Only in Whistler: Fungi to F’ing Eh!




Poisonous, originally uploaded by amber turnau.

Only in Whistler can you go from learning about wild mushrooms in the forest with fungi fanatics to hitting up a snowboard movie premiere filled with hip industry kids all in the same day.

Whistler’s annual mushroom festival, Fungus Among Us took place over the weekend. The event, held by Whistler Naturalists’ Society, includes mushroom seminars and slide shows, walks in the forest with gurus and even an edible fungi cooking class.

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Early Saturday morning, about 50 people gathered in the parking lot of the local school to discover the forgotten fungi through the eyes of mushroom experts.

From older hippie types with long beards to young families to twenty-somethings, an eclectic group of people turned up that misty morning. Our group headed to the Brandywine Falls area, where we embarked on our pouring rain adventure through the forest.

Believe it or not, there is a myriad of mushrooms in the forests of the Pacific Northwest; from the “Elf’s Saddle” that contains the natural elements of rocket fuel, to the edible Hawk’s Wing with a beautiful flower pattern to a poisonous variety that’s symptoms don’t hit you until two weeks later when you will likely need a kidney transplant.

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We happened upon a few Pine Mushrooms which actually sell for around $40/kg. Another member of our group found a massive edible the size of her head – that’s a lot of mushroom risotto!

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Our mushroom experts were passionate – and comfortable in their nerdiness – and truly gave us all an appreciation for the fungus among us! That being said, I’d never be comfortable enough to go into the forest and pick my own mushrooms without an expert on hand. But, you can sure make a killing if you know what you’re doing!

At the end of the walk, my friend and I headed back to cook our mushrooms. Sauteed in garlic and butter – hey, we’re naturalists, not chefs!

That night, it was on to the snowboard movie premiere “Sixes and Sevens” by film company NuuLife Cinemas. Beers, schwag, cool videos and hip, young kids brought all the elements of a classic industry party.l

From a family-themed walk in the woods to a rowdy movie at the GLC, Whistler gave me the best of both worlds in less than 24 hours.

And that’s why I love living in this place, where adventure and appreciation for nature go hand in hand – and there are always beers along the way.

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