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Wild River Wilderness in the White Mountain National Forest

Good evening, friends,


I hope you all had a lovely Memorial Day Weekend. I visited my friend Phil, a former roommate/coworker from the park, and we got in a couple good nights out in the woods. We figured MDW would be busy on the trails so Phil picked out the wilderness less traveled - Wild River Wilderness - and we set out early Saturday morning. It really was less traveled as a significant portion of the access road had been washed out by a severe December storm. A minor setback that added ten miles to our hike. Undaunted, we set on and had a really good time.


Wild River Wilderness in the White Mountain National Forest

Funga


There weren’t too many mushrooms out yet, it’s earlier in the spring and it has been pretty dry there, but we still saw some notable species that I rarely get to see - and one particular mushroom I’d never seen before. The most common mushrooms we saw were Funeral Bells (Galerina marginata) - or some similar species of Galerina - that were growing indiscriminately on deciduous and coniferous trees. Here are some of the other notable finds:


Spring Orange Peel (Caloscypha fulgens). We saw these bright orange cup fungi just a few times - all at elevation on the ridge - growing out of the moisture from the very recent snow melt (there was still some patches of up there).
Spring Orange Peel (Caloscypha fulgens). We saw these bright orange cup fungi just a few times - all at elevation on the ridge - growing out of the moisture from the very recent snow melt (there was still some patches of up there).

Water Club mushroom (Vibrissia truncorum). These little semi-aquatic mushrooms were fairly common and we saw them in areas where water crossed the trail.
Water Club mushroom (Vibrissia truncorum). These little semi-aquatic mushrooms were fairly common and we saw them in areas where water crossed the trail.

Northern Red Belt (Fomitopsis mounceae). One of my favorite mushrooms, and quite medicinal. I love the color palette.
Northern Red Belt (Fomitopsis mounceae). One of my favorite mushrooms, and quite medicinal. I love the color palette.

Poplar bracket (Phellinus tremulae). This just looks like a mushroom that lives on the side of a tree year-round in the New Hampshire wilderness. Grizzled yet stoic.
Poplar bracket (Phellinus tremulae). This just looks like a mushroom that lives on the side of a tree year-round in the New Hampshire wilderness. Grizzled yet stoic.

Flora


This was a great time of the year for spring wildflowers with Trillium and Clintonia dotting either side of the trail most of the way up the mountain. At the bottom of the valley some of the plants were already done flowering, while further up on the mountain these flowers hadn’t even emerged yet. Walking up hill was like time travel. Here are some of my favorite plants from the weekend:


Rhodora (Rhododendron canadense). A beautiful northeastern shrub that has captured the eye and hearts of many, including Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Rhodora (Rhododendron canadense). A beautiful northeastern shrub that has captured the eye and hearts of many, including Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The Rhodora, On Being Asked, Whence Is the Flower

Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1834


In May, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes,

I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods,

Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook,

To please the desert and the sluggish brook.

The purple petals fallen in the pool

Made the black water with their beauty gay;

Here might the red-bird come his plumes to cool,

And court the flower that cheapens his array.

Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why

This charm is wasted on the earth and sky,

Tell them, dear, that, if eyes were made for seeing,

Then beauty is its own excuse for Being;

Why thou wert there, O rival of the rose!

I never thought to ask; I never knew;

But in my simple ignorance suppose

The self-same power that brought me there, brought you.


Painted trillium (Trillium undulatum). I don’t get to see these often in the wild, although we did plant them at Central Park and they grow there, and it’s always a treat when I do.
Painted trillium (Trillium undulatum). I don’t get to see these often in the wild, although we did plant them at Central Park and they grow there, and it’s always a treat when I do.

Blue-bead Lily (Clintonia borealis) These lovely yellow flowers give way to vibrant blue berries later in the spring. The most populous understory plant we encountered.
Blue-bead Lily (Clintonia borealis) These lovely yellow flowers give way to vibrant blue berries later in the spring. The most populous understory plant we encountered.

Pink lady’s slipper (Cypripidium acaule). I learned that these flowers are white right after they emerge and before they turn pink. I’d never seen the flower when it was white.
Pink lady’s slipper (Cypripidium acaule). I learned that these flowers are white right after they emerge and before they turn pink. I’d never seen the flower when it was white.

Slime Mold


Wolf’s Milk Slime (Lycogala). A group of amoeboid protist bacteria fusing into one organism with perhaps the best name in all of names.
Wolf’s Milk Slime (Lycogala). A group of amoeboid protist bacteria fusing into one organism with perhaps the best name in all of names.

Insects


While we may have avoided the crowds we definitely didn’t avoid the bugs. They were waiting for us, and boy were they hungry. It was a long winter and they were ready to eat.


There were three biting insects: mosquitos, black flies, and sandflies (no-see-ums). Black flies were the most numerous, mosquitos the most consistent, and no-see-ums the most damaging to my overall well-being. We woke up in the rain Monday morning and I could see the no-see-ums crawling on the outside of the tent. That was really the first time we’d seen them all trip, but I could tell they were eyeing me up. I had an uneasy feeling.


And rightfully so because they rocked us like a hurricane. It honestly looked like a magnetic force the way they would attach themselves to my skin the second any of it was exposed. I was distraught, but also impressed.


Black flies crawling on my tent.
Black flies crawling on my tent.

Regardless of the bugs, the weekend was a blast. We’ll dive a little deeper into one of these fungi next week. Then we’ve got the Friends of Fungi retreat at Menla the weekend after that - always one of my favorite weekends of the year. Lots to look forward to,


Aubrey


Holding a ~20 year old tinder hoof (Fomes fomentarius/excavatus)
Holding a ~20 year old tinder hoof (Fomes fomentarius/excavatus)

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