Cordova Fungus Festival

Fungus Festival!

Every fall in Cordova, when the always-too-short summer winds down and all the berries have been picked, there is still a secret treasure covering the forest floors… mushrooms!


And if there’s one thing Cordovans know how to do, it is to feast on and celebrate the bounty of goodness this land provides!  Enter…  Cordova Fungus Festival!

This year, the festivities commence Sept. 7th – 9th and feature a variety of events.


Starting on Friday, 9/7/12, go gather your fungus-grabbing fingers off and then come in any time for the all-day Fungus ID Tables with:

  • Steve Trudell (PNW “Fungus Master” and co-author of the Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest.)
  • Else Vellinga (Mycological researcher)
  • Kate Mohatt (Local Forest Service Mycologist)
  • Then, later that night, join in on the Evening Program at the USFS Courtroom, where (among others) award-winning nature photographer and writer Amy Gulick talks about ‘Salmon in the Trees: Life in AK Tongass Rain Forest’

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Don’t get too comfortable – Return of the Snow!

That tricky sunshine.  We get 4 days of it and start thinking we won’t have to get the shovels out again til next winter.  It’s silly, really.  It’s only January, and February & March are our snowiest months here in Cordova.  So we should have known better.  But you can always dream… until you see this.  Here’s a snapshot of the weather report from today:

Yep, think there might be a tad more snow in our future!

Eight of the next 10 days call for snow, with one day of rain in there just to mix it up.  I’m especially looking forward to next Saturday when we’re supposed to get SNOW at 35 degree temps!  That’s like margarita snow.

Last night we got a foot of light, fluffy snow.  Yes, waking up to 12 new inches of snow used to be a shock to me.  Now, I just sigh, put on my Otter skin topped Xtratuf boots and tromp through the tunnels of white.

Fur-topped Xtratufs made by Cordova’s own Gloria Cunningham!

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Ski Town, AK!

I just moved here from a ski town in Colorado. Have I mentioned that? Well, I guess I’m a snow thief then because I seem to have taken it all with me when I left there last year. Say what you will: I may be a thief, but I’m no hog! They can send a giant cooler up here and haul as much as they want to back to Steamboat.

We have a ski resort here, too, you know. Mt. Eyak actually has the oldest operating chair lift in North America. That’s kind of a fun fact, but it doesn’t help us when there’s too much snow for the lift to even run!

This was taken at the top of the chairlift, the chair buried in snow. Photo credit Rob Campbell

The season started here with about 2 feet of fresh powder on Thanksgiving. New Year’s weekend 2012 was also pretty epic (to employ Cordova’s most overused term of the year). Check out these great videos by John Giardina.

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Fire and Ice – Unsung heroes of the Cordova Snowpocalypse 2012

My spouse, Micah, and I are part of the Cordova Volunteer Fire Department.  It’s a 100% volunteer department and the one and only rescue crew in town.  So, whatever the emergency, from an avalanche to a car accident to a heart attack, they are the ones that respond.  Home-town heroes that have day jobs and families and do this for the community for free in their spare time.

taken last summer, during sunnier times 🙂

We carry a pager along with us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so that we can respond to an emergency.  As you can imagine, during this “Snowpocalypse” emergency, we have been quite busy.  Responding to houses that have caved in, avalanches, going on patrol, and always shoveling, shoveling, shoveling.  These are great people, some of the best in our community… but they get tired too.  This photo was taken last night at the Cordova Volunteer Fire Department weekly meeting.

photo courtesy Micah Renfeldt

Apparently, Dick Groff needs a bit more of a push when it comes to taking a break.  His wife secretly pinned this note to his jacket when he fell asleep between shoveling and Fire.  When he groggily came into the fire hall for the weekly meeting, Micah was able to snap this picture before he noticed.  Ha!  This is awesome.  Just shows you how dedicated these folks are!  Thank, you, Cordova Volunteer Fire Department, for all you do!


Since writing this post last winter, I have learned a lot more about this group by participating in all kinds of events like cancer head-shave fundraisers, parades, car washes, medic training, and of course putting out some fires.  And I feel this needs to be said…  this is a very dedicated group that likes to have fun too.  Here are some highlights from CVFD 2012:

The Snowpocalypse Diet

I lost 15 lbs in 3 weeks. Thank you Snowpocalypse for helping me get into the pre-wedding shape I’ve always dreamed of. *warning, Snowpocalypse is not for everyone, talk to your doctor before taking on Snowpocalypse, side effects may vary. Some people have experienced fatigue, lower pack pain, vomiting, dizziness, anxiety, feelings of depression, muscle cramps, numbness in fingers, minor bleeding, and bruising. If you experience these symptoms, it is not recommended to quit taking on Snowpocalypse as symptoms may worsen. However, some people experience temporary relief by mixing Snowpocaliypse with alcohol.

Vivian Lian wrote this great quip.  Regardless of all this crazy weather, I feel pretty lucky to live in Cordova with such great people.  We’ve got some pretty funny ones here.

How to speak Cordovan

Here in Cordova, we kind of have a language all our own. Every day, I learn new expressions and  colloqualisms. Recently, I came across this prime example and couldn’t pass it up:

“We went out in my bowpicker to try and catch some humpie and we were really in em on the opener on the flats but we got corked so we just went back and went out the road. Guess we won’t be highliners this season.”

Calm waters in Cordova

There are several interesting Cordova vocab words and phrases in here.

For example…

  • Bowpicker – A bowpicker is a fishing boat used on the Copper River and Prince William Sound for the salmon gillnet fishery, called such because the net is dragged in over the bow, at which place fish are “picked” from it.
  • Humpie – Another name for pink salmon, called such because they develop a large hump near the head while spawning. Humpies, although not thought of as such a delicacy for dinner, are often a very valuable salmon catch because of their plenitude and the abundance of buyers. Continue reading