Friday, June 16, 2017

"mad dogs and Englishmen"(What, again?)

The hayfields at the former Wiacek Farm were due for a haircut, but had not yet been hayed. Since a section of the Paugussett Trail currently skirts the edge of some of the field, hikers found it a struggle walking the several hundred yards through the tall hay and the resulting pollen dust. On another one of those hot, humid days, Shelton Trail Committee members Jim and Richard set out to clear a path through the hay.
Jim and the Gator are swallowed up in the hayfield

There's enough hayseed gathered on the Gator to start a new farm!

Jim clears weeds from the access to the Wiacek Farm

Hiking the Paugussett through the Wiacek section just became a bit easier

Monday, June 12, 2017

"mad dogs and Englishmen"

"mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun" Rudyard Kipling
Well, there were no mad dogs in sight, none of us were Englishmen (though we all spoke fluent English), and we never made it to noon. But it was pretty darn hot!

Click on photos to enlarge 
The rec path at the Lane Street meadow was being overrun by weeds and the encroaching hayfield 

Using a brush mover towed by our gator made short work of clearing the tallest stuff
We forgot to tell Jim to add gas or the mower won't work
Terry takes advantage of the shade to take a break. It was hot out there!

A weary Jim and Mike call it quits for the day after hours of cutting, hacking, and staring down wayward brush and weeds

There's a little more elbow room now on this part of the trail. 'til next time!

Seems like only a few of us were crazy enough to spend a Saturday morning tackling the accumulated vegetation that resulted from the past rainy days. We could have used more help, of course, and we hope that more volunteers come out for our next work party on June 24. Thanks to Shelton Trail Committee members Terry, Jim, and Richard, and volunteer (many times) Mike.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

It was a Fun 2017 Trails Day Hike in Shelton

We had perfect weather for our 2017 Trails Day Hike today; partially overcast, dry, cool, breezy.  Gradually the sky cleared, the sun came out, and the breezes made for great hiking conditions.

 No, he's not running for Mayor! Shelton Trails Committee member and hike leader Terry is just welcoming everyone to our National Trails Day stroll. (The little guy in the background was obviously not interested in Terry's inspirational speech)

There was a good turnout of about 26 people at Pine Lake.That included 3 younger hikers, plus 3 four-footed hikers.

This hike was the first of our 2017 Lollipop League Hikes; short out and back hike with some kind of loop.  Participants who complete all the hikes between now and November earn a special commemorative medal.

We started off along the RecPath behind Pine Lake.  The side trails off the RecPath allow future exploration for fishing, nature observation, and picnic opportunities.  Sometimes we saw some wildflowers too.

The RecPath wound along Curtis Brook and over to Silent Waters.  The canoe launch and bridge overlook were very picturesque.  Some of the hikers found caches of lollipops in red coffee cans along the route.  It looked like those were a big hit.

Some had it better than others

The hike wound back behind the Shelton Intermediate School, the ball fields, and proceeded back to Pine Lake.  We're happy to report that everyone made it back and had a fine excursion.  Thanks to everyone on the Trails Committee who helped with the hike, and to the Connecticut  Forest and Parks Association for all the organization on Trails Day.  It was a fun event, and we hope that the future Lollipop Hikes will be as well attended.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Don't Jump Over the Chainsaw

It seems that since National Trails Day is this Saturday, all the trees are committing hare-kari (or Harry Caray if you're a Chicago fan).  The trees are all falling over.  One such case was reported by Val Gossett along the RecPath near Oak Valley Road.

Not too bad if you're flexible and don't mind a bit of Limbo when you hike or bike.  As it so happens Jim and Bill were able to go out Wednesday and clear it during the week to make everyone's Trails Day walks a little smoother.

It took a little while but they were able to get the tree down as it was raining,  Here's Jim checking out some of the other trees that were leaning along the RecPath.  Jim made a keen decision that these were posing no imminent public harm, and did not have to be cut down in the rain.

No sooner had Jim stopped sawing.  A trail runner came thru and "hopped over the chainsaws" which were still hot and streaming (and hopefully with the chain stopped), and kept running thru the work zone.  Now, you can come to a couple of observations: 1.) This runner was really lucky and should buy a lottery ticket, or 2.) The runner should stop next time and ask if it's OK to proceed, or 3.) We should close off the trail before doing any work and make people run out in the road or bushwack.  We would suggest Door #2 because we like our trail users and want them to keep coming back.

Helpful Trail Safety Tip:  If you hear someone chainsawing on the trail ahead don't just run by them without checking first because they or you could get seriously hurt.  Don't assume that trail volunteers can see or hear you just because you can see us.  Someone, possibly you, could be crushed by falling trees or cut with power equipment.  Nobody wants that to happen.  Work with us to make sure everyone has a safe and enjoyable time on the trails.

So on a cheerier note; come on out Saturday to one of the Trails Day Hikes in Shelton, or elsewhere, and enjoy the trails. It should be fun, particularly for families with smaller children.  See the Hikes and Special Events page for more information. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Paugussett Reroute Part 2 Continues

Over the holiday weekend, Boy Scout Troop 34 from Bridgeport picked up where UnitedHealthcare left off a few weeks ago at Indian Well State Park. That's the third major work party on the trail reroutes (including the REI crew that did the first reroute). And there's plenty left to do! 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Spring Wonders in Plain Sight

Spring is a great time to enjoy the trails.  It's not too hot or muggy yet, and everything is fresh and bright green.  If you take a little time to look right, left, up or down you may see many of the woodland flowers that are blooming.

Like this Pinkster azalea blooming just off the RecPath by Silent Waters.  We had a trail work party yesterday and when going back for more gas while cutting brush I spotted this just off the Path.  I had missed it before because I was focused on what I was doing.  As a great philosopher once said "You can observe a lot by watching".  There were things blooming all over once I started looking.

These viburnums were finishing blooming over by the Canoe Launch sign, but they were still pretty.

So Sunday Biscuit and I went for a walk to see what we didn't see working on the trails.  The RecPath at Pine Lake weaves between the lush pines. You can still hear the cars over on Rt. 108, but you start to feel like you're back in the woods once you get into the pines.

 There are large carpets of Canada mayflowers in places.

A close-up of the little white mayflowers.

 There were also Jack-in-the-Pulpits.

Some greenway customers were out getting Sunday brunch.

And we found some purple Woodland floxs Wild Geranium.

There were also Solomon's Seal, and False Solomon Seal along the RecPath.

Silent Waters was a scenic place to hang out.  It's funny how many people trudge right over the bridge, and don't stop to look around at one of the highlights of  the RecPath.  You start looking around and you never know what you'll see.

Possibly some local residents out looking for some warm sun.

Did I mention that this all started in a trail work party yesterday?  We were clearing back brush in preparation the National Trails Day hikes in 2 weeks.  Here's Luis and John cleaning up the RecPath at the Turkey Trot Trailhead.

And this is Jim, Bill, and Michael cutting back the jungle below the Silent Waters Dam.  It's a real pretty spot be the brush explodes with the sunlight.  The guys cleared the loop around the Intermediate School as well as the RecPath, portions of the Turkey Trot Trail, and side trails.

There's another nice stand of azaleas on both sides of the RecPath below the dam.

It was almost like you were walking in an arboretum.

So we cleared out the trails, RecPath, crossings, and entrances; like here at Rt. 108.  We should be all set for Trails Day, but then things keep growing.  Thanks to John, Luis, Michael, Bill, and Jim for helping out on Saturday.  Take advantage of the nice weather and enjoy the trails.  Come out and go exploring with us in two weeks for one of the Trails Day Hikes.  In the meantime, look around when you're out in the woods, you'll never know what you might see.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Birth of a Trail: Before and After

Here's the same spot before and after a new trail reroute went in. Still needs a bit of chain saw work and blue blazes, but what a difference. Enjoy. Paugussett Trail, Indian Well State Park. Work done by volunteers from UnitedHealthcare and CFPA.