August 10, 2012

There Are More Reasons to Go to Telluride than Just for Mushrooms. ~ Alisa Geiser

Getting excited for the Telluride Mushroom Festival.

You never know what you’re going to find when you’re chasing rainbows beneath a waterfall.

Wide-eyed and sweaty, escaping into the chilling mists of Bridal Veil Falls on the last day of Telluride’s MountainFilm Festival, feet tumbling down the slippery rocks, I skidded to a halt in front of a man.

Something . . . in the way he stood, in the way he looked at me, in his response to my comment on the rainbows, maybe it was something else, intangible. . . something caught me. We left the mists, side by side, easily in stride.

With curious reluctance our paths divided, mere hours later, hundreds of miles piling up in the space between. Soon we filled that space with much more, until it shrank and we were again close enough to touch.

Miles, more, then less. More, then less.

Planes, cars, computers, smartphones, photos, words, emoticons . . . miles waxing, waning, as we began to wonder what we’d found under that waterfall, in the light of those rainbows.

Somewhere early in that first cycle of waxing and waning he sent me a text: “Will you go to the Telluride Mushroom Festival with me?”

Stories and photos followed: Pioneering mycologist Paul Stamets in his rare and magical Transylvanian hat, shaped from a mushroom.

Telluride-local Daryl Hannah wandering the woods in wild fairy crone beauty during an informal foray. Straw mats laid on the ground and spread thick with the bright bounty of a day’s forage.

A rainbow hazing Telluride’s mountain backdrop as festival-goers gather for the annual parade.

I’m a dirt-loving mountain girl with a big appetite and insatiable curiosity. For many years I’ve kept learning about mushrooms on my to-do list, considering it a task best undertaken with proper tutelage, something I figured would come into my life when the time when it was ready to.

When one winding path crossed another.

We’d known each other only days when I got that text, inviting me to the Mushroom Festival.

I said yes.

Who knows why we find what we find when we do.

Next week someone who I found while chasing rainbows beneath a waterfall will take me back to the place where our lives first touched to discover the funky life fed by those mists that cooled us both on that hot summer day not so long ago.

We’ll have four days of wandering around in the lush mountains hugging Telluride, thick in the silent softness of the pines and shaking aspen.

Four days of tasting the fruits of the forest and sleeping under an unpolluted Milky Way and mingling with wily characters cut from similar fabrics.

Four days of all-senses-engaged exploration, the kind that promises to get beneath your skin and stick to your bones.

I’ll let you know what we find.

The low-down: Telluride Mushroom Festival

Overview: Lectures, films, and workshops led by some of the world’s foremost mycological experts and characters on topics including mycoremediation, identification, cultivation, and the cultural and spiritual roles of fungus worldwide. Also expect cook-offs, music, mingling, a costumed parade and therapeutic mushroom-infused craft beer.

Dates: August 16-19

Location: Telluride, Colorado

Cost: $175 for all four days. Group, discount, and a la carte tickets also available. If you’re interested in volunteering, click here.

Website: www.shroomfest.com. Check out the full schedule here.

Note: elephantjournal.com received this admission to this event for free, in return for a guarantee that we would review it. That said, we say what we want—good and bad, happy and sad.

All photo credits: Dev

Read about Alisa’s other adventures at the Telluride Mushroom Festival:

“Mushroom Beer, Lithium Hot Springs, & Bolivia by Bike with a Basket & a Knife: Day One at the Telluride Mushroom Festival.”

“The Curious Ways We Find Each Other: Day Two at the Telluride Mushroom Festival.”

“Fifth & Final Post: Telluride Mushroom Festival.”

I’m a poet and a troublemaker, and I’ve sought and told many a fortune. Some call me a Renaissance woman, some call me crazy; I prefer the term gypsy. Roaming free through star-warmed mountains and dark-lit city streets is how I find my thorny bliss, and I won’t complain about a heavy pack or empty belly as long as wild winds scented with love or pine or soul-taut whispers are tickling my skin. While honing my gypsy skills, I’ve served as managing editor for Westcliffe Publishers, helped eco-magazine elephantjournal go national, worked for Martha Stewart, documented an illegal humanitarian aid mission to Cuba, and claimed a Guinness world record with Carmen Electra. I’ve got a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder, I’m a Notary Public for the fine state of Colorado, CPR and First Aid certified, and an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church. Once, I baked a wedding cake to serve 200 people, and it was damn good. Take the metaphorical peek inside my underwear drawer at novapops.com.


Editor: Elysha Anderson


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