Monday, August 24, 2015

Florida or Bust, Days 2 and 3

Two Colored Boletes and a mess-o-puff-balls

Subtitle for today could be "Mushrooms and Morning Glories"

I spent the night at the very hiker-friendly Skeenah Creek Campground just a half mile from the trail on GA 60.

There I met David Killion, amicable host, and some of his mushroom enthusiasm rubbed off on me.  It has been very wet these past few days in North Georgia, so the woods are popping up mushrooms in abundance.

I'd known for a long time that puff-ball mushrooms are edible as long as the interior remains pure white, but David showed me pictures of the family of mushrooms called Boletes, and so I was on the lookout for those huge, heavy, meaty gems.  I carried the five best with me and brought them back as a present for David.

I left many more in the woods.  My favorite visual treat is the Shaggy Stalked Bolete.  According to the internet experts, these are edible but not very good tasting.

Also encountered was one far less appealing, creepy looking fungus 'flower'.  This one is called the Elegant Stinkhorn, and it really has a putrid smell.  This is a fungus in the family Phallaceae - easy to see why they picked that name.

The hikes covered in this report cover about fourteen miles of Benton MacKaye Trail from the 'Swinging Bridge' over the Toccoa River, across GA 60 and on to Wilscot Gap where the trail crosses GA 60 again.  I was able to do the eleven miles of trail between the GA 60 crossings and take a short-cut back to the beginning-point by road-walking GA 60 - it's just 4.3 miles by road.

Along the road I encountered my favorite variety of Morning Glory.  It's one that blooms in four distinctive colors, seemingly all on the same plant.  And each of the colors is stunning - deep royal blue, light blue, pink and white:

And right beside it was a showy but diminutive Scarlet Star Morning Glory:

Hiking trail in the woods can be dull when there are no views - it's all trees and dirt.  I had only one view all day, but the day was anything but dull thanks to the fungi and the flowers.

Here's a map of the hiking route--BMT one way and roads the other over two legs.

BMT - Toccoa Swinging Bridge to Wilscot Gap at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best hikes in California and beyond

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