There are wooly chanterelles that have tops like shaggy funnels. We find these in clumps, young and old together. The young have burnished button tops.
The western russulas are especially common. The tops of their basidiocarps are purple and some approach six inches in diameter. There is a slight dip in the center of the russula’s cap, and in those centers little moss communities stand where they have been displaced from soil to the top of the mushroom pedestal. The western russulas do not age well. They chip and crack. Diamonds shaped cracks creep across the purple tops of the basiocarps to reveal white interiors.
Slimy red caps adorn the tops larch wax caps, which go also by the name Hygrophorus speciosus. These caps—the diameter of a quarter and a half—we find tucked beneath the still green leaves of low plants.
There are upheavals of soil and duff at the trail’s edge pushed up by orange lips. I bend my head to look and see down a throat to subterranean darkness. It is as if we have found evidence of subterranean souls—like those belonging to Wagner’s Nibelungs that mine bright minerals. I look closely and see the orange lip is the rim of a basidiocarp. Gills stand behind the lip. And yet, for a moment I think, those gills might be teeth, and this mouth, lips, throat and teeth might speak. Whose mouth this is I cannot tell, but I stop to listen, hoping for words from the mysterium of mycelium.
Top photo is wooly chanterelle, Gomphus floccosus, and the bottom photo is western russula, Russula occidentalis (at least I hope those are correct determinations). I've used the recently published Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest by Steve Trudell and Joe Ammirati as my guide for identifications.