Sunday, September 27, 2020


 Visit #1270, Sunday 27 September 20, 7:40-9:30AM, 2.8 miles, 13.3lbs. of litter.

Temps in the 60's, mostly cloudy with very high humidity.

I shouldn't be sweating this time of year, especially with temps in the 60's Sunday morning, but the air was unusually saturated, and it created a dripping sweat off my cap.

After many weeks of clearing trees from the trails due to storm damage, I  returned to trails I hadn't touched since that trail clearing began. At first it felt boring and routine, but after about 30 minutes the dullness disappeared and I fell into a familiar groove. I felt at home.

This week I scouted the trails on the south side of I-691 for litter and whatnot. Not having been here in many weeks, I found a lot, and I was glad to get on top of it.

Now you don't even need your smartphone to get on Facebook; just check the local rocks, even the tiniest of rocks.

On the return trip from the trails near West Main Street, I cleaned up the parking area in the northwest corner of Mirror Lake and found this wine glass with some wise advice on it, slightly early for the holidays.

 Nearby I found this large bag of dog kibble. No idea who would carry so much kibble with them. I emptied the kibble onto the trail for some lucky dogs to find, and took the bag. Yeah, I'm a dog lover.

I walked a loop around the Soap Box Derby track and the retention ponds, collecting enough litter that I saw little reason to spend more time. It was a successful outing and I was not bored.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Travel Lightly

The north end of Merimere Reservoir is somewhat sheltered from the breezes of Sunday morning. 

Visit #1269, Sunday 20 September 20, 7:30-10:00AM, 4.9 miles, 13.0lbs. of litter.

Temps in the mid-40's to low 50's, sunny, dry, and breezy.

After six weeks of lugging a chainsaw around to clear the trails of storm damage, I was looking forward to carrying a lighter load. I didn't expect it to be even lighter than normal.

I developed car troubles and was reluctant to drive my car to Hubbard Park on Sunday. Not one to give up so easily, I chose to ride my mountain bike instead. My regular backpack would be too large and impractical on a bike, so I used my Camelbak and traveled lightly. The Camelbak definitely wouldn't fit a chainsaw!

Once the bike was locked to the fence, I set off on the road around Merimere Reservoir. I knew the roadsides would have a lot of litter because I focused on the storm damaged trails for the past many weeks.

Zoe's having a rough time, it seems.

This blue heron will have a rough time if he doesn't find breakfast.

All through the hike I kept finding these nip bottle bouquets. Wonder what the story is behind them?

I reached the fork in the road to East/West Peak and had to drop off my first bag of litter because it was full. I'll contact the Meriden Parks Department and ask them to pick it up.

When I arrived at the walkbridge over I-691, I discovered both flags which I removed in January 2020, have finally been replaced. The installer's identity is still a mystery.

Returning to the park, I dropped off my lighter bag of litter and rode my bike home in a leisurely manner.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Storm Isaias Cleanup, Week VI - DONE!

Visit #1268, Saturday 12 September 20, 8:00-10:45AM, 4.2 miles, no litter collecting.
Temps in the low 70's, sunny and dry.

There was one trail left to be cleared after all the storm damage. I took a mountain bike ride on that trail on Friday to take inventory of the work it would require. This trail starts down near Merimere Reservoir and ends at West Peak.

On Saturday I was  joined my my storm cleanup assistant Paul. Without his assistance I might have finished in the same number of weeks, but the number of hours required would have at least been double. I'm very grateful for his help, and you should be too.

The start of the trail didn't pull any punches. I'll let you view just some of the Before and After photos. All told, we counted fifteen fallen trees or branches on this trail which needed attention.

This was The Biggie; you couldn't see the trail through the tree canopy. Paul had doubts we would have enough chainsaw fuel to complete the job, never mind the entire trail. My glass was half-full, however.

From my records, I counted over 55 fallen trees or branches which we cleared from Storm Isaias, some not documented in this blog. The final count was certainly higher as I didn't photograph everything. Phew! All the trails in Hubbard Park should now be clear for your recreating pleasure. If you find that's not the case, contact me through this blog and I'll see what I can do.

Next week I hope look forward to returning to the lighter work of picking up litter and maybe pruning a branch or two.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Storm Isaias Cleanup, Week V

Visit #1266, Saturday 5 September 20, 8:00-1045AM, 2.4 miles, no litter.
Temps in the low 70's, sunny and dry,.

Visit #1267, Labor Day Monday, 7 September 20, 8:05AM-1:45PM, 5.5 miles, 5.4 lbs. of litter.

On Saturday it was all about SAFETY.

You may remember two weeks ago while cleaning up after Storm Laura, encountering a trio of trees connected to one root system that had fallen across a trail.

Here's what that tree looked like after I removed the easiest of the three trunks then:

The terrain did not offer sure footing or easy access.

The trees were very large and massively heavy.

They rested in an unsafe position.

I returned on Saturday with my trail-clearing assistant Paul just to tackle this difficult situation.

We started by trimming away all the small branches to gain a better view of things.

Caution was the standard, and we managed to remove the second stem without incident. Removing the last stem concerned me because it was so high off the ground. The solution was provided by a passing hiker.

They suggested we shore up the last trunk with logs from the removed trees. This would shift the load and make cutting the tree safer and more predictable, considering the weight and position. We actually used two logs spaced five feet apart. It worked fabulously. The remaining log has enough weight on it that it is now a permanent trail feature. Think of me when you see it!

Here's a view from downslope.

All this clearing took almost two hours.

Done with this, we took a two minute hike to the Blue Trail leading up toward West Peak. Someone else had apparently cleared this trail but stopped short on their work. I don't think they had big enough chainsaw, or perhaps it was battery powered. In any case, the job didn't meet my standards.

I finished the job.

I returned on Labor Day to, guess what; Labor! I took advantage of the day off from work to clear the Blue Trail along the western rim of Merimere Reservoir.

But first, I hiked up to Castle Craig to address some graffiti I'd previously spotted on a picnic table. Enroute, I found a note in a nip bottle. I'd previously found a note in a nip bottle in August.

At home, I opened the bottle and read the note. The recipient's name has been redacted.

Strange things go on in Hubbard Park.

Let's get to that picnic table.

I brought spray paint.

While working on the picnic table, I noticed the tree adjacent to it needed some trimming.

I picked up litter around the picnic table and moved on to the main event. It didn't take more than a few minutes before I ran into my first tree.

Here's a view from the opposite side of the tree.

These hanging branches needed a trim.

The next tree wasn't far away.

More hanging branches.

I photographed this tree in mid-cut phase.

Then I got back on track.

Another victim of my chainsaw.

I then found one of these occasional pictures nailed to trees. This is a new phenomenon. Last one I found was in May.

Moving on...

Believe it or not, there were even more, and just as large, but I forgot to photograph them.

My goal was to either complete reopening the trail or to work until my chainsaw ran out of fuel.

Fortunately, they coincided.

I reached the north end of Merimere Reservoir and followed the road back to the parking lot.

Enroute, I found my Covid-19 Mask of the Week.

After a marathon 5 hour, 40 minute work session, I dropped off my trash for the week.

I might actually finish cleaning up after Storm Laura next week. The end may be in sight!