Mushroom season among old-growth pine
(Editor’s note, Bill Steer was recently in Temagami exploring the White Bear Forest trails east of the fire tower.)
the fall mushroom caps are poking their heads out of the ground and in one location are dwarfed by some of the largest trees in our area.
the most accessible example of old-growth red and white pine is found within the White bear Forest on the east side of hwy. 11 in temagami.
the trails meander through a 1,242 hectare conservation reserve, characterized by a rolling plain of rock knob uplands.
“From a forest management perspective, managing to maintain a target area of old-grow forests is an important part of a healthy forest,” says guylaine thauvette, management forester with the Ministry of Natural resources and Forestry. “Most of today’s old-growth stands and trees are there because they could not be logged. Old-growth forests, over time, succeed to other types of forests.”
Old-growth forests are characterized by a number of structural and ecological features. the most obvious feature is the abundance of huge, old trees that tower far above the lower levels of the forest, along with wide spacing between and multiple canopy layers and rates of change in species composition.
Several trees of between 85 and 100 cm diameter can be seen from the trail and one of the largest white pines measures 115 cm across at chest height and is more than 350 years of age.
the forest takes its name from the last chief of the teme augama anishnabai tribe before the arrival of europeans to this area. chief White bear and his family used this forest as part of their hunting and trapping grounds.
In 1928, the gillies bros. logging company won the logging rights surrounding cassels and rabbit Lakes. gillies preserved the White bear Forest in its virgin state for its employees and local residents to enjoy.
doug adams has owned the nearby Northland Paradise Lodge for 32 years.
“I do guide interpretive tours through the old pines and we photograph countless wild native orchids and mushrooms,” adams says. “Fire scars on the trunks of these giants tell the true story of nature in all its grandeur. (On my hiking day three was 42 in attendance for the mushroom hike.)
For the printable map, go to www.ancientforest.org.
It is an honest day if you hike from the tower via the north side of the red loop to the orange cross trail to access the blue loop. It is recommended you hike clockwise to the beaver trail and east to bisect the orange trail; the south portion of the blue loop beyond the orange is not well trodden.
your best bet is to canoe to the blue loop. Map reference, a6; 1 km from the railway station (Steven’s road) and paddle three km Se down Pecours bay to a2, south side of the blue loop.
better still, go the boat launch via Steven’s road, which becomes Fox run road, five km to a7 and then paddle SSW one km to a3, northeast side of the blue loop.
Bill Steer, founder of the Canadian Ecology Centre, www. canadianecology.ca, teaches part time at Nipissing University and Canadore College. You can reach him at wilstonsteer@ gmail.com; www.steerto.com
The mushrooms are out under the canopy of old-growth red and white pine trees on the White Bear Forest trails near Temagami.