Teasdale Update

Teasdale update, 8-9-12

I went to Teasdale last weekend with my daughter, Vivian. Ellen went to see her sister in Texas while we were down there.
The monsoon weather has continued in Wayne County. Upturned containers had a couple of inches of water in them and the ground was damp. The Kosha weed has grown explosively. When I was in Teasdale a couple of weeks ago I pulled it out around the house. This time the replacements which had grown in the interim were three or four feet tall. I was very hopeful that the mushroom hunting would be great up on the mountain.
We went up over Highway 12 towards the town of Boulder. I pulled off on a little side trail near the summit, which I figured was above 9600 feet and in an area that had gotten a lot of rain over the last few weeks according to the weather gauge information available on Weather Underground. The ground was soggy and there were lots of mushrooms in the woods, but no Porcini or Chanterelles that we could find. Lots of puffballs, hawk wings, shaggy manes, russulas, scaber stalks, a few cinctulas, fly agarics and, of course, countless lbm’s (little brown mushrooms), but none of the really good stuff (that we could find).
After a couple of hours of fruitless hunting we went on. I’d never hunted in this particular place before, but had picked it because of the weather information and its proximity to the paved roads. I thought our bad luck might have to do with the heavy grazing of live stock in the area, since cows and deer have a taste for porcini, but we hadn’t even seen any partially eaten porcini.

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Cows and Cowboys on Boulder Mountain,
We drove on down into the town of Boulder and took a brief side trip out onto the Burr Trail, which Garfield County, in its land grab machinations with the BLM, has paved. The Burr Trail, passes through not only Capitol Reef National Park (the part of the Trail in the Park is still unpaved), and what is now part of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, which I guess the county asserts road paving jurisdiction over. Whatever the county is up to, the road is a lot less dusty than in used to be.
The rain this year has been good for the desert plants and there were some really visually gorgeous contrasts between the sea green sage brush and other scrub and the coral, pink and red sand it was growing from.

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Coral and Sea Green on the Burr Trail.

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Burr Trail heading into the Waterpocket Fold.
After going a couple miles out onto the Burr Trail to get some pictures, we headed west across the southern flank of Boulder Mountain on Hell’s Backbone Road, which gets its name from a particularly nasty little gap in a ridge it traverses. At the point of that gap there is a 40 or 60 foot space over a gaping chasm. Immediately below the bridge the rocks and ground are probably less than a hundred feet below the road bed, but on each side of the bridge the land falls away thousands of feet. Originally the gap was spanned by a number of large Ponderosa’s growing at the edge that were felled across the span and then positioned and tested with a bulldozer, but the bridge has been replaced twice since then, and now a functional, but prosaic road bridge passes twenty feet above the original log contraption. Apparently, Hell’s Backbone road was at one time a short cut between Boulder and Escalante.

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Hell’s Backbone beneath the bridge, looking north.

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Hell’s Backbone bridge, looking south.

After crossing the bridge, we continue west across the south face of Boulder Mountain, planning to turn north on Posey Lake Road and go over the top of the mountain near my traditional mushroom hunting grounds and then back down to Highway 24 and Teasdale. We passed across the top of Box Death Hollow, where one can take a hike down the canyon, which is elaborated upon in one of my favorite descriptions of a hike in one of our maps of the hiking trails in and around Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. The hiking map is in Teasdale, but I liked the description so well that I’m pretty sure that I have it memorized, plus or minus a couple of words.

“Box Death Hollow, 21 miles, difficult: No water first 10 miles. Continuous wading next 11 miles. Poison ivy unavoidable. In the event of flash flood, escape may be impossible.”

Grab your gorp. Let’s go.
When we got on top of Boulder Mountain we made another attempt to find Porcini and Chanterelles. Again, lots of other lesser mushrooms, but despite seemingly ideal conditions, no bonanza of boletes or chanterelles. My theory is that it was so dry in May and June that the underlying fungus organisms supporting boletes and chanterelles did not develop normally so that despite the heavy rains in July and August, very few of the choice mushrooms. I don’t know anything about their life cycles or how they differ from the the other more abundant mushrooms this year, but I understand that mushroom scientists haven’t figured out how to domesticate a lot of the choice mushrooms, like morels, porcini and chanterelles, though they are able to propagate a lot of other varieties of mushrooms. Fittingly, the really good mushrooms have not yet given up their secrets to science, no one apparently knows exactly what the necessary and sufficient conditions are for them to flourish.