Monday, September 1, 2014

Hi, May I Take Your Order?!

Labor Day, and the parking lot at Castle Craig. A proper place to enjoy  summer's last hurrah.

Visit #892, Saturday 30 August 14, 1:15-4:05PM, 5.1 miles.
Temps in the low 80's, dry and sunny.

Visit #893, Labor Day, Monday 1 September 14, 12:05-3:25PM, 5.5 miles.
Temps in the mid-80's, variable cloudiness and very high humidity.

I was on-call through Sunday and thus limited in my movement. I'd planned on parking my company vehicle at Castle Craig and cleaning the parking lot, then walking over to West Peak and doing the same.

On Thursday or Friday I received a call from a regular Hubbard Park hiker who was concerned about a handful of trees leaning threateningly across a particular trail which terminates near Castle Craig. The way he described the trees, they were certain to decapitate someone any minute. So, early Saturday morning I rode my mountain bike to the trail in question and scoped out the amount of work. It was not quite as dramatic as he made it out to be, but I would be able to accommodate his requrest.

With that in mind and my previous plans, I loaded up my chainsaw hoping to tackle both projects at the same time.

First task upon parking at Castle Craig was to remove the hanging trees so I could drop the chainsaw off at my van and perform the remaining work unburdened by its weight.

This was the first "leaner". I usually wait until nature drops trees to the ground but in the interest of cultivating my reputation ;-) I would oblige my customer.

This tree was on the ground and cleared in a flash.

The caller's next concern was the hanging branch above. In colder weather, I'd used my loppers to trim the bottom so you could pass underneath without ducking. Now I would use the weight of the hanging branch to steer the tree in the direction I wanted it to fall.

It fell predictably and was soon cleared from the trail.

See how I laid the log parallel to the trail's direction? I have this idea where as time passes and I continue with trail maintenance, that I establish a narrow path lined on both sides with logs from old trees. The dying hemlocks should give me a reliable supply for years to come. Maybe it 10-15 years I'll get my wish.

I walked back up the trail and turned right, toward the road. What I came upon next disappointed me.

Len must be off his meds because he certainly placed this across the trail. If you and I thought this was the end of this, we were mistaken.

Fortunately I had my chainsaw with me still so it was easy to remove from the trail.

I returned to the Castle Craig parking lot, dropped of my chainsaw, and cleaned up the area. For the holiday weekend I didn't want to leave any visible trash bags so I placed the first bag in my company van.

Next, I pointed my feet to the road and over toward West Peak.

On August 3rd I made a private plea to certain people in the City of Meriden to close off the entrance to a trail that is partially accessible by car. Cars, or more so SUVs, can drive out of sight down this trail and engage in any kind of dubious activity. I've yet to hear or see a response. On Saturday's trip over to West Peak was a perfect example of what I'm referring to.

It was nearing 4PM when I took this photo. Let's hope the afterglow subsided and they made it down to the park before the gate was locked, know what I'm sayin?  ;-) .

Anyway, I hustled around the parking lot and surrounding area, quickly filling 3 bags of trash.

I left them there for the Meriden Parks Department to collect on Tuesday.  Then I had a case of remorse and returned on Sunday morning and collected the bags myself. Again, I didn't want them as an eyesore for the holiday weekend. Besides, as I suspected, critters had already been dining in them.

While cleaning up the area, I discovered a gate which allows access to the abandoned microwave link tower is missing its lock. I'm sure this has led to adventurous types climbing the tower for the view.

I walked back to Castle Craig, cleaning up the opposite side of the road as I went. Enroute I came upon my Find of the Week. While the information on one side of this note seems important, no doubt her fine-tuning the application of her lipstick on the other side of the note trumps it.

 Hugs and kisses!

Here was my last bag of trash from Saturday's work:

There was one tree I was requested to remove that I did not tackle on Saturday. Its position was somewhat precarious and I preferred to drop it with assistance. However, another phone call from a concerned hiker changed my mind.

The hiker didn't call so much to tell me about the remaining tree as much as about Len being REALLY off his meds. Seems that by my removing the log from the trail on Saturday I irritated the poor man and Len took his anger out on the trails.

Thus, another order was placed by a customer and on Labor Day I delivered, to clear the trail of Len's work and remove the last bothersome leaning tree.

On Monday I hiked a clockwise route, using the walkbridge over I-691 to reach my objective. This is the second time this summer I've come across idealistic youths exercising all they learned in Philosophy 101 last year.

 I now had much to entertain my mind until I reached my objective.

Here you can see the first two pieces Len left me. With the chainsaw at hand, I was able to dispose of both logs with just a modicum of grunt work. This trail was clear when I hiked it on Saturday.

After clearing the trail of both, I turned around and headed down to the last of the leaning trees, a birch. Cutting birch emits such a wonderful aroma, just like the eponymous flavor of soda.

Each time I cut a section from the trunk, the tree would move a foot or two to the other side of the trail. I kept eliminating sections from the base until it cleared the opposite side where if it fell, it would not be a danger to hikers.

Above you can see the cut pieces as I've arranged them to delineate the trail, hopefully for decades to come.

That was hard, sweaty work. How sweaty, you ask? Well, I finished and hiked back to the trailhead, where I sat down for a break.

That is yours truly's butt stain dripping off the rock! Better than using dental records to identify the body!

After my brief respite, I schlepped my sweaty self down past Castle Craig to the Halfway House. On my mountain bike trip through the park earlier this week, I'd discovered the remnants of a campfire and knew it had to be cleared out. One of the young people in the photo was kind enough to help me carry the heaviest piece away.

In fact, when I rolled upon this on Saturday morning, the fire was still warm.

I cleaned up the area best as I could, then returned to the park, depositing my bag of trash for the day.

Would you like fries with your trail?

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