Walking Mountains hosts Fungi Foray and Evening Exploration on Wednesday, July 27 | VailDaily.com

Walking Mountains hosts Fungi Foray and Evening Exploration on Wednesday, July 27

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Last year's Walking Mountains Science Center Fungi Foray and Evening Exploration participants identify and count the diversity of mushrooms from the hunt. At this year's event on Wednesday, July 27, participants will have a chance to gain a firm handle on the foundations of mushroom identification by locating a variety of medicinal and edible fungi growing in the wild.

AVON — It's easy to take in the grand vistas and scenery of the valley, but often we pass over the smaller features of our dynamic environment. Hiding just underfoot nearly everywhere we go is a complex and fascinating organism that has lived on this planet for millions of years.

Long before trees shaded our slopes, mushrooms occupied and enhanced Earth's changing landscapes. Not only do these ancient fungi form symbiotic relationships with countless plant species, but many of them also provide nutrition for humans and wildlife. Harvesting wild mushrooms is an activity that takes time and patience, and knowing which flowering fungi to choose and which to avoid is a skill earned through practice and training.

Take a walk in the woods

An introduction to the study of mushrooms, or mycology, is a good way to leap into harvest season. Head into the forests of the Rocky Mountains with Walking Mountains Science Center and wild mushroom enthusiast Michael Heim for an afternoon mushroom foray and a walk in the woods on Wednesday.

Participants will have a chance to gain a firm handle on the foundations of mushroom identification by locating a variety of medicinal and edible fungi growing in the wild, discuss mushroom anatomy and learn the tools for contrasting mushrooms that may be poisonous with those that may inspire a dinner party. Return with a better understanding of what it means to hunt for mushrooms — and hopefully some fungi to take home.

Later that day, return to Walking Mountains Science Center for a deeper look into the basics of identification and classification. From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Walking Mountains representatives will delve into etymology and best harvesting practices and explore the delicious and nutritious side of these forest floor dwellers.

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Attend the programs separately or make a whole day of it. Heim's dynamic presentation and practical application will leave participants with a new understanding and appreciation for mycelium, fungus and mushrooms.

If you go …

What: Fungi Foray and Evening Exploration.

When: Wednesday, July 27; field program from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and evening presentation from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Where: Walking Mountains Science Center, 318 Walking Mountains Lane, Avon.

Cost: Fungi Foray field program is $125 per person, and Evening Exploration is free, with a $10 suggested donation.

More information: Space is limited. Visit http://www.walkingmountains.org/fun and click on Fungi Foray to register.