It began in 1902 and lasted for the next 50 years. Flames shot up 300 feet high with wind gust whipping at 40 mph, sparks leaping over 1/2 mile wide, fire spreading 20 miles in 12 hours. This was Washington’s largest wildfire that covered over 238.00 acres of forested land that laid between Stevenson and Vancouver. It was called the Yacolt Burn of 1902, named after the community that lay at the Western edge. Between the years of 1902 and 1952, there were 25 conflagrations that occurred inside the boundaries of the first burn. They are known as re-burns and added continued devastation to the forest. 38 people died and 148 families lost their homes. During the 30’s and 40’s the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) were the major work force that built lookouts, planted 16 millions seedlings. In the 50’s Washington used inmates from the Larch Correction center, where they helped with building telephones lines and felling snags within the old burn.
If your curious about edible mushrooms that grow in the wild, then this adventure is for you. We met up in the parking lot of Fred Meyer off of Mill Plain in Vancouver to meet the group from Portland called Portland Mushroom Hunters. From there after several missed turns and roads to nowhere, we made it to our final destination high up on Livingston Mtn. road in the Gifford Pinchot NF. We then turned off onto a rather wide gravel forest service road for another 1/2 mile.
Our first search area proved to be the best despite the late season hunt. We found only one Chanterelle; however this location appeared to provide the best environment for mushrooms. It is lush and overgrown with varied vegetation of a dense thick forest.
What to bring; basket, knife or scissors, small brush to flick off dirt, rain pants and coat, boots, whistle, compass, light snacks, water, possibly first aide kit and flashlight. Word of caution, if you bring home some mushrooms and are unsure if they are safe, research them as much as possible. If you are going to try them, eat a little bit and save the rest in the fridge, in case you need to see a doctor.