Sunday, September 17, 2017

Unexpected Surprises

It was a warm and muggy Saturday morning.

Visit #1098, Saturday 16 September 17, 7:40-10:35AM, 5.9 miles.
Temps in the 70's; foggy, humid and warm.

Is today's title redundant?!

Every hike in Hubbard Park offers up something unexpected, and is a good reason to keep coming back.

I hiked up to Merimere Reservoir and up to the Halfway House, to check on my defoliation work. No surprise there; I only sprayed the area a few weeks ago when the litmus test will come next year.

It was a sweaty slog up to Castle Craig. On the trail up I came upon some graffiti. Although minor, it was an eyesore. I was prepared with spray paint.

At Castle Craig I did something I rarely do; climb the stairs to the top. With the chowder-like fog there wasn't much of a view beyond the flagpole.

So, I didn't stick around and left to clean up the road down to Merimere Reservoir. I immediately noticed the foliage is starting to encroach on the road again.

I took 10 minutes, and my loppers, and trimmed up the strip.

The road down was fog shrouded but cooler because I wasn't working hard, and I was walking downhill. In light of the conditions, I planned it that way.

And there were more unexpected surprises.

While picking up trash along the banks of Merimere Reservoir, I was surprised by your garden variety empty bag of dope.

But the biggest surprise was down at the north gate near Merimere Reservoir.

That bollard was recently installed to inhibit motorcycles and maybe mopeds from traversing the park after hours. I've seen this happen quite a bit, most recently in April. I've seen GROUPS of riders pass through after hours to hang out at the peaks.

The gap was easily wide enough to pass the state budget.

At that time in April I had suggested to Chris Bourdon at the Meriden Parks Department to close the gap. While the design doesn't seem quite moped-proof, it should do well to deter motorcycles. We'll keep an eye on it. Hats off to the Chris and the Meriden Parks Department for their effort!

I walked the road back to the parking lot, picking up trash as I went, and that was no surprise.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Have Paint, Will Travel

The clouds and sky tell the story; it was a day so glorious you needed to just sit and look stupid.

Visit #1097, Saturday 9 September 17, 2:30-4:30PM, 2.2 miles.

After last week's graffiti hunting expedition, I thought I'd better check on the rocks at West Peak which have repeatedly been covered in graffiti in the past few years.

Unfortunately, I was not disappointed.

(Interesting side note: I was at Walmart on the Berlin Turnpike in Newington this week. In the hardware section, the spray paint is behind glass, under lock and key. Gee; I wonder why?...)

I was on-call, so rather than hike to West Peak, I drove. This enabled me to carry two different colors of paint, a bonus.

Here's what I found.

These genius graffiti artists must be new to the practice for they actually put both first and last names up. I wonder if Canty and Olivia should get a visit from the local constabulary...

I had to plan the order of painting so I wouldn't paint myself into a corner.

After the painting was complete, I returned and policed the parking lot and trails of trash. Then drove over to Castle Craig.


I'd previously covered over some graffiti on the klieg lights at Castle Craig, even though 2 of the housings no longer contained lamps. I mentioned that maybe they would look better if I completely painted them. Well, now was as good a time as any.

Not complete jobs but better than nothing.

Afterwards I cleaned up the parking lot and surrounding area. Since I drove up to Castle Craig, I was able to take my trash bags with me.

But I wasn't done for the weekend.

While at Castle Craig on Saturday, I spotted graffiti on the electrical transformer cabinet. I didn't feel like opening my paint can again and totally forgot I had other means to remove it. So I returned on Sunday with spray paint to finish off what I started.

During today's drive to the peaks, I got a pleasant surprise.

This new sign is PERFECT. I can't tell you the number of people I've had to direct to the correct peak. My compliments To Chris Bourdon and the Parks Department for the sign.

The question is, was it installed with tamper-proof bolts...

I leave you this week with another photo that should prompt you to just sit and look stupid.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Let Us Spray

Visit #1096, Saturday 2 September 17, 9:30-11:15AM, 3.0 miles.

Thanks to Paul Bernier who joined me this week, and handled sandpaper like a professional.

During last week's foray into Hubbard Park I discovered some graffiti which I totally forgot to tell you about, dear reader.

On a mountain bike ride through the park on Friday, I discovered more.

I also promised to return with brush killer to enact some preventive maintenance at the Halfway House.

There was gonna be a lot o' sprayin' going on today.

Paul and I hiked a clockwise loop and reached the walkbridge over I-691, and our first encounter with graffiti.

I wasn't thinking clearly when preparing for today's work, and thought WD-40 would take care of this stuff lickety-split. My addled brain was confusing graffiti with the stickers I quickly removed a couple week's ago. Must have been the fumes from all those aerosols...

So when spraying WD-40 didn't do squat but lubricate the bollards, I was ready to resort to non-matching spray paint to cover it up. Fortunately the fumes hadn't reached the deep recesses of my memory, and I remembered I just recently began carrying sandpaper for instances like this. I giggled like a lobbyist in a congressman's office knowing the graffiti wasn't long for this world now.

I let Paul do the honors. Notice Paul's blurry glove; that's due to the speed and ruthless efficiency with which he works.

We moved on to our next piece of graffiti.

Question: What's the Greek letter for Potassium?


Gray spray paint is highly effective in removing potassium from rock.

At the Halfway House, I sprayed over more graffiti.

Note the shiny screw heads. Those are from repairs I made to the Halfway House in September of 2010 and still holding.

It was at this point I donned my Agent Orange hat and sprayed the perimeter of the Halfway House with brush killer. We'll keep an eye on how effective it is long term.

Paul and I returned to the parking lot and deposited our bags of trash for the week.

Happy Labor Day!

Sunday, August 27, 2017


Visit #1095, Saturday 26 August 17, 10:25AM-12:40PM, 4.2 miles.
Temps in the high 70's, sunny and dry.

As I promised last week, I had a couple lingering tasks I planned to take care of this weekend.

I hiked over the I-691 walkbridge and reached the fallen branch I reported on last week.

Except when I arrived, it had been cleared from the path and was sitting on the side of the trail. Still, it was kind of ugly and I would not be denied using power tools, so I cut it up into small pieces and tossed them down the hillside.

As I hiked my way over to the Halfway House to fulfill Promise #2, I came upon Colorado'd Tree #17 in Hubbard Park.

This tree has been like this for at least a month or two but I never had the tool to remove it. Except today.

Reaching the Halfway House, I assessed what it would take to clear the growing brush around the perimeter and went to work. I failed to take all the After photos but you get the idea.

See that hole on the left-I spied a Copperhead Snake moving around in there. Fortunately it didn't come out to defend its front yard. I knew to look for a snake in that hole because previously I'd seen a black snake disappear into it. There are actually two entrances to that snake den, a few feet apart.

I think I did the right thing removing all the brush and vines before the roots started uplifting the stone wall. I also think the vines were Poison Ivy; fortunately I had gloves on. I plan on returning with Poison Ivy killer for a more permanent solution.

With my promises kept, I returned to the park and dropped off my trash for the week.