Sunday, February 23, 2014

What a Difference a Week Makes

A strong, late winter sun shines down on the Halfway House and Hubbard Park beyond.

Visit #851, Saturday 22 February 14, 9:10-11:15AM, 4.8 miles.
Temps in the low 40's, sunny.

With deep snow still covering the trails, I would stick to the road as I did last week, only I would head toward Castle Craig instead of West Peak.

Paul Bernier joined me this week and although I wouldn't need help picking up trash or clearing any trails, his company was welcomed.

Last week, the road to Castle Craig was buried under a good 12" of unplowed snow. This turned back many a disappointed walker as I could attest to the lack of footprints as I snowshoed along the road.

The City of Meriden did a fine job plowing the road this week for, other than some ice patches in the first mile, it was clear the remainder of the distance for the MANY walkers we saw out on this sunny day. No doubt the late winter sun helped clear the road as well.

But the road to Castle Craig has some pitches that would turn back the toughest of vehicles as it did on the last section before reaching the Castle.

Once back on the snow, I donned my snowshoes for the return trip on the trails back to the park.

Paul and I reached the parking lot where Paul proudly displayed the only 2 pieces of trash we collected.

To reaffirm that it's still winter, someone had the forethought to equip the monument at the playground with seasonally appropriate headgear. This photo is from last week.

I don't imagine the bronzed child will need the hat much longer.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

More White Stuff to Play In

Meriden is out there somewhere...

Visit #850, Saturday 15 February 14, 11:05AM-1:35PM, 5.5 miles.
Temps in the low 30's, developing snow. 2-5" predicted.

Yet more snow fell during the week, adding to the perfect snow base.

I planned on "merely" walking the road from the park up to West Peak. Good thing I brought the snowshoes and crampons.

As I made my way up the road toward the south end of Merimere Reservoir, I ran into too many people that expressed to me their disappointment in having to turn back because the road was not plowed beyond the dam at the south end.

I too expected asphalt, or at least lots of ice with PATCHES of asphalt. But I was prepared for anything. The snow was deeper than it looks in the photo. Once on the snow I switched from my crampons to the snowshoes and found myself alone as I crunched my way to West Peak.

Freezing rain from Friday night brought down thousands of small branches, littering the road.

Just as I reached West Peak, the snow began to fall. I snowshoed down the trail and back to the park via the Halfway House.

The 2 pieces of trash I found consisted of a cardboard case from a six-pack of Bud Light, and the packaging from a Wham-o Polar Bear Air Tube. Both were found by the water tank, which makes me wonder if they were related.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Right Tools For The Job

Untrampled snow awaits on the trail.

Visit #849, Saturday, 8 Feb 14, 11:00AM-1:35PM, 4.9 miles.
Temps in the low 30's, mostly sunny.

On Saturday, if I didn't bring the right tools for the job I was gonna be in a world of slow, wet misery.

Last week I discovered a tree had fallen across the Blue Trail up near Castle Craig. This week's goal was to remove it.

Meriden had a good dump of 10-12" of snow on Wednesday. Temps were cold enough so there wouldn't be much melting. I needed to bring the right tools to remove the fallen tree, and the right tools to get to it, otherwise it wasn't going to be fun.

I brought the right tools.

After passing the Halfway House I cut directly through the woods; something you wouldn't dream of doing without snowshoes. I hiked up the Virgin Mary and picked up the Blue Trail pointing east toward Castle Craig. Fortunately, the snow did not bury the tree I sought so it was easy to find.

Out came the other correct tool for the job and I cleared the tree from the trail.

I moved on and picked up a trail which leads from near Castle Craig all the way down to Merimere Reservoir, paralleling the road. Since this trail had no tracks, I can only assume it's not well-known, which is too bad because this trail is much more enjoyable than walking on the road.

 Breaking trail can be work, but it's always fun.

While snowshoeing down this trail I found a couple of stacked 5 gallon buckets. I'd love to know how, why, and when they found their way to that spot because I hadn't noticed them before and I think I'd been on that trail within the last 2 months. I can't imagine what is out here that would require buckets.

Back on pavement at the north end of Merimere Reservoir, I tied my snowshoes to my backpack, stuffed my hiking poles in with the chainsaw, and walked the road back to the park.

Besides the buckets, the only trash I found was what else but a Dunkin' Donuts cup.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

That's Cool

The Blue Trail heading east toward Castle Craig.

Visit #848, Sunday 2 February 14, 11:00AM-1:00PM, 4.8 miles.
Temps in the mid-40's, clouding up.

Just when I think I'll have nothing of interest to write about, I'm pleasantly surprised.

Snow, muddy trails, low temps; I didn't expect to collect much trash. I'd planned a loop from the playground up to Castle Craig and back via  the walkbridge over I-691.

On the Blue Trail a few hundred yards from Castle Craig I discovered a tree has fallen across the trail. I expect to remove it next week. 

After I reached Castle Craig I began my descent; that's when I was pleasantly surprised.

From behind me I heard the voice of a young woman saying, "That's cool-do you have another bag?"

I gave her a bag, offered her a pair of work gloves, and we agreed to take separate routes back to the park so as to maximize our impact. Now THAT'S COOL.

I didn't want to frighten her off so I wasn't so bold as to ask her name or take her picture.

I hope I meet more people like her.