Sunday, August 24, 2014

Trash-Free Week

Visit #890, Monday 18 August 14, 5:45-6:30PM, mileage n/a.
Temps in the 70's, sunny and dry.

Visit #891, Sunday 24 August 14, 8:00-10:30AM, mileage n/a.
Temps in the 70's, sunny and dry.

After last week's discovery of orange survey markers and spray painted arrows on various trees, I felt it was necessary to return and cover up the arrows. Since I'd just picked up trash the previous day, it would hardly be necessary to walk the trails. I grabbed the mountain bike, tossed a can of gray spray paint in my fanny pack and rode to Hubbard Park. The mountain bike enabled me to cover lots of ground quickly. Below are the before and after photos and I can say with reasonable certainty that I covered all the markings. The gray paint weathers nicely and in short time will blend in with the tree bark well.

Ooops! I started spraying over this arrow prior to taking a "before" photo!

The gray base paint you see on this rock was my earlier work brush painting over some graffiti-it's a never ending battle.

Just like that-BANG! ZOOM! and I was done, outta there and riding home.

The reason I couldn't pick up trash this weekend is my car was in the shop for service. The logistics of carrying street clothes and securing the bike at Hubbard Park weren't practical in my eyes.

I almost gave up on doing anything at all this weekend until I found an alternative task and mode of transportation.

There were some trees in Hubbard Park which needed tending to. I decided to put my chainsaw in my backpack, ride my mountain bike to Hubbard Park and tackle those duties on Sunday morning before there would be much activity on the road to Castle Craig and on the trails. Carrying the chainsaw on my mountain bike isn't the most comfortable, but it would have to do.

I June I reported on my clearing a broken tree which was obscuring the view of a caution sign on the descent from Castle Craig. I all but forgot about what I felt was an incomplete job, even after a return visit, because while the branches were gone, the base was still standing. I only remembered it while riding up the road. With the chainsaw on board, I could now complete the task.

Here are the before and after photos.

On to the next objective.

Last week I told you about a hemlock which had fallen slightly into the road. While I moved it aside, it was still an eyesore. I cut it up into 16" pieces and tossed it into the woods.

I threw the chainsaw back in the backpack and rode to Castle Craig, to the last tree.

Within a stone's throw of Castle Craig, this tree had fallen across the Blue Trail some time ago. I had then cut the branches to clear the path but the tree appeared to sag with time, encroaching on the trail all the more. It was time to permanently remove it.

Castle Craig is to the left in the photo, and the cliff view southwest is in the background.

My reward for all this uphill work was the ride down the road from Castle Craig!

Hopefully next week I'll be back on foot.

Until then, maintain.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The End of Summer

The first signs of autumn appear in Hubbard Park.

Visit #889, Sunday 17 August 14, 7:50-11:20AM, 7.0 miles.
Temps in the low 70's, dry and partly cloudy.

Since last week's discussion about possible extended hours to the access road to Castle Craig, I wanted to see how much trash I'd find walking the road to Castle Craig, partly as proof to you, dear reader, that it's an issue which needs addressing if extended road hours come to pass.

Last time I'd walked a good portion of this road was in July. Today's haul was about par for the course.

Enroute up the hill, I came upon a hemlock which had fallen into the road around that July period mentioned above, but hadn't been moved yet.

Nothing major, but I'm surprised it wasn't touched. A couple minutes' worth of muscle was all it took.

You can see my bag of trash is pretty full. I was hoping it would serve me at least to the fork in the road at the top. It did. I deposited it there for later pickup by the Meriden Parks Department.

My second objective of today's work was to open up a section of the Blue Trail between Castle Craig and just in the distance of the photo above. I was on that trail last week when I noticed it was getting a little overgrown. What occurred between last week and this week was the appearance of numerous florescent survey markers on this trail, as well as similar colored ribbon tied onto trees along the trail.

I wonder if this is in relation to the orange markings I found last week? Well, I didn't ask any more questions but just began removing all the markers as I hiked.

I kept collecting handfuls of the markers and placing them in my bag. The path I followed in retrieving them didn't seem to lead in any logical direction, but I think I collected all of them. I will have to return to cover some markings I missed last week, however.

I took the walkbridge over I-691 and back to the park. Surprisingly, the trail of survey markers lead all the way back to the hillside behind the daffodils.

I dropped off my second bag of trash and called it a day, a day closer to autumn...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Expanded Hours At Castle Craig, Yea or Nay?

Looking south from East Peak. You can see the Johnson Avenue water tank, Broad Brook Reservoir, and Sleeping Giant in the background.

Visit #888, Saturday 9 August 14, 9:00-11:50AM, 5.5 miles.
Temps in the 80's, dry and sunny.

Much thanks this week goes to my occasional co-volunteer, Paul Bernier, who assisted me.

The talk this week in the Record Journal is Mayor Manny Santos' desire to extend the hours which the road to Castle Craig is open. While I agree Castle Craig is a great attraction for Meriden, extended hours come with complications and extra costs which need to be addressed.

You can read about my concerns HERE, in an editorial I sent to the mayor and all city councilors.

What say you?

On my agenda this week was attacking some graffiti which recently appeared on some trees and rocks. Paul suggested we extend our route to address a tree which had fallen across the trail near Castle Craig. As a result, we wound up cleaning the parking lot and surrounding area of Castle Craig to great effect.

Paul's find of the week soon after we started; evidence of a snake growing too big for its "shoes".

I wasn't too far behind with my own discovery.

I wonder if playing Hangman was an effective way for the writer to get their message across? Who won?

With regard to the article above, you can see how many people enjoy the road along Merimere Reservoir before it opens for the day, and this is just a sample.

Tess is a regular on the road at Hubbard Park with her owner, George. Tess was discerning enough to take my dog biscuit and leave my fingers to dole out future treats.

Paul and I barely reached the south end of Merimere Reservoir and we collected a full bag of trash. I left it at the water treatment plant for pick up. When I returned to Hubbard Park by bicycle around 6PM the same day, it was gone. This should also reinforce my contention about the litter issues I expressed in my editorial.

At the south end of the reservoir we diverted from the road and took the trails up to Castle Craig. Paul and I would split up, taking trails that would merge later on. Enroute we moved the fallen tree Paul told me about.

It was a two-man job. Good enough for government work.

At Castle Craig, Paul and I cleaned the parking lot and surrounding area, collecting enough trash to leave a couple bags. I'll notify the Meriden Parks Department to collect them. Along with the trash I found the top of the old flagpole, as you can see by the pulley inside.

Paul and I hiked the trails down and to my objective for the week, the graffiti. The gray paint I used dries to a flat sheen, blends in quite well "as-is" and with wear, will blend in better. The arrows and mileage marker leave me baffled as to what they were for.

Paul and I crossed over I-691 and returned to the parking lot, depositing our remaining bags of trash.

On that bike ride to Hubbard Park which I mentioned earlier in my post, I noticed a lot of trash on the road up toward Castle Craig/West Peak. This reinforces the argument in my editorial because I had just cleaned that road 2 weeks ago. I hope to focus my efforts on the road again next week.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Making Do

Rain falls on Merimere Reservoir Saturday.

Visit #887, Saturday 2 August 14, 9:10AM-12:15PM, 6.0 miles.
Temps in the 70's, rain for 90 minutes, then cloudy.

Since I cleaned the road from the north end of Merimere Reservoir to West Peak last week, I thought I'd complete the distance and clean the road from the park to the north end, and turn around.

I'd also received a report of two trees which were encroaching into the White Trail. I confirmed this with a mountain bike ride through Hubbard Park on Friday afternoon. From that ride I determined I could take care of these trees with a bow saw rather than schlep my chainsaw for such light work.

The only problem was the rain. Rain was threatening to put a dent in my schedule. Instead of succumbing to the weather, I sucked it up and headed out, which is more than I can say for the person who was supposed to join me on Saturday. Instead of braving the rain, he chose to stay home and organize his belly button lint collection...

 The forecast said the rain would stop sometime while I was in Hubbard Park and that was good enough for me.

Shortly after I started on my way, I encountered a case of youthful idealism.

I walked the road all the way to the north end of Merimere Reservoir, picking up trash along both sides. I turned around and walked back to the water treatment plant and left my first bag of trash there.

About that time, the rain stopped.

I opened another bag, turned around, and made my way to the trails, where I encountered the first problem tree.

This is suspicious because there's nothing around to bend the tree.

Ten minutes with a bow saw and the tree was cleared.

About 200 yards further down the White Trail was the second tree.

I had previously dragged this hanging branch aside so this is suspicious to me as well. Nevertheless, with the bow saw in hand, I removed this branch and the bent tree in the background. 15 minutes.

I continued on, over I-691 and back to the park, where I dropped off my second bag of trash.

Then I went home to dry out.