Newaygo County has a vast amount of natural resources for its residents and visitors alike to enjoy. There are rivers, streams, lakes, forests, fields and valleys. Much of what draws people from all over the country and world to Newaygo is this wide array of beauty all in close proximity.
Bret Brummel has been a resident of Newaygo County for all his life. This past spring, he and his 15 year-old daughter, Anna, decided they were going to embark on a new kind of adventure to explore one facet of the natural resources in their hometown.
The North Country Trail provides 66 miles of well-groomed trails to walk, run or hike in Newaygo County alone. Stretching from eastern New York to central North Dakota, the NCT is 4,600 miles long and is managed by federal, state and local agencies, and maintained mostly by volunteers of the North Country Trail Association (NCTA).
To challenge hikers to explore more miles on the NCT, there is a Hike 100 Challenge. To learn more about this challenge, click on the blue button below. Anyone can sign up (this year there is also a Hike 50 Challenge to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the National Trails System Act). You can download trail information, a log sheet, and kids’ information..and get hiking!
Bret and Anna decided their next goal was not only to run all of Newaygo County’s 66 miles of North Country Trail, but then to go back and complete the Hike 100 Challenge with their favorite sections within Newaygo County to get all 100 by the end of the summer.
Over the course of the next few months, they will be sharing details from each leg of the journey as they complete it. Below is the story of their first leg.
North Country Trail Adventure
By Bret Brummel
Newaygo North Country Trail Section 1 – 22-mile road to Pear.
Distance: 3.56 miles
My son Ryan is the runner in the family, I was not. However, watching him fall in love with running hundreds of miles during his Cross Country and Track seasons encouraged me to give it a try. That lasted about two months. It wasn’t until Anna began running cross country in Middle School that I became a runner. There was no way I was going to let my daughter run 3 miles alone at the age of 13. She wasn’t fast enough to keep up with her brother, so I was “next man up”. That meant new running shoes, a new training plan, and the determination not to get embarrassed by a 13-year-old girl.
Anna didn’t have the same love of running that Ryan has. She planned to use Cross Country season to get in shape for basketball. She’s not a fan of running on the road but wouldn’t hesitate to tag along when Ryan wanted to run on the North Country Trail. Last Fall, Anna and I began taking trips to the parking area in Croton or on 40th street for an hour of out and back Sunday long runs. They are supposed to be run at “conversation pace”, however, some days I’m not much for conversation while I’m struggling to breathe on the runs that seem to be ever increasing in distance each week. It became a habit that both of us enjoyed. That led us to the Hike 100 Challenge offered by the North Country Trail this year. We decided to take the challenge by completing our 100 miles on the Newaygo County portion of the trail.
We ran our first section on Memorial Day weekend. A road section from 22-mile Road and Oak Ave. to 128th St. and Pear Avenue in Grant. I had been running twice a week and Anna had been playing Soccer this spring. I was confident the 3.5 miles would be a nice easy road run for us. We knew the temperature was going to be hot, so we started our run at 9:00 am. I didn’t realize the only shade on the route was in the first mile. By the time we turned onto 128th St., our pace slowed, the conversation ended, and the finish couldn’t come soon enough. With ½ mile to go, Anna picked up her pace and finished a minute ahead of me. I approached the van as Anna finished taking a drink from her water bottle. She looked up and said, “That Sucked”. All I could muster for a reply was “Uh-huh”. Whose idea was this anyway?