Wild Mushroom Series: #1 Oyster Mushroom  LbNA # 24839

Placed DateAug 23 2006
LocationColumbia, MO
Found By MO UR4Me
Last Found May 3 2014
Hike Distance?

This is part of a series of letterboxes dedicated to hunting wild edible mushrooms in Missouri and the Midwest.

The first box in the series highlights the oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus), an edible mushroom that is commonly found across Missouri throughout the year. This hardy species of fungi can even be found in the winter months during warm spells and in the driest months during the heat of summer. It is a very tasty mushroom that can be used in a variety of dishes, but my favorite way to eat them is with SCRAMBLED EGGS.

They are often found growing on dead fallen trees but many times I have found them growing out of reach in the treetops of dead trees that have yet to fall. This causes a dilemma for the hunter who must either leave his prey behind for the bugs or figure a way to obtain his or her tasty treat. As when hunting mushrooms, you must leave the beaten path and bushwhack for most of this hunt. Please tread lightly as you move through the forest and always be looking to the forest floor for other types of mushrooms and wild flowers. The beauty among the fallen leaves never ceases to amaze me.

For the clue, I am around 6 foot tall and 1 pace = 2 of my steps. Also bring your own ink.

The start of this clue is encrypted using a Key Word Shift Cipher. Here is a common explanation of how to solve the code.

A Key Word Shift Cipher uses, a key word, such as Frank. The key word secretly hides the solution to breaking the cipher text. Each letter of 'Frank' represents a number. It does so by each letter representing the order in which it appears in the alphabet. In the context of this word, 'F' appears second, 'R' fifth, 'A' first and so on. By finding the order in which the letters appear in the alphabet, you find a series of numbers. In this case, 'Frank' becomes 25143. Now that you have the number and the encrypted clue (cipher text) you're able to decode the clue. Do this by placing the number sequence over the code. Subtract the number from the letter by counting letters backwards. For instance if the code is HWBRN you'd go back two letters from H to get F. W goes back five places to find R. B moves back one to A and so on and so forth. Write the numbers out above the code skipping all spaces, but keeping the sequence of the numbers. Tricky, eh? This type of code is referred to as 'polyalphabetic' because the same letter in the cipher text could be several different letters in the plain text, that is, when it is decoded. Being polyalphabetic makes an encryption extremely difficult to crack.

Fill in the blanks for the key word to the cipher: The king oyster mushroom is called _ _ _ _ _ _ in Japan.

On to the hunt:
Begin at the XFJSP ZIJHP VUBNOLGDE TIJ DHBWIMGOE WG MP UCXS and take the trail on the southeast corner of the parking lot past the kiosk. The path heads down into the woods past cedars, oaks and various hardwoods. After a short walk you will notice a medium-sized white ash on your left growing almost horizontal to the ground until it forms a large Y (facing the trail). Continue on down the trail for about 30 paces. On your right will be an old fallen log running DIRPCAUEPELRN to the trail. Directly across from this is a JDOONICEN BSGAHRAK RICYHOK. Continue another 10 paces down the trail until you come to another fallen log on the right. Stand in the middle of the log and look back across the trail and down toward the creek. Go 15 paces at 80° and you will find a large leaning locust just this side of the creek bed. Standing on the base of this tree look east past many fallen logs and through the flora to spy a small runoff gully flowing from the hills. Cross the creek and head east up this stream/gully. About half way up you will pass some trees marked with orange ribbons. Go past these. As you begin to see where the gully peters out, look for a large guardian on the left side of the gully whose trunks form a massive “V.” From this tree take a bearing of 30° and about 25 paces up the hill you will spy a tree with a large gash in its southern side about 6 feet off the ground. Your treasure awaits inside. As mentioned above this LB, like a true oyster mushroom, may be just out of reach for some, but with a little ingenuity you should be able to obtain your goal.

Please rehide well and be discreet when leaving the trail and bushwhacking. If the box is missing or damaged please contact me at ahistory (at) centurytel (dot) net or through the LbNA. This box has been placed with permission of the Missouri State Parks.