Sunday, September 25, 2016


A quiet morning, perfect weather. Looking downhill from the fork to East/West Peak.

Visit #1037, Sunday 25 September 16, 7:40-9:55AM, 5.5 miles.
Temps in the 60's, sunny, dry, and breezy.

I hiked a clockwise route this morning, stopping on the walkbridge over I-691 to remove the remaining flag attached to the fencing. The flag was tearing and no longer serviceable.

Adjacent to the flag was some new graffiti.

This is the second time "Bomb" has tagged Hubbard Park. The first time was around the Fourth of July. I plan to remove this next week.

I then proceeded to the location of the other flag, which was removed by others a few weeks ago. I took the time to bring a pair of diagonal cutters to remove the remaining hardware from the fencing. I don't like seeing half a job done.

I then hiked the trails up to the fork in the road to East/West Peak. Just prior to reaching the intersection, I stopped to cover over some longstanding graffiti. I don't know why it never occurred to me before to cover it.

Best I can tell, "Fat Man's Squeeze" is a title commonly applied in the rock climbing fraternity.

I then addressed another "Colorado-ed" tree which I documented previously.

I had forgotten about this tree so I didn't bring my bow saw to cut it off at the base. Best I could do was trim the branches with my loppers. I will have to put on my to-do list to finish off this tree properly.

I planned today's work schedule to finish before the road was opened to vehicular traffic, thus my early start time. Between my planned route and the orderly way I accomplished my tasks, I felt I was very efficient, thus today's blog post title.

I dropped my first bag of trash at the fork in the road. I expected to easily fill another bag walking the road down so this was the best time to close one bag and open another.

However, there's no need for the parks department to make a special trip to pick it up. I went mountain biking in Hubbard Park Sunday afternoon, and I popped out at the West Peak parking lot just about the time the road to East/West Peak closes. No sooner did I hit pavement, here comes the parks employee in his pickup truck, tooting his horn to get the last straggler in the parking lot to leave.

As the employee turned his vehicle around to head down the road, I flagged him down and asked him to pick up the bag I'd left earlier in the day-I didn't ride by the spot so I assumed it was still there. The employee said he saw it and he'd be glad to toss it in the back of the truck on the way down. I call that a win-win situation; no wasted labor, and no worry that critters will get into the bag. My thanks to the Meriden Parks Department.

Heading south on the road along Merimere Reservoir, I found an abandoned tire. I rolled it quite some distance, and left it at the water treatment plant. After the photo was taken, I pushed it under the fence so sticky fingers wouldn't try to roll it where it doesn't belong.

I reached the parking lot five minutes before the road opened; perfect timing.  Dropped off my second bag of trash and called it a day.

Sunday, September 18, 2016


Merimere Reservoir on a spectacular late summer day.

Visit #1036, Saturday 17 September 16, 12:00-1:40PM, 3.1 miles.
Temps in the mid-70's, sunny and idyllic.

I brought the chainsaw with me this week to remove the two trees I discovered last week, which had fallen across the Main Trail to the left of the picture above.

As I walked up the Soap Box Derby track, I saw a man behaving strangely near the wooden guardrail. By the time I reached the guardrail, he was 200 yards away at the other end. I looked down and found a piece of trash-a Gatorade bottle with water and ice cubes in it. I emptied the bottle and put it in my trash bag.

Then the dim bulb in my head turned on and I formed a reasonable conclusion the Gatorade bottle likely belonged to Strange Behaving Guy and on further observation it appeared he was doing some sort of workout. I walked up to him and confirmed it was his bottle, then I 'fessed up. He was pissed but he didn't get hostile toward me. I offered up my own waterbottle but he refused.

Hey; when I'm out there, EVERYTHING that's not nailed down looks like trash to me!

I probably killed his workout buzz.

I reached the Main Trail where the two fallen trees should be and had my own buzz killed.

Somebody, somehow, managed to move the large tree off the trail. Now I couldn't use my manly tool of destruction to dice it up and clear the trail. Same for the smaller tree from last week.

I turned left onto the Green Trail and rejoiced-I got my buzz back!

This branch was partially obscuring the trail, giving me reason to fire up the chainsaw and create some buzz of my own.

I hiked past the Halfway House and over I-691, where I discovered one of the two flags has been removed. It was likely taken down because it wasn't in very good condition. In fact, neither is the remaining flag. I plan to return next week and remove it.

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

Just as I thought my day was over...

You see, the City of Meriden got the bright idea to pass a resolution declaring all Meriden Parks tobacco-free. The Meriden Record Journal reported on the issue here and here.

Quoting the second article: "While councilors debated the feasibility of enforcing the ordinance, its proponents argued that it would be largely self-policed by park users."

If the city council really thought this ordinance would be obeyed, and self-policed, they were being naive.

So when I saw a woman STANDING RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE SIGN getting ready to light up, I was dumbfounded. I'm also a realist and know that telling a smoker they can't smoke, even if it's the law, is akin to poking a hornet's nest.

But hey; the sign was so obvious and I was dying to see her reaction so I poked the nest.

Who knew that woman could swear like a drunken sailor.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Accomplish The Mission

Visit #1035, Saturday 10 September 16, 7:40-11:00AM, 7.6 miles.
Temps in the 70's, cloudy and humid with a brief downpour.

Earlier in the week I received a call from a park "regular" reporting a branch down on certain trail. There was also a branch at the parking lot at West Peak which was suspiciously bent and hanging low over the pavement. I planned to hike a route which would enable me to remove both of them.

As I started at the park and walked up the road, I soon met Ken, a Meriden resident and park regular who, like me, picks up trash in Hubbard Park. And I thought I was the only one.

Ken's technique differs from mine in that he walks the road up to the north end of the reservoir and back. Enroute, any trash he finds he places on the opposite side of the road, and places into his trash bag on the return trip.

Ken told me earlier this week he found the REMAINS OF A MATTRESS AND A PORTABLE TABLE SAW someone daringly tossed out of their vehicle onto the side of the road. Ken dragged the items to a conspicuous spot in the hopes city workers would find them. Apparently they did, and further on our walk up the road we came upon our Find of the Week; the last parts of that table saw.

Ken said he'd try and carry that back to the water treatment plant on his return trip for easy pickup by the city.

Ken and I parted ways at the north end of Merimere Reservoir. Before I joined the trail I stopped to marvel at the low water level. It's even lower than 2015.

I had to pick up some trash on the shoreline and I can assure you; while it LOOKS like solid ground, it's still gooey.

Once on the trail I couldn't for the life of me find the branch the caller complained about so I had to guess. I made a few cuts here and there but nothing stood out. You probably think the same thing.

At the top of the trail I found Len is at it again with the same hijinks, placing branches across the trails.

I removed everything.

I joined the road again and headed toward West Peak. At the fork to East/West Peak, it began to rain reasonably hard. My scrawny self can't handle rain, even at 70 degrees and I wasn't wearing much more than a very thin base layer. I was afraid I would have to scrap the second part of my mission today and keep moving to avoid hypothermia. Then I had an idea...

I turned one of my large trash bags into a rain poncho. I was now wet and unfashionable, but I was toasty!

I hung my first trash bag on the fence. Keeping it off the ground will hopefully keep animals from getting into it.

The more I think about this bent branch, the more I think it was "Colorado-ed", New England style. This is the 14th tree I've found and the 5th tree so far this year. There's no other explanation as to why it would bend like this.

It took a good 20 minutes to saw through this tree, but I accomplished my mission.

Due to the rain and the time spent cutting down this tree, I planned on skipping cleaning litter from the woods to the right of the trees, but when I saw how much was there, I couldn't dismiss it. So I filled a second bag and hung it with the first bag.

I hiked the Blue Trail down from West Peak and pointed myself back toward Merimere Reservoir. Down near the reservoir, I found two fallen trees I couldn't move easily as well as more of Len's shenanigans. I'll have to return next week with the chainsaw to clear things up.

I returned to the parking lot to unload what little trash I found on my return trip.

As a parting shot, I say goodbye to a pair of work gloves which served me well.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Hubbard Park Special Projects Unit

The Hubbard Park Special Projects Unit monitors all the airwaves in Hubbard Park from it's West Peak not so covert station!

Visit #1033, Saturday 3 September 16, 10:40AM-12:00PM, mileage n/a.
Temps in the 70's, sunny and dry.

Visit #1034, Sunday 4 September 16, 9:00-10:40AM, 3.5 miles.
Temps in the 70's, sunny and dry.

Although not exclusively dedicated to holidays, I try to activate the Special Projects Unit on holidays for, you guessed it-special projects! During this Labor Day weekend, I wanted to paint over graffiti I found recently on West Peak.

Since I was on-call this weekend, I drove up to West Peak instead of the usual hike. I kitted up in coveralls and walked out to the rocks.

This relatively new tag is what triggered the idea to give the rocks a makeover.

Seems there's a dispute as to who owns the world. From the text, I'd guess it's a Republican vs. a Democrat! Regardless, there is no disputing this has got to go.

The work went faster than expected and didn't use as much paint as I anticipated. I wasn't shooting for complete coverage, but good enough.

Done with that, I returned to the van and dropped off the painting equipment, then grabbed a trash bag and cleaned up the surrounding area and the West Peak parking lot.

On Sunday morning I returned to Hubbard Park for more of the usual policing of the trails. I stuck to the trails on the south side of I-691.

One Find of the Week was this key which I found exactly as you see it.  I imagine whoever placed it there hoped the owner would return to find it.

As I left the park on Saturday, I spied this trash at the parking area across from Belmont Avenue. So on Sunday morning I hiked to the area and cleaned up what were the remnants of a styrofoam cooler.

In the process, I collected exhibit #17 in the 2016 Season of the Missing Glove. This is the cycling glove edition.

From the northwest corner parking area near Mirror Lake comes Find of the Week #2. This is almost as bad as the diapers I find.

Find of the Week #3 was 3 contractor bags of trash and a box dumped in the brush surrounding the same parking area.

They were quite heavy. I lugged them over to a location where it appears the City of Meriden is installing curbing. I trust the work crews will cart away the trash bags.

I returned to the parking lot with a trash bag of my own, properly disposed of.

My weekly labor done, I plan to enjoy the rest of the Labor Day holiday, and I and the Special Projects Unit hope you do, too!