglas firs with your hungry eyes to the ground gives you an entirely new perspective on the forest. (Afterwards, regular hiking will seem like stomping across a trout-thick river with no fly rod.) Bunk down at the Featherbed Inn, in Chemult (doubles, $50; Across the street, fungi aficionado Dana Van Pelt owns a mushroom hunters' tent camp where, for the right haggled price ($30 should do), you might find a professional forager willing to let you shadow. Pick up a permit at the ranger station (free for amateurs, $2 per day if you're planning to sell your harvest; For an outfitted version of the same experience, tag along with Forestville, California┬ľbased Wild About Mushrooms' annual Cascades Foray. Based out of the Willamette National Forest, the trip, starting October 12, includes guided hunts, gourmet mushroom feasts, and four nights at the Horse Creek Lodge, a backwoods affair with couches for lounging and a fireplace for warming your feet ($675;

Filed To: Culinary