Monday, May 29, 2017


Overcast skies dominated the holiday weekend, but the temps were decent.

Visit #1076, Saturday 27 May 17, 9:00AM-12:00PM, 6.2 miles.
Temps in the low 70's, cloudy.

Visit #1077, Sunday 28 May 17, 10:30AM-12:30PM, mileage n/a.
Temps in the low 70's, cloudy.

Thanks to David Ross who proved he's a glutton for punishment or merely missing a few common sense brain cells for his return engagement assisting me on Saturday. Most people would stay away-far away...

After posting a couple weeks ago about discovering some renegade mountain bike stunts, and my effort to remove them, I received an e-mail from a Hubbard Park frequenter informing me of an illicit mountain bike trail being constructed elsewhere in the park. My goal on Saturday was to find and eradicate it.

Dave and I walked west, and over I-691, where we encountered a sign some "snake" had fixed to the fencing so westbound drivers could be entertained.

I know you're dying to find out what it said.

While I commend the person for their effort taking the time to construct the sign and carry it all the way out to Hubbard Park, and while I may even agree with the message, I don't condone it as it's an eyesore. It had to go.

Dave and I continued to pick up litter and trim the trail as we made our way to West Peak, where we cleaned up the surrounding area. Unfortunately, while doing so I discovered the frequent Hubbard Park graffiti slithering snakes "JK" and "Bomb" (I refuse to call them "artists") have taken to the rocks at West Peak. Both have appeared several times in Hubbard Park. They need help.

I filed everything under my To-Do list, and moved on.

Dave and I cleaned up the West Peak parking lot, then hiked down a trail in search of the renegade mountain bike trail. We never found it.

At the end of the trail we walked the road back to the park. Enroute, at the north end of Merimere Reservoir, we saw some REAL snakes.

Actually, there were two Northern Water Snakes. See if you can spot both in the photo below. They're in the middle, and at the bottom end of the branch.

Back at the park, we dropped off our haul of litter for the day.

Since Dave and I failed in our Saturday mission to find the mountain bike trail, and I had the West Peak graffiti on my plate, I decided to use the long holiday weekend to return to West Peak and address both tasks.

I drove up to West Peak and armed with the perfect tool kit, went to town covering the graffiti on the rocks, something I'd done once before.

I put the paint away and went in search of the trail made by those other snakes. Fortunately, I'd been in contact with the person who first informed me of the trail. Armed with a more detailed description, I quickly located the trail and proceeded to block it with brush, as well as dismantle the rock landings they built.

After. Looks quite different, no? Note my trail dismantling tool in the foreground; compact and effective.

It actually paid to walk this trail because I found some trash on it, which I picked up on the way out.

And when I was done I surprised myself and did something I never do during my weekly forays in Hubbard Park-I returned to West Peak and sat down to enjoy the few. I took off my backpack and used it for a pillow and took a short, light snooze.

While relaxing, I watched some turkey vultures taking advantage of the thermal updrafts. Fortunately,  they didn't have any ketchup, otherwise I might have been lunch.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Quick Work

A tranquil Sunday morning Mirror Lake. There were some anglers taking advantage of the lake's fishing opportunities even this early in the day.

Visit #1075, Sunday 21 May 17, 7:45-9:40AM, 3.1 miles.
Temps in the 50's, mostly sunny and calm.

I was on-call so I didn't plan on any lengthy, far-reaching trail maintenance session today.

After last week's trail work, I noticed some new graffiti on the I-691 walkbridge. Since it appeared to be done in something other than spray paint, I thought I'd be able to use some sort of cleaner on it to make quick work of its removal. But neither Goof-Off nor WD-40 would touch it. Nor would my wire brush.  Next time, if I think of it, I'll try a stronger solvent such as mineral spirits.

Good thing I had a Plan B.

This was my first stop.

After the solvents and wire brush failed, I broke out a simple piece of 80 grit sandpaper, which has NEVER failed on steel. Boom; quick work indeed!

The only reason for the clump of paint on the sandpaper was the WD-40 I sprayed on the graffiti in my first attempt. Clogged sandpaper doesn't work well. Lesson learned, all the other graffiti was removed "dry" and the sandpaper worked like a charm.

While on the walkbridge, I noticed one of the two American flags placed last year by persons unknown, has been taken. To be fair it was beginning to get tattered so I'm inclined to think it wasn't stolen but rightly removed. Stay tuned this month because usually new flags are put up on the walkbridge around Memorial Day. I'll report if and when it happens.

After I eradicated the graffiti on the walkbridge, I turned my attention back to the trails and more litter collection. I also trimmed the trails of thorn bushes which grow like weeds once the temps reach the 60's or so.

There's been an ahem, a bumper crop of condoms this year in Hubbard Park. This is #5 for 2017 but who's counting?

I covered the trail all the way to West Main Street and Belmont Avenue, then turned around and hiked back to the park. A loop around the Soap Box Derby track and I was done, turning in my bag of trash for the week.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Back In The Saddle and Busy

The recent spring rains, including Saturday's impending rain, will definitely top off Merimere Reservoir and virtually eliminate the drought conditions of the past 2 years.

Visit #1073, Saturday 13 May 17, 8:45-11:05AM, mileage unknown.
Temps in the 60's with rain developing mid-morning.

Visit #1074, Sunday 14 May 17, 7:00-9:15AM, 4.4 miles.
Temps in the 40's with rain tapering off later in the morning.

My apologies for lack of a blog post last week. I had the flu and was glued to my couch. When I recovered in the middle of last week, I took a mountain bike ride through the trails below Castle Craig and found a number of trees had fallen from recent storms. This week, with the help of my occasional co-conspirator Paul Bernier, we were going to spruce up the trails.

Thanks to Paul for his assistance this week, and for manning the camera!

We started by following the trails on the south side of I-691 where we quickly ran into a fallen tree I didn't encounter last week. My chainsaw paid off here.

We hiked over I-691 via the walkbridge and discovered some new graffiti, which I'll address next week.

We reached the trails higher up and encountered the first of a few fallen trees which were encroaching on the trails.

The next tree had mostly smaller branches so I handed the loppers to Paul and let him get to work.

The next tree was closer to the Halfway House.

We returned to the parking lot and dropped off our trash bags for the week.

The last tree for Saturday was at the north end of Hubbard Park and due to the soon-to-start rain, we chose to drive to the north end for a shorter hike to the fallen tree.

But I wasn't done for the weekend. Since I was in a chainsaw state of mind...

In my last report, I found mountain bikers had been building a ramp off a large rock on one of the lesser-used trails. I intended to remove it.

Walking across the north end of Merimere Reservoir, I passed this gaggle of geese, including their future turd dropping progeny.

I started early Sunday morning in less-than ideal conditions, and had to ford the Maloney Canal, which was raging with runoff from Saturday's rain.

I hiked up the trail with the chainsaw and reached the feature.

I handily dismantled the ramp, while still under construction.

To warn mountain bikers their ramp was gone, I littered the area approaching the jump with brush. I have no clue whether they'll be smart enough to get the message.

When I reached the top of the trail, near the fork to East/West Peaks, I walked the road down, and picked up trash along the way. I brought the bag home for disposal.