Sunday, January 17, 2021

Avoiding Catastrophe

In the far distance (is that redundant?!), some hikers walk the road down from East/West Peak. The parking lot was packed with people on the trails and elsewhere in Hubbard Park today.

 Visit #1288, Sunday 17 January 21, 10:20AM-12:35PM, 4.5 miles, 15.2lbs. of litter.

Temps in the low 40's, mostly cloudy and very breezy.

Last week I reported the passing of my old computer and my scramble to replace it so that I could publish the blog in a timely fashion.

Things went wonderfully for that first post on the new iMac.

Then the poop went sideways, as they say. I was without a working computer for all of last week as I worked with Apple Tech Support and the people at the Apple Store at West Farms Mall to sort out the problems with my new computer.

Apple Tech Support said my hard drive had failed, while the tech at the Apple Store said he couldn't find anything wrong with my new iMac. I still couldn't recover my old files; blog posts, photos, financial info, the works, despite everything being backed up to another hard drive.

I solved my problem just in time for this week's post, avoiding catastrophe.

While walking was very comfortable for this January day as temps were in the 40's, there was a stiff breeze which made its rule known at higher, exposed elevations.

I reached West Peak and followed the road to the Blue Trail and back down toward the Halfway House.

Crawling through the woods to grab a beer can, I came upon my Find of the Week, this ancient windshield wiper.

Further along the way I found Season of the Missing Glove Entries #9 and 10 (a mitten for all you sticklers for accuracy).

I dropped off my trash for the week and went home to a working computer to complete my blog post.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Head Down, Eyes Up

 A family of hikers walk across the north end of Merimere Reservoir as the sun sets behind all of us.

Visit #1287, Saturday 9 January 21, 2:45-4:10PM, 3.7 miles, 5.2 lbs. of litter.

Temps in the mid-30's, mostly sunny.

After all the recent winds, I had one trail left to inspect for fallen trees and other damage. Since I was starting so late in the day, I chose to park outside the north end of Merimere Reservoir to reach that trail and eliminate the possibility of getting caught out on the trails in the dark.

I expected today would be a pretty dull session, so I would just keep my head down/eyes up and just plug along looking for litter, and maybe the occasional trail debris which might need removing.

Walking along the road to the trail head, I noticed this hemlock had recently fallen across the road. The lower portion of the tree rests on the guardrail and spans the Maloney Canal on the right.

About the only interesting things I ran into on this day were a group of mountain bikers exiting the trail as I approached the trailhead. Later on, I observed them descending one of the illegal mountain bike trails constructed in the park.

And as I started up the trail, I was passed by a group of ATVer's including one motocross biker.

The trail itself was clear of fallen debris and litter. A good thing.

The trail ended at West Peak, and I descended back to Merimere Reservoir via the road, checking for litter as I went.

It was while walking the road back to my car that I came upon my Find of the Week. It literally pays to keep my head down and eyes up!

My lucky find subsidized Saturday's dinner of General Tso's Chicken.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

2021-In With a Bang!

 Despite being in the midst of winter, Merimere Reservoir isn't frozen. Temperatures on the New Year's weekend were actually quite comfortable.

Visit #1285, Friday 1 January 21, 9:15AM-12:30PM, 1.6 miles, 83.0lbs. of litter.

Temps in the mid-40's,  partly sunny.

Visit #1286, Sunday 3 January 21, 10:15AM-12:55PM, 4.9 miles, 7.8lbs. of litter.

Temps in the low 30's, cloudy with freezing rain forecast for the evening.

The first bang of 2021 was, I woke up and discovered my computer died; I guess 2020 was a too tough of a year for it. 

As I type this, I have a new computer but I'm still trying to recover missing files and whatnot. I was worried I wouldn't be able to publish this week's post, which I know you would hate to miss!

I took advantage of the New Year's holiday, and distinct lack of any hangover, to perform my annual cleaning of the slope behind the playscape.

Despite signs prohibiting parking along the fence line (due to the pandemic), people still ignored the law, and tossed their litter over the fence. As an aside, all the small pieces of snow you see above are from a snowball fight for which I had a ringside seat!

I navigated around the fence, picked up litter, and dropped the bags over the fence as I filled them.

When I was finished, I gathered the bags in one spot in preparation of schlepping them over to the dumpster. The 83lbs. I collected was the second bang of the new year.

At this point a good samaritan came along, asked what I planned to do with the bags, and offered up his pickup truck to do the schlepping. He didn't have to ask me twice!

Walking back to my car, I noticed one of the posters originally in the new kiosk is now missing, despite having particularly pertinent seasonal information.

While mountain biking on the trails a week prior to New Year's Day, I found a fallen tree on the Green Trail. That's Merimere Reservoir in the background.

I returned to Hubbard Park on Sunday to remove it, and hopefully find other fallen trees so carrying the chainsaw wouldn't be wasted on just one tree.

Near that fallen tree was another one.

I took care of this one as well.

Onward I hiked up to Castle Craig, then followed another trail down toward Merimere Reservoir. Finding a third fallen tree today really made carrying the chainsaw a pleasure today.

 I reached the road and walked back to the park.

The third bang of this new year was the Season of the Missing Glove, 2020/21 entries, all of which I found on Sunday! These are entries 4 through 8.

The last bang is, a Meriden local has published a book about Hubbard Park. I'm certain to grab a couple copies.
Here's to another adventurous year!

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Where Did (Fill In The Blank) Go?

 One holiday down, and one to go, then it's "arrivederci!" to 2020.

Visit #1284, Saturday 26 December 20, 9:10AM-1:25PM, 5.5 miles, 12.0lbs. of litter.

Temps in the low 30's, with a sharp breeze.

In compiling the stats for 2020, it was nice to review the blog posts and reminisce about the warmer months gone by!

And here are the numbers for 2020:

Miles hiked: 219.9

Litter collected: 560.7 lbs.

A few weeks ago I asked a hiker exiting the trail along the ridgeline of Merimere Reservoir if there were any downed limbs or trees on that trail. Only one came to his mind.

I armed myself with the chainsaw this week to remove whatever it was. What could possibly go wrong?

Last week's dumping of 12" of snow disappeared in merely days as unseasonably warm temps and heavy rain washed most of it away. And that snow and rain made its way to Merimere Reservoir with haste. I managed to keep my feet dry crossing the brook to the trailhead.

I quickly encountered the first fallen tree, but it wasn't the tree described by the hiker. It was dispatched with ease. That's Merimere Reservoir in the background, as I climb the ridgeline.

From there, the fallen trees and limbs just kept coming. Instead of merely removing what the hiker mentioned, I went through an entire tank of gas running my chainsaw to clear the trail.

Here are the Before and After photos.

These hanging branches would have better been trimmed with my loppers, but all I had was my chainsaw. You know what they say, "when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail".

I took time away from the chainsaw to enjoy the view of the reservoir and Miner's Island.

This is what your boxers would look like if you stuck them in the freezer, which is of course what all guys do to keep their boxers fresh. From what I can tell, the tartan below signifies the Scottish "Hanes" clan, the only clan known to possess underwear beneath their kilts.

Just prior to reaching Castle Craig, I headed down the Orange Trail, only to encounter the biggest obstacle of the day. The trail went underneath the tree's arch. It didn't look too safe to me.

The trail was steep, the footing unsure, and how the tree might react to cutting questionable. Not to mention I was low on fuel. It took time, and I kept having to stop for the parade of hikers that materialized out of nowhere. Why weren't they home staring at their screens or playing with their Christmas gifts?!

But we got it done. Those are all the cut branches in the background.

Further down the trail, I found another finial from the flagpole. I know there have been at least a couple flagpoles at different times at Castle Craig. 

 I couldn't get off the slope without squeezing enough gas from my chainsaw for one more tree. Here it is in mid-removal.

I hiked the trails down and behind the water tank. As I was passing, I decided to check on the backside of the water tank to see if any graffiti has appeared since the Meriden Water Department covered over the last edition. It's barely been a month, and there's new graffiti. "JK" has tagged Hubbard Park before, as far back as April 2015.

While checking out the graffiti, I looked down and spied yet another of the many painted rocks I find.

Returning to the parking lot, I dropped off my last bag of litter for 2020.

While packing up for the day, I see the new kiosk has been populated with a trail map and other useful information.