Sunday, August 30, 2015

Grey Areas

Early morning at Mirror Lake. The ducks were already awake, though.

Visit #969, Saturday 29 August 15, 6:10-8:20AM, 4.8 miles.
Temps in the high 60's, mostly sunny.

As I reported last week, I found some new graffiti which needed eradicating. That was this week's focus.

I hiked a clockwise route from the parking lot. Not expecting to cover a lot of ground today, I decided to take the time to clean the dirt parking area in the northwest corner of Mirror Lake. That parking area alone filled a trash bag which became impractical to carry, so I tied it up and collected it at the end of Saturday's work, and dropped it in a trash barrel along with my other bag of trash.

Again, since I didn't expect to travel far today I walked the trail all the way to the end at West Main Street across from Belmont Avenue. Good thing I did, for I found someone had dumped a large trash can filled with roofing shingles, along with garbage bags filled with roofing shingles, and some loose roofing shingles.

I collected everything and placed it at the entrance of the parking area, effectively rendering the area useless for parking for the remainder of the weekend-or so I thought. I wanted the trash to be visible to the parks crew that would pick it up on Monday.

I then proceeded to the graffiti, painting over it where I could.

I can't for the life of me remember if I painted over this becaus I also had ideas of chipping off the bark instead. This tree was struck by lightning many years ago and still bears the scars. Funny thing too; I rode my mountain bike by the same tree on Sunday morning and failed to see whether I painted it over or not. Damn senior moments!

I DO however remember painting over the other graffiti I found.

Here I was smart enough to leave the white trail marker alone.

Done with the graffiti, I continued on toward Merimere Reservoir, picking up trash. Enroute I met a woman walking a dog who saw the garbage can I placed and, rather then drive the short distance to the park and start her hike there, chose to park half in front of the garbage can and half in the street!

I reasoned it can't be long before someone moves the garbage can. I had to know, so on Sunday morning I took a bike ride up West Main Street and Belmont Avenue to satisfy my curiosity. Yep.

I don't make this stuff up.

Anyway, on Saturday I completed my loop and dropped off my second bag of trash.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Gate Problem

The late afternoon view northeast from West Peak.

Visit #968, Sunday 23 August 15, 5:10-7:15PM, 4.8 miles.
Temps in the 80's, sunny and very humid.

I was dripping sweat in today's late season muggy weather.

I hadn't been up to West Peak in a while so I chose to hike a clockwise route up to there and clean the area and the parking lot.

Enroute, I discovered several pieces of new graffiti, all duplicates of each other. Someone went to considerable effort to make the stencils to express their love for Raye. Raye should enjoy it while she can because next week's task will be to erase her lover's work.

I reached West Peak, tidied up the area, then hiked down past the Halfway House and walked the road back to the park.

Well, the "Gate Problem" I referred to in the title regards a recent article in the Record Journal about people oblivious to the closing time for the road to Castle Craig and West Peak, despite multiple signs posted at the gate. The gate is closed, they get stuck behind it, and wind up paying a fine. One particular carload of people made their mistake even more interesting.

My work Sunday would lead me to the gate at just about closing time. I was curious to see what I would find.

I reached the gate at 7:10PM, 10 minutes after IT SHOULD BE CLOSED (P.S. My watch is set to atomic clock time and I'm only 5 seconds ahead.) yet the gate was still open and people were STILL DRIVING UP TO THE CASTLE AND WEST PEAK! I wished I could have hung around for the ensuing entertainment...

I dropped of my trash for the week, making sure I was on the right side of the gate...

Saturday, August 15, 2015


A shady Yellow Trail provides respite from the beginning of a late season heat wave.

Visit #967, Saturday 15 August 15, 9:15-11:30AM, 4.9 miles.
Temps in the 80's, sunny, with high humidity.

Thanks to Paul Bernier, who joined me this week.

During last week's trail maintenance, I discovered someone has been bending over smaller trees until they break. I've found them before. In fact, I've found them as far back as 2012 but they've been popping up unusually frequently as of late. Someone has issues...

Anyway, my itinerary this week was to walk the road from the park up to Castle Craig then down the White Trail where the two bent trees were found, and remove them. When Paul called to offer his services this week, I amended my plans. We would park north of Merimere Reservoir and hike a counterclockwise loop instead.

Whether due to the lack of rain or perhaps Merimere Reservoir has been called in to service as our primary water supply, the water level in the reservoir is dropping considerably, exposing the reservoir's "alligator".

As Paul and I walked the road collecting trash, we found one of the street signs marking the sharp turn in the road, was toppled over. I'm wondering whether it was done by our "tree bender"?

I'll contact the Meriden Parks Department so they can reinstall the post.

Further up the road Paul found the remains of some furniture perhaps left over from the last time we found abandoned furniture on the road side.

Too large for a garbage bag, I put the pieces in my backpack.

Paul and I reached Castle Craig and began the descent down the White Trail where we encountered the first of the bent trees. I let Paul do the honors.

There's no other explanation as to what could have caused this:

Further down the trail we reached the second bent tree, which was overhanging the trail. I took to the saw on this one. You can see the size of the found furniture pieces in my backpack.


Paul and I cleaned up the rest of the trails and dropped off our trash at the water treatment plant.

Heading north on the road around the reservoir, we found a THIRD three by the roadside mysteriously bent over.

Just prior to reaching the north end of Merimere Reservoir, we came upon our Find of the Week:

Count 'em; three condom wrappers, 2 still with contents. Anybody who carries 3 condoms is either confident, arrogant, or a Boy Scout!

We finished our day's work with one more bag of trash.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

No More Flags

Check out the puffy clouds-yeah; it was that kind of day-perfect.

Visit #966, Saturday 8 August 15, 12:00-2:25PM, 5.0 miles.
Temps in the 80's, sunny and dry.

Last week while descending the trail from Castle Craig, I noticed the it was overgrown and in need of a haircut. That was this week's task.

I hiked a counterclockwise loop from the park up to Merimere Reservoir. Enroute I picked up a couple "nip" bottles of the same brand, but hit the mother lode leaning against a tree on the trail behind the water tank. It seems our drinker has found the ideal spot for his collection.

At the other end of the trail I discovered a dead hemlock had fallen across it. At first I thought I would have to return with my chainsaw but then I decided to give it the old college try and was able to clear it from the trail.

However it remains to be seen whether Len can keep his hands off it and not put it across the trai.

The rest of the tree I decided will stay across an adjacent trail which is relatively new and mostly unused. Hopefully nature will recover that trail and grow in to fill it.

I hiked up to the Halfway House then up to the trail which needed trimming. Reaching Castle Craig, I found it teeming with people enjoying the view. Why wouldn't it be, on such a spectacular day?

I followed the Blue Trail across the ridgeline and down to the walkbridge over I-691. I found the two American Flags, which made their annual appearance in June,  have been stolen.

All that remained:

Back at the parking lot I deposited my trash bag. Unfortunately I left my work gloves on top of the fence. I returned to Hubbard Park early Sunday morning on my bike and on a whim decided to see if they were still there. Alas, no.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Kindred Spirits


Another hot, hazy, humid July day in Hubbard Park.

Visit #965, Saturday 1 August 15, 5:50-6:30AM, 0.25 miles, and 9:30AM-12:15PM, 5.4 miles.
Temps in the 80's, sunny and very humid.

This week I had the pleasurable presence and turbocharged assistance of Paul Bernier.

First, a correction. Last week I attributed a large branch across a trail near the Soap Box Derby track to  my nemesis, Len. Turns out that wasn't the case and for that I apologize.

My first order of business this week was to remove that branch from the trail so I arrived at Hubbard Park at the crack of dawn for some covert trail clearing.

Too large to move by hand, I brought my comealong to silently clear the trail.

The sun rose as rapidly as I moved the branch, restoring the trail.

The branch actually broke off from the top of a tree which you can vaguely see in the center of the photo.

I packed up and walked a short clockwise loop around the retention ponds and back to the park, picking up trash along the way.

At 9:30AM, Paul and I started at the north end of Merimere Reservoir and walked the road up to Castle Craig.

Earlier this week I was riding my bike up to Castle Craig and spotted what looked like the doors to a piece of furniture someone discarded by the road side. I wanted to retrieve them and place them conspicuously for later pickup by the Meriden Parks Department.

On the way up the hill, Paul and I happened to find the remainder of the discarded piece of furniture and left it, along with 2 bags of trash for an easy to spot target to be collected.

Paul had hiked in Hubbard Park four times this week and remarked on the number of people he invariably finds at West Peak who are looking for Castle Craig. He made the wise suggestion the City of Meriden Parks Department should place a sign at the fork in the road pointing to Castle Craig since it's overwhelmingly more popular than West Peak. Heck, the sign post is already in place, just waiting for the proper sign. The smart money says paint the sign red so it stands out against the foliage. Double smart money if they paint the post red, too.

Just after passing the underutilized signpost, Paul and I thought we heard someone behind us shout, "Hey; you stealing my job?!"

Lo and behold, turns out we weren't the only people picking up trash in Hubbard Park. Kurt Marschner, lifelong Meriden resident, collected garbage as he hiked the trails up to West Peak, then on the road over to Castle Craig. Kurt was training for an elk hunting expedition later in the year. He had 30lbs. of weight in his backpack, too. A tip o' the hat to a kindred spirit trying to keep Hubbard Park clean. Keep up your training and the elk won't stand a chance!

The yellow bag is his trash receptacle.

Kurt continued on while Paul and I cleaned up around the parking lot at Castle Craig. Oh yeah; I found the discarded furniture which I spied earlier this week, and matched the materials we found down the road. We left everything at Castle Craig. I'll contact the Meriden Parks Department to pick it up.

Paul and I cleaned the trails from Castle Craig all the way down to Merimere Reservoir then walked the road north. Enroute we discovered some of the old wooden guardrail posts are looser than a five dollar whore. You can see by the color at the base of the post to the left of the photo that it is freshly uprooted.

At the north end of Merimere Reservoir we exited the park and returned to my car and our last bag of trash.

Next week, a little trail trimming. Until then, maintain.