Sunday, December 31, 2017

In Before The Lock

I have to sneak in one more post before 2017 times out.

Hubbard Park on New Year's Eve Day. It was as cold as it looks.

Sunday, 31 December 17, 1:50-2:40PM, 3.8 miles.
Temps in the teens with wind chills in the single digits.

A 1-2" snowfall on Saturday scuttled plans to pick up litter in a particular area, so just a cold, short hike it would be.

I walked the trails toward the walkbridge over I-691. Just when I thought I'd find no trash or something needing upkeep, I spied some graffiti which needed my love.

I once had a boss who would say to me sarcastically, "So Peter, what have you done today to justify your existence?"

I thought about that when I saw the graffiti, and felt by sanding it out I had justified my existence in Hubbard Park for this week.

It was definitely cold out there, if this brook is any indication.

 If this keeps up maybe there will be skating in Hubbard Park.

And despite the cold, people still enjoy the outdoors, judging by the number of footprints.

Since my time on the trails was short, I walked some of the roads in Hubbard Park and managed to pick up a smattering of litter.

Of course, a Happy 2018 to all, and I'll end with my annual offer: If you want to be removed from my e-mail notification list when new posts are up, drop me a line.

Monday, December 25, 2017

My Christmas Gift To You, 2017

Christmas Eve day in Hubbard Park was a slippery affair.

Visit #1114, Sunday 24 December 17, 8:40-10:45AM, 6.0 miles.
Temps in the 30's, cloudy.

Last week Paul and I found a tree had fallen across the White Trail, leading up to Castle Craig. I returned with my chainsaw this week to remove it. But getting there proved problematic. A light, freezing rain had fallen on Saturday, making walking somewhat of a clumsy ballet because I was unprepared.

Which leads me to my annual winter tip: For walking or hiking on icy surfaces, I heartily recommend Stabilicers or Kahtoola Microspikes. If I had mine on Sunday, I wouldn't be writing about how slippery it was.

Anyway, I tiptoed my way to the fallen tree.

Getting this tree on the ground was going to be a dicey proposition. Because of its height off the ground, its weight, and the unpredictability of what the tree would do when it dropped, I had to exercise caution. I trimmed off as much of the branches, and excess weight, as I could. Then I created a partial cut from the top, and began a second cut to meet it, from the bottom. When the top kerf began to close, I would step back and wait, then slowly continue the undercut, and repeat.

Well, I didn't get the bar stuck in the tree, and I'm here to tell the story so I guess I was successful.

Once on the ground, finishing the job was easy-peasy.

But I ran out of gas in the process and I wanted to remove the damaged tree on the left. It would have to wait.

I hiked toward and over I-691 and returned to the park, picking up trash along the way.

Christmas Day we were surprised with about an inch of snow. With a handy Monday holiday, it was as good a time as any to take care of that damaged tree.

Hiking the trails wasn't as bad on the snow with the ice underneath because this time I remembered to wear my Stabilicers.

Being both a holiday and post-snowfall, I had the trails to myself.

Removing the second tree was routine.

Also while hiking in Hubbard Park last week, I noticed some pesky, repetitive graffiti. After I was done with my planned chainsaw work, I hiked up to Castle Craig and followed the path created by the trail of graffiti.

I found the first of the graffiti on a metal trail marker.

I had planned on using spray paint to cover this. What was I thinking?! It was cold, and when the paint hit the metal marker, it froze like ice. It didn't do much to cover it either.

Then I had a revelation-I have sandpaper in my backpack! But first, I would have to sand through the icy covering I'd created. Once I hurdled that obstacle, progress was quick.

The road down was untraveled since this morning's snow. As I descended, I was more sheltered from the wind.

I reached the second piece of graffiti.

Again I tried the spray paint. I don't learn quickly, do I? Not only was I too short to reach the sign, the breeze blew the spray paint anywhere but where I wanted it to go. Now I needed two lightbulbs; one to use my sandpaper, and how to reach the sign?

The second lightbulb soon turned on.

I stood on the log and made up for my height deficiencies.

The morning snowstorm was moving east, away from Meriden, as I reached Merimere Reservoir.

Heading south back to the park, I found a large branch had fallen into the road. With my chainsaw handy, I was able to save the city a few bucks in labor.

Incidentally, I did the same thing a few times while walking the road down from Castle Craig.

I found the third instance of the kitty's rear end, which I was looking for.

I now had the routine down pat.

A couple more times with the sandpaper, at the gate at the south end of the reservoir.

By my count, that kitty has only 5 lives left.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Making "Tracts"

It wasn't as cold as it looks, but winter IS here.

After last week's 2" snowfall and another scant covering on Friday night, I didn't expect to find much litter on the trails, and was afraid I'd have nothing interesting to discover and write about. But Hubbard Park never fails to deliver up a story and today would be no exception.

Thanks to Paul Bernier who joined me this week.

We entered Hubbard Park via the north end of Merimere Reservoir and walked the road up to Castle Craig. Along the roadside, stuffed into a hole in a tree, was this religious tract.

This was not the first time I've found religious material stuffed in that hole. Back in September it was also used as a "prayer bin".

Despite having snowed the night before, the road was surprisingly well-traveled. It's good to see people getting out despite the temperatures.

Paul and I reached Castle Craig and found the area peaceful, albeit with a crisp breeze.

Taking the trail down, we encountered a very large fallen tree across the trail. When it fell, it even broke the tree in the left of the photo. If the winter weather cooperates, I hope to remove it from the trail next weekend. Paul inspects the damage.

We passed by the Halfway House, continued, and picked up the road north around Merimere Reservoir.

In the past few years, a tradition has been started of some people decorating a tree on the side of the road for the Christmas holiday. This year we found the tree adjacent to Echo Point.

Besides the standard ornaments, this tree had a couple unique, handmade ones.

That's the first time I've ever been warned by a Christmas ornament!

Attached to the railing at Echo Point was a first, this wreath.

Up the road a bit, we found yet more religious tracts attached to a tree.

You would think that would be the end of it, but yet attached to another nearby tree...

Considering the frequency with which I've been finding religious tracts, and associated graffiti in Hubbard Park, this looks to becoming a chronic problem. From now on, I'm going to refer to this as religious "litter-ature".

Paul and I returned to my car with our haul of "litter-ature" for the week.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Timing Is Everything (Almost)

We didn't quite make it.

Visit #1112, Saturday 9 December 17, 9:45-10:40AM, 1.6 miles.
Temps in the 30's with snow that was SUPPOSED to begin in the afternoon.

Thanks to Paul Bernier for joining me, not fearing what the weather might bring.

Once a year I like to clean the slope adjacent to I-691 and the playscape of litter people toss over the fence. I didn't expect any problems completing the task because it wasn't going to start snowing until the afternoon.

At least that's what I thought.

It started to snow just before we arrived at Hubbard Park but I figured it was just a tease. Well, a tease turned into a taunt then a torment. Snow quickly covered the ground making it difficult to see any trash that might be there.  We altered our plans and walked around the retention ponds and the Soap Box Derby track.

 We returned to the park and took our bags of litter over to the dumpster at the Parks Department facility.

If the snow melts during the week, perhaps we'll pick up next week where we left off today.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

A Short Holiday Stroll

The Christmas decorations are in place and awaiting your enjoyment.

Visit #1111, Saturday 2 December 17, 11:25AM-12:25PM, 2.6 miles.
Temps in the 40's, sunny.

My trail work today was impeded at the start by a train blocking the trailhead. This train is apparently unaware there is a new train station downtown and a second set of tracks available.

I scoured all the trails on the south side of I-691 for litter. The parking area in the northwest corner is always a source of entertainment; I never know what I'll find but there's usually a good story behind it, if I use a little imagination!

Squirrels gather nuts and store them to prepare for winter. People, as this receipt shows, prepare for winter differently but prepare nonetheless. What's winter without a Santa Hat?!

This collection of Captain Morgan Rum nip bottles makes me wonder if the drinker is aware you get more rum if you buy a pint (375ml/$10) rather than 5 nip bottles (250ml total/$10). Save the excess for another day or get even more knockdown drunk for the same price. It's a win-win for the consumer!

I returned to the park and walked a loop around the Soap Box Derby track and the retention ponds.
Back at the parking lot, which was full of people enjoying the playscape, I deposited my litter for the week.

On the way out of the park I stopped to check on the progress of repairs to the John Barry bandshell, after a tree fell on it. While not yet finished, I'm impressed with the repair/repaint of the louvers on the left, where the tree contacted the roof. The Meriden Parks Department certainly has a skilled workforce and took care to preserve the original look.