Bearded Tooth Mushroom

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The bearded tooth mushroom is quite beautiful. It does not have a mushroom cap, instead, it has long icicle-like teeth that hang down. These teeth create and release spores, these spores spread out with the wind and allow the mushroom to reproduce. There are many mushrooms that reproduce using these teeth-like structures, but the bearded tooth mushroom is by far the most recognizable one.

Bearded tooth mushroom is considered an important medicinal mushroom. The Chinese have used this mushroom for thousands of years for stomach problems and cancer of the digestive organs. These mushrooms also have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and they do a bang on job of boosting the immune system against certain types of cancers. Recently, it has been discovered that there are components within this mushroom that can actually men damaged nerve ends and regrow them. It has been shown to combat Alzheimers and dementia.

The bearded tooth mushroom is edible and considered choice when cooked, it has a seafood-like flavor that is quite delicious.  I like to slow cook them sliced and panfried in butter, cook them slowly so the moisture is released, do not add spices until they are almost ready. By slow cooking them, you will find they are firm and a bit chewy making them enjoyable to eat.

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Bamfield, Vancouver Island Communities, Pacific Northwest
Bamfield, Photo By Bud Logan

Bamfield is located at the southern entrance to Barkley Sound. The community of Bamfield was named after a carpenter, Eddy Banfield who moved to the area in the late 1850’s,  and took up trading with the first peoples. In 1860, Banfield established a permanent trading post at the entrance to Barkley Sound, which came to be named after him. Eddy died two years later, they are not sure about how he died, but there are rumors that he was murdered. Eddy may have died, but his trading post did not and it was the start of a great little coastal community.

In 1902, when a post office was opened in Bamfield, a mistake was made in the spelling of its name and instead of Banfield, it was called Bamfield. The name stuck and that’s what it is called now.

Bamfield Water Taxi, Bamfield, Vancouver Island Communities, Pacific Northwest
Bamfield Water Taxi, Photo By Bud Logan

There is much to do here, the village economy is based on tourism with a little fishing and logging, it is a great place to go sea kayaking, hiking or just beach combing. It is the last village before the start of the west coast trail. The Bamfield Marine Sciences opened in 1972, it is a research center, but also has tours in the summer. Parking is difficult though, so be prepared to walk a ways to reach the center on busy days. It is a great place to visit.

We took the water taxi across to on West Bamfield and after walking the boardwalk to the outer end, we stopped at the general store, great store, ice cream and coffee, the locals gather here to chat while sitting on the benches provided. I had a great conservation with one of the locals, a Lars B Mogensen, and he told me an awesome story about how the boardwalk was built. The stories go like this.

Bamfield, Vancouver Island Communities, Pacific Northwest
Bamfield Boardwalk, Photo By Bud Logan

There used to be a fellow who worked for the highways department who’s job was to maintain the the local trails, repair the bridges and just general up keep. Apparently he had ordered some cedar planking to use for this purpose. When it arrived, there had been a mistake in the amount of board feet ordered and instead of the 1000 board feet ordered, there was a lot more, i believe he said to me that it was 100,000 board feet and it was unloaded from a barge on west Bamfield. Instead of sending it back, he decided to build the west Bamfield boardwalk, it runs from one end of the village right through to the other end and is quite beautiful.

The best part of the story is that because it was build by the highways department, this boardwalk is maintained by them, so every couple of years a couple of workers come to walk the boardwalk with one on top and the other under, they mark planks that need replacing and then a crew comes after to do the repairs. So this is one of the nicest boardwalks you will ever see on our coast and it should remain like that for years to come.

Brady's Beach, Bamfield, Vancouver Island Communities, Pacific Northwest
Brady’s Beach, Bamfield, Photo By Bud Logan

While you are over in West Bamfield, you must walk across to Brady’s Beach. This an incredible area to hike along. There are many sea stacks and shore formations that are quite impressive. We spent a few hours here exploring and were fascinated with the scenery and wildlife. Its an easy walk with great directions along the way. You will not regret visiting here. It is a very impressive place to see.

Bamfield is 80 km from Port Alberni, along a fairly good logging road. You can take a boat trip from either Port Alberni or Ucluelet instead of driving.

There are numerous lakes and rivers in the area and the wildlife viewing is incredible, with bears and whales, seals and birds, you can spend all day just watching the eagles here.

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Spruce Medicine

Spruce Tea and syrup

Spruce Needles & Cones, Photo By Bud Logan

Spruce Bark, Cones and needles can be used to make a tea or syrup that can relieve colds, reduce the fever from flu and ease joint pain that comes with these ailments. The cones produce the best medicine, cones are picked year round from the tops of young trees but all the ingredients have various components that when cooked together compliment each other both in taste and in the ability to work as medicine.

Directions for tea

Usually about 15 cones along with needles and bark are boiled for 10 to 15 minutes in a pot of water to make tea. The longer they boil, the stronger the medicine becomes, strain the liquid before drinking it. Spruce tea relieves coughing and sore throats and stuffed chests. Those who are sick with colds can take it three or four times a day for up to five days. You can cool this tea and serve over ice if you like. Sweeten to taste with honey or brown sugar syrup.

Directions for syrup

To make a syrup that can be used like any cold syrup as well as a winter treat when put on ice cream requires a bit more work. To make a basic syrup you add to a big pot all the ingredients and cover with water, boil then simmer the mix for hours until it has reduced down to about a quarter of its contents and strain. Then add the sweetener and there it is.

I like to use three cups of needles, around 15 spruce cones, about a cup of fir needles for a cystitis flavor and some spruce gum if handy. The spruce gum is strong in medicine and only a small amount should be used. Cover with about 6 cups of water and boil this gently until it has reduced down to 3 cups in volume. Strain this.

Crow Berries, Photo By Bud Logan

Add to this mixture about 10 rose hips, place these in a tied muslin bag when adding to avoid getting any hip hairs in the mix as these will give one an itchy bottom. Along with the hips add some hawthorn berries and crow berries, both can be gathered in the late fall/winter months, don’t worry if the hawthorn berries are dried out as this is best. Crow berries are gathered up in the high country and can be found even when covered in snow. You can replace these berries with store bought berries if you must. To this add a teaspoon of cinnamon and you could add some grated orange or lemon peel for flavor. Bring to a boil and then simmer until you have a cup of fluid left, strain again and add your sweetener. Honey works well or add a sugar sweetener,

Hawthorn Berries, Photo By Bud Logan

To make a brown sugar sweetener just add equal amounts of brown sugar and water, boil down while stirring until it is a thick mixture, For every cup of syrup you will add a cup of honey or sugar mixture, simmer this for about 10 minutes, cool and place in a glass container. It will stay good for a month or more in the fridge.

The Spruce tree has many medicinal uses, The sap that can be found year round on spruce trees and in green firewood can be used to soothe irritated skin and, when applied to cuts, helps healing and reduces the chance of infection. You are looking for new sap that has recently run from the wood of the tree.

Collect sap that’s really sticky and clear. Take it and warm it in same amount of water until it’s melted, and then put an equal or slightly smaller amount of Vaseline, Use a clean stick and stir it slowly. You can use this as a cream for cuts and sore muscles. It smells nice too. it should always be kept at room temperature.

Nimpkish, Lake Of Winds

Nimpkish Kite Surfing, Photo By Bud Logan

Nimpkish lake is located in the Nimpkish Valley and it is a big lake. It is 20 km + long and quite narrow. The wind can come up on this body of water to produce some extremely large waves that will put you to shore to wait it out so be careful. On the other hand, it is an ideal place to wind-surf or kite-sail.

The water in the Nimpkish is deep and cold, the winds can be very strong and the waves can become quite massive. This is a lake for those who have at least some experience wind-surfing. You really need to come equipped for the conditions that prevail on this north island lake. Take a look at the photos in this story and you will see the one kite-boarder who has lost his board and is flying by quite high off the water. As you can see, the winds can be quite fierce. I am sure this surfer has a pretty wild tale to tell.

To get to a great place to put in your wind boards for either wind-surfing or kite-boarding, travel up the highway until you pass Woss, then turn left at the Nimpkish turnoff, ( look for an old brown building that used to be a gas station and turn there) follow the road keeping right until you come to a double set of rail tracks. You will notice an old road that turns right in between the tracks, follow this road to the end. This is the trail head for the Nimpkish lake Windsurfing Trail. This trail will take you down to a great place to put in at Kinman Creek. Its a bit of a walk in but i recommend this spot for those looking to kite-sail.

There is another trail that heads south from the beach that will take you to the lower end of the lake and one of the campgrounds. There are numerous spots along this trail that would be great for camping and putting in your boards. To reach the campground by auto, stay left on the way in and follow this road to the lake.

The shoreline is pretty awesome along the lake with fantastic rock cliff formations, across from the put in at Kinman Creek, you will find shore level caves that are pretty cool and most of the creeks, streams and rivers that flow in have incredible canyons and falls if you just hike up a bit from the shore.

Nimpkish Lake, Photo By Bud Logan

There are dolly varden and cutthroat trout in this lake that can reach impressive sizes, best to troll from a boat or canoe but you can catch the odd biggie from the shore during the evening bite, just before dark. I have camped and fished on this lake since i was young-in, long before the inland island highway made it easy to get here. There is so much to see and do here, its one of my favourite areas on the island. There are several boat launches and recreational sites on the lake as well as a great provincial park on the lake. There are no roads to the park so you need to boat in.

The wildlife in the area is awesome and you have a good chance in seeing wolves, bears, cougars, elk, deer, pine martins, raccoons and a great variety of birds. There are lots of incredible beautiful wildflowers here on the shores of this lake as well. It is quite a wonderland. You can camp, fish, windsurf, kite-sail or hike while enjoying the incredible views from your campsite, not bad for a lake that is just off the highway

So pack up your campers with your windsurfing gear, load the canoes and kayaks on top, grab your camera and head up to Nimpkish lake for an adventure that you will never forget.