Chad Hagemann was born and raised in Oregon, and has spent most of his life living in and exploring the various corners of our state. An avid hiker from an early age, he’s spent weeks at a time living out of backpacks wandering through the woods, climbing majestic PNW peaks, and swimming in the crystal clear waters of secluded mountain lakes. Spending so much time out in the wilderness gave Chad an appreciation for close observation; after all, when no one can come get you, it pays to know exactly where you are, and what, exactly, is nearby. This is where the mushrooms come in.
With their vast underground networks and complex systems of survival, mushrooms–more than most things–require close consideration. Chad says that hunting for mushrooms demands he move “slowly and methodically through the landscape,” paying close attention to sound, temperature, flora, and the interplay between them all. Are there rhododendrons, Oregon grape, and salal nearby? A dense carpet of duff? What about the elevation, recent precipitation, clear cuts?
Chad describes his mushroom hunting not in terms of a hobby or job, but of a practice always being refined, with each season offering more knowledge, insights, and sometimes even questions. Mushroom hunting has changed the way he views the world, brought his focus tighter, and helped him understand that within the vastness of the wilderness is in fact a system of interconnected microcosms, each offering something to the other.
When he’s not ranging across Mt Hood looking for mushrooms, Chad grows flowers, vegetables, keeps bees, and raises ducks and chickens on the 5 acre farm near Sandy he shares with his wife Sarah and their kids Gus and Willa. He applies the lessons of the forest to his life on the farm, observing the interplay between the animals, the weather, and the garden, making note of seasonal changes, gauging the effects of various inputs, and cultivating healthy growth. He’s at the doorstep of Mt. Hood National Forest, in close proximity to his favorite hunting grounds, and, lucky for us, mushroom season is here.
All images courtesy of Chad Hagemann