Sunday, May 21, 2017

Quick Work

A tranquil Sunday morning Mirror Lake. There were some anglers taking advantage of the lake's fishing opportunities even this early in the day.

Visit #1075, Sunday 21 May 17, 7:45-9:40AM, 3.1 miles.
Temps in the 50's, mostly sunny and calm.

I was on-call so I didn't plan on any lengthy, far-reaching trail maintenance session today.

After last week's trail work, I noticed some new graffiti on the I-691 walkbridge. Since it appeared to be done in something other than spray paint, I thought I'd be able to use some sort of cleaner on it to make quick work of its removal. But neither Goof-Off nor WD-40 would touch it. Nor would my wire brush.  Next time, if I think of it, I'll try a stronger solvent such as mineral spirits.

Good thing I had a Plan B.

This was my first stop.

After the solvents and wire brush failed, I broke out a simple piece of 80 grit sandpaper, which has NEVER failed on steel. Boom; quick work indeed!

The only reason for the clump of paint on the sandpaper was the WD-40 I sprayed on the graffiti in my first attempt. Clogged sandpaper doesn't work well. Lesson learned, all the other graffiti was removed "dry" and the sandpaper worked like a charm.

While on the walkbridge, I noticed one of the two American flags placed last year by persons unknown, has been taken. To be fair it was beginning to get tattered so I'm inclined to think it wasn't stolen but rightly removed. Stay tuned this month because usually new flags are put up on the walkbridge around Memorial Day. I'll report if and when it happens.

After I eradicated the graffiti on the walkbridge, I turned my attention back to the trails and more litter collection. I also trimmed the trails of thorn bushes which grow like weeds once the temps reach the 60's or so.

There's been an ahem, a bumper crop of condoms this year in Hubbard Park. This is #5 for 2017 but who's counting?

I covered the trail all the way to West Main Street and Belmont Avenue, then turned around and hiked back to the park. A loop around the Soap Box Derby track and I was done, turning in my bag of trash for the week.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Back In The Saddle and Busy

The recent spring rains, including Saturday's impending rain, will definitely top off Merimere Reservoir and virtually eliminate the drought conditions of the past 2 years.

Visit #1073, Saturday 13 May 17, 8:45-11:05AM, mileage unknown.
Temps in the 60's with rain developing mid-morning.

Visit #1074, Sunday 14 May 17, 7:00-9:15AM, 4.4 miles.
Temps in the 40's with rain tapering off later in the morning.

My apologies for lack of a blog post last week. I had the flu and was glued to my couch. When I recovered in the middle of last week, I took a mountain bike ride through the trails below Castle Craig and found a number of trees had fallen from recent storms. This week, with the help of my occasional co-conspirator Paul Bernier, we were going to spruce up the trails.

Thanks to Paul for his assistance this week, and for manning the camera!

We started by following the trails on the south side of I-691 where we quickly ran into a fallen tree I didn't encounter last week. My chainsaw paid off here.

We hiked over I-691 via the walkbridge and discovered some new graffiti, which I'll address next week.

We reached the trails higher up and encountered the first of a few fallen trees which were encroaching on the trails.

The next tree had mostly smaller branches so I handed the loppers to Paul and let him get to work.

The next tree was closer to the Halfway House.

We returned to the parking lot and dropped off our trash bags for the week.

The last tree for Saturday was at the north end of Hubbard Park and due to the soon-to-start rain, we chose to drive to the north end for a shorter hike to the fallen tree.

But I wasn't done for the weekend. Since I was in a chainsaw state of mind...

In my last report, I found mountain bikers had been building a ramp off a large rock on one of the lesser-used trails. I intended to remove it.

Walking across the north end of Merimere Reservoir, I passed this gaggle of geese, including their future turd dropping progeny.

I started early Sunday morning in less-than ideal conditions, and had to ford the Maloney Canal, which was raging with runoff from Saturday's rain.

I hiked up the trail with the chainsaw and reached the feature.

I handily dismantled the ramp, while still under construction.

To warn mountain bikers their ramp was gone, I littered the area approaching the jump with brush. I have no clue whether they'll be smart enough to get the message.

When I reached the top of the trail, near the fork to East/West Peaks, I walked the road down, and picked up trash along the way. I brought the bag home for disposal.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Chance Encounters

It was a peaceful Saturday at the north end of Hubbard Park. With the road still closed and the Daffodil Festival in progress at the south end, I had the better part of the park pretty much to myself.

Visit #1072, Saturday 29 April 17, 10:00AM-12:45PM, 4.5 miles.
Temps in the 70's, sunny and calm.

There was no way I was going to park in Hubbard Park proper this week, with the Daffodil Festival in full swing, so I entered the park through the north end.

We had quite a bit of rain this past week; from the photo above it looks like the reservoir has almost returned to full capacity.

The spillways reinforce my observation. There's some trash floating in them, but that will have to wait until the spillways dry out.

And so I headed up the road.

My first chance encounter was with a Find of the Week. Why does someone choose to discard a pair of insoles THERE, beside the road, and THEN.  I'd love to hear the logic behind that.

And the road continued up.

Near the fork in the road to East and West Peak, while collecting some trash off the side of the road, I had a chance encounter with a garter snake.

Then I encountered a series of graffiti. I had conveniently packed some grey and brown spray paint this week just in case, and was glad I did as it saved me a return trip.

It was about at this point I intended to turn around and take a trail back down to Merimere Reservoir. But as I was covering the graffiti, a Meriden Fire Department vehicle passed by enroute to Castle Craig. This gave me an idea; I would ask the fire department employee to take my trash bag which was getting full and heavy, and I would be able to open another bag and pick up more trash around Castle Craig.

So I stopped John Strillacci from the Meriden Fire Department and asked him if he would take my trash bag and drop it off so I could open another one. No sense in leaving it at the parking lot where it would be an eyesore for the weekend and possibly get opened by wildlife.

His answers-"I'm not leaving for 5 hours. I'm not the garbage guy."

Huh? I'm not sure what "...5 hours" has to do with it, and apparently I can be the "garbage guy",  picking up other peoples' trash but since it's not in his job description, he's not gonna put forth the effort as a representative of Meriden to take one lousy trash bag with him.

To put it mildly, he didn't represent the City of Meriden or the Meriden Fire Department well.

Needless to say, we had a terse exchange.

So I cleaned up the Castle Craig parking lot anyway, and filled up my 13 gallon bag. And since taking the trash bag was outside the scope of Mr. Strillacci's "duties", I transferred my trash to a 30 gallon bag and lugged it the MILE AND A HALF back to my car, all the while continuing to pick up more trash.

But lest you think I have a chip on my shoulder regarding the Meriden Fire Department, and lest you think ALL members of the Meriden Fire Department are so lacking in public relations skills, I would like to refer you to this encounter I had with the Meriden Fire Department back in May 2013.

Heck; they even took my trash!

I hiked a trail down toward Merimere Reservoir. Enroute, I encountered a fallen hemlock. I couldn't clear it completely from the trail, so I'll have to return with the chainsaw next week to finish the job.

Farther down, I encountered more work of mountain bikers who continue to build ramps and jumps on the trail. I dismantled what I could but ran out of time. Along with the fallen tree, I'll dismantle the rest next week.

Note the rocks I placed on top, so they'll stop and look rather than go full speed ahead.

This will have to wait until next week.

I returned to my car with the trash bag that caused too much of an imposition, because I'M the garbage guy and they're...? (FYI: I later weighed the bag-12lbs.)