Bill Bussey and his wife Nancy have been hiking on the Brownstone Trail ever since moving to Bayfield in 1980, even before its official establishment in 1996. From observing the first signs of spring when green shoots up through the brown leaf litter to walking through “a tunnel of gold” in the fall, Bill finds great beauty in the four seasons along the trail. Hiking on the Brownstone several times a week, he enjoys not only its natural beauty, but also seeing the trail flourish as a readily accessible resource for getting close to nature.

Nancy and Children Mark and Carrie on the future Brownstone Trail in 1984

Nancy and children Mark and Carrie on the future Brownstone Trail in 1984.

Bill in same spot from 1984 on Brownstone Trail

Bill at the same spot 40 years later on the Brownstone Trail.

As a resident right next to the trail, Bill enjoys seeing diverse usage of the trail year-round. “You’d be surprised how much use it gets even in the winter,” Bill said, “and I’ve been surprised how much it’s been used even since the washout occurred several years ago.  Despite the detour, it’s still gotten a great deal of use.”

Bill looks forward to the restoration of the portion of the trail currently closed due to the washout in order to resume one of his favorite traditions: walking into town on the Brownstone to enjoy Bayfield’s Apple Festival. “We’ve done it for years…We’ve walked in with our kids since they were little, and I’ve always had an apple to eat on the way,” Bill said fondly.  “One of the best views on the trail is from the bridge in the currently closed portion very generously donated by Bill and Marilyn Van Sant to cross a deep ravine on their property.  I’m really looking forward to crossing that bridge again . . . maybe not by this year’s Apple Festival, but hopefully by the next one.”

Bill and daughter Carrie after Apple Fest

Bill and daughter Carrie after Apple Fest. “Back with another apple!”

Nancy and Carrie at Van Sant Bridge on the way to Apple Fest in 2011

Nancy and daughter Carrie on Van Sant bridge on the way to Apple Fest in 2011. 

“It’s just a wonderful asset to the community. We’ve enjoyed it for decades and we see how many others do as well,” Bill stated when reflecting on the importance of Brownstone. He noted that this doesn’t happen without stewardship and a significant number of volunteers who look after the trail and help support its restoration. “We all appreciate the significance of the trail and the great advantage of having something like this for visitors and local folks alike to connect with nature so easily. We want to do our part to make sure it will continue to be enjoyed by many for years to come.”