In the forests of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, commercial mushroom hunters erect makeshift campsites among the high country Lodgepole and Ponderosa Pine. These seasonal mushroom hunts (morels and boletes in the spring, matsutake and chanterelles in the fall) draw together a uniquely American mix of Southeast Asian multi-generational families, rural counter culture folks, and Mexican migrant laborers.
Many of those hunting mushrooms have lost or can no longer depend on once stable employment and have in turn, sought out a living through the global demand for foraged mushrooms. Others temporarily leave their day jobs to spend a few months each year out on the hunt. A former military commander from Laos, a nail salon owner from Stockton, and a runaway from Portland are just a few of those who have made their way to the dusty camps to search for mushrooms amongst the pine needles.
They build shacks from tree branches, twine, plastic tarps, and empty rice bags and for two to three months the mushroom hunters call these camps home. The forests are dotted with the skeletal outlines of abandoned shacks, weathered branches offering a faint reminder of a home from a previous hunt.