Down the Mountain at Night

Some projects take more planning than others. One of the most demanding so far was a trip I made to look for bioluminescent (glow-in-the-dark) mushrooms. The object of my search are small mushrooms in the Genus of Mycena. Technically, they themselves do not glow, but instead it is the bacteria inside of them. I knew that they prefer wet conditions to grow and I was stay a couple hours away from a mountain that had a sub-tropical rainforest near the top. There was a possibility of finding them there.

The first part of the planning came in getting permission to look for the mushrooms. They are located inside a National Forest which is typically locked from entry (or exit) at night. I had to fill out an application describing my project and get approved for a specific date. Because of the timing, I probably would not get a second chance at this project. The date to choose had to be planned carefully around the phases of the moon. I wanted a night that would have little or no light because the light of the moon would be enough to obscure the tiny glow emitted by the mushrooms.

I was approved and on my appointed day I drove to the forest, registered at the visitor center, drove inwards (through some beautiful scenery), and finally parked near a trail head that would lead up the mountain. My hike up was tiring. The summit was about 3,600 feet high and I arrived shortly before dark. I explored the top, found some beautiful flowers, and had a snack while waiting for night to fall. Now the adventure begins.

In the dark, one’s mind has time to go over many scenarios. I am hiking alone … at night … on a mountain … and although my family knows my general location, no one really knows exactly where I am at because I am following the clues to find the mushrooms [in the end, I was able to stay on an existing footpath]. This was obviously breaking many safety recommendations. At least this area did not have any major predatory animals like bears or mountain lions.

As I started descending the mountain, prepared for a long night of work, I almost immediately found some tiny glowing slime on the side of a log. Wow … that was fast and although the glow is not strong, I am still impressed and take pictures. But I was not satisfied, I came for mushrooms. A few hours later I found leaves on the forest floor with glowing lines in them. These I recognized as roots … but still no actual mushrooms.

Bioluminescent Mycena Mushroom

A few hours later, and close to when the moon would soon come up, as I was getting lower on the mountain and dragging mentally and physically, … I took a moment to turn off my flashlight (equipped with a red light for night vision), and looked around. Suddenly, I saw specks of a greenish glow on the ground. I drew close. I had found what I was looking for. These minute, 1/8th of an inch tall mushrooms glowing in the forest at night. I took many pictures … most over 10 seconds in length to capture this unique sighting.

I was finally able to drag myself to the car, have a bite to eat, and just curl up in the back seat to sleep. I had brought a tent, but I was exhausted (and no one else was locked up in the park that night anyway). This search was successful. I could go home knowing I saw something rare and unusual. Our Creator’s work is amazing and each adventure helps me to appreciate it all the more.

Todd Elder

Todd Elder

Todd Elder has a deep desire to understand and experience Creation. As a Baraminologist, his current research includes developing the Katagenos Species Concept, the Natanzera Classification System, and the Floral Formula Method of determining Plant Kinds. As an author and speaker, his books and seminar materials are designed to encourage a growing relationship with the Creator.
Todd Elder

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