Sunday, March 25, 2018


You never know what you'll find on the trails, in the middle of nowhere, in Hubbard Park!

Visit #1128, Saturday 24 March 18, 8:30-11:45AM, 3.6 miles.
Temps in the high 40's, sunny.

Today would see me complete the clearing of the trails closest to the park and most accessible to casual hikers. I drew great satisfaction knowing I was providing a valuable service to park users, which was reinforced by the thanks I received from the hikers I encountered this morning.

I started heading west, behind the bank of daffodils on the north side of Mirror Lake, using my chainsaw to finish a job I started last week.

The bent tree on the left was adjacent to the gravel parking area in the northwest corner of Mirror Lake.

This tree was the biggie for the day.

I headed west all the way to West Main Street/Belmont Avenue, then turned around and continued to clear storm damage.

And I finally got smart-my loppers were always hard to find when I'd place them down, so I addressed the issue by taking a cue from pal, Bob. Now they're color coordinated with my chainsaw which is a plus for a fashion conscious guy like myself. You never can look too good on the trails!

Now let's get back to work.

Meanwhile, back at the Soap Box Derby track, where I cut up a fallen hemlock last week, it appears "Sticky Fingers Len" couldn't leave the pieces alone and rolled some of them back onto the pavement. Sigh.

I returned to the parking lot and dropped off my chainsaw, for my next task didn't require lugging it around.

There's a stream which flows from the old petting zoo down to the lower pool and on to West Main Street. When I drive in the park I spot litter lining the banks of the stream and it looks bad. In the past, I tried cleaning it up but during the warmer months the foliage is too heavy to navigate easily.

Today, on the spur of the moment, I got the idea to try again since the banks are mostly clear.

Of course, no good deed goes unpunished, as I managed more than once to put my foot in the drink.

I turned around just shy of the pool and cleaned the opposite bank. I drew more satisfaction in knowing this task had to be done, and the conditions were in my favor. I gathered enough litter that I needed a larger bag.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Long Slog Continues

A sunny view south, toward Johnson Avenue. Notice the straight roads leading to Johnson Avenue-makes me wonder whether the entire area was once farmland that was bought and developed as one project. It would have happened before my time.

Visit #1127, Saturday 17 March 18, 1:15-5PM, 4.0 miles.
Temps in the low 40's, sunny.

The long slog through the snow to clear the trails after 2 back-to-back nor'easters, continues.

I thought a week's worth of thawing would make it easier to travel the trails. I was wrong; it was slippery and slow.

On the plus side, I was smart enough to bring my loppers this week along with my chainsaw, which made it easier to trim small branches, and became a backup when my chainsaw ran out of gas.

I started by cutting up the fallen tree on the Soap Box Derby track, which I left alone last week.

I tossed the cuttings up the slope. I was fortunate enough to receive help from a kind passerby in carrying a heavy, clumsy tree stump.

Once I was off pavement and onto the trails, the slogging began. I had plans to hike a longer route on far-reaching trails but once I realized how slow the going would be, I revised my plans.

I slogged all the way up to Castle Craig and picked up the Blue Trail along East Peak, where I came upon my second opportunity to use the chainsaw.

Unfortunately, removing the tree would mean the loss of the blue trail marker.

Further along, I reached a leaning tree which consumed most of my chainsaw's fuel, without dropping the tree, which was hung up in another tree.

The trail is still passable, but I may return at a later date to beat this tree into submission. I halted work early to save chainsaw fuel, expecting to find more fallen branches and trees.

I headed down over I-691 and back to the park. Good thing I still had a little gas left in the tank.

I used the loppers to clear the small branches, and the chainsaw to make the important cuts.

At this point I ran out of gas, but I didn't run out of trees. This will have to wait until next week.

But I still had my loppers, which did a journeyman's job on the remaining finds. These should be a constant companion.

I'll return with the chainsaw next week to finish them off but for now, at least the trails are clear.

This week I close with a view east from East Peak.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Long Slog

My chainsaw stops for a relaxing beer at the Halfway House, during a hard day at work.
(No, it wasn't my beer. Not only do I not drink, I wouldn't be dumb enough to drink while operating a chainsaw. My chainsaw however, is not that smart.)

Visit #1126, Saturday 10 March 18, 9:15AM-1:00PM, 4.3 miles.
Temps in the low 40's, partly sunny.

I know what you're interested in-WHO won last week's contest?

Out of the thousands of responses  ;-)  I picked a winner at random. Actually, there were only two responses but hey; "you can't win if you don't play"!

Here are the entries I received:

"The wind was blowing so hard, the Castle barely hung onto East Peak! "

"The wind was blowing so turned my clothes inside out and discouraged any trail-blockers from completing their devious tasks !!" (It's an inside joke.)

The winner received a $25 gift certificate to their favorite local eatery, which I can't reveal since they haven't picked up their prize yet!

I did receive one non-qualifying entry. It came from a cat.

Had Garfield won, he would have received a gift certificate for one of his favorite foods; lasagna, doughnuts, pizza, or cake.

Last Friday's nor'easter of high winds and rain were followed by a second round this past Thursday, except this time it was snow: nine inches plus of heavy stuff. It caused a lot of downed trees and branches, as I would soon find out.

I planned on cleaning up after last week's damage but now I had a double dose to contend with. I wasn't going to make anywhere near the progress along the trails I had hoped. It's going to take a bunch of weeks to inspect and clear all the trails, so be patient.

I started at the Soap Box Derby track.

Here you can see the tree which fell last week, lying parallel to the road. Since it was covered in snow and not blocking the trail, I wasn't going to worry about it. I'll take care of it later.

I found this fallen branch last week. Even though it was under snow, I wasn't going to wait until it was revealed in its entirety to remove it.

I regret not bringing my loppers; most of the branches were smaller in diameter and would have been cleared much faster with them, and there were TONS of smaller, snow bent branches blocking the trails. I'm wiser now.

I made it to the Halfway House where my chainsaw took its beer break, then we looped around on the Yellow Trail to head back to the parking lot. It's going to take a handful of forays onto the trails to tidy things up but I'm into this for the long haul so be certain it WILL get done.

Back at Merimere Reservoir, I was amazed at how high the water level is. The photo doesn't capture it, but it's within 2-3 feet of the top of the retaining wall, something I've never seen.

Back at the park, I dropped off my chainsaw's empty beer bottle and what other little trash I collected at the Halfway House. After that one beer, my chainsaw was in no condition to drive, so I drove us home.