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Good Mushrooms Bad Mushrooms of Skhidnitsa

It is not far from Truskavets to Skhidnitsa as the crow flies.  However, we found the going somewhat more difficult than a crow due to the condition of the road. We had to pull over often to allow impatient drivers the chance to pass because they were in a big hurry and didn’t like to be inconvenient by having to slow down. Ukrainian drivers are always in a hurry and like to drive fast and dangerous.

Skhidnitsa view

Finally we got our first glimpse of Skhidnitsa as we came down a step grade filled with more potholes than pavement. Before descending the mountain into town we decided to go explore the forest park.

Once outside the park we moved our car to a safer place and decided to set out on foot to investigate a large hotel a short distance away.  The road leading to the hotel was also filled with potholes and broken up quite badly in spots.  As we round the last corner we could see the grand hotel standing tall overlooking the valley like a magnificent beacon for all to see.  The property around the hotel was nicely landscaped with a large fenced paved parking lot with big expensive cars parked inside.

There was a rumor that the hotel was going to have one the football teams for Euro 2012 stay there.  There were lots of rumors that echoed up and down the remote valleys and canyons during our stay. They all add to the charm of the area!

We had stopped at many places along our long journey by foot before we found a little place we liked, called “Рай” (Heaven in English).  It was newly built, clean, comfortable, affordable, with a great view overlooking Skhidnitsa, served meals 3 times a day and was locally owned with wonderful hosts.

Our little piece of Heaven was an easy walk to go mushroom hunting and a 5 minute walk to a mineral spring that flowed slowly out of a small pipe that people came few times a day to collect its therapeutic elixir. You didn’t need a watch to know what time of day it was because tourist would make the long hike up and down the mountain like a stream of ants.  The trip wasn’t without its peril.  One had to be on the lookout for people in cars driving the narrow poorly paved road to collect water to and from the spring.  There were other springs located around the valley that claimed to provide different health benefits that attracted visitors.

It was now late in the day and we had a long way to walk back to our car. In the morning we returned to Skhidnitsa to begin our adventure.

The first thing on our agenda was to go mushroom hunting.  It is a hobby my wife and I enjoy very much.  When we visited the local outdoor market the day before, we talked to several people that were selling mushrooms. They were pretty secretive about their mountains and where to go to find the tasty morsels.  The sellers told us it was a little early to be looking for mushrooms. Nonetheless, we were going to take advantage of the possibility anyway.

After lunch we went to the nearby forest that our hostess told us about.  We had to walk past the mineral spring before beginning our climb.  We found the going difficult because of heavy brush.  One thing for certain, the mountain side was full of huckleberries; so we stopped to enjoy some of the blue berries before moving on.

Good mushroom of Skhidnitsa

Once we got through the thick brush and found an open area to go hunting, we started to find mushrooms that looked familiar. However, we found one that was new to us, so we picked a couple to take back to ask our hostess. She told us we had found a variety of mushrooms called “Mad Bruisers.” They appear to be good mushrooms but aren’t.  We learned a valuable lesson and continued to go out every morning and brought back only good mushrooms to dry and take home.

During our evening walks and while out mushroom hunting we discovered many parts of valley had been settled by wealthy Ukrainians.  The locals lament that several years ago there weren’t many inhabitants living in the valley.  Because of the land rush they are being trampled by the rich who have come to stake their claim to the land.

From the very first moment my wife and I stepped out of our car and looked out over the valley, as far as the eye could see, new construction projects were popping out of the ground everywhere, like Mad Bruiser mushrooms after a tempest.  It is all too surreal what is taking place.

Mad Bruiser land rushes are happening all over Western Ukraine by a new breed of people, who don’t share or care about the generations of Highlanders who have a deep-rooted bond with nature.

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