Visit #936, Sunday 8 February 15, 6:40-8:05 AM, 4.3 miles.
Temps in the high 20's, overcast with a measure of fog; almost balmy. 4-8" of snow predicted for tonight through Monday.
Occasionally, I'm asked to perform some duty in Hubbard Park which is outside of the norm. If I can oblige and help someone out, why not?
I received a request to report on the road conditions to Castle Craig. There's a "park regular" I know that, much like Bernie Jurale's annual Tradition Run to Castle Craig, does something similar except on a monthly basis. Was the road passable? Let's see.
The first dent in my plans was, I was on-call. I planned on checking on road conditions on Saturday, but after hours service calls put the kabosh on the entire day. I rescheduled for early Sunday morning, before things might have a chance to "get busy". I was taking a risk traveling so far away from my vehicle should work call, but I gambled that my luck would hold out.
I started at the crack of dawn to what turned out to be an almost mild morning. I noticed that despite the road being plowed from the gate in Hubbard Park up toward the water treatment plant, a large mound of snow needed to be hurdled to actually begin hiking on the road. Considering the number of footprints in the pile, it's obvious the snow shouldn't be pushed here so walkers and hikers can access the gate freely. If we're lucky, the Meriden Parks Department will read this and take notice.
Up at the water treatment plant, I noticed the gate was open. Since there were no fresh footprints or tire tracks in the snow, I'm guessing the gate was left open all night. I checked the lock on the gate and it was clearly unlatched. Negligence? Mere oversight?
Heading north, I got to savor the quiet of the snowed-in landscape.
At the north end of Merimere Reservoir, where it meets Park Drive in Berlin, snow is piled against both sides of the gate. Hikers entering from Berlin will have to cross about 100 feet of snow.
The good news is, it appeared the rest of the road to Castle Craig was plowed. My original intentions were to turn around at this point due to my on-call status, but adventure and curiosity got the better of me and I had to find out how the rest of the road was. So I ventured on.
Other than maybe 1/2" of snow at worst, traction was reasonably good with no ice patches.
While I was the first person Sunday morning to walk up toward Castle Craig, I wasn't alone this weekend.
After the fork to East Peak/West Peak, I checked on the last steep pitch of pavement. Clear enough for government work. Actually, it was nice that the Meriden Parks Department recognizes the popularity of the road to Castle Craig for hikers and walkers, and chooses to make the effort to maintain it despite the winter weather and the road closure. Thanks are in order.
Just off to the near right in the photo above, I took the trail down, over I-691, and back to Hubbard Park.
The Beehive Fountain still maintains a trickle of water, even in the dead of winter.
Mirror Lake awaits the arrival of yet more snow, starting Sunday evening.
The ducks and geese await the snow, too.
Of course, with the impending snow, road conditions to Castle Craig may change. Next week might be worth seeing just how much...