Sunday, December 7, 2014

My 5 Year Plan, Part II

My "5 Year Plan" continues.

Visit #918, Saturday 6 December 14, 12:30-4:45PM, 6.1 miles.
Temps in the low 40's, steady rain.

Visit #919, Sunday 7 December 14, 12:45-2:50PM, 4.6 miles.
Temps in the low 40's, sunny with a sharp north wind.

With low trail traffic and therefore less trash to find, I'm planning on continuing my "5 Year Plan" to spruce up the roadsides to East and West Peak. While I call it a 5 Year Plan I hardly expect it to take more than a year to complete. This week was sort of ideal (except for the rain) to plug along with the project.

Last week I was given a heads up regarding where my work could begin this weekend. A tree which had fallen splayed some branches across the lower end of the Blue Trail.

Unstable person that I am, I chose to work Saturday despite the cold rain. Rain pants and latex gloves kept me reasonably dry and warm. The forecast called for the rain to increase as the day progressed and for once, the weatherman was spot on.

I reached the first tree and took care of business.

The top of this trail meets the road to Castle Craig. Up top, I found a large branch in the road, which I removed.

Then it was time to continue my 5 Year Plan by walking down the road, clearing away any branches or trees which are encroaching into the roadway. Here's a sample of the types of trees I was felling.

And here's a somewhat extreme example of the flora reaching into the road which I'm removing.

If I execute my plan properly, you'll never know I've been there, but clearances for hikers and sight lines for cars should be significantly improved.

In addition to the photos above, the view from the north end of Merimere Reservoir should give you a better idea how much it was raining.

I actually ran out of daylight before I ran out of gas for my chainsaw. I was about a 1/4 mile shy of reaching Merimere Reservoir, my planned goal.

All along today I didn't neglect my trash collecting duties either

All those Christmas lights in Hubbard Park obviously put someone in the holiday mood as evidenced by what I found in the parking lot. I'll keep the picture small so you don't get nauseous.

Well, with half a tank of gas left in the chainsaw from Saturday and having failed to reach my first goal, I decided to return on Sunday under sunny skies and warmer temps. This time however, I had the assistance of pal Dave. He was going to be my chainsaw man while I operated the loppers.

We walked the road around Merimere Reservoir north and began trimming brush along both sides of the guardrail. Dave's an experienced hand with a chainsaw (note the safety gear) and volunteers regularly at the Wadsworth Mansion in Middletown maintaining the surrounding trails and woods. We worked together like the June Taylor Dancers except without the skimpy outfits; way too cold for those.

Dave worked the woodsy side of the guardrail while I used my loppers from the road side. The plan was to work until the chainsaw ran dry. When I saw how quickly and efficiently we moved along as a team, I regretted not filling the chainsaw's tank as our progress was greater than the sum of two workers. My hat's off to Dave for joining me.

Here Dave clears some of the growth trying to swallow the guardrail.

We ran out of gas about 100 feet shy of reaching my goal, but I was hardly disappointed. I shall return. Here's an idea of what that final stretch looks like.

I'm only tackling one side of the road at a time. I'll continue all the way up to West Peak, then turn around and clear the opposite side of the road. I'll worry about the Castle Craig side later. Snow will be the only thing to delay this project until spring.

I packed up the chainsaw and Dave and I walked up the road and down the trail I hiked up on Saturday. I was able to pick up more trash today, and on the return trip to the parking lot.

Until next week, maintain.

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