Saturday, May 30, 2015

Destructive Behavior

The view west, toward Mount Southington.

Visit #956, Saturday 30 May 15, 10:30AM-1:15PM, 4.9 miles.
Temps in the low 80's, sunny, breezy, mild humidity.

It's tough to stay motivated when you see repeat bad behavior.

A few weeks ago there was a brush fire in Hubbard Park, no doubt started by a carelessly tossed cigarette. On Friday of this week yet another brush fire was started, this time by a campfire.

I went mountain biking in Hubbard Park at about 7PM Friday and stopped to chat with the Meriden Fire Department and Connecticut Forest Fire Service who were still on-scene with hoses extended roughly 1800 feet to the fire. It never occurred to me they'd be back at it on Saturday.

Paul Bernier joined me this week to assist; my thanks to him.

In last week's activities, I reported finding 2 trees maliciously bent over that had to be removed. Paul told me of a THIRD tree on another trail which met a similar fate and needed removal.

We parked north of Hubbard Park and began our trash pickup at the north end of Merimere Reservoir. The trail, and the tree to be removed, were near the road so it was easy to access. Paul wanted to leave 4 feet of tree standing as it's used as a hand hold for people descending the steep pitch. I let him do the honors.

First he cut ANOTHER tree which must have been pulled over by the same person. Then he sawed through the tree at the top of the photo.

We then turned right and headed up a trail which would take us just shy of Castle Craig. Just before we reached the road we encountered a branch I'd forgotten about that was encroaching into the trail. I let Paul do the work.

Trail restored.

The road is just to the rear of the photo. We turned right and headed toward West Peak.

Enroute, we discovered the Connecticut Forest Fire Service trucks had returned to the site of yesterday's fire, dumping more water on it.

Just when I suggested to Paul we hike through the woods to take photos of the fire site, the firefighters came back to their truck. They were finished with their work and began packing up.

Left to right: Larry, Jake, and Bob. A big thanks to the crew for helping protect Hubbard Park.
You can tell Jake's the junior member of the crew by the size of his headlamp! ;-)

Paul and I continued on, cleaning up the West Peak parking lot and the peak area/trails. In the process, I came upon my Find of the Week.

We turned around and walked the road back down to the reservoir, cleaning up both sides of the road.

I didn't want to leave the bags at the reservoir for Monday pickup by the Meriden Parks Department; they'd sit there looking ugly. It was an easy task to carry them back to my car where I disposed of them at home.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day and Good Samaritan Weekend

Visit #954, Saturday 23 May 15, 6:30-10:30AM, 4.0 miles.
Temps in the low 60's, sunny, breezy, and dry.

Visit #955, Sunday 24 May 15, 6:00-8:20PM, 4.0 miles.
Temps in the mid-70's, sunny, breezy, and dry.

I've reserved holiday weekends to work on my special project, my 5 Year Plan; Memorial Day weekend qualified. I'm working on the western side of the road past Merimere Reservoir. On Saturday I picked up where I left off in April, at the jersey barriers and heading north. Below you can see a couple Before and After shots. The idea is to trim back the foliage so walkers don't have to move far out into the road into the path of oft-zooming cars. At the same time I don't want to clearcut the area; the trimming should be aesthetically pleasing. Since I'd previously cleared larger foliage from this strip with my chainsaw, I only needed loppers and hedge clippers for Saturday's work.

While I've already trimmed the east side of the road, it looks like it could use some sprucing up; maybe later this year.

Saturday's work fell shy of the north end of the reservoir and will have to be completed another time. Of course, I picked up trash on the outbound leg but couldn't watch both sides of the road while concentrating on the western side. While working, a Good Samaritan came along and thanked me for my work. He then proceeded to tell me he occasionally brings a trash bag with him to do something similar but had forgotten today. Would I mind if he walked back to the park and picked trash out of the woods and left it in the road for me to collect on my return trip? Hell no! It would save me a lot of aggravation. The guy did  a thorough job.

On Sunday I returned to fulfill a special request and peform regular trail cleaning. I'd been told of a tall, slender oak tree at the top of the trail near Castle Craig that was vandalized, essentially bent in half. Left alone, it was growing tall and straight and had a promising future. Instead it now needed to be removed.

I started at the playscape and hiked the trails until I reached the tree.

While laboring through this tree with my bow saw, I encountered Good Samaritan #2 of the weekend. He applied pressure to the tree so my saw would not bind. It sped up the process.

I picked up the road from Castle Craig shortly and connected to the Blue Trail pointing me down toward I-691. Good thing I brought the bow saw for I encountered another tree across a trail. I wonder if this was toppled by the same person who bent the other tree as there was no reason why this tree should have fallen on its own. I see some strange stuff out here so it wouldn't surprise me. In fact, if you read on, you'll see things got stranger...

Done with the heavy work for the day, I continued picking up trash as I returned to the park. As I did, I came upon my Find of the Week:

For those of you not familiar with Libigrow, you can follow the link for a primer. You should also know the FDA thinks you shouldn't be using the stuff. You've got to wonder how some rogue pharmaceutical manufacturer can get away with putting a controlled substance such as sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra) into an over-the-counter herbal supplement. You've also got to wonder why people would even try this junk, risking their health.

I reached the park and tidied up the dirt parking area in the northwest corner of Mirror Lake. I walked the road around Mirror Lake back to the parking lot as a large patch of grass was cordoned off, presumably for reseeding (the trail exits onto the reseeded area). Anyway, something didn't look right as the cordon tape was torn off the stanchions. I hope it wasn't done so people could park there-the park was certainly packed with cars when I arrived earlier so it's obvious parking was at a premium.

I retied the tape to both stanchions but a key section was missing, leaving an opening for people to park there!

This would be an ideal place to post a surveillance camera and see how many people drive over the curb and park their cars on the area; a real study in human behavior.

The trash cans at the playscape were overflowing and I couldn't see leaving a bag on the ground, so I took it home with me.

Enjoy your Memorial Day, and remember those who died in service to our country.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Bottled Water Follies

Visit #953, Saturday 16 May 15, 9:50AM-12:10PM, 6.6 miles.
Temps in the low 60's, cloudy with abating showers.

A sincere thanks for Paul Bernier, who joined me this week in keeping Hubbard Park spiffy.

Syndicated columnist Jill Richardson recently criticized a new trend, BOXED water. I hope you'll take a few minutes to read it.

I don't blame her.

As a result of her column, I got the bright idea to take a little highly unscientific survey-what kind of problems with bottled water are we seeing in Connecticut? I conducted my survey by counting all the discarded bottled water containers Paul and I could pick up in one session collecting trash in Hubbard Park. We would walk the road from the park all the way to Castle Craig, then hike the trails back to the park.

Let's start. Paul scored the first find...

By the time we reached the water treatment plant, we'd added enough other trash to leave a bag hanging.

Further up the road by a pull-off, I found our first Find of the Week, a discarded patio umbrella.

In that same pull-off area, we found the picked over spine and fur from a deer. Look closely (not that you want to!) and you'll see maggots feasting on the leftover bones.

Well now, back to the bottle count.

Find of the Week Number Two was a long rusted chainguard from a bicycle.

Paul's Find of the Week Number 3 was Nathan Ruscito's debit card. I actually had to create a Twitter account to contact Nate to see if he wanted his card back, which I doubt otherwise I wouldn't have found it in the woods. So as a result I'm all twittered up now, folks! Tweet me, baby!

P.S. Nate responded to my tweet, saying, "Destroy the shit out of it."

Back to the bottles.

Sometimes I'd find the label but no bottle, reducing the actual count...bummer.

We reached the fork to East Peak/West Peak and left a full pair of bags there for later pick up.

We were hardly done in the bottle department. We cracked open another pair of bags.

Paul then recovered Find of the Week Number Four, a car radiator.

I'm hoping I can get the Meriden Parks Department to pick this up along with the extra bags and the umbrella. As long as they have the photos, they should be able to find everything. Below is the last stretch of road to reach Castle Craig.

We didn't go too crazy cleaning up around Castle Craig; I'd already done that last week so it was in pretty good shape. Paul and I hiked the the trails heading down back toward Hubbard Park.

And you thought we were done finding bottles?!

Reaching the park, we dropped off our last trash bags.

No, I don't get the appeal of bottled water when tap water, even if filtered at your tap, is much cheaper. Also, those bottles are purchased with a 5 cent deposit on each bottle. People are essentially tossing away a nickel with each bottle.

And as a public service, I leave you with a link to all you need to know about Connecticut's Bottle Bill.