Sunday, December 10, 2017

Timing Is Everything (Almost)

We didn't quite make it.

Visit #1112, Saturday 9 December 17, 9:45-10:40AM, 1.6 miles.
Temps in the 30's with snow that was SUPPOSED to begin in the afternoon.

Thanks to Paul Bernier for joining me, not fearing what the weather might bring.

Once a year I like to clean the slope adjacent to I-691 and the playscape of litter people toss over the fence. I didn't expect any problems completing the task because it wasn't going to start snowing until the afternoon.

At least that's what I thought.

It started to snow just before we arrived at Hubbard Park but I figured it was just a tease. Well, a tease turned into a taunt then a torment. Snow quickly covered the ground making it difficult to see any trash that might be there.  We altered our plans and walked around the retention ponds and the Soap Box Derby track.

 We returned to the park and took our bags of litter over to the dumpster at the Parks Department facility.

If the snow melts during the week, perhaps we'll pick up next week where we left off today.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

A Short Holiday Stroll

The Christmas decorations are in place and awaiting your enjoyment.

Visit #1111, Saturday 2 December 17, 11:25AM-12:25PM, 2.6 miles.
Temps in the 40's, sunny.

My trail work today was impeded at the start by a train blocking the trailhead. This train is apparently unaware there is a new train station downtown and a second set of tracks available.

I scoured all the trails on the south side of I-691 for litter. The parking area in the northwest corner is always a source of entertainment; I never know what I'll find but there's usually a good story behind it, if I use a little imagination!

Squirrels gather nuts and store them to prepare for winter. People, as this receipt shows, prepare for winter differently but prepare nonetheless. What's winter without a Santa Hat?!

This collection of Captain Morgan Rum nip bottles makes me wonder if the drinker is aware you get more rum if you buy a pint (375ml/$10) rather than 5 nip bottles (250ml total/$10). Save the excess for another day or get even more knockdown drunk for the same price. It's a win-win for the consumer!

I returned to the park and walked a loop around the Soap Box Derby track and the retention ponds.
Back at the parking lot, which was full of people enjoying the playscape, I deposited my litter for the week.

On the way out of the park I stopped to check on the progress of repairs to the John Barry bandshell, after a tree fell on it. While not yet finished, I'm impressed with the repair/repaint of the louvers on the left, where the tree contacted the roof. The Meriden Parks Department certainly has a skilled workforce and took care to preserve the original look.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Unfinished Business, Finally Finished!

Warm, sunny, quiet in the woods; you couldn't ask for a better fall day on Saturday.

Visit #1109, Thursday Thanksgiving Day, 23 November 17, 11:30AM-12:30PM, mileage n/a.
Temps in the 40's, sunny.

Visit #1110, Saturday 25 November 17, 10:30AM-2:00PM, 6.8 miles.
Temps in the 50's, sunny and breezy.

I thought I was nuts for straying into Hubbard Park on Thanksgiving Day; you would think I'd be spending time with family and friends. But apparently I wasn't the only one with the idea to take a walk in the woods on this holiday, as you'll read below.

As a single guy with no holiday invites coming my way, I wasn't going to cook a turkey just for myself. But lest I be called unAmerican, I cobbled together turkey chili in the slow cooker. Now I had all day to wait until it was ready.

But I really wasn't single on Thanksgiving; I was dog-sitting. I brought the dog with me.

Last week I reported spying some graffiti on the walkbridge over I-691. While the low temps would slow the paint curing, it was as good a time as any to do the deed.

 Once situated and my gear laid out, I went to work. I was amazed at the number of people who passed by just above where I was working, without a clue I was there. It was great to see so many out choosing to hit the trails on Thanksgiving.

When I was through, I walked around to the other side of the walkbridge abutment to look for any more graffiti and to pick up trash.

I found this old Connecticut license plate with the end characters missing.

 But the big surprise was this:

Now you too, know the secret to how the state keeps track of bridge painting. The "Ameron 450H" is the paint type.

Henry guards the walkbridge, demanding a biscuit before you pass. Don't have a biscuit-a pat on the head or belly rub will suffice.

Henry and I took short, casual lap after our work was done, then returned to the car with our tools and trash.

I returned on Saturday to finish clearing storm damage to the trails in Hubbard Park. Enroute to the trail head, I picked up litter. Here was my Find of the Week. Wonder why they got rid of it.

All my work was on one trail, paralleling the road up to West Peak. I used an entire tank of gas and had just enough to finish the job.

Some of the fallen trees were quite large.

I had to start making selective cuts because my fuel supply was getting low. I was keeping an eye on it all day expecting I might not have enough to complete the day's work.

Here's one of two or three abandoned cars near the trail. What I wouldn't give to get them removed, but it would take some serious resources.

And finally, the last tree. The end of the trail is just out of view.

Back at the car, I packed up the saw and my trash for the week.

'Til next week.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Unfinished Business

Skies were clouding over, with rain beginning in the afternoon. A nice day to stay inside, except we didn't.

Visit #1107, Saturday 18 November 17, 10:30AM to 1:30PM, 3.7 miles.

Visit  #1108, Sunday 19 November 17, 12:00-1:00PM, mileage n/a.

Paul Bernier joined me on Saturday as assistant and project photographer.

Covering all the trails after a storm cannot be done in one week. There were yet trails to be cleared of fallen trees, three weeks after the storm, and I ran out of gas last week, leaving yet more unfinished business.

This week we would cover the Blue Trail as it climbs the western face of Merimere Reservoir, then hike another trail back down to the north end of the reservoir, forming a big loop.

For the most part, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

My project photographer was a little rusty off the start, and failed to take a Before shot. I just finished pushing the cut tree off the trail.

Reaching Castle Craig, we followed the road to another trail that would lead us back down to the north end of Merimere Reservoir.

At the trailhead, we found this stenciled graffiti. I searched all the gang and hate group symbol databases and could not find a match. Closest I found was the Aryan Brotherhood, but it's not close enough to warrant an association. I'm puzzled as to why someone would bother to carry the stencil as well as to put the mark where we found it.

The trail head was a few steps away. We turned right and went in pursuit of more fallen trees.

Done on the trails, Paul and I walked back to my car and took our litter bag with us.

I dropped Paul off at home and returned to Hubbard Park to finish off where I ran out of gas last week, across the street from Belmont Avenue.

Walking toward I-691 and the last tree for the week, I spotted some new graffiti which I'll hopefully take care of in the near future. While not part of the park but on the highway side of the fence, it's visible and close enough to be an eyesore. Funny thing though; it's obscured by brush as you drive on I-691 east and not really visible. Must have been painted by newbies.

Back to the last tree of the week.

Here you can see the tree resting on the cable guardrail.

But there was still more unfinished business. I returned to Hubbard Park via mountain bike on Sunday to get in some miles, cover that graffiti, and check one more trail in Hubbard Park for storm damage. The mountain bike comes in handy because I can cover a lot of ground quickly.

Enroute to the graffiti site, I discovered the Meriden Traffic Department replaced the stolen sign directing to East/West Peak.

Well, I expected Sign v2.0 to be more of a theft-resistant design. Instead, it looks like a duplicate waiting to meet the same fate. I don't think "different color" qualifies. It doesn't even have tamper-proof mounting bolts. I don't hold out much hope for v2.0 to last long either. Stay tuned.

Here's a closer, last look at the graffiti symbol.

High winds and colder temps made painting over it difficult, but I got the job done.

I left the scene and inspected the last trail, only to find a good number of trees to be cleared from this remaining trail. More unfinished business. 'Til next week...