Sunday, February 28, 2016

Storm Damage Assessment

Interesting how the water naturally seeks the path of least resistance. I have to wonder whether the water flow created the path or the water merely follows the path worn by decades of hikers.

Visit 1003, Saturday 27 February 16, 2:35-4:55PM, 5.9 miles.
Temps in the mid-40's, sunny.

Last week we experienced an unusual February rain storm which brought with it very high winds. My goal this weekend was to inspect the trails below Castle Craig for storm damage and clean up whatever I could.

After leaving the parking lot I hiked to the south end of Merimere Reservoir and walked a moth-like route, covering all the trails. 

I stopped at the Halfway House. The pile of branches stacked within was still there and made the place look dumpy, so I got rid of them. I also found some trash, which I added to my bag:

What remains a mystery to me is, why would there only be ONE shoe? I mean, if you're going to get rid of your shoes, wouldn't you toss both of them? I hope I don't lose sleep over this...

All along my hike I had been picking up the small branches which had fallen from the storm, and there were many. When I arrived at the bottom of the trail leading to Castle Craig, I found my first fallen tree.

Too big and heavy to move, and still partially anchored to the ground.

I scoured the rest of the trails and crossed over I-691, walking the main trail leading back to the park.

I stopped at the trail head on West Main Street across from Belmont Avenue; thanks to Chris Bourdon, Assistant Parks Director-he told me via e-mail a crew had picked up the computer monitor I found there last week. That's this week's trash bag in the photo.

Returning to the trail and pointing myself back toward the park, I found another piece of storm damage.  This tree trunk landed on the guardrail.

Next week I'll bring my chainsaw, clean up what I found this week, and inspect trails on the high side of Castle Craig for storm damage.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Difference a Week Makes

 The road didn't look like this last week.

Visit #1002, Saturday 20 February 16, 9:50AM-12:10PM, 5.0 miles.
Temps in the mid-30's, rising to near 50, sunny.

Driving to Hubbard Park Saturday morning, I spied some trash near a trailhead parking area that needed to be tagged for pickup. I changed my original agenda for the day to take care of that trash.

I started on the trail behind the bank of Daffodils, heading west parallel to I-691. I came across my first fallen branch of 2016. As I was removing it from the trail a hiker came by and remarked, "I was WAITING for someone younger than me to move that branch!" He didn't look particularly old so I guess it was a compliment that he thought I was younger than he was.

At the trailhead on West Main Street across from Belmont Avenue was the trash I saw earlier.

Inside the green bag is the CRT for the computer monitor shell. Since all the electronics were exposed I had to handle it carefully; the connection from the flyback transformer to the CRT can store 10kV or more for a LONG time. Touching the wrong part would be like getting tasered-or worse. I'll contact the Meriden Parks Department and ask them to pick it up.

I turned around and crossed the highway, taking the trails up.

While collecting some trash down below this walkbridge, I tried taking a photo of the water flow. I wasn't successful. Trust me, it was babbling just nicely.

Anyway, I hiked up to the road between Castle Craig and West Peak, and walked the road back to the park, where I took today's opening photo showing the drastic change in road conditions from last week, not to mention the change in temperature.

Back near the water tank and water treatment plant (a good hill for winter sledding), I found this hangtag:

 While the front of the tag wasn't that interesting, the BACK of the tag was. I never saw so many warnings-it made me wonder whether sledding should best be left up to professionals and children should just stay home and WATCH sledding on their smartphones...which they probably do anyway!

I walked back to the park to deposit my trash for the week, being careful I didn't "walk too fast, dive onto the pavement; avoiding obstacles, icy areas, and sudden drops"... it was close, but I made it.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Park Ambassador

It was a cold, cold day.

Visit #1001, Saturday 13 February 16, 10:20AM-12:20PM, 4.4 miles.
Temps in the teens with a bitter north wind.

During the week I received an e-mail from "Stephen", a member of the "Run 169 Towns Society". Stephen discovered my blog while looking for information about Castle Craig. He wanted to run up to the castle but was curious as to what the road conditions were before he trekked up to Meriden.

Well, in an effort to be an ambassador for Meriden and Hubbard Park I chose today's work in the park would be to walk the road to Castle Craig and provide Stephen and you with a pictorial report on the running worthiness of the road.

So join me on my walk from the comfort of your home-POSEURS!

I barely crossed the gate at the end of the road when I recovered specimen #9 for the Season of the Missing Glove, 2015-2016 edition.

The road was immaculate at the start...this should be a cakewalk.

...all the way to the south end of Merimere Reservoir.

Then the road conditions turned hazardous.

I stopped to put on my Stabilicers.

You can see in the distance it looks like the road clears up.

It must have been a mirage...

...because the ice and snow quickly reappeared.

 Up over the top or the rise, just past Echo Point, it cleared again. Maybe there was hope for running after all.

Nah; it got worse again.

At the north end of the reservoir, I was deceived to think that would be the end of the ice and snow.
P.S., check out the bicycle track in the photo above. That's some crazy cyclist!

The road snakes left and right a few times before the real climb begins.

And now you're going up. Traction was best in the gutters, where there was a thin layer of snow over the ice.

Perhaps the fork to Castle Craig (bear left, Stephen!) and West Peak was clear due to the sun exposure.

This is the last grunt before arriving at Castle Craig.

Of course if you're running UP, you'll have to turn around and run back. I'm not sure which direction would be more treacherous.

I took the trails down, stopping at the Halfway House.

Inside, someone left a pile of branches should others want to start a quaint winter campfire.

I returned to the parking lot via the trails and the Soap Box Derby track, with my trash for the week.

 It sounds like Stephen will be in the Meriden area sometime this coming week. I'm curious whether my road report dissuades  him from attempting the run or helps him to prepare.

Update: Stephen says he's going to wait for more snow to melt.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Winter Deep

Meriden finally had snow that'll stay around a while.

Visit #1000, Saturday 6 February 16, 7:05-9:05AM, 5.0 miles.
Temps in the teens, mostly sunny.

Friday's daytime snowfall ensured there would be mostly pristine, unbroken trails in Hubbard Park. Time to break out the snowshoes.

Not one to shirk my duties, I hiked directly up the steep slope adjacent to the Soap Box Derby track and headed straight to the Halfway House. I certainly wasn't going to find any trash on the trails due to the snow so if it were to found anywhere, it would be inside the Halfway House. The least I could do is tidy things up.

I bagged a handful of items and continued on to Castle Craig.

I snowshoed over to West Peak.

The gates to the microwave tower have had their locks cut and the gates are open. Makes it tempting to climb the tower and check out the view. I wonder how many people have done so.

The view from West Peak is not so bad and doesn't require any tower climbing.

My return trip took me to Merimere Reservoir.

Thanks to Chris Bourdon, Assistant Parks Director for the City of Meriden. Last week I reported the lock at the south end of Merimere Reservoir had been cut. Chris e-mailed me to say the lock had been replaced. Good job.

Weather reports call for more snow on Monday/Tuesday. Next week may include even better snowshoeing conditions. Get out there if you can.