Sunday, February 9, 2020

A Hard Day On The Slopes

Castle Craig is up there SOMEHWERE. I was there, too.

Visit #1232, Saturday 8 February 20, 11:35AM-2:35PM, 3.2 miles, 18.5lbs. of litter.
Temps in the 30's, sunny with a brisk breeze.

This week was my quasi-annual, semi-obligatory task of picking up litter from the slope below Castle Craig. People toss their bottles and cans (among other things) off from Castle Craig and you eventually can see it as you hike up the trail toward Castle Craig. A real eyesore. I choose a cold time of year to do this to avoid running into snakes...

The photo above doesn't do justice to how difficult it is to traverse all that loose trap rock on such a steep slope. After much groveling and head banging I came up with a reasonable solution.

A hiking pole gives me a measure of stability even if it does tie up one hand from holding a trash bag or picking things up.

Enroute to that trail, I hiked past the Halfway House and came across this newly fallen tree, which wasn't budging. I hope to return next week to cut it away. A hand saw should be all I need.

Once I finished crawling around on that slope collecting litter, I hiked over I-691 and back to the park to deposit my bags.

I did notice the rocks on the slope were holding on to and reflecting the sun's energy, generating a measure of late winter warmth. It was nice.

Almost back to the parking lot, directly across from Mirror Lake, I came upon my Find of the Week.

Not sure what it is? It's a spent shell casing from a .45 caliber handgun. Was there a shooting in Hubbard Park? A recent report of shots fired? Thinking I would do my civic duty, when I arrived home I visited the Meriden Police Department web page to see if they had a means of contacting them via e-mail about my find.

They did. When I submitted my information, up popped an error message stating my e-mail was stored but delivery to the right people was uncertain, and recommended calling the police department. I promise to hold on to the shell and stop by the police department on Monday.

In case you're interested, you can actually match up what weapon this shell was fired from by comparing the dent on the primer (seen in the photo) to the firing pin on the handgun as both are almost as unique as fingerprints.

Saturday, February 1, 2020


Visit #1231, Saturday 1 February 20, 7:35-10:20AM, 5.5 miles, 7.0lbs. of litter.
Temps in the 30's, cloudy, foggy, raw, and black ice present on the road.

Sometimes I make a list throughout the week, to keep track of what I can do in Hubbard Park the following weekend. I had three tasks to accomplish this time around.

I thought I would start early so as to avoid scrutiny; I wanted to cut off two padlocks I saw attached to the railing around Mirror Lake. A pair of boltcutters in someone's hands in Hubbard Park might raise eyebrows.

Well, it wasn't early enough. While cutting off the two padlocks, I was getting suspicious looks, so apparently I didn't start early enough.

 I returned to my car and put the boltcutters away.

Last week, I corrected a labeling faux pas at the map board adjacent to the playscape. Later that day, I decided to add labels for the Halfway House and Castle Craig. Today I made the labels at home. I attached them with rubber cement, which isn't the strongest adhesive, cleans off easily, and won't remove the paint.

 The labels didn't seem to be sticking so well. I'll be curious to see if they last. I may have to devise a more secure solution.

Two tasks could be checked off the list, one to go.

I walked the road around Merimere Reservoir, and up toward West Peak.

Shortly after starting my hike, I found this scribbled note:

Either the result of the 2019nCoV Coronavirus which has been making headlines lately, or they've been watching too much of Senate Impeachment hearings.

 Throwing rocks on the ice is not a good way to test if it's safe enough to walk on. Local outdoor columnist Mike Roberts explained the pitfalls of this technique in a recent column.

I found a fleece headband, which I'll wash and deliver to Goodwill. I've been finding so much clothing in Hubbard Park which I've brought to Goodwill (3 hats in the last 8 weeks), that I'm now on a first name basis with the staff!

Walking around Merimere Reservoir, I checked on the Christmas Tree at Echo Point to see if the ornaments were removed. They were. Stay tuned for Christmas 2020.

I was telling someone recently about the religious tracts I find occasionally on my hikes up the road, and the typical location where I find them. Although I didn't find one at the usual tree, I did find one on a gate.

I appears the Church of St. Matthews is a scam church. It didn't take a Wikipedia search for me to conclude this. It also appears whoever wrote the note on the backside of what you see above, isn't happy with the Church of St. Matthews either.

This dog poop bag says it all.

I walked the road up toward West Peak. I'd previously reported one of the telephone poles placed at a nearby trailhead to deter vehicles, had been rolled away a good distance from the trailhead. My final task today was to attempt to drag that telephone pole back, uphill where it belonged.

This was going involve some REAL work, but I figured it would be a good arm workout, progressing me toward my goal of developing some serious biceps.

Instead, I arrived at the location to find the telephone pole had already been repatriated with the others at the trail head by Chris Bourdon and his "too efficient" parks crew. Thanks Chris!

Well, I guess that means no massive biceps for me. I'll just remain a skinny bicycle rider with NO biceps.

Checklist complete, I hiked my scrawny, bicep-less self  back to the park, struggling under the weight of my seven pound bag of litter.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Whither Winter?

Last week's snowstorm, which left me stuck in airports in Chicago and in Washington D.C., is now but a memory.

Visit #1230, Sunday 26 January 20, 8:05-9:40AM, 3.1 miles, 15.4lbs. of litter.
Temps in the 30's and partly sunny.

I was on-call this week so I stayed close to the park in case I needed to leave for a service call.

Readers of this blog may recall the trail map which was refurbished, but reinstalled upside down. After the orientation being corrected, the text, "U R here" marked not only the wrong location where the map viewer was standing, the text was upside down.

Fortunately, someone erased the upside down label. This week, I labeled the map correctly. No phonetic spellings from this guy; I'm ejumacated!

The label wouldn't stick to the wood by itself, nor would some double-sided tape I had on hand,  so I improvised a solution with silicone caulk. I may return next week and mark the Halfway House and Castle Craig.

I headed west on trails parallel to I-691. Reaching the end at West Main Street, I turned around and headed back to the park.

I tried out one of my Christmas gifts; insulated rubber coated gloves. They worked wonderfully. Thanks, Santa (you know who you are)!

The entire trail didn't take much time, so I chose to walk around the perimeter of Mirror Lake and pick up litter.

Ever wonder how ducks and geese can walk on ice and not be bothered by the cold surface? Read the answer HERE. Think about this next time you're sleeping with your significant other and they stick their cold feet against YOU. It will make you wish you married a duck instead.

After walking around the perimeter of Mirror Lake, I continued up the Soap Box Derby track, around the retention ponds, and back toward the park.

Reaching the gate, I noticed the bollard which was replaced last July, has been vandalized. At that time I speculated that was going to happen. Notice the loosened bolts. I'll notify the parks department and hopefully they will be able to provide a more permanent solution.

I passed the gate and returned to the parking lot to drop off my bag of trash for the week.

A friend told me late in 2019 that the Farmer's Almanac predicted a harsh winter. We're still waiting...

Sunday, January 19, 2020

He's Baaaack...

Getting back was the hard part.

Visit #1229, Sunday 19 January 20, 1:10-2:25PM, 2.4miles, 0.5lbs. of trash.
Temps in the low 40's, cloudy and breezy, post snowstorm.

As reported in my last blog post, I was going to miss a week's entry because I would be in Chicago for training. Well, I almost missed this week's entry, too.

The snowstorm on Saturday which dropped 6" on Meriden dropped a similar amount in Chicago on Friday, the day I was to fly home, to Bradley Airport. I was stuck at O'Hare airport on Friday night when my flight was canceled.

On Saturday, I was rerouted to Washington D.C., where I was stuck at Reagan Airport for Saturday night as I was too late to meet my connecting flight to Bradley Airport.

So I arrived back home early Sunday afternoon with little sleep and a lot of post-trip chores, one of which was to check out the trails in Hubbard Park.

I had no agenda planned, and the snow cover meant I likely wouldn't find much trash. But on the drive over to the park, I saw what today's schedule would include.

Someone had vandalized the two flags displayed on the walkbridge over I-691. I would remove the slashed flags and dispose of them properly.

As I hiked over to the walkbridge I got a clear idea as to how many people were using the trail bypass I created around a fallen tree. It seems MOST hikers, but not all, were able to figure out the revised route.

I hiked over to the bridge and cut the flags down.

I turned around, returned to the park, and picked up very little trash. While disposing of it, I found a pair of knit gloves on the fence post. I'll wash them and get 'em to Goodwill.

Feels good to be home and back into a familiar routine.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Run From The Paparazzi!

Visit #1228, Saturday 4 January 20, 1:15-4:45PM, 5.0 miles, 13.7lbs. of litter.
Temps in the 40's, cloudy with drizzle.

Last week's blog apparently got peoples' attention!

In it, I posted the weight of all the bags of litter I collected. 2019 was the first year I was able to keep track of such a statistic. I suspected to most people reading my blog, a bag of trash is nothing. But; assign a weight to it and tally up a year's worth and now people are getting a frying pan to the forehead.

That's what I think caught the eyes of the Meriden Record Journal, which published an article about my year end total.

Then came all the e-mails and phone calls of congratulations.

I was speaking to a relative who called to congratulate me, and I jokingly remarked I had women sending me e-mails, wanting to have my baby!

Kathy asked me; "Do you know why?"

I told her of course I knew why-"because I was some altruistic do-gooder!"

"Nope; it's because you're a man that KNOWS HOW TO CLEAN, and that's the holy grail of a husband!"

Well, that burst my bubble.

Among my e-mail in-box well wishers was a local TV station, which wanted to arrange to meet in Hubbard Park for an interview and to film me in action. We tentatively set a date and time of 4PM on Saturday.

Considering the late time, and the lack of sunshine on Saturday, it wouldn't leave me much time to get REAL work in, so I smartly arrived hours early to recon some trails that would afford good filming opportunities, and pick up trash.

Despite the raw drizzle, I hiked up the Soap Box Derby track an up to the South end of Merimere Reservoir, where I picked up the trails.

It is there that I found Season of the Missing Glove #14.

Oh, and for my one blog reader who gets a nauseous kick out of it, here's Condom #1 of 2020.
I'll keep it small.

Closer to the Halfway House, I found this thermal bag FILLED with Genessee beer cans, some of which WERE UNOPENED. Any alcoholic or beer party has got to be pretty poop-faced to leave beer unconsumed! I had to empty the cans to make the load light enough to carry. Also, cheap beer = cheap party, or at least low quality party partners. Which is why I, and you dear reader, weren't invited. Be thankful.

That just about max'd out my trash bag but when I went to transfer all the goods to a 30 gallon bag, I discovered I failed to replenish my stock.

That REALLY changed my agenda. I had to carry Bag #1 and opened up Bag #2 and shortened my planned route.

I coverred all the trails below Castle Craig, then hiked over I-691 and back to the park, with over an hour to spare before the TV crew showed up.

Which they didn't. No promised phone call or e-mail to confirm. The paparazzi snubbed their noses at me...

I gave them an extra 15 minutes, until I felt like a "fer sher" stood up date, and with quickly waning daylight, returned to the areas I left for filming/cleaning, and picked up all the litter.

Finally, I regret to inform you there will  be NO BLOG entry next week as I'll be away. To get your weekly fix, please read an older blog entry or, if you're really inclined, cover for me in Hubbard Park, take some photos, and I promise to post when I return, and give you a thank you gift, too!

Stay warm-I'll be in Chicago where I may not be so toasty.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

End of 2019 Tally

Merimere Reservoir tucks in for the winter under a blanket of ice, albeit a thin one.

Visit #1227, Sunday 29 December 19, 10:45AM-1:20PM, 4.8 miles, 15.4lbs. of litter.

Free from two consecutive weeks of on-call duty, I was able to wander farther on the trails of Hubbard Park.

That upside-down trail map I reported on last week-thanks to Chris Bourdon and the Meriden Parks Department, it was corrected. Almost.

While it's now right-side up, that "u r here" at the now, top of the map (gotta love that texting-speak!), denotes the location of Castle Craig and not the location of the map kiosk! I'll see if I can't add some correct labeling next week.

 Here's the plaque crediting the Boy Scout who created the project.

I headed up the trails, over I-691, and up the Blue Trail to West Peak. Warm weather in the last week cleared the trails of any ice or snow that might hamper progress. This coming week forecasts warmer temps and a couple days of rain. I expect any traces of snow or ice, including on Merimere Reservoir, will be gone by next weekend.

These buzzards were doing a little sunbathing.

I walked the road down from West Peak, and enroute discovered one of the telephone poles I had asked be placed in 2014 at a particular trail head to deter vehicles, had been rolled away. I found it a good distance down the road. I am formulating a plan to return it to its original location, but it's going to take some successful physics and muscle.

I've got to roll it UPHILL about a hundred feet. That ought to be fun...

The road down from West Peak was quiet.

I had almost forgot but due to my schedule in December I wasn't able to report on this earlier: Yearly, some people decorate this tree at Echo Point. As you can see, they planted a wreath as well. But they seem to have a different timetable than I do for removing the decorations, whether they plan to remove them at all. I give them until the end of January to retrieve their decorations or I go all Grinch on them.

Nearing the gate across the road, I came upon Season of the Missing Glove 2019, Entry #13.

I returned to the park with my litter for the week.

And now for the tally: I don't usually do this but since I bought a scale early in 2019 to weigh my trash collection, I was curious to see how much I gathered in 2019.

Well, I hiked a total of 205.4 miles in Hubbard Park for the year. That's not much considering I know some people have met goals of hiking 1000 miles in a year.

What I was surprised of was how much trash I collected in 2019-600.5lbs.!

Update: I also counted the number of times I needed the use of a chainsaw to clear fallen trees or branches from the trails: 23. I used a bow saw a few times, but most trail trimming was done with my loppers or  hedge clippers.

Since this is the last post of the year, I'll put out may annual offer; if you don't want to receive advanced notices of my blog entries, please let me know and I'll remove you from my distribution list. Otherwise you'll have to suffer for 2020, or you'll take great pleasure in sending me to your spam folder!