It’s been a while since I’ve brought you a post on one of my hiking excursions. I must confess, in the excessive heat of mid-summer, I wimped out and took a break from hiking. I started to really miss it though. Spending hours on the trail, breaking a sweat, and making sure I don’t fall on my face is great fun.

The hiking group that I belong to are wonderful people and dear friends. Hiking for me is therapeutic. After a few hours on the trail concentrating on my feet, my mind begins to clear of all the “stuff” of the real world and I become more in tune with nature.

Today’s hike was in an untouched protected area outside of Annapolis. The Bacon Ridge Natural Area has almost 1,000 acres of woodlands which Anne Arundel County intends to develop a limited use trail system when funds become available. In the meantime, bushwacking and stepping over fallen branches and trees was the course. After the hot dry summer of June and July, the rains of August have begun and the woods was wet and humid. Perfect conditions for all sorts of interesting mushrooms to grow.

One of the first ones that caught my eye is this Shelf mushroom. It was about two feet tall and looked as if someone created this structure on the tree trunk.

While crossing trees, a number of Polypores caught my eye on the fallen soldiers. These polypores are leathery and only grow on wood. Several varieties are popular for eating.

There were so many more varieties of mushrooms that I passed by today, but the group was hiking rather quickly. Seeing Stinkhorns, puffballs, coral and jelly mushrooms I wished that I knew more about mushrooms in the wild and just what types were edible. After all, I don’t need to have an experience like Alice in Wonderland.

This mushroom totally fascinated me as it appeared to be a work of art. The scientific name of Basidiomycete, this Sparassis Herbstii is said to be edible. But please don’t take my word on it, the last thing I am is a mushroom expert.

I was able to identify several of these mushrooms at a wonderful website at http://americanmushrooms.comso please feel free to browse this website for lots of information on mushrooms in America.

As to the box turtle? Well, he wasn’t too happy that I was getting close to him to take his picture. Guess he didn’t appreciate the paparazzi, and hissed at me while I snapped away.

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