An enjoyable and informative “mushroom walk” in the woods with John Beutler

On Saturday, in a pleasant light rain, nine people took a fun and very educational wander in the early autumn forest on of Catoctin Mountain!

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This particular outing was limited to a small group, so that we could easily gather round and hear from John Beutler, a local resident and scientist who has studied mushrooms and taught mushroom identification courses for forty years (in addition to collecting them for personal consumption…something we did not do as part of this outing).

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Our slowly meandering mobile classroom was so engaging and informative that we are already talking about having John lead another group on a similar “mushroom walk” in the spring.

I’m sure I speak for everyone when I express my appreciation to John for sharing his knowledge…and his enthusiasm…with us. I’ve learned more about local and wild mushrooms in two walks with John this year than I’d learned in many years of seeing, and often photographing them, on my frequent walks in the woods.

As we plan and organize more outings, of all sorts, we hope many of you will take the opportunity to join us, enjoy the natural beauty and diversity of Frederick County, meet other good folks, and sometimes learn a bit in the process.

Frederick County has a notable variety of natural areas, many protected in public parks and other preserves, and others by private property owners who are willing to provide access to responsible visitors to an abundance of beautiful places that are not well known. They include mountaintop outcroppings with spectacular views, mature woodlands along quiet stretches of the Monocacy River, secluded stream valleys, wildlife-rich wetlands, patches of rich forests with older and taller trees that can be found in most of the county, and more.

Of course, when you move slowly, looking for mushrooms, you find other things, too!

Of course, when you lookfor mushrooms, you find other things, too! photo by Elaine Reinhold

Future outings will often be at more familiar, publicly-owned or accessible parks and preserves, such as the C&O Canal towpath, the trails on Catoctin and South Mountain, the Monocacy National Battlefield, Sugarloaf Mountain, and so on. But we will include a good mix of outings to special places that are not generally accessible for public use.

efcpolypore200wOur primary goal here is simply to encourage folks to connect with and learn about the rich and diverse nature of our lovely county, but also to connect with each other.

Some of these outings, however, will be narrowly-focused on specific subjects, like mushrooms, or spring wildflowers or migrating birds or forest ecology or local geology, led by local folks with that expertise, and planned for the right place at the right time!

We’ll also be planning some outings that are specifically oriented for kids and their families.

We’re excited about expanding the local outings and outdoor education program we’ve started this year. Look for another fall outing soon, as well as one or two during the winter.

Thank you to the folks who have attended the first two!

Please note that, we will publicize the outings in various ways, but will always post about them on our Facebook page, and often set up a Facebook event page. And, in most cases, there will be no fee for participating in these outings.

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If you have any thoughts, suggestions or questions, please let me know at kai.hagen@envisionfrederickcounty.org

Here is the group shot from our first organized nature outing, this past summer…

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