By Nancy Leonard, MNA Stewardship Contractor
It was an early September day, but it still seemed like summer. Forty-two of us gathered at Black Creek Nature Sanctuary in Keweenaw County for a Mushroom Field Trip. Dana Richter, a mycologist and professor at Michigan Technology University, lead us through the beautiful sanctuary in search of fungi.
The group brought together both hike and mushroom enthusiasts. We soon separated on the trail, the hikers headed for the lagoon and Lake Superior while the “mushroomers” stuck close to Dana. The ground was noticeably dry and, at first, not many mushrooms were found. Eyes sharped, though, and soon specimens were found for Dana to identify. “Russula, Lactarius, Cortinarius, Amanita….” Our heads were buzzing with names and information.
One discovery along the trail, the Chaga mushroom or cinder conk (Inonotus obliquus), is very common on birch trees but most people don’t recognize it. The growth has been used for centuries for varying purposes including serving as a fire starter and use in concocting a curative tonic.
By the time we reached the picturesque lagoon, it was lunchtime. Lake Superior was having one of her calm days and offered refreshing wading opportunities. Some in the group wandered back with steward Peter along the shoreline. Others returned on the trail with Dana. All agreed that Black Creek Nature Sanctuary is a wonderful place to spend a late summer Saturday.