• Kayla Sulak

Where Have I Been for the Last Two Years?


Holding a trout at a high mountain lake in Washington
(Image: holding a rainbow trout at a high mountain lake in Washington)

Where have I been for the last two years? The last blog post on here was posted only a few weeks before the pandemic began. Since then, my website has been collecting cobwebs, so to speak... but a LOT has been happening in my world!


Before the pandemic, I was still very focused on trying to make a "side hustle" out of nature/landscape photography and nomadic travels. After the pandemic began, however, everyone was discouraged from traveling, or even leaving the house at all. The problem was that I had no house, no fixed location to quarantine in. Meanwhile, the van life community was receiving flack for unnecessarily using up scarce resources or spreading illness in any small towns they may have been in.


With the quarantine in effect, the wind was taken out of my sails. I lost my motivation to share nature photos or capture new imagery. Yes, the world probably needed more beautiful nature photos at the peak of everyone feeling stressed, scared and stuck in their houses; however, it brought me feelings of shame, guilt and insensitivity to be broadcasting that I was still frolicking and playing with my camera in the outdoors during that heavy time.


Instead, I turned my focus to something else that could be practiced in solitude: camp cooking! Besides, a girl's gotta eat!

I've been saying for years now that I intend to write a camping cookbook, but to actually finish this book idea (or even starting it, for that matter) means doing a lot more recipe research, and incorporating more wild foods like trout and woodland mushrooms into my recipes! Of course the only way to start cooking more trout was to learn how to catch them in the first place, so... I bought a fishing license, picked up a pole and tackle, and started teaching myself how to catch a fish in 2020.

A collage of high alpine trout, mushrooms and berries
(Image: a collage of high alpine trout, mushrooms and berries)

Learning how to catch a trout took a solid two weeks of going out nearly every single day and fishing for several hours, before I finally started catching anything. The rest of the summer was spent carrying my fishing pole up to as many high lakes as I could hike to, and trying to catch and cook at least one trout meal each time. It was a crash course in everything from rigging up a fishing rod, to cleaning and cooking a fish for the dinner table.


Mushroom hunting, on the other hand, was already a familiar sport. My love for finding Morels in the spring and Chanterelles in the fall is something that grows with every year. Each season teaches you new things, and brings new treasures and surprises. A few of my favorite fungal finds so far include:


- Gray Morels (Morchella Tomentosa, the fuzzy morel)

- Candy Caps (Lactarius rubidus, the maple scented mushroom)

- Aniseed Funnel (Clitocybe odora, a fragrant blue mushroom)

- Black Trumpets (Craterellus cornucopioides; a culinary delicacy and difficult to find)

- Bear's Head (Hericium abeitis, which tastes like calamari or crab when fried; closely related to Lion's Mane)

- Spring Butter Boletes (Butyriboletus primiregius, which turns a beautiful shade of blue around the spore bearing surface when sliced or bruised)

- Admirable Boletes (Aureoboletus mirabilis, a lemony flavored mushroom)

- Wood Ear (Auricularia auricula, commonly dried and used in Chinese hot and sour soup), and

- Bleeding Tooth Fungus (Hydnellum peckii, which isn't edible but looks extremely cool)

Hydnellum peckii, the Bleeding Tooth Fungus
(Image: Hydnellum peckii, the Bleeding Tooth Fungus)

...and I still long to find Blewits (Clitocybe nuda), Blue Chanterelles (Polyozellus multiplex), and whatever other surprises are waiting to be found out there!

Clockwise from top left: Pacific Golden Chanterelles, Black Trumpets, Spring Porcini, Gray Morel
(Clockwise from top left: Pacific Golden Chanterelles, Black Trumpets, Spring Porcini, Gray Morel)

In addition to all of this excitement in the last two years, there's more: I started a new job, bought a new pickup truck, AND ended up meeting the perfect outdoorsy guy who also lives out of his truck and loves to hunt for his food. You can imagine why my blog fell to the wayside, with so many changes going on in life!


The plan with this web page is to revamp the design a bit and update the photo gallery (I haven't completely given up on nature photography!), plus I have an announcement to make in an upcoming blog post--stay tuned! Thanks for sticking with me!


Happy Adventures... 'til next time!


<3 Kayla

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