Sunday, January 18, 2015

Poor Prognostication

I promise to not take up a career as a weatherman.

Visit #931, Saturday 17 January 15, 2:35-4:35PM, 4.6 miles.
Temps in the low 20's, sunny.

Visit #932, Sunday 18 January 15, 7:40-9:25AM, 2.4 miles.
Temps in the low 20's. Cloudy with rain developing about 10AM and temps rising to the 40's.

In last week's report I predicted the snow cover we had would be here to stay for the season. Boy, was I wrong. A series of melt/thaw cycles combined with sunny days took away the snow and left the trails with a smooth layer of ice.

I didn't have a specific target for Saturday's work so when that happens I just go with the flow and let the trails create my agenda.

I walked a clockwise loop, covering the trails below Castle Craig. The cold temps didn't keep as many people away as you'd expect, but you know anyone who ventures out in 20 degree temps is a die hard hiker or adventurous.

When I reached Merimere Reservoir I paused for a few minutes to listen to the sound of the ice shifting. Eerie and ambient. I also noticed the scientific testing of the ice layer's strength. For those unaware of the technique, you toss a rock high into the air; if it breaks through the ice, it's not thick enough.

Heading back toward the park I found the remains of a sled. I guess when it's no longer of use, it's okay to leave it anywhere you please. Gotta brush up on my etiquette.

At this point I was under my self-imposed minimum hike of two hours. In order to stretch it out, I added a little work on my 5 Year Plan and trimmed the brush away from the fence and guardrail on the road side under I-691. Long term, I hope to clear the entire length. For today, twenty feet or so would have to do.

The sun was rapidly setting when I dropped off my trash collection for the day.

I chose Saturday as my work day because rain was forecast for Sunday after 10AM. However, during Saturday's duties I spied a tree leaning low to the ground by the small parking area across the street from Belmont Avenue. It bugged me. I figured if I could get to it before the rain began Sunday morning, I'd be all set. Also, an early morning start would ensure no cars would be parked there to prohibit dropping the tree.


I drove by the parking area at 7:30AM only to see a vehicle already parked there! Someone else had the same idea I had and wanted to avoid the rain. So I stalled for time by using my chainsaw to trim leaning trees and other woodsy intrusions on the small network of trails on the south side of I-691.

Here are just a few before and after shots. See if you can spot the trees I removed:

When I reached the parking area across the street from Belmont Avenue, the SUV was still parked there. As luck would have it, while considering my options, the owner returned and drove away, leaving me free to drop the tree.

The branches were actually low enough to brush the roof of the SUV as it drove away.

Once on the ground, I diced it up and reclaimed the space.

During the last half of my activities, a light rain began to fall. Temps were hovering just around freezing. Traffic on I-691 slowed to a crawl as the rain froze on the roads and I heard a car or two hit the guardrail, or each other. So even the REAL weatherman was wrong. Now I don't feel so bad.

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