Monday, May 26, 2014

A Legend In My Own MInd

Joke: Why did the snake cross the road?
Answer: This one is asking himself the same question this week. Looks like he could use some Advil.

Visit #871, Wednesday 21 May 14, 6:10-8:15PM, 5.2 miles.
Temps in the low 70's, increasing clouds with showers forcasted for Thursday.

Visit #872, Sunday 25 May 14, 0545-0940AM, 4.4 miles.
Temps in the low 70's, sunny.

On 26 April, I discovered someone was tapping birch trees along the road to Castle Craig, for sap. I left the jugs alone assuming the owner would retrieve them soon even though it was late in the tree tapping season. When I revisited the road last week, I noticed the jugs were still hanging there.

They needed to be removed.

I couldn't justify walking the road for 3 consecutive weeks; there were other areas which needed my attention. So I decided a special mid-week visit to Hubbard Park was in order.

I walked on the road all the way, stopping to cut free the 2 birch tree tapped jugs.

While picking up trash and walking up the road, I was repeatedly passed by a cyclist performing repeat efforts up the climb. During one descent he slowed long enough to ask, "Are you Pete?" When I replied that I was, he said he had one more hill repeat to complete, the last of six I believe (!), then he would stop to talk to me.

Turns out Mike, from Glastonbury, recognized me from an internet bike forum we both participate in, and Mike also happened to remember me from over 20 years ago when I was affiliated with a Middletown-based bicycle club and he was a teen working in a bike shop. Now he's an accomplished cyclist, lawyer, and father.

We enjoyed our brief meeting and continued on our separate ways. One would think that if I'm being recognized by people in Hubbard Park, that I'm a celebrity of sorts. I think Dirty Harry would have something different to say on the matter...

With my temporarily inflated ego, I moved on. At the fork in the road I took the trail down, then turned left heading toward the Halfway House. I stopped at the intersection of the trail to Castle Craig because I spied my 2 Finds of the Week:

The glasses were just cheapo reading glasses, but the women's pullover top was from North Face and in seemingly good condition. Rather than stuff it in my trash bag, I brought it home, washed it, and dropped it off at Goodwill on Sunday.

Stopping by the Halfway House, you could see the eastern sky filling with water in preparation for Thursday's rain.

My trash bag was ripping so I transferred everything to a larger bag just prior to dropping it off at the park.

Now I was free to move on to my next project.

On Sunday I got a very early start. The Green Trail runs up from Merimere Reservoir for roughly a quarter mile. For whatever reason, the lower half tends to get heavily overgrown and narrow. I brought my loppers and hedge clippers to trim back the vegetation. Below is a "before" photo. If you get the chance, hike the Green Trail and see if I made any improvement-I spent a good 2 hours on that trail alone.

The tree you see in the photo fell during one of the big storms a few years ago. At that time, I deliberately cut a narrow gap between the two sections to force mountain bikers to keep their speed down. I may widen the gap in the late fall.

Done with that chore, I clipped, trimmed, and picked up trash as I made my way toward the walkbridge over I-691. I had completely forgotten about an errant sapling which was hanging low into the Main Trail and was on my long term checklist. With my lopping shears on hand, I was able to remove it.

When I reached the walkbridge over the highway I discovered that, for the third consecutive year, some patriotic person had attached American flags to the fencing. I reported last year's appearance of the flags in this blog. I'll keep an eye on the health of these flags.

The rain of the last week, combined with my mid-week visit to Hubbard Park, made the weekend trash haul light.

Happy Memorial Day!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

My Missed Anniversary

Ooops. This explains the lack of a report last week.

Visit #870, Friday 16 May 14, 5-7:25PM, 6.3 miles.
Temps in the low 70's, foggy and light rain.

I injured my foot around the time of my last report and have been hobbling around since. I performed some self diagnosis and first concluded I had plantar fasciitis so I gathered up the ice, massage ball, and brace and diligently followed my own treatment regimen. The more I looked into it, the more my diagnosis seemed wrong, and I settled on having a stress fractured foot bone instead. However, I continued with the same treatment and improved my hobbling speed. I decided to test my treatment by venturing into Hubbard Park this week.

Alas, the injury prompted me to miss my 1 year anniversary on this blog with 52 consecutive weeks of posts. Two consecutive weeks off would have been more painful than my foot, so I chose the lessor of the two pains.

Friday's weather, along with the time of day, assured I would have the road to myself as I chose to walk from the park on the road all the way to West Peak. If my foot hurt too much I could easily turn around. West Peak was my goal because on my last visit I spied some graffiti which needed eradication.

By the time I reached the water treatment plant I had enough trash to leave the bag there; I was sure I'd fill another soon enough.

It started to rain just about the time I reached the fork to Castle Craig/West Peak, where I left my second bag of trash. I'll contact the Meriden Parks Department to pick it up.

By the time I reached the parking lot at West Peak it was raining pretty good so I didn't spend a lot of time there and I didn't need to as I already cleaned up the area two weeks ago.

As I began my descent via the Blue Trail, I stopped at the tree which was my main objective.

Time to break out my patented Graffiti Removal From TreesⓇ tool. Literally five minutes later...

Let nature do the rest and it'll fade into gray just nicely.

A little further on, though less visible, was more graffiti from the same can.

What it says is "Go Bak". Perhaps the artist was trying to conserve spray paint by leaving out the "c".

More use of my patented tool, visible in the upper right hand corner.

Down hill was harder on my gimpy foot, but I made it over I-691 and back to the parking lot.

Find of the week-check out this gal's "To Do" list. Some people lead more interesting lives than I do.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

When West Peak Calls

The steep trail to West Peak beckons.

Visit #869, Sunday 4 May 14, 5:45-8:10PM, 5.5 miles.
Temps in the low 60's, partly sunny with high winds.

Thanks to the Meriden Parks Department. From my report last week, the tires and trash I left at the north end of Merimere Reservoir were picked up and the vandalized gate was repaired.

The week after the Daffodil Festival this year was a mixed bag of pluses and minuses.

On the plus side, the weather Saturday prevented launch of the fireworks. Therefore there would be little or no mess to clean up from the launch site at the Halfway House.

On the minus side, the road to Castle Craig and West Peak opened for the season this week, meaning more litter on the road and both parking lots.

Paul Bernier joined me on Friday for some extra-curricular, non-Adopt A Park trail maintenance. While we started and ended in Hubbard Park, the majority of our work was outside of park property. Nevertheless, we managed to collect one bag of trash and left it at the West Peak parking lot.

I thought I'd return to West Peak on Sunday, clean around the area and the parking lot, and leave additional bags of trash to justify notifying the Meriden Parks Department to pick them up.

However, when I arrived at West Peak Sunday, the bag you see above was GONE. I'm hoping it was properly disposed of.

So I amended my plan and, after cleaning the surrounding area and the parking lot,  walked the road to the intersection of West Peak/East Peak while I continued to pick up trash, and deposited my first bag there for easy locating on Monday morning.

I then hiked trails down to the Halfway House, to Merimere Reservoir, and back to the park via the Soap Box Derby Trail, where I found the most remnants of the Daffodil Festival.

Find of the Week:

When taking Minastrin, you're not supposed to skip the last four pills in the packet, even though they're placebos. And some will wonder why their birth control pills didn't work... ;-)

I leave you this week with a view of West Peak from Below. It looks remarkably cylindrical.