Sunday, March 29, 2015

Post-High Wind Inspection, Part II

Visit #943, Sunday 29 March 15, 4:50-7:05PM, 5.7 miles.
Temps in the low 40's, sunny.

This week I wanted to inspect for fallen branches on trails that I was unable to cover during last week's session.

First, I had to remove the tree which I discovered that same week.

Here it is when I found it, as seen in last week's blog entry:

When I approached it on Sunday, it appeared someone made an attempt to open the trail by snapping off a portion of the tree.

I brought the right tool for the job.

Presto! The trail is back in business.

I didn't find much else in the way of wind damage. I did however, spot my "second robin of spring":

Spring has also brought the return of ATVs to Hubbard Park. Where were they when there was REAL snow on the ground? Poseurs!

My clockwise loop lead me to Merimere Reservoir, where I walked the road to the north end and back, picking up trash in addition to what I found on the trails.

I leave you this week with a few cartoons from last week's Non-Sequitor, to remind you of the winter we had.




Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Stock Market Tip

Visit #942, Saturday 21 March 15, 10:00-11:05AM, 2.7 miles.
Temps in the low 30's with a steady snowfall, tapering. 3-5" accumulation.

Pete's free stock tip of the week-invest in a snowshoe company.

For the gazillionth time this winter, we've had a substantial snowfall. What makes Saturday's snow even more noteworthy is it's lateness in the season. Heck; IT'S SPRINGTIME-WHAT'S WITH THE SNOW?! I swear; if I use my snowshoes one more time this season, they might as well become an appendage.

The timing and strength of this storm was good; just enough snow to reduce road traffic yet leave the roads passable so I could drive to Hubbard Park, and enough snow to make hiking an exercise in solitude.

Severely high winds passed through the area on Tuesday and Wednesday. My goal on Saturday was to canvas the trails looking for downed limbs and trees.

I hiked a clockwise route and found my first and only significant find of the day.

This trail terminates at West Main Street across from Belmont Avenue. That fallen branch is nothing major and easy to walk around. I'll remove it with a saw in the upcoming weeks.

Late season water flowing off the mountain trickles out of the beehive fountain aka, The Virgin Mary, insisting that warmer temps are coming. Sure...

Shortly after passing The Virgin Mary my phone rang-I was on-call, otherwise I wouldn't have a phone with me. I had to skeedaddle to service a customer in Madison, so my plan to inspect all the trails was scuttled.

Enroute back to the park, I encountered mostly small branches which had fallen from the high winds. I'll inspect the remainder of the trails next week.

Too bad I had to leave so soon; the conditions were idyllic.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

I Spotted My First "Robin" of Spring

While Hubbard Park is still covered in snow, I was assured spring was coming because I spotted my first "robin" today.

Visit #941, Sunday 15 March 15, 9:05AM-12:00PM, 7.4 miles.
Temps in the low 40's, cloudy with increasing winds, drying up after an overnight rain.

The trails are still under wet snow and I didn't feel like getting my feet soaked, so I chose to walk the road to both Castle Craig and West Peak, and I'd pick up trash along the roadsides as I traveled. Since the road is now clear after a full winter, I expected there to be a lot of trash as walkers begin to take to the road.

Most of the trash I found was the usual stuff, but when I found THIS, I could help but be reminded that seeing a robin is considered a sign of spring. Except MY "robin" wasn't the bird-

It's a sure sign of spring in Hubbard Park! Moving right along...

Snow melt is being channeled by the Maloney Canal into Merimere Reservoir with vigor.

As I planned, I walked the road up to both East and West Peak. While I didn't spot any more "robins" I did collect more trash which unfortunately is another sign of spring. I then turned around and retraced my route back to Hubbard Park.

On the return leg a pleasant thing happened. A Meriden Water Department truck drove by me and the driver stopped and offered to take my bag of trash. I declined, figuring I'd find trash I missed on the outward bound leg. Then the driver offered that I leave my bag at the gate to the water treatment plant, where he would dispose of it. While the trash bag wasn't so heavy as to be a burden, I took him up on the offer as a social gesture. Thanks to whoever it was for their kindness.

Will you spot your own "first robin of spring" this week? Will it look like mine?!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

In Search of the Loch Ness Skier

Visit #940, Saturday 7 March 15, 9:00-11:15AM, 3.6 miles.
Temps in the high 20's, sunny.

During last week's traipse into the untrampled reaches of Hubbard Park, I noted some cross-country ski tracks disappearing into far off-trail places as well. Rare and daring is the individual who seeks the path not traveled, and I was curious as to where they went. This week's plan was to try and follow their tracks to see what they saw.

I was fortunate to have the company of pal Dave as we explored the deep woods of Hubbard Park.

But to get there involves WORK. As you can see by the angle between Dave and his snowshoes, the slope we went up as we started off was STEEP.

As we trudged through the woods, I found the remnants of a mylar balloon which appeared to have been tied to a twig.

A sign of spring and my return to trash duties, perhaps?

More steepness was encountered as we neared Castle Craig.

We topped out at Castle Craig then set out to find the ski tracks I discovered last week.

With last week's snow, rain, and melt/thaw cycles, it wasn't going to be easy to spot the tracks, but we did.

Now, we just had to make sure we didn't lose them.

Along the way, we found a spot where it appears a deer had bedded down for the night, perhaps after eating chili.

All through this winter, I have been fortunate to be able to venture out to Hubbard Park's reaches in all kinds of weather. I'm by no means some super-rugged outdoors type; at least not compared to Shawn Forry and Justin Lichter. In reading Nicholas Kristoff's account of the two hikers' journey, they made a couple statements with resonated with me and why it's worth the effort to get out there in the snow.

Justin: "With the snow, there's so much natural beauty."
           "It's so peaceful."

Shawn: "I really encourage people to get out in the winter... "You have it to yourself, and it's so peaceful."

Compared to Forry and Lichter, Dave and I were poseurs, but we were having our own little adventure.

Dave and I followed the ski tracks all the way to Merimere Reservoir, which is in the background.

While the ski tracks kept to the slope on the right, Dave and I chose to snowshoe right on the western shore of the reservoir, a rare opportunity indeed.

Along the way, we spotted these animal tracks. Don't look like dog prints to me. Any guesses?

We successfully completed our mission and our trip in under 2 hours. I thought that was kind of short so I started another mission.

While driving into Hubbard Park that morning, I'd spotted trash along the road. It reminded me of the return of the swallows to Capistrano. This winter's frequent snow kept away the litterers from the trails and gave me a respite from my assigned duties, but with the warmer temps it appeared they were gradually returning to the park. It was sad.

 I decided I'd walk around Mirror Lake and pick up trash.

Stopping at the skatehouse, I discovered my Find of the Week... abandoned pet carrier and a 5lb. bag of dry cat food. Cat not included. Or was it?

Since the trash cans weren't available, I took home the trash I collected and disposed of it properly.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Let's Be Consistent

South Mountain, seen through the snow from high above Merimere Reservoir.

Visit #939, Sunday 1 March 15, 1:35-4:00PM, 6.2 miles.
Temps in the 20's, snowfall with accumulations of 2-5" expected.

I deliberately waited until Sunday, until Sunday afternoon that is, so I could say it snowed for the zillionth consecutive weekend while I was out in Hubbard Park. I'm definitely getting my money's worth out of my snowshoes this winter.

Okay; so I'm a glutton for punishment. But the weather and the solitude are just too tempting to stay home and do anything else.

I snowshoed from the parking lot all the way up to just below Castle Craig. Although it was steep and I've hiked this trail countless times, the dense snow made the trail seemed paved.

Just prior to reaching Castle Craig, I diverted straight into the woods to avoid the road, and pioneered my way to find the trail which would lead me down to Merimere Reservoir.

With my snowshoes, I could pretty much pick whichever direction I wanted to go without being hindered by any obstacle. Once on track, I followed the path downhill until I met the reservoir. Then I picked up the Blue Trail, intending to head back up toward Castle Craig.

The spillway at the north end of Merimere Reservoir.

The high winds along the western ridgeline of the reservoir stung with the wet, falling snow. Away from the cliffs it was much more calm.

After reaching Castle Craig again, I chose to follow the road to the trail, and down to I-691.

I-691 East was a parade of brake lights. It was slippery out there!

My Find of the Week:

It's rare for me to find a complete pair of gloves, but every year I can count on picking up a handful of singles.

Let's see if I can remain consistent next week.