Tuesday, June 28, 2016


My life took a detour this week from plying my trade in Hubbard Park. Sorry for the late post; I'm sure you missed me!

Visit #1020, Monday 27 June 16, 4:45-7:10PM, 5.0 miles.
Temps in the low 80's, humid and clouding up toward rain.

Illustrating the aphorism that "no good deed goes unpunished" My health hit a speedbump this past week.

Physical symptoms led me to the doctor's office, who pushed me to the Emergency Room, who then boarded me at Club MidState for 4 days. The diagnosis was a Type I Wenckebach AV block. End result; I'm getting a pacemaker!

So what's the first thing I did after being sprung from prison on Monday?!

The day prior to my enforced vacation, I received a call from a cycling buddy complaining of the potholes on the steep road up to East and West Peak, and the detours he had to make around them.

I'd been up the road just one week ago and made a mental note of the potholes but didn't think much beyond that. After the phone conversation with Mike, I thought I might document the pothole count and see if I couldn't plant a bug in the Meriden Parks Department's ear to patch over the spots before someone gets hurt.

Instead, the bug got to me first and as a result, I was too late.

On Saturday of last week, pal "E." and wife "J." took a ride up to Castle Craig. On the descent, "J." found one of the potholes and took a slight detour of her own.

The squeamish should avert their eyes or scroll down quickly.

Now I was duty bound to document those potholes before someone else gets hurt.

So, shortly after being discharged from the hospital, I kitted up and hiked a clockwise route that would allow me to walk the road from East/West Peak down and mark all the potholes that I thought could cause a cyclist to crash. In our phone conversation, Mike and I went back and forth regarding the best color to mark the offending holes. In the end, I chose both colors. Next time I'll use REAL road marking paint.

Note the wheel I found and placed on the uphill side of the road; less chance to clock it at high speed.

Of course I didn't neglect my trash pickup/tick acquisition duties, and returned to the parking lot with a large bag.

I'll see if I can't persuade the Meriden Parks Department to smooth over the road. In the meantime, be careful out there!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Warm Summer Hike

Ducks cruise about Merimere Reservoir on an idyllic summer day.

Visit #1019, Saturday 18 June 16, 8:20-10:40AM, 5.5 miles.
Temps in the 70's, sunny and dry.

I arrived at Hubbard Park to a rapidly building crowd, despite the early hour. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network was hosting one of their signature, PurpleStride (sic) events, the largest in Connecticut. You can check out a few photos of their event on their Facebook page. The crowd was just building as I arrived. It was impressively large when I returned to the parking lot after completing my weekly activities. Sorry; I tried linking to the PCAN web page but the links won't work.

I wanted to cover over some graffiti I found last week in Hubbard Park. It was old and overlooked by me since I mostly travel this particular trail in the opposite direction. But to get there I had to walk the road from the park up to near Castle Craig.

The lock on the gate at the south end of Merimere Reservoir has been cut yet again, despite having a protective shroud welded around the lock earlier this year.

The lock's design, while an earnest attempt, was lacking. But let's think positive and call it part of a learning curve. With the lock secured, it hangs too low, allowing bolt cutters to easily grasp it in their jaws.

The next step in the evolution of this shrouded lock is to SHORTEN THE LOCKING PIN, effectively making the shroud deeper and more difficult to grasp with bolt cutters. If that fails, I'd recommend moving the shroud and hasp to the bottom of the vertical gate member, too low to the ground for bolt cutters to reach, nor to get leverage. Here's an example from West Rock State Park.

Further on up the road, where a gate blocks a dirt path to the Maloney Canal (presumably the responsibility of the Meriden Water Department), I found the lock on the barrier had been cut and the bar removed. I think it would be a safe bet both locks were cut by the same party at the same time.

I reported on this gate's haphazard lock earlier this spring.

Back to my walk up the road.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network was hosting a 5k run as part of their schedule of events. At roughly the halfway point they set up a water station.

I'll be curious to see whether this event, and next week's pet fair, lead to a lot of litter from these waterbottles. I plan to keep an eye on it.

I reached the trail with the graffiti and covered it with gray spray paint.

Later I found #15 of this season's example in the Year of the Missing Glove.

I picked up so much trash this week that I had to transfer it to a 30 gallon bag. I dutifully brought it back to the park and dropped it off.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sprayuz From Mehridun

Visit #1018, Friday 10 June 16, 3:05-5:30PM, 3.7 miles.
Temps in the 70's, sunny.

Since the recent vandalism at Castle Craig, I noticed a lot of spray painted and otherwise applied graffiti at the Halfway House as well. Last week I was pressed for time and lacking enough paint to adequately cover it, so this week I would be better prepared, have more time, and pick up where I left off.

I noticed that hiking in Hubbard Park on a weekday, during working hours, is a decidedly more relaxed, uncrowded atmosphere. There's a definite difference compared to the "weekenders".

I started at the parking lot and hiked virtually the same route I did last week, picking up trash and trimming the trail where necessary.

When I reached the Halfway House I got down to business. Here are a bunch of Before and After photos.

Note the reference here to "PAINT HUFFAZ". Yo; I guezz after huffinz all that paint theyz can no longer spellz rite, knowz whats I'm sayin'? Hence the title of today's post.

My spray paint applies glossy but dries to a flat finish and matches really well. Next time I do this, I'll paint over that gray with the brown paint.

I wasn't shooting for perfection here (no pun intended) but at least a decent effort.

I also noticed, referencing this photo from last week, the mention of "420". It's slang for smoking marijuana.

Onward I went, to cut away the two trees which I found last week deliberately bent over.

Number One.

And Number Two.

I returned to the park with very little trash which I presume was because I hiked roughly the same route just last week.

Until next week, maintain.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Little Things Maintenance

Mr. Bumblebee approves of the new lock at the Merimere Reservoir gate.

Visit #1017, Saturday 4 June 16, 5:45-7:50PM, 4.7 miles.
Temps in the 80's, humid and clouding up in advance of Sunday's forecast rain.

After the last couple weeks' big ticket projects, I got a break and some down time where I could attend to some detail work on the trails.

I hiked a counterclockwise loop of the lower trails, starting at the Soap Box Derby Track.

I didn't walk more than a hundred feet when I scored a  "freebie":

But nearby I found an opened condom wrapper.

What bothers me is finding both items so close to areas with a lot of pedestrian traffic. I hope this isn't a trend or a general change in human behavior. This is a park, not the backseat of a car.

Onward to the trail behind the water tank to address some foliage which was encroaching into the trail.

I trimmed the branches back with a pair of loppers and generally pruned this section of trail.

On to the Main Trail where I found more encroachment.

Next on the list was some graffiti at the Halfway House which I'd long forgotten about. I didn't cover all of it; maybe next week.

Just a few yards away on the  Main Trail was my next small project, this hanging vine.


Further on, I came upon another possible troubling trend like the condom wrappers.

I started finding bent trees on the trail side like the one above, as far back as October 2012.

Here are just a few more obvious examples:

October 2012:

May 2015:

August 2015:

This is being done deliberately and maliciously.

I found another bent tree later on. I plan on removing both next week.

I returned to the park and dropped off my trash for the week.