Sunday, December 25, 2016

Dedication Part II, Christmas Eve Edition

Christmas Eve morning was wet and raw.

Visit #1052, Saturday 24 December 16, 9:15-10:45AM, 3.6 miles.
Temps in the high 30's/low 40's with a cold, steady rain.

Like last week, bad weather did not deter me from getting out on the trails. Neither would this week.

I hiked roughly the same route as last week too, but took a couple detours to pick up litter in rarely visited spots.

From the "packed" parking lot, you can see the weather was not for girly-men, or really girly-girls. Mine was the only vehicle there.

Not much was happening around Mirror Lake either. The ice sheen on the surface gives you an idea of how cold it was.

By visiting those seldom reached locations, I managed to pick up more litter than you would expect this time of year. My Christmas gift to you is a slightly cleaner Hubbard Park.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2016


You can barely see Castle Craig through the fog.

Visit 1051, Sunday 18 December 16, 12:30-1:30PM, 2.5 miles.
Temps rising into the 50's with rain, the day after a 5" snowfall. As a result, very foggy.

I certainly didn't expect to find much litter with a snowy ground cover, but you'll never know what you'll find unless you go out there, so I did.

Looks like the ATV's enjoyed some time in Hubbard Park during Saturday's snowstorm.

The weather kept away the vast majority of people; I didn't see a soul at the playscape or on the trails. But it was obvious from evidence that there are many people who enjoy hiking in Hubbard Park regardless of the conditions.

Pal Dave and I have been talking about a tree on the Main Trail which fell several years ago and got hung up in trees on the opposite side of the trail, making it a "Widow Maker". We've been considering how feasible it would be to drop it. I figure it's not worth the risk, and I'll wait until Mother Nature brings it down to remove it.

I crossed over I-691 and walked the main trail back toward Hubbard Park. I did manage to find a couple cans and a few pieces of paper.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Cleaning Up The Loose End

It was cold out there Saturday.

Visit #1049, Saturday 10 December 16, 11:45AM-3:05PM, 6.8 miles.
Temps in the high 20's, sunny with a chilly breeze.

Visit #1050, Sunday 11 December 16, 6:40-6:55AM, mileage n/a.
Temps in the teens, dark with clear skies.

After last week's trail cleaning session, I was left with ONE trail that still needed to be inspected for post-windstorm damage such as fallen trees and branches. No chainsaw work was planned, just inventory to determine whether a chainsaw was needed at all.

My hike got off on a good foot; while picking up litter I found this non-litter item:

I wish ALL the leaves looked like that.

Up at the Halfway House, I found what looks like the remnants of somebody's makeshift sleeping pad.

That someone would carry a box of cardboard, and one of the ice packs, all the way to the Halfway House is odd. This box was from Blue Apron, the internet meal delivery service. I was hoping to learn who the addressee was so I could learn whether the box, and its contents, were stolen, but the shipping address was removed. Nevertheless, I collected it as trash and moved on.

I reached Castle Craig and immediately picked up the Blue Trai, then the road toward West Peak and the trail to be inspected.

I reached the trail, began my trip down, and reached what I was looking for.

Not a big deal; I swung it aside.

Further on I reached the next tree to be removed.

This hemlock required a little more wrestling to clear the trail.

And that was pretty much all I found within the 1/2 mile or so of trail.

At the very bottom of the trail, stashed at the base of a tree, I found this collection of Majorska Vodka bottles. There's a story behind all those bottles; I'd love to know what it is.

Remember the wreath I found last week? Compare last week's ornaments with this week's collection, and you'll see a difference.

Wonder why? Well, this note, attached to the bottom of the wreath, explains all.

Is it, or is it not, too hard to believe that people cannot suspend bad behavior for at least the brief period of the holiday season? I could only shake my head in disbelief.

Last year, the same group of people that assembled the wreath also put together a little Christmas tree adjacent to Echo Point. I was heading that way as I walked the road back to Hubbard Park, and was curious to see whether they would do the same thing this year. I was pleasantly not disappointed.

It's neat to see a tree such as this where it would be most unexpected. Take a walk on the road around Merimere Reservoir and see if you can spot it!

As I returned to Hubbard Park, my trash bag was near full and must have weighed 20-25lbs.  when I found this coffee cup.

Now, when I find these cups, which is all too regularly, I like to read them if I can to gain insight into the drinker. I examined this one.

Large coffee + 4 sugars + 4 creams = 10 Calories (Large coffee) +60 Calories (sugar) +
 80 Calories (cream) = 150 Calories. That's 10 Calories more than in a 12oz. can of Coke.

Not to be outdone in the Calorie/coffee wars, I shortly came upon today's coffee champion.

FIVE creams?! SIX sugars?! At what point does it cease being coffee?! I imagine people driving up to the window (because NOBODY gets out of their cars-that would burn calories!) and saying, "I'll have a large cream and sugar with coffee...") By the way, that's 200 Calories.

By the time I reached the water treatment plant, I had burned too many calories myself because my bag of trash was so heavy, so I left it there. I sort of planned this; the weather forecast is for snow/rain Sunday night into Monday, and I didn't foresee the Meriden Parks Department having the time amidst the bad weather to pick up the bag had I left it earlier roadside, so I left it where it would be certain to be collected with ease on Monday.

I walked back to the parking lot and dropped of my second bag of litter.

But I wasn't done.

While walking on the road back to the park, I discovered some new graffiti on the I-691 underpass. It was pretty unsightly, so I decided to return Sunday morning to remove it.

I woke up in the cold and dark for a couple reasons; to address the graffiti AND to stop at Neil's Donuts in Wallingford. I planned to stop there soon after they opened (6AM) and avoid the crowds.
Well, even 6:15AM is too late-the parking lot was full and the line was ALREADY TO THE DOOR! Speaking to the customer in front of me, I learned it only gets worse on Sunday mornings.

I arrived at Hubbard Park while it was still dark, and had to wait until there was some semblance of sunrise. Then I walked the short distance to the underpass to begin work. Here's what I had to erase:

I failed to examine what the graffiti was drawn with so I didn't know what would attack it best. I came armed to the teeth.

Turns out the graffiti was chalk or crayon-based, and WD-40 made quick work of it all; maybe 5-10 minutes total.

I expect the sheen will disappear in short order.

Now it was time to go home and reward myself for waking early and being successful! No coffee was involved...

Sunday, December 4, 2016


Two runners enjoy a peaceful jog around Merimere Reservoir Saturday morning.

Visit #1048, Saturday 3 December 16, 8:00-10:15AM, 4.5 miles.
Temps in the low 40's, sunny with a chilly breeze.

A few weeks ago I began receiving reports of trees across various trails as a result of windy, rainy weather Meriden experienced. My schedule didn't permit me to address the trees sooner. Today I was going to remove whatever had fallen and restore the trails.

Also, this would be the first time I was going to use my new chainsaw-specific Dakine backpack for its intended use; a baptism if you will. Time to see if it is all it's claimed to be.

Thanks to Paul Bernier for assisting me picking up trash...

...and for forwarding reports of the fallen trees. Such intel saves me a lot of wasted time checking on things after bad weather, when I could be home watching cartoons...

We parked outside the north end of Hubbard Park and walked in, picking up the Blue Trail along the western edge of Merimere Reservoir, where we reached our first tree.

I was so excited to use my chainsaw/backpack that I forgot to take a "before" photo. How about a "during" photo?

You can see the trail marker on the tree to the right. The trail's so wide now, even yo' momma can fit between the trees!

Due to the good intel provided by Paul, we didn't have to travel farther on this trail, so we turned around and picked up another trail which points up toward Castle Craig. It didn't take long to encounter our second tree.

It didn't take long to remove it, either.

One more.

That would be it for fallen trees today, and my new backpack passed baptism with flying  colors. It's very easy and quick to load/unload and I don't have to wait for the chainsaw to cool off before doing packing it.

Paul and I reached the top of the trail and walked the road down, picking up trash from the roadside as we went.

Last year someone fabricated a wreath along the road to the peaks and decorated it with ornaments. I blew their festive holiday decorations to hell a little too soon. So today, when I spied a new wreath in a similar location to last year's, I knew better to leave it alone and I will until after New Year's Day. Walk Percival Park Road and see if you can spot it.

Paul and I returned to the car with our trash bags and no ornaments inside.