Shroomin’ in Cleveland

If you’re into good times in the great outdoors, the place to be in Southern California is the Cleveland National Forest. I did not know this until a couple weekends ago, when a bunch of us Arthur folks — that’d be me, Jay and Eden — headed out to the Santa Ana Mountains that mark the border of Orange and Riverside counties for one of the Los Angeles Mycological Society‘s mushroom forays.

Soon after our arrival (it’s about an hour drive from Los Angeles) we met the dreadlock soldier pictured above, who’s showing off a dried up little morsel of fungus — I forget the actual classification, you’ll have to forgive me — that he unearthed from under an oak tree.

Eden and I turned up this tiny little pleated fellow by rustling around in some damp leaves, not far from where I was goofing around taking pictures of some lichens.

Our tiny little mushroom generated some excitement with a couple other mushroom hunters, but it really paled next to these beasts that Shannon — the hearty fellow with an English accent and a bunch of serious mushroom-hunting trowels and knives and such pictured below — turned up. Not far off from where Shannon was hunting Jay unearthed some bleach-smelling specimens (check ’em out on the Arthur blog).

We were planning to catch up with some of the more hardcore hunters in a secret spot not far off, but got turned around a bit on the winding mountain roads. Not to worry though, as the Cleveland National Forest is, as I mentioned above, rife with weekend thrillseekers. So we ended up chilling out with these hangliders and paragliders for awhile, watching them ready their gear and then jump off the cliff overlooking Lake Escondido to the north. They’d grunt, holler and go flying off, disturbing the ravens that had previously been enjoying the thermals in peace.

About to take off.

And away he goes.

Off the edge.

And away.

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