Secret Trilliums: A Wild Backyard Bush Garden in French River — Trek Report

May long weekend, my brother and I went bushing (it really can’t be called hiking) on my parents’ property in the French River area. I loaded my pack for trek training, weighing in at 40 lbs., and we set off through the dense Northern Ontario underbrush.

My brother taught me how to use a compass and guide myself by setting marks (heading towards the tallest tree in my desired direction) and most of the time was spent picking our way through thickets of dry branches and around or over fallen trees (a strong windstorm brought many to the ground last year).

We explored a few trails we happened upon and at one edge of our property, we stumbled across our neighbour’s hunting camp. The first thing I saw was a freestanding contraption made of wooden beams that resembled, to my “medievally”-trained eye, a gallows where criminals were left to hang after their execution. Instead of three nooses hanging from the top horizontal beam were three hooks; I rationalised that this must be where moose and deer are hung before they are butchered (usually 10 days).

A patch of trilliums

We kept moving East and within a few minutes, we were in a lush green area full of large, wild trilliums. Spectacular! I’d never seen a wild trillium and to be suddenly surrounded by them was exhilirating. We paused to breathe the fragrant air and to commit the sight to memory.

Shortly thereafter, we located the trail we’d been seeking and made our way homewards.

Fungus growing on a tree trunk

Not far from home, we saw something amazing: the hugest mushroom ever! It was a half-orb growing on a tree trunk, about 18 inches across and 9 inches deep at both ends (6 inches in the middle). I don’t know much about mushrooms, but if their age is calculated the same way as that of trees, by counting its rings, then this fungus must have been around 50 years old.

My first training expedition lasted two and a half hours and I felt great!