Sunday, November 27, 2016


Any turkeys spotted today should feel safe. It's over guys; you can come out now.

Visit #1046, Saturday 26 November 16, 9:10-11:30AM, 3.5 miles.
Temps in the 40's, reaching 50. Mostly sunny and breezy.

Visit #1047, Sunday 27 November 16 11:10AM-12:30PM, 1.8 miles.
Temps in the 40's, partly sunny and breezy.

I returned to Hubbard Park this week to clean up some odds and ends I discovered last week but was unable to take care of.

Enroute, I came upon 2016 Season of the Missing Glove Exhibit #21.

I left the parking lot and hiked a clockwise loop of the trails below Castle Craig. I reached my first objective at the walkbridge over I-691.

I found this graffiti last week, written on a surface I'd previously painted over. I thought it was magic marker which would easily have been covered by more spray paint, which I brought with me. But instead, it appeared to be some sort of grease pencil. I could have perhaps more readily removed it with a solvent or cleaner. I sprayed over it anyway and hope the paint doesn't get rejected by the grease pencil.

Also last week, I reported on the tree at the top of the trail that was Colorado'd and was across the trail.

I arrived this week and found someone had swung it away from the trail.

I decided to cut it away just in case itchy fingers move it back. The saw I'm using is not my usual bow saw but still a tree pruning saw, even though it looks like a typical hand saw.

Tension on the tree was working in my favor making for an easy, fast cut.

Not reported last week, I previously found some unsightly graffiti at the Halfway House and planned to spray over it today. But I discovered my spray can was clogged so I was dead in the water.

I'd previously addressed some graffiti on this post when I had some gray paint handy. Today's brown paint would have been perfect, if it worked.

On my return trip to the parking lot, I spied some more graffiti which I thought was recent vintage. I vowed to return on Sunday and address both it and the Halfway House.

First, I dropped off my bag of trash for the week.

On Sunday I hiked a direct route to the Halfway House to conduct business.

When it dries, it'll lose the sheen.

On the return trip I broke out the coveralls and the can of paint. I guess when all the other graffiti is covered, anything left is bound to stand out.

I learned today that my new backpack, while great for carrying a chainsaw, isn't great for carrying a paint tray and roller, my usual tool kit for large areas like this column. We'll have to adapt.

Speaking of backpacks and chainsaws; next week I get to baptize one with the other. Until then, maintain.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Winter Arrives

It was just cold enough for snow at the higher elevations in Hubbard Park such as West Peak.

Visit #1045, Sunday 20 November 16, 8:40-11:30AM, 5.5 miles.
Temps in the low 40's on the tail end of overnight rain, with raw, high winds.

It was cold and windy; there were only a few hardy souls on the trails today.

I had not been up to West Peak in many weeks and thought it would need some trash cleaning, so that's where I would be headed today.

But first I had to find a parking spot. All entrances to Hubbard Park were blocked off, likely related to the installation of the Christmas lights. Parking was limited to the small lot adjacent to the skate house, and I managed to snag one of the last spots when I arrived.

As soon as I reached the trail head I came upon a surprise just in time for Thanksgiving; the recipe for a Shit Sandwich, written on a paper towel.

I never knew how to make one, until now!

Now my day was complete and I was tempted to go home, but reasoned if I was lucky enough to find this recipe, there were likely more interesting things to be found if I continued. I was right.

I kept finding evidence of a Silly String party. I wasn't invited.

Near the Beehive Fountain, I found this tree across the trail, still attached by its roots. I had been watching this tree for a while as it was beginning to lean and I expected at some point to have to cut it away. I suspect this was the work of the person who has been Colorado-ing all the other trees I've been finding in Hubbard Park. This would be Tree #15. I plan to remove it next week.

I reached West Peak and picked up enough trash to transfer it all to a 30 gallon bag. I walked the road and trails back down to lower elevations.

I had recently had a conversation with a friend about a tree in Hubbard Park which fell several years ago but got hung up in another tree on the opposite side of the trail. There's plenty of room to walk under it but I wonder how long it will stay that way before it drops. I wished I'd carved into the tree the date it fell.

It's definitely not something I want to cut with a chainsaw on my own, or even with assistance.
It's tangled in another tree quite well.

I brought a measuring tape to document its size. It's almost larger in diameter than the length of my chainsaw bar.

Walking the trails down toward Merimere Reservoir, I spied a not particularly well-hidden letterbox at the base of a tree. I've been by this tree a zillion times, and due to the excellent shape of the letterbox, reasoned it must be new.

I opened it up to sign the guestbook and check out the contents.

I love those Welch's Fruit Snacks but what I REALLY love is that 20 dollar bill; it's MINE , baby!

That is, until I discovered it was a fake. So did someone else.

The remainder of the letterbox's contents were neither edible nor negotiable.

I put everything back and turned myself toward the Green Trail, where I continued to find interesting things.

The mouse was literally walking in circles. He was probably hungry and craving a shit sandwich.

I reached Merimere Reservoir and walked the road back to Hubbard Park. Enroute I found these signs discarded in the brook adjacent to the water treatment plant. I hope they weren't from our students at Platt High School...

Back at the park I dropped off my trash for the week.

Tuesday is when the lights in Hubbard Park are scheduled to be turned on. It's quite the spectacle; be there if you can!

Sunday, November 13, 2016


A perfect November morning in Hubbard Park.

Visit #1044, Sunday 13 November 16, 9:30-11:30AM, 4.3 miles.
Temps in the mid-40's, reaching 50 today. Sunny.

During last week's fun, I found a fallen tree extending into the road near the north end of Merimere Reservoir. I notified the Meriden Parks Department in the hope they'd clear it from the road. I figured if they hadn't done so by Saturday, I'd take care of it myself. So I took a very brief walk in to Hubbard Park Saturday morning to inspect and was pleased to see the tree taken care of. Later in the day I was e-mailed by Chris Bourdon, soon to be Director of Meriden's Park and Recreation Department, and told the tree was removed on Tuesday.

My thanks to Chris and his crew, because if it WASN'T done, I probably would not have been able to cut it with my chainsaw this week.

You see, yours truly had a Medtronic MRI Surescan Dual Chamber Pacemaker implanted on Friday.

The site was still sore, and no heavy lifting is permitted for six weeks. To complicate matters, the instruction book that comes with this handy device warns to stay at least "12 inches away from ignition system components in tools and equipment such as...CHAINSAWS." I better grow longer arms.

I also couldn't wear my normal backpack because of pressure and friction on the wound site. So when I kitted up for operations in Hubbard Park on Sunday, I ran a light setup.

Yes; two days after installing a pacemaker I HAD to test it out so where else but climbing the trail up to Castle Craig?! Besides; I had more inspecting to do.

Last week I received a report of broken glass in the parking lot at Castle Craig so I brought a dustpan to clean up.  On the way, I came upon this branch across the Yellow Trail. Being mindful of my one ailing arm, I used my good arm to drag the branch off the trail.

I hiked the trails up to the Halfway House where I found this new piece of graffiti which annoyed me.

I have no clue what it represents. Whoever drew this is not the only person who carries a magic marker. But why anyone would carry a magic marker just for the purpose of spontaneously creating graffiti is beyond me. Whatever it meant, it means no more.

Also at the Halfway House, I found my first sign of the approaching holiday season.

I hiked the steep trail to Castle Craig and cleaned up the surrounding area and parking lot perimeter. My inspection of the parking lot revealed no broken glass and in fact I was told the Meriden Parks Department was up at Castle Craig earlier this week and THEY swept up the broken glass. My thanks and a tip of the dustpan to them.

I then hiked the road and the trails down to the I-691 overpass where I came upon a surprise.

Normally, they mysterious person who installs the two flags on the overpass only does so once a year, roughly around Memorial Day, and they last 2-3 months. This is the first time they've been installed late in the year as well. I wonder if it's in response to the presidential election results?

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

Sunday, November 6, 2016

On The Road Again

Water levels are even lower than last year when Merimere Reservoir was called in to use while the Broad Brook Reservoir underwent repairs. The drought continues.

Visit #1043, Sunday 6 November 16, 7:40-10:30AM, 4.5 miles.
Temps in the low 50's; mostly cloudy with a brisk breeze.

This is the beginning of the season where the road to Castle Craig/West Peak is closed to traffic. Hikers and walkers look forward to having unfettered use of the road. I wanted to take advantage of the conditions myself and pick up trash along the roadsides.

This was a welcome sign to see. I removed the sticker as part of my beautification program ;-) .

I no sooner peeled the sticker off the sign when I ran into a "park regular" who found the driver's license of a Meriden resident while walking the road, and didn't know what to do with it. I took it off his hands, and when I was done in Hubbard Park, dropped the license off at the Meriden Police Department. Ten bucks if you can name the owner!

Nearing the north end of Merimere Reservoir, I chanced upon this fallen tree. I'll contact the Meriden Parks Department and ask them to remove it. If it's not removed by then, maybe I'll bring my chainsaw and take care of it myself; I'm dying to try out my new backpack and see how it handles carrying a saw.

People enjoying the walk up the road. I was surprised at the activity considering the temperatures and the early morning hour.

I reached the fork in the road to East/West Peak and hiked the trails down and over I-691.

Back at the parking lot, I dropped off my bag of trash for the week. With the road closed for the season, I expect it will be easier to keep clean, until next year.

Get out to Hubbard Park and enjoy the waning fall colors!