10 Days and 9 Nights Journeying through Yellowstone National Park’s Back Country

Elliot's Backpacking Trip through Yellowstone National Park

Elliot’s Yellowstone Adventure Overview

When I first arrived in Cody, Wyoming I was hoping that I would be able to spend about a week in Yellowstone National Park backpacking through the wilderness. I did some research before on bear safety and precautions and had spent a good amount of time and money gearing up and preparing.

The idea was to start learning how to cope with snow while camping. Also to have my longest backpacking adventure yet. Though I didn’t get the mild snowy weather I was hoping for, I did get quite a challenging adventure logistically and mentally.

Every night was very different, ranging from anxiety about bear activity, to lack of sleep due to Elk and Moose trumpeting, to sleeping soundly in Yellowstone’s very fun and beautiful campgrounds of which the Madison area was my favorite.

Another big goal was to see lots of wildlife while staying safe. Yellowstone has the highest concentration of mammals in the lower 48 United States (Alaska has more) and I am a large animal enthusiast. It turned out to be a great time and I really started to get the hang of being out there about 5 days into the adventure.

The second day in Cody, I made a friend named Josh, who I met at Sunlight Sports on the Main Street Sheridan Avenue. Josh is becoming a really good climber and we got another chance to climb after this and also went bouldering with some local dudes that were super talented on the local bouldering routes up on Cedar Mountain. We went sports climbing a day later and I asked him if he could give me a ride to the park for some gas money. He agreed, so I found a small storage unit and put all of the climbing gear and things that I didn’t think that I would need backing into it. Tuesday morning I headed into the park with Josh as my driver.

I later sent a 5.10c on lead and am super psyched on it even though I topped out like a beached whale cause my arms had literally no strength left in them at the top.

Part 1 – Acclimatizing to Living in Nature

Day 1 – Into the park and the Yellowstone Lake Backwoods

can you see the grizzly bear’s shoulder hump in the photo?

Josh dropped me off at about 9am at the East Entrance to Yellowstone State Park. I paid the $20 for personal entry to the park and started walking. The first day was spent mostly hoofing it alongside the road. Yellowstone isn’t exactly the most pedestrian friendly place in the world and focuses far more on road maintenance than keeping up its trails. However, this setup does allow for easy and effectively managed wildlife viewing, so I definitely have mixed feelings about it. I saw my first Grizzly bear about 3 hours into the first day, at about 11:30am whilst walking along the road. A photographer up ahead of me had a massive camera and we chatted for about 30 minutes about the bear’s activity. The photographer was full of useful information and had followed the bear the previous season, as well as earlier in the week. It was a very interesting beginning to a very long day.

Sylvan River Sulfur Spring

After 15 miles or so of hiking it along the road and having people waving at me from both directions, I left the road from the East Entrance. At about 3:30 (plenty of daylight to get to the lake, or so I thought…) I followed the Sylvan River down into the back country where I enjoyed the nature far more than the vehicles (many of them were RVs). I found this fascinating sulfur spring pouring into the river and decided to pump my water far upstream from it, where the water was much clearer. I wasn’t and still am not sure if my filter would be effective against such a smelly and toxic looking thermophile deposit, but it seemed to do fine with the trace amounts that must have been in the river. I continued down stream, leaving the river at points because the back country travel was so difficult. I was bush-whacking over large and stacked pine trees and began to see lots of animal sign, scat and tracks. I knew to make noise and avoid being smelled and I had all of my bear equipment at the ready, but I still became very fearful of animal activity and interest in me as the day progressed. I really felt that an animal might get curious and approach me. But the sun was going down the horizon and it was getting super cold. I setup my pack and bear canister far away from my site and waited to cook until the following day to stay hidden from the bear’s incredible sense of smell. Additionally, the sulfur deposits leeching into the river would protect against something smelling me or my pack. I settled down into the hardest night of sleep while in the park, worried that a bear might smell and/or interested in my campsite.

Sunrise of Day 2

I had a hard time sleeping that night, but my dreams were incredible. It probably took me 1-3 hours to get to sleep each night and this was for sure the longest it took me whilst in the park. My first dream was about a bear attacking me, jumping on my back while I was in my tent. Surprisingly, this put me at ease, allowing me to find some peace with where I was and the situation. I let go. The night passed and I awoke to a hard frost, but no signs of animal activity near me. I had made the mistake of leaving all of my sweaty clothing out (away from my tent) and it had all frozen over. Next time I would keep my wet clothes in my tent to avoid that situation happening again. I waited for the sun to rise above the ridge-line of the valley that I had slept in and warmed up with my gloves and some backpacker’s pantry oatmeal for breakfast as well as the Instant Coffee I bought from Pour Choice in Auburn, CA for this exact adventure.

Day 2 – Getting to Yellowstone Lake and Hitching my First Ride

The morning of the first was by far the hardest hiking I had to do. Two miles took me two hours and it took 5 to get to the lake. I attempted to follow the Sylvan river, but it was extremely slow going due to the downed trees, most likely from the flooding earlier in the season. Luckily my trekking poles came in very handy to effectively help me to cross over many of the larger stacked trees, but I still had to find my way through the maze. Sometimes I had to literally go backwards a bunch and find a new path forward. It took all morning and just a bit of the afternoon to reach the lake, which I had planned on staying at the first night.

My first view of the lake was spectacular, both in feeling and beauty. My stress levels diminished quite rapidly as I soaked my worn out feet in the lake, which were being gradually destroyed by my new Arc’teryx Acrux mountaineering boots that were not yet broken in. And I realized I had forgotten my favorite shoes, my Choco’s sandals, in my temporary storage unit back in Cody. I swam a bit in the icy cold water and then continued barefoot up to the road, where there was signage and all kinds of warning about bear activity in the area. I knew I was pretty lucky not to have encountered any wildlife other than squirrels and birds so far so I decided to recuperate and plan the next part of my trip outside of the lake area that I had originally planned to stay in for the duration of my backpacking trip to Yellowstone.

I hiked up to Sedge Bay and Steamboat Point picnic areas and met a really friendly Canadian couple who were traveling through the park with their car (like a normal person would). I asked for a ride and they graciously offered to bring me north, to Canyon Junction where they were staying at the expensive and beautiful Canyon Lodge.

We traveled for a few hours and roamed around the park, seeing Bison, checking out geysers, and learning about the conservation efforts of the park. I pretty much just went along with whatever they wanted to do, happy to not be alone in back country any longer. All the time we spent seeing the sights, I was wondering where I would stay the following night. At this point I learned that its really not allowed to just stay in the back country (even though I had previously signed up for a back country permit) and that you were supposed to stay in specific campgrounds throughout the park. But due to the off-season closures, I had a terribly hard time finding rangers to give me advice or any sort of guideance.

Once we arrived at Canyon Village, I talked to the very nice, however uninformative receptionist at the hotel, who explained that only one campground was really still open (actually there were two) and that it was on the Western end of the park, the Madison campgrounds. I was wary of staying in the back country for another night and didn’t have any idea of how I could get there, especially at the late hour that it was, around 6 o’clock. When I’m backpacking I definitely prefer to have my tent setup before dark. And Canyon Village had campgrounds, although they were closed for the season, even though the weather was still very agreeable. I got a hot plate for dinner, rice and chicken and veggies and then followed the Canyon Village road to the closed campground area.

I decided to stay just off the campgrounds in the forest around some trees that looked very healthy. I slept really well that night, but the dreams were still extremely vivid. And I could hear wolves and coyotes howling that night, which made for some interesting thoughts. Overall one of my good nights overall, getting to have a hot meal and feeling safe my camping area.

Day 3 – The Wild Greeble Lake

I woke up on the third day to the cold. The mornings were definitely a big temperature difference from the nights, so I would layer up in the mornings and then take off clothes as I started to sweat, doing my best to avoid moisture buildup in any of the layers.

I had studied a back country path out to the Cascade and Greeble Lake area so I got on the road early to find the trail. I got to the trailhead and began towards the lake, an easy hike for about 3 miles. Once I got there, the views were magnificent; this was the type of camping and backpacking that I had been looking for in the park. I passed a back country campground that allowed for fires and started to get super psyched to spend the night out there. I met three hikers along the trail and we chatted a bit about bear safety, they seemed to be very interested in my larger backpack so I was happy to chat and tell them about what I was doing out there.

I found an open site on Greeble Lake (some were closed due to wildlife activity) and setup my tent. It was only about 4pm so I went for a swim in the icy lake and got a fire going, cooked some dinner (actually my least favorite meal, New England corn chowder) and dried off some of my clothes, still wet from the first night’s hard frost.

Greeble Lake Fog

Pretty much as soon as the Sun went down, I heard loud trumpeting right next to my tent. And then swimming. The elk were for sure going out into the lake to swim and several of them were calling for mates. It was actually quite symphonic, they were beautifully calling out in the night and the moon was pretty full so I’m sure those elk were having the time of their lives out in the lake. Partially through the night, I heard a more distinctly large and deep animal trumpeting sound, that was more chaotic and louder. I’m pretty sure this was a moose, cause it came back to an area near my tent and started making tons of noise. I didn’t sleep so well that night, but it was so fantastic that I didn’t mind the next day. The dreams I had that night were the most vivid of the whole trip.

Day 4 – Arriving in Norris and Madison

The next day I awoke to no animal movement except for the little mallards on the lake. I woke up a bit later to get the sleep I knew I needed and to let the Sun warm up the fog from the lake. I pumped water, ate some breakfast and got on my way.

I passed Wolf and Ice Lake fairly early in the day and got out to Norris, where my trail disappeared into a giant meadow, with no landmarks in sight. I was completely lost for about an hour and heading into the direction I knew the road would be in. I trudged through the thick sedge grass in the meadow and followed power lines out to the road at Norris and the main road. Once I was on the road I decided to check out the Geyser basin. It did not disappoint, Norris has the most dynamic thermal activity in the park and is constantly changing. I spent about an hour exploring there, ate a little, then began to walk down the road to the Madison Campground.

At this point my feet were pretty destroyed, it was the first time I had worn my boots and I didn’t have a send pair of shoes to trade out. I was moving too slowly to get to Madison before nightfall so I decided to throw up my thumb and try to get my second ride of the trip. Probably 200 cars passed me before a truck stopped pretty far ahead, it looked like the guy who stopped was reorganizing his trunk space. I confirmed that he was going to give me a ride and a feeling of relief washed over me.

The next 15 miles took about 20 minutes rather than a whole day. Nate and his family of four, two younger boys, were my miracle that day, giving me lots of snacks and food to continue on with my back country adventure. They had previously traveled around Shoshone Lake and I figured that would be a good place to spend a night or two.

I got into the campground, tired and hungry and went to the local store to buy as much food as I could eat that night, including bacon, instant noodles, and BBQ style kettle chips.

I was getting my fire setup to cook the bacon when my Irish neighbors came over with some Bourbon whiskey to share!

These two gentlemen were from Ireland doing the continental divide trail on bike and were also looking to take a day and rest (I had covered quite a lot of distance in the past 3 days and needed to rest my feet from the heavy boots). We became friends quickly and began to tell of our lives back home, Tommy was a poet and Dermot, well I’m not too sure about Dermot’s story but he had traveled a lot and continued to love living in Ireland. We decided that the following day we would go fishing and take it easy at the campground, as it was one of the few places with accessible food. The rest of the park seemed to be completely shut-down for the season.

Day 5 – Fishing in Madison

I slept like a little baby that night, the bourbon kept me plenty warm and I was very happy to have a couple of friends to share time with. Tommy and I woke up late and went out to the river to fly fish and we spent the day exploring different flies and trying to entice the fish to our reel to no avail. Tommy had previously gotten his fishing license and I was happy to learn all about the conservation efforts for the local species of cutthroat trout. In fact, if you catch a bass in Yellowstone you are required to kill it. They are very intelligent about how they want to preserve native species in the park, I recommend checking out the rules simply because they are so interesting.

We came back to camp and had a couple of beers together and cooked some more bacon, I was definitely trying to eat as much fat as I could over those two days in Madison. And again I went to sleep a happy camper.

Part 2: Mental Acclimatization

Day 6 – Faerie Falls

The next day I woke up and packed up all my things, ready to try taping up my toes to keep them from forming more blisters from my boots. It worked out okay, but the first part of that day was still extremely difficult. The pain in my feet just didn’t seem to alleviate for any reason, no matter how I changed my walking technique. Eventually I found that stepping with my heels first was the only way to keep my toes from exploding with pain. I would use this type of walking technique for the rest of the trip, which definitely slowed down my pace.

The Madison River area turned out to be one of my absolute favorite places in the park. It was beautiful, everyone was friendly, and the fishing was really good. I could see myself going back during the summer months to stay for a couple of week and just follow the river and fish.

I got to following the Firehole River in the morning, which drains south from the Madison Junction. There was a beautiful waterfall feature as well as massive cascades, so I spent some time just following the water and ate a solid lunch sandwich from the Madison Campground area.

I got back onto the trail from the fountain flat drive where I saw herds of buffalo roaming around the Western side of the park. They seem to love the thermal features, even when it is hot out. Whilst on the trail, I saw a buffalo that was really close, but seemed to pay no mind to me. I knew these were the most dangerous animals in the park so I kept as much distances as I could between myself and these absolute units of pure muscle.

Bison that is too close for Comfort

Further down the Faerie Falls trail, which was spectacular, a group of about 4 bison herded together and were about 130 yards away from me. One of the bison stared me down from the side of his eye, looking at me like I was a wolf or some other predator. It stomped its hooves at me and began to paw the ground towards me. I hunched my shoulders and looked away to show that I wasn’t a threat and simply. continued along the trail. Another bison stepped in between myself and the aggro male, probably a female calming her mate, and I simply walk away into the distance.

I walked a fair distance to the Faerie Falls waterfall, which is so beautiful, and met German couple who were celebrating their halfway point through medical school. Their English was very good and we got along great until I split from the trail to head to my campsite for that night. I slept in the forest that night, entranced by the beauty I had been able to enjoy that day.

Slow motion capture of low water flow of Faerie Falls

Day 7 – The end of the Faerie Trails and Old Faithful

I woke up to the sounds of baby birds and squirrels in the trees. Packed up camp and got ready for the next leg of my adventure. I was just starting to run low on food and gas so I knew that I would have to get to a store soon. I left the forest campground and headed back into the plains, where there were lots of tourists exploring the thermal features just north of Old Faithful.

I enjoyed walking along the decks by all kinds of amazingly unique natural wonders heading down to the national monument that I had visited once before with my friends from college. I got into the visitor area and talked with the rangers about where the southward back country campsites were and got a fishing permit and fly fishing rod to go out and have some fun in the rivers and lakes. I was running out of butane so I also grabbed some gas and bought a few food items, but they didn’t have any of the freeze dried meals that I knew I would need in the back country. I also had my first cheeseburger of the trip, which was just ok. I get spoiled by the incredibly good food in California.

I continued out of the highly trafficked area to get back into the back country and took the Howard Eaton trail down to the first back country campsite along the Firehole River, which had lots of thermal activity. I decided against a fire that night and setup my camp site as the sun dropped below the horizon. I was ready to get back into the sticks and see some more wildlife and nature and beautiful unique thermal features that Yellowstone is known for.

Castle Geyser

Day 8 – Shoshone Lake 1

I woke up a little late as I usually like to when its really cold out and packed up all of my things and made breakfast, which was usually instant coffee and a backpacker meal. I realized I only had one breakfast left and I cursed myself for not getting more food at Old Faithful. I had been too focused on getting fishing going for myself and idealizing about catching and eating a fish while I was out. I got going onto the trail heading south to Shoshone lake and figured I would just go as far as I could.

Shoshone Lake Sunset

My feet were finally feeling a lot better; I had bought moleskins, Neosporin, and blister medic kits at Old Faithful so I was completely ready to start experimenting with the optimal way to keep my feet from re-blistering. I walked along the Shoshone Lake trail for a long time until reaching the area that forks north. I surveyed several campground that didn’t allow for a fire, which greatly disappointed me because I was hoping to catch and cook a lake trout!

I continued on for about 15 miles that day which I was very happy with due to the state of my feet. I got to the northern campsites of the lake at dusk and setup my tent and 0 degree sleeping bag and that night I slept great. I was used to the trumpeting elk and got through the whole night without waking up too much. There were lots of sounds throughout the night, but I think I just got really used to them.

Day 9 – Shoshone Lake 2

I woke up happy and ready to start fishing, I had setup my pole the night before was stoked to get to lake fishing. However, in Old Faithful I purchased a fly fishing rod which is definitely used to running water and not the still water of a lake. I fished for about 2 hours, took a desperately needed bath and pumped water to get ready for another day of walking, all day long.

Shoshone Lake, Yellowstone National Park

I got about a half a mile further along the trail when I discovered a couple of park rangers that were assessing the back country campsites along Shoshone Lake. I stopped to talk to get as much information about the area as I could and was told that Lewis Lake Campground was still open and that there was a store down there. I was stoked! I needed to get more food and it would be so nice to be around other people again; I thought maybe Tommy and Dermot would still be there, as they had planned for two nights camping in Lewis Lake…maybe they would stay for a third?

I headed down the Delacy Creek Trail by the river and made excellent time heading down to Lewis Lake. I had started the day late due to fishing and bathing so I hadn’t met the rangers until about noon. I got to the DogsHead Trailhead and went east until the road, where I walked down to Lewis Lake Campground.

I got to the ranger station and they had several reserved, but unused, campgrounds. I guess there are some reserved for hikers and bikers there, but she sent me to a regular campground that can house up to 6 people. But there was no store! And no way of getting more food for that matter. I was pissed! Both at myself for listening to the rangers and at the campground for not having at least granola or chocolate bars to sell. It just seemed so silly to me to have a remote campground that didn’t sell food.

I was down to two back country meals, Mushroom Stroganoff (which is delicious, highly recommend) and Green Curry. Sleep that night came easily, but with the stress of knowing that the time had come to leave the park. I had exhausted my resources and my mental energy and I was ready to head back out to Cody. And I knew that getting out of the park, I would need as much luck as I could get.

Day 10 – Lewis Campground and Exiting Yellowstone Park

In the morning I woke up rather early, I was planning on fishing again to see if I couldn’t catch something awesome to keep me fed for another day. I packed up my stuff and headed to the restroom where I met a guy named John, who was traveling through the area with a supped up Jeep. We chatted for a minute (I let him use the bathroom first because I was in no rush) and I learned that he was from Sacramento! I told him about my situation, how I had arrived at the campground to find no store and no way of buying more food and he took me back to his camp site and fed me!

John and his wife (whose name I do not remember) was literally one of the nicest people I have ever met. They made me hash browns, eggs, and bacon and we enjoyed stories about their own backpacking trips through Desolation Wilderness, an area just outside of Lake Tahoe that I also love to spend time in. They also got me some backpacker meals and snacks to take with me, for which I will always be grateful. What an amazing twist of events from the night before! I asked John if he wouldn’t mind giving me a drive to West Thumb and he happily took me to the gas station there, which was only open for gas.

I went to the ranger station in West thumb to see about additional campsites, but they were all at the southern end of Yellowstone Lake, pretty far into the back country. However I still reserved a campsite for that night, just in case I couldn’t find a ride out of the park to Cody, I might as well have a decent place to sleep that wasn’t off the trail.

I got out of West Thumb after checking out the geysers, which in my opinion weren’t even close to as interested as the Norris Geyser Basin or the area north of Old Faithful and managed to hitch a ride to fishing bridge with a Mexican dude that lives in San Francisco. He was super nice and gave me a Blue Moon on the road, and we chatted about how great the wilderness was.

I continued down the road from fishing bridge and kept my thumb up, hoping that someone heading to Cody, WY wouldn’t mind picking me up. About 20 minutes later, Allen (same name as my dad, different spelling though) who is a Scottish man living in New Zealand and Perth, Australia picked me up. We drove about 10 minutes just talking when we saw a commotion on the side of the road.

There were two bears up on the side of a mountain foraging for food with a huge crowd of people watching them and taking pictures of their every move. The bears seemed not to care at all and rangers were watching the people very closely to make sure they didn’t do anything stupid.

I had a good chat with two of the rangers about the bears and how they manage them and apparently there is a little less than one bear attack a year, which in my opinion is really good. I guess there were 3 bison attacks earlier this year from people getting too close. Anyways, Allen and I got some great photos of the bears and then continued on our way back to Cody, where we had a couple of drinks. Then Allan took me to the end of the South Fork Road where the water ice forms that I came to Cody to watch and we marveled at the beautiful, but barren mountains. I really hope I get to see some of those infamous south fork pillars form this year, but I won’t see them on this trip due to the unusually hot October weather. Allan will always have my gratitude for taking me about 100 miles out of the park, he was a really fun and nice guy to hang out with for a day.

In Conlusion

This concludes my journey through Yellowstone. Huge shouts out to the people that helped me to get from place to place, I definitely would have suffered a lot more without them! John, Allan, Tommy, Dermot, Crissy, Terri, Isabelle, and Alex, and of course Josh, I really really appreciate your kindness and it will not go forgotten.

The Gear Reviews

The Health Benefits of Mushrooms

Are mushrooms healthy? Like the kinds that you can find at the grocery store? The overwhelming answer is: yes, they are a ‘superfood’. They help the human immune system to function properly in addition to being a high nutrient value, low calorie sustenance. Amino acids, B vitamins, trace minerals, and Psilocybin is also being studied for its therapeutic benefits to mental health, which is the psychotropic compound found in “magic mushrooms”. The ‘stoned ape theory’ (Terrence McKenna) states that mushrooms were a primary factor enabled the immense increase in brain power of the human species that separates humanity from other animal species and perhaps gave birth to language as we know it. This theory hasn’t received a lot of attention from the scientific community due to McKenna’s lack of anthropological data and evidence. However, Paul Stamets began to introduce his research on Mycology, which has reinvigorated the subject of debate and helped to bring new understanding the how mushrooms function in nature.

In the United States alone every year more than 940 million pounds of edible mushrooms are bought in grocery stores, farmers’ markets and health food stores.

Mushrooms are “packed with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.1” There are over 10,000 types of fungi that produce mushrooms, which are actually the fleshy fruiting body of a fungus; hyphae is the term used for the roots.

There are also species of mushrooms that are decidedly unhealthy; even some that are deadly. Don’t eat a mushroom, or anything for that matter, unless you can properly identify it.

Mushrooms are incredible lifeforms; some scientists believe they were some of the first organic life forms on planet Earth. The roots of mushrooms, called Mycelium is a network of hyphae, which can develop from a single spore, produced by the fungus3. Mycorrhiza is the mutual association between the fungus and the plant, which play important roles in plant nutritionsoil biology, and soil chemistry.

The Anatomy of a Mushroom

Mushrooms have common features, though there are several deviations that are very interesting. Here are the major features:

  • Caps – can be scaled, warted, or have areolae, some are moist
  • Margin, containing gills, spines, teeth or pores under the cap
  • Spores are released from under the cap
  • Ring, skirt, or annulus, remnants of reproduction
  • Stipe or stalk
  • Volva or cup
  • Basal bulb – connects the mushrooms to mycelium

The Stages of Growth of a Mushroom

The life cycle of a mushroom can be a couple days to several years, to hundreds or thousands of years. There are several distinct stages to the growth.

  1. Spores drop from mushroom cap, spores are the seeds of a mushroom
  2. Two spores fuse and become a hyphae, long tubular structures with genetics
  3. Hyphae link to Mycelium, to obtain nutrients from mycelium to the fruiting body of the mushroom.
  4. Baby mushrooms are formed in a hyphal knot, pinheads begin to grow out of the Mycelium
  5. Growth and maturity

Mushroom Function in Nature

Catherine N. Jacott, Jeremy D. Murray and Christopher J. Ridout - [1] doi:10.3390/agronomy7040075

Mushrooms are the fruiting body of the mycelium and arbuscules are the site of nutrients exchange between a plant and the fungi. Mushrooms, Mycelia and Mycorrhizae are very important for plant and tree root systems to absorb nutrients surrounding the roots and to create resilience against drought, salt, heavy metals, and pathogens.

Most mushrooms are anti-viral and anti-bacterial, and also fight cancer and aging in various ways by boosting the immune system in humans. In short, they are very good for overall health, in ways that science doesn’t fully understand yet. Many pharmaceutical drugs are made using chemicals and molecules derived from mushrooms. Compounds successfully developed into drugs or under research include antibioticsanti-cancer drugscholesterol and ergosterol synthesis inhibitors, psychotropic drugs, immunosuppressants and fungicides.

Mushrooms as organisms are very unique. Mushrooms with psychoactive properties have long played a role in various native medicine traditions in cultures all around the world. They are rich in vitamins and will absorb the metals surrounding them, as proven by their ability to absorb Cesium after Chernobyl.

They can be bad for the body in ways that the general population doesn’t know yet either. Some mushrooms can cause liver and circulatory toxicity when taken in high amounts over long periods of time. Some cause death when eaten. Some are just dangerously poisonous. There is a lot of research to be done to fully understand how these complex organisms interact with the human body.

The benefits of the mushroom are noted largely by their species; each has different nutritional properties and interacts with the human body uniquely, just as each species of mushroom functions differently in nature. Each will have a different reaction within the body due to the diversity of human microbiomes; cooking is used to reduce toxic chemicals.

Some general characteristics and benefits of mushrooms species are noted below. Please do some of your own research and comment on what you find!

Mushroom Nutrition

Basically, mushrooms are good for the human immune system. They contain polysaccharides, amino acids, minerals, anti-oxidants, and are anti-inflammatory. Various compounds from mushrooms are being studied for their positive effects on heart health, blood sugar levels, digestion, immunity, and cellular regeneration; many compounds are being researched for their ability to fight cancer. In short, mushrooms are certainly part of a healthy diet and are a low calorie alternative to processed foods. In fact, many mushroom species are resilient to commercialism, and are extremely difficult if not downright impossible to cultivate.

Mushrooms Species

Oyster Mushrooms

Oyster Mushrooms

These mushrooms are a common edible. They are carnivorous (they eat nematodes and also diesel fuel) and are often used in oyster sauce and various kinds of soup, especially in Asia. It can be found in subtropic and temperate forests. These mushrooms boast high nutrient values (because of their carnivorous nature), high anti-oxidant content, helps to lower blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and insulin levels. It can also help to improve respiratory tract infections, especially in HIV positive patients. There is also a significant potential for anti-carcinogenic properties and gut health/anti-inflammatory effects. They are also delicious when cooked. More research is needed to understand exactly how the mushrooms interact with the gut and human microbiome, but the general consensus of the scientific community is pretty unanimous to these being a great addition to a healthy diet.

Bolete Mushrooms

Beschreibung: Schale mit Steinpilzen Quelle: selbst fotografiert Datum: August 2006 Fotograf: Karsten Dörre (grizurgbg)

Also known as a porcini or porcino mushroom, these are found all over the world, but was only recently introduced to the Southern Hemisphere. These are difficult mushrooms to commercialize and are mostly foraged. The mushrooms spans root systems and fruit during summer and autumn. It is prized as a culinary edible and is highly regarded for its taste in risotto, pasta, and soup, though it is very difficult to cultivate. It is one of the few mushrooms known for being delicious when pickled. They vary in size. These mushrooms have a tremendous amount of amino acids; more than any other Portuguese mushroom. They contain lots of fatty acids: palmitic acid, stearic acid, oleic acid, and linoleic acid. They are also rich in dietary minerals: sodium, iron, calcium, magnesium, b vitamins, and tocopherols, as well as trace amounts of bioavailable selenium. It also contains a diverse host of phytochemicals: ergosterol and ergothioneine and polyphenols: rosmarinic acid, oxalic acid, citric acid, succinic, and fumaric acids and alkaloids. Suffice to say that this mushrooms species can have tremendous nutrient diversity; if soil composition is diverse enough to support it.

White Button Mushrooms

These are less-mature cremini mushrooms. See below.

Cremini Mushrooms

Cremini or Crimini mushrooms are from the species Agaricus bisporus which includes portobello mushrooms and white button mushrooms. These are all the same type of mushroom, but portobello are the most aged and white buttons the youngest. Age gives them different and more pronounced flavors.

These are the classic mushrooms for fine dining and cuisine and have numerous health benefits, including being anti-inflammatory and reducing blood pressure and alleviating hypertension, which seems to be a characteristic of edible mushrooms. There are B vitamins, D vitamins, Zinc, Iron, Copper, anti-oxidants and some fiber and protein. In short, they are good for balancing gut health; especially when cooked, there are very few side effects.

The presence of selenium in mushrooms is also a huge contributing factor to their health benefits. Selenium is nutritionally essential for humans and is a constituent of more than two dozen selenoproteins that play critical roles in reproduction, thyroid hormone metabolism, DNA synthesis, and protection from oxidative damage and infection. Its important.

Agaritine, which is a carcinogen is present in these mushrooms so eating large amounts of them can imbalance the gut in a big way; but the toxins are degraded when cooked. Plus its only present in small amounts so you would have to eat a large amount of moldy mushrooms in order for it to affect you.

Cordyceps Mushrooms

There are over 600 species of cordyceps mushrooms, mostly in tropical and humid areas in Asia and is a mostly parasitic species of mushrooms, feeding on other mushrooms and insects. The fungus takes over the bodies and brains of its victims forcing their zombified bodies to permanently relocate to the trees and low-lying jungle plants where the conditions are ideal for the fungus to thrive. They are used in traditional medicine across the spectrum of asian religious practices specifically Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine, as well as spiritual mushrooms practices.

Table of Cordyceps benefits from the national library of medicine (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)

Traditional uses of Cordyceps sinensis (Yercha gumpa) in North Sikkim

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These claims are unsubstantiated, but only due to lack of data and testing

Cordyceps is a very interesting mushrooms that we simply do not know a ton about yet. It has been proven to increase stamina and blood oxygen regulation in mice, but beyond that, we don’t have a lot of evidence of how it creates these benefits within the body. However, we do know that it is anti-parasitic.

Turkey Tail Mushrooms – (Trametes versicolor)

This is a common mushroom with a variety of benefits. Paul Stammets sells this mushroom supplement on host defense, due to its benefits for gut health, anti-inflammatory properties, and ability to slow and stop the spread of cancer by enhancing natural killer cell activity in the host body. His mom, after being diagnosed with breast cancer and three months to live went on to live an additional ten years eating eight turkey tail capsules a day. One chemical in the mushrooms, polysaccharide K, is being studied in Japan for its anti-carcinogenic qualities.

Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake Mushrooms

Originating in East Asia, Shiitake mushrooms are now cultivated all over the world for their taste and are used in traditional medicine. They grow on the decaying wood of deciduous trees, particularly shii and other chinquapinschestnutoakmaplebeechsweetgumpoplarhornbeamironwood, and mulberry. These are more of a culinary mushroom rather than medicinal, however, shiitake mushrooms still are a low carb, low calorie food that increases immunity. It has been known to cause allergic dermatitis reactions, but these are sometimes mitigated by cooking the mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms account for about 25% of all commercially cultivated mushrooms.

King Trumpet Mushrooms

King Trumpet Mushrooms are a off-shoot of the oyster mushrooms genus, and are very similar in their benefits. They have tons of fiber, support bone health, and boost the immune system and energy levels of the host. It also has been shown to lower cholesterol. These mushrooms are believed to have co-evolved with nematodes which they can consume predatorily.

Chanterelle Mushrooms

Chanterelles are some of the most popular wild mushrooms to forage. These mushrooms contain mostly water, but also B vitamins, a little protein and fiber and carbohydrates. They are rich in iron, D2 (from sunlight exposure), and riboflavin, magnese, and potassium.

Porcino Mushrooms

See Boletus Mushrooms, same species.

Enoki Mushrooms

enoki shroom

This mushroom is mostly known for its use in Japanese cuisine, Flammulina filiformis. It originated in China, but grows naturally in Japan, and Korea as well and is used commonly in asian cuisine for soups. Like other mushrooms, it grows on deadwood and is cultivated sometimes with sawdust.

One hundred grams of dry enoki mushrooms provide 346 calories, of which 53% is carbohydrates, 26% is protein, 26% is dietary fiber, and 3% is fat. Vitamins and minerals found in enoki include niacin, calcium, iron, potassium, and riboflavin.

In Asian medicine, enoki mushrooms have been used for centuries to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, liver disease, and stomach ailments.

There are tons of amino acids in Enoki mushrooms, and also lots of trace minerals and some electrolytes and even iron. And the high water content is probably what makes it so beneficial for the stomach and liver.

Hedgehog Mushrooms (Hydnum repandum)

Hedgehog Mushroom

Also known as sweet tooth or wood hedgehog, these mushrooms are mostly identified by the spines that descend from the roof rap instead of gills. The capo is yellow or light orange and the stem is white, mostly with irregular shaping of the caps and spicy/bitter taste. It also has no poisonous look-alike, which is a major concern for some of the mushrooms that are foraged. It is broadly distributed in European woodlands and fruits during summer and autumn.

It has a nutty taste and crunchy texture, and is well recognized for its edibility. Some even say that it is similar to oysters.

The mushroom is full of nutrients, and seems to be extremely adept at absorbing heavy metals including Cesium from the Chernobyl disaster. It is especially high in copper and manganese, and fatty amino acids.

Armillaria (Honey Fungus Mushrooms)

These mushrooms form the largest living and oldest organisms in the world. In Oregon’s Malheur natural forest, one is know to cover 3.5 square miles and is over 2,500 years old. They are often bioluminescent. Armillaria can be extremely destructive to forests; it causes white rot root disease in trees. It is known to consume decaying and dead plant matter, making is parasitic. The only trees known to be resilient are birch and larch.

Their caps are yellow and brown, somewhat sticky or moist, and has at least one look-alike that is deadly poisonous called Galerina. It usually fruits during autumn.

Honey fungus is regarded as one of the best wild mushrooms in many places in Europe, but they must be cooked because they are slightly poisonous raw. They are more poisonous when ingested with alcohol. They are described as being slightly sweet when cooked.

Several antibiotics have been created from Armillaria14. They are prescribed in China for treating a variety of neurological conditions including Meniere’s Syndrome, vertigo, headache, insomnia, epilepsy, neurasthenia and hypertension. It has high levels of polysaccharides and several indole compounds have been isolated from it, including serotonin. It is also shown to be anti-glycemic, an anti-oxidant, seems to enhance brain function, and has powerful immune boosting activities that promote killer T cells, which balance the bodies bacteria and help to prevent illness. Overall, this mushroom is extremely beneficial, but must be cooked and ingested with care, as it is slightly poisonous raw.

Shimeji Mushrooms

This mushroom is native to East Asia but it cultivated in North America and Europe. It should always be cooked and is normally used in soups and stews and stir-fry. It is rich in Guanylic acid, Glutamic acid, and aspartic acid all of which are amino acids.

It is high in B vitamins, potassium, phosphorus, fiber and iron. It is also a source of selenium, which is good for skin health. It also is high in copper, which is good for heart health, immunity, and gut balance. It is also well known for its cancer fighting abilities.

Morcella or Morel Mushrooms

These mushrooms are highly prized because they only grow in the wild in North America and Europe and are very difficult to cultivate. Typical fruiting season is spring. They seem to do well in alkalized soils, especially after medium intensity wildfires though they are notoriously difficult to find. They are slightly poisonous so they must be cooked and shouldn’t be eaten in massive quantities or with alcohol.

There are 80 different species of Morel mushroom and most are found under trees. Raw morel mushrooms are 90% water, 5% carbohydrates, 3% protein, and 1% fat. A 100 gram reference amount supplies 31 calories, and is a rich source of iron (94% of the Daily Value, DV), manganesephosphoruszinc, and vitamin D (34% DV, if having been exposed to sunlight or artificial ultraviolet light).

Matsutake Mushrooms

These edible mushrooms are found throughout East Asia, Europe, and North America and are enjoyed for their aroma as well as their taste. They are becoming rarer, as competition is fierce for their once a year harvest. They are very difficult to cultivate. It is listed as “vulnerable” due to habitat destruction. Similar to other mushrooms, it has high vitamin content, as well as amino acids, fiber, and is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. It shares most of the characteristics of the other mushrooms, but perhaps with more protein, and more fiber than most other species.

Maitake Mushrooms – Hen of the Woods, King Mushroom (Grifola frondosa)

This mushrooms has considerable health benefits, and grows wild under elm, oak, and maple trees. It has been shown to stimulate the immune system and can also beneficial for people who have been diagnosed with diabetes.

Benefits: Adaptogenic, antioxidant, useful in preventing and treating breast cancer2, suppresses tumor growth2

Maitake Mushrooms are rich in the following nutritional properties:

  • beta-glucans 
  • vitamins B, C, and D 
  • copper 
  • potassium
  • fiber
  • minerals
  • amino acids

Lion’s Mane Mushrooms (Hericium erinaceus)

Lions Mane Mushroom

Lion’s mane mushrooms are brain boosters and are implicated in neurogenesis and are getting a lot of attention in reducing Alzheimers and Parkinson’s disease and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine. They are being investigated by pharmaceutical companies for Erinancine, which enhances nerve growth amongst other cognitive benefits7. It may help the nervous system to repair itself faster. They typically grow on dead American Beech trees.

Reishi Mushrooms

Reishi mushrooms contain adaptogens and help the body to combat stress. They are known as the king of mushrooms because of their origins in East Asia and use in traditional medicine. They are immune boosters by improving lymphocyte function and increasing white blood cells counts in a very similar way to most mushrooms, but specifically have high amino acid content, which can help fight infection and cancer. This may occur primarily in those who are ill, as mixed results have been seen in those who are healthy8.

Chaga Mushrooms

These mushrooms typically grow on birch trees and resembled a dark chunk of dirt; scientists are getting increasingly interested in the health benefits because of its ability to fight and prevent cancer through triterpenes, which cause cancer cells to self-destruct without affecting healthy cells4. It is also rich in antioxidants and lowers cholesterol, which can help to prevent heart disease. It is also anti-inflammatory by regulating cytokine production, which can help to combat arthritis.

Here are some nutritional properties of Chaga mushrooms:

  • B-complex vitamins
  • rubidium
  • cesium
  • amino acids
  • fiber
  • zinc
  • iron
  • manganese

Healing Mushrooms, “Magic” and Psilocybin

“It is well known that most of the new drugs discovered in the last few decades have originated from nature. Chemical constituents obtained from medicinal plants and other natural products have been increasingly used to treat many infectious diseases.”

Mushrooms are increasingly studied around the world for their pharmacological health benefits. Lion’s mane is implicated in faster nervous system regeneration after a stroke.

There are 4 different substances that create the hallucinations: psilocybinpsilocinbaeocystin and norbaeocystin. There isn’t a lot known about the substances, however they are psychotropic alkaline analogues to psilocybin, meaning they alter the way the psilocybin is processed to create hallucinatory effects in the brain. Not a lot of data is available due to hallucinogenic mushrooms being illegal in most countries.

Psilocybin and the other hallucinogenic compounds are known to interact with Serotonin and the HTP Axis or stress response. This is the most likely explanation for mushrooms being seen as a cure for depression.

We will wait to discover and understand what the real healing capacity of Psilocybin and the other hallucinogenic compounds can be.

Please leave a comment or share this article if you found it to be useful. I tried to combine as many high quality sources and do as much research as I could.

References

  1. Time Magazine – Are Mushrooms Healthy
  2. Healthline
  3. Micropia
  4. Real Eats
  5. Medical News Today
  6. Rejuvii
  7. Erinacine Wikipedia Page
  8. 6 Benefits of Reishi Mushrooms
  9. Draxe.com Cremini Mushrooms – Cremini Mushrooms Benefit the Heart, Gut & Fight Against Cancer
  10. NIH on Selenium
  11. Bolete Mushrooms
  12. Health Benefits of Enoki Mushrooms
  13. The Life Cycle of a Mushroom
  14. Honey Mushroom Nutrition
  15. Shimeji Mushroom Nutrition
  16. Mushrooms Analysis

Halloween : Origins and Traditions

Halloween marks the end of the harvest season and beginning of the darker half of the year, but its original nature is far more sacrificial and superstitious and also multicultural! Although many of the traditions that we now celebrate come from ancient Ireland, there are several cultures that have contributed to what is now celebrated as Halloween.

Celtic – Samhain Festivities

Halloween as we know it today mostly comes from a Celtic tradition and known as Samhain; a three day festival called ‘the feast of the dead’ where they would celebrate the harvest, build massive bonfires, dress up in costumes, feast, drink, and participate in divination and fortune telling.

Samhain, also known as the origin of Halloween, was a powerful and special demon of Hell and was one of the 66 Seals. He could only rise when summoned by two powerful witches through three blood sacrifices over three days, with the last sacrifice day on the final harvest, Halloween.

There are many rituals associated with Samhain today. These include dancing, feasting, taking walks, and building altars to honor ancestors. There are many parts to the altars Wiccans build. To symbolize the end of the harvest, they include apples, pumpkins, and several other fall crops. Neolithic passage tombs in Ireland are aligned with the sunrise at the time of Samhain, so this was a very important festival for the ancient inhabitants of Ireland.

Mexican – Dia De Los Muertos

This holiday actually arrives the couple of days after the traditional Samhain on November 1st and 2nd. The tradition is far more joyful and colorful than the Western Christian counterpart and focuses on humor and celebrations of the departed rather than mourning.

Traditions connected with the holiday include honoring the deceased using calaveras and aztec marigold flowers known as cempazúchitl, building home altars called ofrendas with the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these items as gifts for the deceased.

According to colonial period records, the Aztec empire was formed in A.D. 1427, only about a century before the arrival of Spanish . But the celebration that Mexicans now call Día de los Muertos almost certainly existed many centuries earlier, perhaps originating with the Toltec people of central Mexico. So the Toltec people may have been the first to celebrate this wonderful holiday. Mictecacihuatl is the “lady of the dead” and is said to watch over the bones of the dead and swallow the stars during the day.

Mictecacihuatl

The goddess of the underworld and the dead is often depicted with flayed skin and a gaping, skeletal jaw – was linked to both death and resurrection. According to one myth, Mictecacihuatl and her husband collected bones so that they might be returned to the land of the living and restored by the gods. 

The Aztecs appeased these fearsome underworld gods by burying their dead with food and precious objects. 

Archaeologists and historians know relatively little about the details of the month-long celebration of Mictecacihuatl, but say it likely involved burning incense, song and dance, and blood sacrifice – customary practices in many Aztec rituals.

Western Christian (Roman) – Halloween

Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, or All Saints Evening is a celebration of saints, martyrs, and the departed. One theory holds that many Halloween traditions were influenced by Celtic harvest festivals, particularly the Gaelic festival Samhain, which are believed to have pagan roots;[12][13][14][15] some go further and suggest that Samhain may have been Christianized as All Hallow’s Day, along with its eve, by the early Church.[16] Celebrated in Ireland and Scotland for centuries, Irish and Scottish migrants brought Halloween customs to North America in the 19th century, which is where most scholars believe the tradition evolved.

For some people, the Christian religious observances of All Hallows’ Eve, including attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead, remain popular, though many Christians have historically abstained from meat on All Hallows’ Eve, a tradition reflected in the eating of certain vegetarian foods on this vigil day.

These three days are collectively called Allhallowtide and are a time for honoring the saints and praying for recently-departed souls who have yet to reach Heaven.

The Allhallowtide custom of baking and sharing soul cakes for all christened souls,[61] has been suggested as the origin of trick-or-treating.[62] The custom dates back at least as far as the 15th century[63] and was found in parts of England, Wales, Flanders, Bavaria and Austria.[64] Groups of poor people, often children, would go door-to-door during Allhallowtide, collecting soul cakes, in exchange for praying for the dead, especially the souls of the givers’ friends and relatives. This was called “souling”.

By 800, there is evidence that churches in Ireland[54] and Northumbria were holding a feast commemorating all saints on 1 November.

Conclusions of the Origins of Halloween

It is very likely that the traditions of Samhain and Halloween merged organically and was again reinforced when the Aztec and Central American tradition of Dia De Los Muertos was discovered and integrated into modern society. However, one cannot argue that these three days seem to be a very important time for humanity to mourn the passing of the deceased, in their own respective ways. It is fascinating that these cultures developed somewhat similar traditions. To learn more, check out my references!

Thanks for reading.

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day_of_the_Dead
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samhain
  4. https://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/paganism/holydays/samhain.shtml
  5. https://dayofthedead.holiday/history/
  6. https://theconversation.com/day-of-the-dead-from-aztec-goddess-worship-to-modern-mexican-celebration-124962
  7. https://www.halloweenexpress.com/samhain-and-the-connection-to-halloween/
  8. https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/samhain

The Wanderer, Part 36

Read see the first story of this series here: The Wanderer, Part 1

or the latest story here: The Wanderer, Part 35

Tas slowly woke on his cot, finally not remembering anything from his dreams. He had become very tired of the incessant dreaming and wanted nothing more than to rest in the warm comfort of his companion Yaina in the darkness, but she wasn’t there. He rubbed his eyes that were coated with crusty sleepies and he was as sore as he had ever felt in his life. He assumed it was his last night of good sleep for a while. Today they would reach the monastery and begin planning with Fei, the monastery’s keeper for his last journey into the shadow-realm. And Tas was finally feeling his normal, old self.

The trek took the better part of the morning. Tas walked with Ice in the lead, occasionally feeding his companion the last little scraps of jerky as they went along. The whole group was walking rather slowly and Ice was very focused on scouting the trail ahead. He eventually found something in the forest, but Yao and Yaina were deep in discussion behind them and didn’t notice, though Tas had no idea what they were saying. He was trying to relax and enjoy his clear mind so he simply followed Ice.

They traversed off the beaten path into the jungle, where the bugs were loud and birds were singing high in the trees and calling to each other. Ice quickly led to the base of a large baobab tree and tried to his his claws to climb and jump up the tree, but could get more than a couple hops up. Tas got to the base of the tree and looked up to see two large apes sitting, looking down at Ice. The second they noticed Tas approaching, their attention shifted and Ice stopped his attempts to climb the tree. Tas sat next to his anxious wolf friend and was content to look up at the large, very intelligent looking animals. Then the primates descended down the giant tree, obviously interested.

Tas waited patiently, but Ice wasn’t quite as docile. He started to pant and pace anxiously, though the apes paid him no mind and jumped the last couple meters to crouch softly on the earth.

Then, to to the surprise of all, they spoke.

“we know of your journey, friend, Tas and wish to warn you of your supposed friends at the monastery. Your journey is perilous and you should trust no one. Especially the monks at the monastery. Friend will become indecipherable from foe as you continue deeper into the nether.”

“what should I do?” Tas said, shaking his head in disbelief at what they said. How could he continue if he didn’t trust Fei, or Yao, or Shu.

“Wait, observe, and watch all around you. Only your friend here is trustworthy.” They both looked at Ice with a certain interest that Tas couldn’t place.

A soft rustling came from the thick of the brush deeper in the jungle, and from the dark shadows a tiger appeared. This was the cat that Yao has sensed earlier. Ice was on edge by Tas’ side; he could feel his apprehension, though his white furred friend was silent.

The cat approached silently, and the apes appeared to also be apprehensive, though unreactive.

“I have been watching your journey for the past few days, boy. I have been interested in you and what you are doing. Tell me, why is it that you travel so far? Through my domain, nonetheless.”

Tas replied slowly, knowing the cat wouldn’t want to hear anything short of the truth. But how much truth should he share?

“We are returning to a place that was destroyed by the likes of a dragon. Do you know of what I speak.”

The tiger hissed, spitting wildly. “yessss I know of this enemy. I have lost several of my hunting grounds to the dark fire that this demon began.”

“Well,” Tas said growing sure that the tiger wouldn’t eat him after he told him more. “I am going to slay him.”

At this the apes panicked and Ice followed. The cat crouched and immediately sprung at Tas, claws outreached and teeth barred. But the one of the giant primates had grabbed a rock, and slammed it into the face of the tiger. The other brought his arms around the neck of the tiger and Ice simultaneously attacked the tiger’s throat, ripping through the flesh. The ape with the rock continued his assault until the tiger’s body convulsed. The whole ordeal took but a minute.

The apes looked at each other in confusion, but also a shared communication passed between them that Tas could see, but didn’t understand.

“The enemy will take all forms of being, my young friend. Travel lightly, and again, trust no one. Except your friend here.” They looked down warmly at Ice, who continued to drink in the blood of the tiger. After he was finished, the apes took the corpse up the tree and bid them farewell. Ice and Tas returned to their perilous path to continue to the old monastery.

After a short time of returning to the monastery’s path, Tas could see the small road winding up to the hillside to the stone walls at the base of the monastery’s overhanging garden. He was happy that they had almost arrived, but there was no sign of Yao or Yaina. They must have travelled before them.

Paj and Shu greeted them at the recently rebuilt entrance, undoubtedly having foreseen his arrival. They both looked rested and recovered, though apprehensive. The garden, however, looked very overgrown compared to the last time that Tas was there; the bushes had grown thick and the grass was peeping through the dirt on the paths. The rest of the monks where nowhere to be seen. They could only see Fei on the balcony, looking out at them as they rose to the courtyard. His large smile put them all at ease, though after their recent debacle, Tas was skeptical of all of his old friends.

The two monks, Tas and Ice walked up the spiral staircase together to meet Fei. Yaina and Yao had arrived previously and were a little uneasy. Tas explained what had happened with everyone. Fei continued his smile at first, but his smiled waned as he learned of the tiger’s attack and the apes warning. Yao brought light back to the conversation immediately. “well, you’re not dead yet! Maybe I should push you off the balcony and speed up the inevitable!” Tas felt a warmth and fondness grow through him for his master. He always missed this nonchalance when Yao wasn’t there. The feeling inside gleamed like the light from the sun.

Fei took the chance to continue lightening the atmosphere: “Welcome Tas and company, make your selves at home. Paj and Shu will prepare a couple of rooms for you.” He bowed deeply. “We will meet this afternoon before the sunset. In the meantime, Tas, why don’t you go with Shu in the lower levels of the garden? You will be undoubtedly very happy to talk and catch up on what has been happening in the last month while you were traveling. Fei winked and walked away, Yao in tow and Yaina slowly followed after with Paj. She looked back at Tas with a light smile as she left. Tas could tell that she was worried for him. He knew they would be planning for later that night.

Tas walked down the balcony and headed towards the gardens with Shu, his first monk teacher. It truly was becoming wild in the monastery, even some smaller trees had begun to grow and there were swarms of insects moving about; everything was dissheveled. Tas had to swat at them to keep them off of his face, but it was nearly useless.

Shu moved into the center of the lower terrace and together they began meditating and oom’ing without even talking. After several minutes of quiet, they opened their eyes and Shu’s smile split open wide, eyes squinting against the light. Tas smiled back

“Tas is that you?!? I’ve missed you my friend!” and he immediately arose to embrace Tas. Tas was a little startled, but settle easily into his friends weight. He certainly was sore from the stress of his long journey.

“I’ve been traveling a lot Shu.” Tas said slowly. “I am so tired and I’m not sure what to do other than go back into the nether and face what’s there for me.”

Shu replied slowly, “well, my young friend, there are only two ways that I know of to rejuvenate the body. The first, is sleeping. If you haven’t had any of that, mediating can restore your energies in a similar way. Let’s mediate for a time, and perhaps you will feel better!”

Tas was in position to refuse. He desperately wanted his energy back. He had woken up with so much and now there seemed to be none and the sun was still high in the sky. Shu and he sat for a short time, before Tas grew impatient. Shu wasn’t saying or doing anything but sitting there breathing deeply. Eventually Tas’ patience ran out and he sighed to get up.

Shu sat him back down, and smiled, “not yet my friend. We will sleep while you are awake! Breath deeply with me and lets restore your energies.”

“But I need to sleep to truly heal and regain my strength.”

“these limitations are made up by your mind my friend. Breath with me slowly and deeply and you will find the sleep that you need.”

So Tas tried to sit still and breath deeply and after a time, he felt himself falling into a deep trance. The light inside of him grew bright and he soon felt as light as a feather. Shu continued to breath next to him, but his breathing was making Tas tired, and soon he felt himself lay back and drift off, darkness once again surrounding him completely.

Ashtanga Yoga with Elliot Workshop

I am honored to present you with my upcoming workshop series on Ashtanga Yoga. You can sign-up on the events page here.

Ashtanga Yoga with Elliot Poster
Ashtanga Yoga with Elliot Poster

You can also sign-up on Facebook, if you so desire. Drop-ins are welcome, but you will be missing out on additional information on the series and future events.

Practice the Primary Series by yourself, wherever you want.

The idea behind the workshop is to bring yoga home with you. The primary series could be thousands of years old, no one truly knows. But the grandfather of modern yoga Krishnamacharya expounded this method to BKS Iyengar and Patthabhi Jois in Mysore, India when they were teenagers. This method has evolved to become what we know today as Ashtanga yoga.

Youtube reference video of the Primary Series

Wonka’s Wubbalicous

wonkas_wubbalicious

I’ve been designing sounds for about 7 years now, far more often when I first started in India than I do now (because I have to survive and make money), but I’ve gotten pretty good at making all kinds of different sounds now!

This most recent track is a dubstep adventure through the frequency spectrum, I made it pretty simple to emphasize the bass and added a Japanese Erhu as the lead to create some interesting contrast to the deep dark bass sounds that I love. I hope you enjoy it!

Stream on Soundcloud:

Download a high quality WAV file of Wonka’s Wubbalicious here:

Taking Time off Landscaping to Recharge

The summer months are getting hotter and hotter in Northern California with increased risk of fire and smoke from the lack of proper management from the California Bureau of land management, which is obviously very inefficient (as evidenced from the record setting fires from the past 5 years).

This makes landscaping and fence building very difficult, and sometimes completely impossible because of hazardous smoke conditions. However, I was able to finish a few more fences before the fire season got under way with the record setting Dixie fire (the second largest in California’s history).

Finished Fences before Fire Season

I have been getting more skilled at decorative fencing and have gotten a lot more tools in my belt (including a chop-saw, a table saw, and a paint sprayer) since I first started doing big fences at the beginning of the year. I typically remove all old concrete and prefer new construction rather than repair. Dealing with other individuals work is typically very difficult as people tend to cut corners when constructing fences. I am very proud of all the work I have done and I think my customers are very satisfied with the level of quality and of service that I provide. I also paint now as you can see below!

The bottom 4 pictures are of a cattle fence repair that I did out in the hillsides. The customer wanted to save money (which I never recommend with construction because you get what you pay for) so I did my best to find less expensive wood and keep the costs down. Overall I think it turned out great!

After 3 months of Grinding in the heat, my back was in bad shape.

So I took some time off landscaping to refocus on my yoga practice. It was an excellent start to the year, but now its time to wind down and enjoy all of the progress that I’ve made this year and to get more efficient with my business!

My yoga practice has progressed a lot recently, I’ve restarted my work on the primary series and will be offering a new workshop on September 4th for the Yoga Chikitsa. I am also starting a new Hot Yoga class in Auburn today, at 7pm. I’m really looking forward to it!

Building New Fences in 2021

This year has centered me around replacing fences in the area due to the major storm damage that insurance companies categorized as catastrophic. Thanks so much insurance companies! I have already finished 2 brand new fences and am actively working on the third and am bidding on lots of projects including smaller fences and some big landscaping projects. 2021 is looking fantastic so far!

The First Fence of 2021

My first fence of the year was a recommendation from another client. Though I didn’t get to use my “go-to” steel posts, I did get to paint a fence for the first time, which was really cool and fun with a paint sprayer! Painting and staining is a lot of hard work with one. The fence came out very straight considering I had to deepen many of the holes by 6-10 inches to ensure that the posts were two feet in the ground.

Overall, I am very satisfied with the result and so is the client. I did two cans of paint and used some really nice redwood materials. This was about 65ft of fence that turned into 80ft once the owner saw the work we were doing out there 😀

The Second Fence of 2021

The second fence was a recommendation through yoga, which is just such a great way to connect with people that are likeminded about nature, durability, and quality. My client wanted more privacy and needed her whole fence redone which ended up being about 200 feet of fencing.

This time I got to use steel posts and kicker boards to bring the fence up an extra foot for more privacy from the neighbor’s yard. I was lucky enough to find a fence board supplier during the massive shortage that California is currently experiencing.

I will be adding a latch to the bottom of the gate and am also hoping to stain the entire fence to help to optimize the lifespan of the boards. The client was so happy that she agreed to do a testimonial, so I will add that to the site as well as a post getting into more details about the project.

Moving Forward in 2021

I am already in the middle of my next fence project and am always looking for more work. So far this year has been very steady for work and I just want to keep that going. I also enjoy learning and working with unique situations so I am very excited for the potential of some of this years projects. Here are some progress photos from the job I am working on now that is right on the border with Folsom Lake.