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Jug Handle Park

February 12th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

In the morning, Jason and I headed to Eggheads where I had the “Cowardly Lion.” After breakfast, Jason had to take care of some issues over the phone so I wandered around a bit. I went to a coffee shot to caffeinate myself further and a cute hippie girl with a baby in a stroller asked me, “Do you read?” I told her that I did and she reached into the stroller and pulled out a dog-eared copy of “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac.

Since I spent much of the previous night dreaming about mushrooms, I walked over to a local bookshop and picked up a copy of “All That the Rain Promises and More” by David Arora. Jason finished up, so we went back to The Outdoor Store to ask for Kate’s suggestions on destinations. After some discussion, we decided to go to Jug Handle Park and Ecological Staircase.


The hike was accompanied with some educational material describing the local geography and plant life. We spent most of our time on the first 3 miles out from the start attempting to identify the mushrooms near the trail. All identifications which are my best guess as an amateur mycologist and should not be treated as necessarily true.

The first thing we ran across was a Poison Pie (hebeloma crustuliniforme) in the middle of a field overlooking the ocean. We walked under Highway 1 and across the delta into the forested part of the park. Immediately, we ran into some Witch’s Butter (tremella mesenterica) and some very old and brown Tumbling Puffballs (bovista plumbea). I cut into one of the puffballs (someone had already picked it) and found a yellow-white spongy flesh. The next clearing had many Panther Amanita (amanita pantherina) known for both hallucinogenic and poisonous qualities.

Near the start of the hike, we founds a bountiful amount of Yellow Foot Chanterelles (cantharellus tubaeformis) and some large Chanterelles (cantharellus cibarius). As we progressed, it seemed that the Yellow Foot were in every possible area.


Along the way we found several species of  polypores not identifiable by me. On several occasions we found Toothed Jelly Fungus (pseudohydnum gelatinosum) and a similar and possibly the same fungus which was more brown than translucent. We found a Hedgehog (hydnum repandum) which I almost dismissed as yet another Yellow Foot. We found a Poison Pax (paxillus involutus) in a field of Yellow Foot. I found one which was hard to identify though looks mostly like a magic mushroom (psilocybe cyanescens). On the fringe of my ability to identify, we found a Short-stemmed Russula (russula brevipes), an Emetic Russula (russula emetica), Rosy Russula (russula rosacea), and a 5″ diameter Fairy Ring Mushroom (marasmius oreades).

Near the end of the trail, we found some either young puffballs or a few Oregon White Truffles (sarcosphaera crassa). Of course, there were several which I could not identify.

At the end of the trail, we entered one of the few pygmy forests in the world. Few of the trees were over 10 feet high. According to a sign on the trail, the soil is 1000x times more acidic than normal soil. I do not understand what that means — what’s the PH? Transformed into giants, Jason and I loomed over much of the stunted vegetation. We left the pygmy forest and started our return voyage back to the car, our hosts, and finally back to San Francisco.

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