Sunday, November 30, 2014

Winter's Early Arrival

Visit #916, Saturday 29 November 14, 10:30AM-1:20PM, 5.7 miles.
Temps in the 20's, sunny.

Visit #917, Sunday 30 November 14, 11:15AM-3:15PM, 6.3 miles.
Temps in the 50's, periods of clouds and sun.

I left last week with this week's work already planned out; to remove a tree which had fallen across a trail. Pretty straight forward.

First I had to contend with an unusually early winter snowfall. While not deep, the snow had melted and frozen, leaving traction questionable.

I chose to move the tree with my come along rather than cut it with my chainsaw. The tree had other ideas.

Whether it was the frozen snow or the weight of the tree, it wouldn't budge. The only thing that moved was the handle on the come along, which bent under the strain.

A setback for sure, albeit a temporary one.

I disconnected, packed up everything,  and moved to Plan B.

Plan B was the initiation of my "5 Year Plan" which actually shouldn't take 5 years to accomplish.

You see, the road to Castle Craig and West Peak is being encroached upon and narrowed by years of forest growth. Walkers tend to shy away from the road's edge as do cars due to branches and trees extending into the roadway. I have long wanted to trim back the growth in an aesthetically pleasing fashion. Today I would begin my project.

As long as snow is held at bay, winter is a good time for this project as there's less trash to keep up with on the trails so I won't be spread too thin between my normal duties and the 5 Year Plan. I might actually complete the 5 Year Plan before spring, 2015.

So I left my fallen tree and hiked up to West Peak.

Despite the snow and cold, you can see many a brave soul enjoys hiking in Hubbard Park, including here at West Peak.

I began my 5 Year Plan sort of arbitrarily on a section of road heading to West Peak. But I soon ran out of food, began to bonk, and put my plans away for now. I walked the road back to Hubbard Park.
Enroute I found some branches had fallen into the road, which I cleared away.

The only piece of trash I found all day made me shake my head. If a bag of dog poop ever looked lonely, that was it.

I returned to Hubbard Park Sunday morning seeking revenge on the fallen tree. This time I hiked to the trails from the opposite direction, reaching the south end of Merimere Reservoir first. I had brought my chainsaw with me today and good thing I did, for I encountered storm damage and trees long in need of removal which I'd forgotten and now would be a good time to tend to them.

This fallen hemlock was a recent addition.

Further up the trail was a tree which had bent in half with the past couple years.  I'd used my loppers to clear the low hanging branches and swore some day, when my chainsaw was with me, to remove the unsightly tree remaining. Today was the day.

Just past the Halfway House was another such bent tree which had long been on my To Do List. That, and the smaller, leaning tree slightly further back.

That done, I could now extract revenge on the tree which bent my come along yesterday.

Pleased with my progress, I proceeded to where I left off on Saturday with my 5 Year Plan, hiking up to West Peak then following the road, to trim back branches and trees.

My work is so surgical that the casual observer would never suspect I had cut anything, and that was my goal. I want to maintain the tree canopy as much as possible.

The fork in the road to East Peak/West Peak is in the background. I was only trimming the right hand side of the road and it was at this point my chainsaw ran out of gas, which was when I'd planned to stop. Considering I had used an entire tank of gas, you can safely conclude I performed A LOT of trimming. While there's much left to do, I can't wait to see the results next summer.

I did an about face and headed south toward the trails and I-691. At the bottom of the Blue Trail where it meets the White Trail I found next week's work already lined up for me.

The small branches of that tree should not be a great chore.

The warm weather of Sunday brought out a lot of hikers and with it, more trash.

I found this Dunkin' Donuts cup particularly funny-I guess holiday "Joy" for some people is littering.

I returned to the parking lot with what little trash I collected and called it a day.


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