Photo and Story by Jewel Brink
Publisher’s note: My decades of being perpetually perplexed by the orphaned shoes found along the road (with remarkable frequency I might add) has led to folks occasionally sending me photos of various shoe situations they’ve encountered. One such missive arrived this past week from N3 reader Jewell Brink. After confirming that even N3 Editor Alexis Mercer,who has long spent hours running the trails in our region, was unaware of the locale we pressed upon Ms. Brink to supply us with a bit of backstory.
Here is her reply.
That Sunday was raining off and on and we waited til late in the afternoon to start. We started hiking the NCT on Sunday afternoons during Covid to get out of the house and explore a bit. That turned into a goal of hiking all of the NCT in Newaygo County. We finished that and are now going back to favorite NCT sections or in this case a section that's a spur off of the regular trail.
White Cloud Campground has a spur trail connecting to the main NCT and we wanted to do that portion. The XC shoe tree is on the spur closer to the High School where the White Cloud XC team trains and has a course for their meets. If you park at the High School you can pick up the NCT spur just beyond the front parking lot and the cemetery. The XC course is marked by yellow flags that loop around on the NCT and a power line. We stayed on the NCT and found the tree about a mile from where we started.
I wonder if the White Cloud XC team appreciates what a great trail they have to train on right next to their school. Some high school teams have to drive to get to such nice running trails and spend more time running along a paved road for practices. Having raised high school XC runners we found the shoe tree amusing and could definitely relate to kids throwing the old torn and smelly training shoes and racing spikes up in the branches when done for the season.
There's also a 2-seater outhouse near the shoe tree, although 2 seats and no door puzzles me as to usefulness.
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