Sunday, January 31, 2016

That Was Quick

Early morning sun casts the shadow of South Mountain onto East Peak.

Visit #999, Saturday 30 January 16, 7:20-9:20AM, 4.9 miles.
Temps in the 20's, mostly sunny.

As you can see from the photo above, last week's 8-14 inch snowfall didn't stick around long. The trails still had snow so I didn't expect much foot traffic and therefore much trash to be found on them, so this week I chose to walk the road to West Peak instead and pick up trash along the roadside.

The broken lock I reported last week at the south end of Merimere Reservoir hasn't been replaced yet.

I found the linchpin elsewhere on the ground.

It won't take long before someone can't resist lobbing it onto now, mostly frozen Merimere Reservoir.

I left the gate open as an incentive for the Meriden Parks Department to put a lock on the gate soon. I slipped the linchpin back into the holes. I'll notify them as well.

A bit up the road I found this collection of nip bottles as you see them. I have to wonder whether they drank all five at one time or added to the collection on a daily basis.

The rest of my hike went relatively quickly and was more enjoyable that last week's chilling winds.
I returned to the park and dropped off my trash for the week.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Beating Storm Jonas

The leading edge of Storm Jonas drifts over Meriden, Hubbard Park, and points southeast, just before the snow begins.

Visit #998, Saturday 23 January 16, 7:05-9:20AM, 5.0 miles.
Temps in the 20's with blizzard-condition winds brewing and snow forecast.

Meriden was expected to escape the majority of the snowfall which could dump as much as 2 feet of snow on Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and perhaps New York City. Nevertheless, we were going to get SOMETHING. (8-14" eventually fell in Meriden)

I wanted to get out in advance of the snowfall otherwise I wasn't going to find much litter in the area I planned to operate in today.

Last week while we were cleaning up the area surrounding Castle Craig, Paul Bernier commented to me that there was A LOT of trash outside the wall surrounding the castle. People toss all sorts of junk over this wall and I'd cleaned it once before years ago but the steep slope and thorny brush make it time consuming and treacherous; a real pain.

Nevertheless, I thought I'd give it a shot. I hiked up from the park through an icy wind and began my work. Here's what Castle Craig looked like from my vantage point:

For followers of my blog, the Season of the Missing Glove continues. This is Number 7.

Here are views east with South Mountain in the background, and south toward the Johnson Avenue water tank, from where I stood.


When I was done, I couldn't leave my trash bags at Castle Craig because due to the weather, the Meriden Parks Department crews wouldn't likely be able to reach the parking lot to pick them up until spring. So I had to carry both bags all the way back to the park.

Enroute at about 8:30AM, snow began to appear on the trails.

I returned to the park over I-691. Along the way I came across my Find of the Week, dangling from a tree.

Due to the weight of both bags I had to stop numerous times to regroup but I made it back to the park and dropped off my trash.

For personal reasons, I then made a SECOND, shorter trip back toward Merimere Reservoir. Along the way I discovered the lock to the gate at the south end of Merimere Reservoir has been cut for the umpteenth time. No doubt the ATVers and snowmobilers needed to prepare the way for their illegal winter fun. I'll contact the Meriden Parks Department and see if they can replace the lock soon.

Sunday, January 17, 2016


The Start banner is up in preparation for Sunday's 47th Annual Tradition Run.

I thought I'd do the city a favor and pick up trash along the course of the Tradition Run in advance of the event. Overnight rain led into Saturday morning which was going to make for a less than enjoyable work session but the forecast was for the rain to taper off just about my start time.

In addition, I was going to have my occasional assistant Paul Bernier join me and he's not quite as hardy as I am when it comes to adverse weather. So I did HIM a favor and pushed back our start time 2 hours so that the rain would clear, otherwise he was going to stay home and watch cartoons.

So we walked the entire course of the Tradition Run from the park all the way to Castle Craig.

Enroute, I found my new form of exercise. I'm giving up cycling for an activity which fulfills my need for speed.

The scooter wasn't quite my color though, so I Paul and I dropped off our first two bags of trash and the scooter for later pickup by the Meriden Parks Department. I fired off an e-mail hoping they would collect the trash before the runners pass on Sunday morning.

 The skies struggled to clear for the remainder of the day. We had very brief patches of sun.

Many of the hemlocks along the road are dead. Woodpeckers have found them an abundant source of food.

Due to the weather, Castle Craig  and the road up were largely absent of hikers. Paul and I cleaned up the parking lot and surrounding area, combined two bags of trash into one, and left it there.

In the process, I came upon yet more evidence that we are in the midst of the Season of the Missing Glove, having reported earlier sitings on 9 January 16 and 2 January 16. The Missing Glove hibernates for 3 seasons, becoming active only in winter.

Yet more proof of the existence of the Missing Glove from Saturday.

Here's a closer shot of the replaced flag, which I promised last week. Unfortunately, the wind wasn't cooperating.

Leaving Castle Craig we returned to Hubbard Park via the trails. Stopping at the Halfway House  to check for cleanliness, I found this unusual pairing just as you see it.

Maybe Nutella leads to dry lips? Maybe they were making Nutella-flavored lip balm. Now THERE'S an idea!

Enroute, Paul came upon the Find of the Week, which I think surpasses the scooter. We dropped it off at the dumpster under drier skies along with our trash.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Putting the "New" in the New Year

A skin of ice covers Merimere Reservoir, despite the 40 degree temps.

Visit #996, Saturday 9 January 16, 9:10-11:10AM, 4.8 miles.
Temps in the 40's, mostly cloudy.

Colder temperatures earlier this week were probably what enabled that ice skin to form over the reservoir, but it won't last long if these temps continue. Sunday's forecast was for rain and 50 degrees.

So what's new?

First was the continued trimming of the roadside around Merimere Reservoir. The work of multiple city departments working in cooperation has almost reached the spillway at the north end of Merimere Reservoir, and I took the opportunity Saturday to check on their progress. I received a call from a regular Hubbard Park hiker informing me on their gains as they trim vegetation  on both sides of the road. Feedback from those that walk the road regularly continues to be positive.

At the very north end, I discovered the newest addition to the Season of the Missing Glove.

The trimming has revealed features such as this stone wall, built oh so long ago. Truly a work of skilled labor.

After picking up the glove, I turned around and headed south, back toward the park. At the south end of Merimere Reservoir I picked up the trails and hiked over to the walkbridge over I-691.

On the way I stopped to check out the new flag atop Castle Craig, which was reported to me last week as being in tatters.

Sorry for the distant photo. I was on-call and trekking to the Castle was slightly out of bounds this week. Maybe next week. Thanks to Chris Bourdon and Mark Zebora of the Meriden Parks Department who both responded they would quickly replace the flag.

It was while walking on the trail back toward the park that I discovered yet something else I THINK was new.

I, and my sometimes assistant Paul Bernier, walked this trail in the opposite direction last week and didn't spot this decorated tree, which was roughly in the same spot I found the geocache. Either we missed it altogether, or it was decorated AFTER Christmas, which is a clear violation of style and good taste.

This tree reminds me of the Christmas tree I found at Echo Point several weeks ago. In typical Grinchy style, I stripped it of all ornamentation and returned to Mount Crumpit from Whoville, where I deposited my bag of presents er, I mean trash.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year Surprises

Visit #995, Saturday 2 January 16, 9:30AM-12:00PM, 5.7 miles.
Temps in the 30's, sunny.

Thanks to occasional assistant volunteer Paul Bernier who joined me this week.

The road is closed, it's cold, and as a result I've been finding less and less trash; things have been looking pretty good in Hubbard Park. But there are always surprises to be discovered.

We started a clockwise loop and before even reaching the walkbridge over I-691, we found our first surprise.

Somebody found a geocache box and never bothered to put it back nor put the lid back on it. All I found was the lid, until about ten steps away I spotted the missing lower half and contents.

I took it home where I dissected the contents to see if I could learn who the owner was as well as let it dry out-the contents were soaked from last week's rain.

Boy Scouts are no dummies, and wisely labeled the guestbook with all the info I needed to send the troop an e-mail to see if they wanted their geocache back. I'll let you know if there's a reunion.

On to New Year's Surprise #2. Missing Glove season is in full-swing.

Up over the highway we hiked, to the Halfway House, then up to Castle Craig. Paul and I then walked the road down and back to the park. Due to the time of year, the weather, and the fact I'd just picked up trash on the road last week, it was remarkably clean.

Rounding Merimere Reservoir, to my surprise I spied what looked like a rock climber, high above the water. Since I never saw any movement or ropes, I couldn't be sure, and they sat there for a long time.

Some distance away on another rock face was another surprise, a rock climber dressed in pink.

With the reservoir level so low, we could spot trash on the expanded shoreline. Walking among the rocks we came upon a most unusual surprise.

Paul and I kept finding lengths of chain and dozens of these rock climbing fittings, identified by the brand name stamped on them. They were made of stainless steel so regardless of how long they were submerged, they were rust free. Only after arriving home and researching what they were did I learn we'd found probably about $75 worth. I can only wonder why someone threw them so far into Merimere reservoir.

With Paul's bag so loaded down with the weight of all that metal, he had to drop his bag of trash at the water treatment plant.

We continued down the road back toward Hubbard Park, only to run into our next surprise.

Well, there was no money in his wallet and considering where I found it, I assume it was stolen. I redacted all the important information from the photo. I brought the wallet to the Meriden Police Department so they could reunite Ricky and his wallet.

I dropped off my trash for the week, including that piece of a sawhorse.

The surprises weren't over.

A good friend of mine, his wife, and their dog did a little Adopt a Park in Hubbard Park themselves.

Here's their version.

On New Years day Sue and I hiked up to Castle Craig with our boy Charlie.
Below Charlie poses on Sergeant Rock.

Pete have you seen the poor US of A flag?

From the castle walked the road back and past two cyclists working on winter training.

Charlie needed a job so we let him carry a glove.

With no sign of Pete in the park I had to cover the holiday.

With only my bare hands I removed the dead pine from the road.

On the the way in I spotted these bottles near the water plant. I picked them up on the out.
This was the only garbage I saw on the whole hike, very clean Pete.

Why is my bag of garbage so much smaller?

Thanks to Dave, Sue, and Charlie for their surprise!