Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Long Slog Continues

A sunny view south, toward Johnson Avenue. Notice the straight roads leading to Johnson Avenue-makes me wonder whether the entire area was once farmland that was bought and developed as one project. It would have happened before my time.

Visit #1127, Saturday 17 March 18, 1:15-5PM, 4.0 miles.
Temps in the low 40's, sunny.

The long slog through the snow to clear the trails after 2 back-to-back nor'easters, continues.

I thought a week's worth of thawing would make it easier to travel the trails. I was wrong; it was slippery and slow.

On the plus side, I was smart enough to bring my loppers this week along with my chainsaw, which made it easier to trim small branches, and became a backup when my chainsaw ran out of gas.

I started by cutting up the fallen tree on the Soap Box Derby track, which I left alone last week.

I tossed the cuttings up the slope. I was fortunate enough to receive help from a kind passerby in carrying a heavy, clumsy tree stump.

Once I was off pavement and onto the trails, the slogging began. I had plans to hike a longer route on far-reaching trails but once I realized how slow the going would be, I revised my plans.

I slogged all the way up to Castle Craig and picked up the Blue Trail along East Peak, where I came upon my second opportunity to use the chainsaw.

Unfortunately, removing the tree would mean the loss of the blue trail marker.

Further along, I reached a leaning tree which consumed most of my chainsaw's fuel, without dropping the tree, which was hung up in another tree.

The trail is still passable, but I may return at a later date to beat this tree into submission. I halted work early to save chainsaw fuel, expecting to find more fallen branches and trees.

I headed down over I-691 and back to the park. Good thing I still had a little gas left in the tank.

I used the loppers to clear the small branches, and the chainsaw to make the important cuts.

At this point I ran out of gas, but I didn't run out of trees. This will have to wait until next week.

But I still had my loppers, which did a journeyman's job on the remaining finds. These should be a constant companion.

I'll return with the chainsaw next week to finish them off but for now, at least the trails are clear.

This week I close with a view east from East Peak.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Long Slog

My chainsaw stops for a relaxing beer at the Halfway House, during a hard day at work.
(No, it wasn't my beer. Not only do I not drink, I wouldn't be dumb enough to drink while operating a chainsaw. My chainsaw however, is not that smart.)

Visit #1126, Saturday 10 March 18, 9:15AM-1:00PM, 4.3 miles.
Temps in the low 40's, partly sunny.

I know what you're interested in-WHO won last week's contest?

Out of the thousands of responses  ;-)  I picked a winner at random. Actually, there were only two responses but hey; "you can't win if you don't play"!

Here are the entries I received:

"The wind was blowing so hard, the Castle barely hung onto East Peak! "

"The wind was blowing so turned my clothes inside out and discouraged any trail-blockers from completing their devious tasks !!" (It's an inside joke.)

The winner received a $25 gift certificate to their favorite local eatery, which I can't reveal since they haven't picked up their prize yet!

I did receive one non-qualifying entry. It came from a cat.

Had Garfield won, he would have received a gift certificate for one of his favorite foods; lasagna, doughnuts, pizza, or cake.

Last Friday's nor'easter of high winds and rain were followed by a second round this past Thursday, except this time it was snow: nine inches plus of heavy stuff. It caused a lot of downed trees and branches, as I would soon find out.

I planned on cleaning up after last week's damage but now I had a double dose to contend with. I wasn't going to make anywhere near the progress along the trails I had hoped. It's going to take a bunch of weeks to inspect and clear all the trails, so be patient.

I started at the Soap Box Derby track.

Here you can see the tree which fell last week, lying parallel to the road. Since it was covered in snow and not blocking the trail, I wasn't going to worry about it. I'll take care of it later.

I found this fallen branch last week. Even though it was under snow, I wasn't going to wait until it was revealed in its entirety to remove it.

I regret not bringing my loppers; most of the branches were smaller in diameter and would have been cleared much faster with them, and there were TONS of smaller, snow bent branches blocking the trails. I'm wiser now.

I made it to the Halfway House where my chainsaw took its beer break, then we looped around on the Yellow Trail to head back to the parking lot. It's going to take a handful of forays onto the trails to tidy things up but I'm into this for the long haul so be certain it WILL get done.

Back at Merimere Reservoir, I was amazed at how high the water level is. The photo doesn't capture it, but it's within 2-3 feet of the top of the retaining wall, something I've never seen.

Back at the park, I dropped off my chainsaw's empty beer bottle and what other little trash I collected at the Halfway House. After that one beer, my chainsaw was in no condition to drive, so I drove us home.

Sunday, March 4, 2018


Chilly and raw with high wind was on the menu for Saturday in Hubbard Park.

Visit #1125, Saturday 3 March 18, 2:00-4:15PM, 3.2 miles.
Temps in the 40's, cloudy with high winds remaining from Friday's storm

Friday saw high winds and rain rip through the Meriden area. In the aftermath, I reasoned there would likely be fallen branches and trees on the trails, Inspection was called for, so I could take inventory and plan next week's route with the chainsaw.

So how hard was the wind blowing on Friday/Saturday, you ask?

"The wind was blowing so turned my clothes inside out and discouraged any trail-blockers from completing their devious tasks !! "  (It's an inside joke so it won't make much sense to those not in on the joke!)

Here's where the contest comes in.

I was going to use a metaphor to describe how hard the wind was blowing but while it's funny, it's a little dirty. I couldn't come up with a G-rated alternative so I turn to you, dear reader, to fill in the blank.

E-mail me your entry to complete the following literary devices:

The wind was blowing so hard....

It was so windy last night...

Or come up with your own expression describing windy conditions.

Winner will selected at random, and I'll edit this blog post to include the winning entry-DONE!

Prize will be a $25 gift card/certificate to somewhere near where you live. Preferably for eats.

I'll publish the other entries but all identities will be kept private.

In the absence of any entries, I'll throw mine out there, and you'll surely cringe and wish you sent an alternative. I'll also give MYSELF the gift card and take MYSELF out to eat.

Entries must be received by midnight Friday, 10 March 18.

Anyway, while leading a couple of first-timers on a hike to Castle Craig a few weeks ago, I spied graffiti on the castle wall and thought, "that's unsightly and just should not be". While my route would lead up to Castle Craig, enroute I could check out the trails for those casualties of the storm.

I didn't have to walk far up the Soap Box Derby track to find my first specimen.

I threw some of the smaller branches aside and plan to return next week with the chainsaw and do a proper job.

Up by Merimere Reservoir, I continued to find more.

I was able to swing it aside but I'll chop it up properly later.

Near the Halfway House. Again, I cleaned up what I could with the tools I brought, but the heavy work would have to wait.

At the Halfway House, I found the remnants of someone's meal.

Enroute up the steep trail to Castle Craig, I came upon my Find of the Week.

I'm guessing this street sign post belongs to the sign which was posted up near the fork in the road to East/West Peak, and was stolen a month or two after installation.

I wasn't going to leave it there, so I carried it up the trail to Castle Craig, where I slipped it through the grill of the gate, hopefully out of reach of sticky fingers.

I'll notify the Meriden Parks Department to pick it up.

On to the graffiti.

My toolkit:

The Goof Off works pretty good, and leaves no stains.

It sure was windy at Castle Craig. How windy was it? Start your brains working!

Done brushing and sanding, I hiked my way back to the parking lot. I found a piece of graffiti on the walkbridge over I-691 and my sandpaper handily took care of it.

Back at the park, I dropped off my trash for the week.

But I wasn't done. I didn't inspect all the trails due to time constraints. So on Sunday, I returned via my mountain bike to finish checking out the lower trails. Good thing too, for I found a fallen tree on the Green Trail.

In the coming weeks I hope to reach the remaining outlying trails, finish my inspection, and clean them up with the chainsaw if necessary.

Now-HOW windy was it...?