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Morning photo: Treeline!

‘Shroom hunting in Colorado

Evening vista in Mayflower Gulch, Summit County, Colorado.

Evening vista of the Tenmile Range, Summit County, Colorado.

FRISCO — Aug. 31 is a bit late for the peak of the mushroom season in Colorado, but after a stream of rainy days, we headed up high, near treeline, to search for fungi. In some of the moist, north-facing draws along the rough road into the Tenmile Range, we found a profusion of mushrooms, as many as 10 species in a square meter, including funky corals, puffballs and tasty wild agaricus, an edible variety closely related to grocery store mushrooms.

Seeing the mushrooms at peak season, bursting through a living tapestry of moss and lichen, makes me realize how big a part of the forest life force these humble fungi really are, locking carbon deep in the soil and helping the trees, old and young, absorb nutrients from the thin Rocky Mountain soil.

Purple coral fungi Colorado

Every time I come across a patch of this purple coral, I understand why some people speculated that mushroom spores arrived as an alien species aboard a meteor.

puffball mushrooms Colorado

A cluster of golf ball-szie puffballs growing in a spruce-fir forest near Copper Mountain, clustered around a blue rock. Later, we saw a sign identifying a mining claim, explaining the mineralized rocks on the ground.

Mayflower Gulch Colorado

Ghost forest.

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