Sunday, October 27, 2013

Finished Business, and a Whole Lot More

Visit 825, 26 October 13, 10:00-11:45AM, 2.7 miles.
Temps in the low 50's, sunny and very windy.

Visit 826, 27 October 13, 10:00AM-1:00PM, ? mileage.
Temps in the low 50's, sunny.

With the help of Paul Bernier this week, I was finally going to be able to finish cleaning the perimeter of the parking lot at West Peak.

I was on a tight schedule which allotted 2 hours for work so in order to be productive, I decided to drive Paul and myself directly to West Peak rather than hike up there. Good thing too, for on the way up we discovered a hemlock that had fallen into the road. I stopped the car and Paul and I took care of business.

At West Peak, we collected a couple 30 gallon bags of trash and since I had the car, could save the Meriden Parks Department a little work and take the bags away, not to mention leaving the area nicer looking without the trash bags standing guard in the lot.

We drove over the East Peak/The Castle, and not only policed the parking lot but the Blue Trail nearby and roughly 1/4 mile of road. Unfortunately, we found a couple things we couldn't tend to- a large patch of scattered glass from a broken car window and sad to say, someone had toppled the monument documenting the history of the Castle.

The slab was too heavy for Paul and I to lift so I planned on contacting the parks department to give Mark Zebora a heads up.

Despite our findings Saturday, we were very productive, collecting 4 bags of trash between the 2 peaks. Thanks to Paul Bernier, the hardest working ally I've ever met. 

Here Paul poses with our Saturday haul:

You would think that'd be the end of my weekend but there was a whole lot more. I was contacted earlier this week by Dwight Needles of the Meriden Land Trust. He had been contacted by the Asian-American Society of the University of Connecticut of Greater Hartford. They were interested in a hike in Hubbard Park and were hoping for a tour guide, or at least maps.

Dwight and I were able to oblige and it worked out well; he was only able to lead the group to just shy of the Castle; I took over the lead from there.

With Dwight leading the group I was able to collect a bag of trash by the time we reached the water treatment plant and deposited it at the gate.

The group paused at the south end of Merimere Reservoir to admire the view, while Dwight copped a seat.

Dwight left the group shortly after reaching the Halfway House and I escorted them the remainder of the hike. Knowing I would be returning to the Castle parking lot, I let the bunch take in the sights while I wisely thought to bring a dustpan and broom to sweep up the broken glass I found on Saturday.

And better yet, someone(s) managed to upright the toppled monument between our work on Saturday, and today. Perhaps someone with CrossFit training, used to flipping tires ;-) .

Between our trash bag collection, the glass sweeping, and the reset monument, a good deal of potentially wasted time by parks workers was saved. Time better spent on other duties.

The group was starting to run low on energy at this point and their lofty hiking ambitions met the reality of their legs. Rather than take the trails over to West Peak, we walked on the road. Once there, most considered the views at West Peak superior to those at the Castle.

They also considered the descent from West Peak down to lower elevations more treacherous, choosing  the "butt method" of locomotion down the trail.

Any hike is a good hike where I don't have to carry bodies back to the parking lot. Today was a good hike. They were an appreciative bunch and welcome back anytime to enjoy the views they couldn't see today.

I dropped a final bag of trash and called it a day.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Unfinished Business

Visit #824, Saturday 19 October 13, 4:10-6:30PM, 4.8 miles.
Temps in the low 60's with solid gray skies.

The last couple times I've been up to West Peak I was only able to perform a cursory cleaning of the area. Poor planning on my part always left me with insufficient time to clean beyond the guardrail on the eastern boundary of the parking lot. Today I planned to finish the job.

Of course I started late which put me behind the 8-ball before I even left the parking lot. It wasn't gonna happen today, either.

If a balloon lands in the woods, in a tree, does it cry for help?

I reached the parking lot at West Peak and did the best I could with the daylight I had at hand. Two bags of trash were left for the Parks Department to pick up.

As fast as I hustled back to the park from West Peak, I still reached the parking lot in the dark, where I deposited my third trash bag. I shall return...

Monday, October 14, 2013

A "Fetching" Day

Visit #823, Sunday 13 October 13, 3:20-4:50PM, 4.1 miles.
Temps in the low 60's, cloudy but no chance of rain.

At Merimere Reservoir, a dog plays fetch with his owner.

The weather was perfect for exerting yourself without breaking a sweat.

I was on-call so I limited my range to the trails below the Castle. Nothing special to report. I did my thing and wound up with a bag of trash.

I did receive a report from a friend who reported talking to an acquaintance who hiked Hubbard Park's trails this past weekend. When my friend told said acquaintance of my work in the park, rather than notice how clean the trails were, he only commented that the White Trail was poorly marked. I guess his glass was half empty...

While I never considered my duties to include trail blazing, I may have to do something about the White Trail. We'll see.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Giro di Lombardia

Visit #822, Sunday 6 October 13, 7:10-9:30AM, 5.3 miles
Temps in the low 60's, steady rain.

The Giro di Lombardia is the final one-day monumental race on the European bicycle racing calendar.  At 150 miles, it is also known as "the race of the fallen leaves" because it is always held this time of year in Italy when the weather turns habitually wet.

Today's edition was no different, and winner Joaquim Rodriguez, above, used his bike handling skills in a steady rain to drop his competition on slick roads, where taking risks could result in some pavement surfing, like Domenico Pozzovivo did as he crossed the finish line.

Little did I know, I'd be holding my own Giro di Lombardia in Hubbard Park today.

I wanted an early start today so I could get home to watch the final hour of the race on the internet. I didn't bother to check the weather because I vaguely remember the forecast from a couple days ago which said it would merely be cloudy. That's what it looked like when I left the house. What could possibly go wrong?

Arriving at the park was another story. The rain waited until I locked my car's doors then commenced to torment me for the next 2 1/2 hours. I failed to bring rain gear and it was at times too hot to wear my fleece, but too wet to take it off. I doffed and donned the sweater several times as if I had some sort of nervous tic.

Despite the rain, the fall colors made for an attractive day out.

I hiked to the south end of Merimere Reservoir, then directly up to the Castle via the Yellow Trail. Earlier in the week I received a phone call from a Hubbard Park "regular" who told me he'd collected some trash and, without a bag to carry it out, left it in a pile near the Castle for me to take. Thus the reason for my trip up there today. Alas, when I arrived I couldn't find the stash. I cleaned up around the perimeter of the parking lot and left a bag of trash for the Parks Department to pick up.

My return leg to the park was via a trail that parallels the road up to the Castle. When I reached the north end of Merimere Reservoir, the rain hadn't let up.

I walked the road back to the park, which reminded me of "the race of the fallen leaves".

I dropped my bag in the trash can and delivered my soggy self home to watch Joaquim Rodriguez slay all comers in a similarly wet Giro di Lombardia.