Sunday, July 27, 2014

My Eyes And Ears

A heron stops by Merimere Reservoir Restaurant to see what's on the Sunday brunch menu.

Visit #886, Sunday 27 July 14, 8:00-10:15AM, 5.3 miles.
Temps in the high 70's, cloudy with rain or thunderstorms forecast for the morning.

I rode my mountain bike in Hubbard Park on Saturday. As I popped out from the trail into the parking lot at West Peak, I ran into a couple tires which were abandoned and left in the road. (The photo is from Sunday, hence the wet road.)

This gave me a general idea where I would be doing my thing this weekend.

I rode another trail down to the reservoir and took the road back toward Hubbard Park. Enroute, I came upon a "park regular" walking his dog. Pete said there was some new, very large and ugly graffiti on the spillway at the north end of Merimere Reservoir. These people are my "eyes and ears", keeping me informed of trouble spots, which is extremely helpful because I can't cover every trail every week.

Surprised that I missed it, I turned around to take a look.

Yeah; it's ugly, alright.

In the background you can see my past attempts in gray, cleaning up previous graffiti. Now, between the tires and the graffiti, I've got a route and a plan mapped out in my head.

In the past, I used a paint brush to cover such work, but due to the size of the most recent finding, I didn't want to spend all day with a brush. This was going to be a first for me but I was going to gather up the proper tools and try using a paint roller.

Being low on paint, I wound up buying a second gallon of paint and schlepping both with me when I returned Sunday morning to work. I parked on Park Road, outside the north end of Merimere Reservoir, and entered Hubbard Park from the north gate.

The paint roller, while adding some expense, worked with ridiculous efficiency. I was done in about 30 minutes. While I was rolling away, I was "caught" by someone walking their dog and asked them to take a photo:

The artist, at his canvas.

I neglected to take "after" photos; I'll publish some next week. In the meantime you can trust me when I say it looks pretty good. I took advantage of my roller and covered over some other, longstanding graffiti. I left other older markings for future paint sessions; I'll pick them off one at a time.

Done with art class, I packed up and walked the road toward West Peak, picking up trash as I went. 

Then it began to rain. The showers continued intermittently until I returned to my car.

I could only hope it wasn't going to be heavy or long enough to destroy my work.

I reached the abandoned tires and found a third tire dumped in the woods. I neatly stacked them along with a large bag of trash by the side of the road. I'll contact the Meriden Parks Department to pick all of it up.

Rather than retrace my steps and walk the road back, I took a trail down that parallels the road and joins the road at the bottom. 

I didn't have to walk more than 100 feet before I found my condom of the week. Maybe I should've stayed on the road...

I kept the photo small so as not to gross you out too much, dear squeamish reader.

Anyway, back on the road I returned to my car with a small bag of trash.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Hurricane Arthur, Part II

Visit #884, Wednesday 16 July 14, 6:40-8:40PM, 4.8 miles.
Temps in the 80's, slightly humid.

Visit #885, Sunday 20 July 14, 4:05-6:30PM, 4.4 miles.
Temps in the 80's, dry and sunny.

During last Saturday's visit to Hubbard Park, I reported discovering two trees that had fallen across the Blue Trail in the aftermath of Hurricane Arthur. I returned to the trail on Wednesday to remove them.

This trail climbs the ridgeline on the western side of Merimere Reservoir. You can see the water in the background. I enlisted the help of some young hikers passing by in moving the pieces I cut as well as taking the photos. I picked up trash on Wednesday but due to camera problems, didn't photograph the bag when I was back at the parking lot. You can see the trash bag in the first photo.

With all the Hurricane Arthur disruptions taken care of, I chose Sunday to just meander the trails below Castle Craig, perform some trimming with my loppers, and pick up trash.

On the way over the I-691 walkbridge, I found the remaining flag attached to the fencing had been defiled and was torn, so I took it down.

I returned to the parking lot and dropped off my bag of trash for the week.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Journalist Poseur

 South Mountain and Meriden as viewed from the Blue Trail high above Merimere Reservoir.

Visit #882, Monday 7 July 14, 6:40-8:20PM, 3.1 miles.
Temps in the 80's, sunny and very humid.

Visit #883, Saturday 12 July 14, 5:30-8:30PM, 5.3 miles.
Temps in the 80's, slight humidity, disappearing with a strong evening breeze.

On Monday I wanted to catch up on some trail maintenance so I stopped by in the evening with my lopping shears and trimmed back some trail foliage in various spots, picking up trash as I traveled.

Sad to say, one of the flags on the I-691 walkbridge was ripped, so I removed it.

It was near dark when I finished.

During the overnight storm of 3/4 July, the hillside surrounding Merimere Reservoir was subject to a microburst. Walking the road to Castle Craig and seeing the damage up close was impressive. Saturday's agenda was to play news photographer and capture the scene by traveling the Blue Trail high above Merimere Reservoir, and presenting it for all of you to see.

I started on the Percival Park Road heading north. I picked up a truck tire sidewall, too large for my bag. I dropped it off at the water treatment facility.

When I reached the area where the microburst caused its damage, I found trash which must have been unearthed by the crews clearing the road. There was enough to leave my first bag of trash.

Just passed Echo Point, there was an urgent "knock at the back door" ;-) and I had this sudden need to "fill out some paperwork". I would have won an Oscar had I been in the movie "Blazing Saddles".

I ducked into a nearby abandoned trail and discovered someone had used it as a campsite. I've found blankets like this before in various spots in Hubbard Park. It seems like the park is a popular place for those on the margins of Meriden's society to seek respite.

From the remains of the campsite, I'd say this particular camper had a heroin problem.

I cleaned up the area but the blanket was too large to carry. So, I deposited the blanket along with a bag of trash at the north end of Merimere Reservoir. I'll contact the Meriden Parks Department to pick the various bags and whatnot I left at the 2 locations.

Once I picked up the Blue Trail, I discovered a few trees had fallen across in the aftermath of Hurricane Arthur. I plan on returning soon to remove them. I seldom visit this trail because it sees little use from a demographic likely to litter. This was a good opportunity to trim back the foliage as I went to maintain it, which I did with my loppers.

High up on the ridge, I was able to get a better view of the damage caused by the microburst. Using your web browser, you should be able to click on and zoom in on the images to get a closer view of the denuded and felled trees. You may have to right-click on the photo to do so.

Once at the top, I took a most direct route back to the park and deposited my last bag of trash.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Hurricane Arthur, and More

Overlooking Mirror Lake and Hubbard Park on a "mint" July 4th weekend.

Visit #879, Monday 30 June 14, 5:45-8:10PM, 5.0 miles.
Temps in the 80's, sunny and pleasant.

Visit #880, Friday 4 July 14, 10:15-11:20AM, mileage n/a.
Temps in the mid-70s, very humid with developing rain, an extended effect of Hurricane Arthur.

Visit #881, Saturday 5 July 14, 12:05-2:50PM, 5.1 miles.
Temps in the 80's, sunny, dry, and breezy.

After last week's work, I had left unfinished the dismantling of the mountain bikers' stunts. There was a second one to be removed, so I returned to Hubbard Park on Monday to do so.

Here it was:

I came prepared with all sorts of tools but when I actually set to work, I merely needed my hands.

That done, I reached the top of the trail and hiked back to Hubbard Park proper via the I-691 walkbridge. As I crossed the highway, I noticed the flags which were fastened to the fencing in time for Memorial Day, were gone.

Monday's theme developed to be "textiles".

I found a bath towel:

An XXL t-shirt:

And a pair of basketball shorts:

But Monday's interesting find was this:

What is it? It's a workout schedule for performing pushups, written on a paper bag. Ah, but the irony comes from what was INSIDE the bag.

Eclipsing Insanity and PX-90 workouts, it's the latest in training regimens; beer pushups! I'll bet Americans will jump on that!

I filed the workout package where I put ALL trendy exercise regimens:

Thursday night Meriden experienced high wind and rain. There was to be a brief respite on Friday morning before the rain returned as Hurricane Arthur traveled north off the eastern seaboard. So I took the opportunity Friday morning to tour the trails in Hubbard Park on my mountain bike to check for any downed trees or other trail damage. While riding up Reservoir Avenue enroute to the park, I came upon a telephone pole which was knocked down by a falling tree limb.

During the week of 22 July 2012, 2 large trees fell across the Main Trail from a heavy wind and rain storm.

In the photo above, you can only see the foreground tree. Unfortunately, both trees did not drop completely to the ground and became "widowmakers".

Back then, Paul Bernier and I did our best to restore the trail but the trees would have to remain until they fell to the ground.

Here you can see the tree in the background which is left leaning.

Well, during Thursday/Friday, the foreground tree reached earth, blocking the trail. My recon bike ride on Friday paid off. My job on Saturday was to remove the tree from the trail.

It took a while as my chainsaw bar got stuck once, but I was successful.

The tree in the background will have to wait for another storm.

From here, I took advantage of my chainsaw and hiked up toward Castle Craig where I'd received reports of a small tree across the Blue Trail.

I headed back down, retracing some steps, hiking over I-691 as I did on Monday.  Good thing too, as I was pleasantly surprised someone had replaced the missing flags in time for the holiday weekend.

Enroute back to the park, I took care of one more "leaner" tree which had been on my project list for some time.

Back at the park, I dropped off my 2nd bag of trash for the week, completing my "no pushup/no beer" workout.