Sunny, 65 degrees, light breeze - terrible day for a hike - I'd SOOO much rather be doing chores. But we had scheduled to help lead a guided hike for 2:00 at Abby Wright so off we went.
Here's the buffet line courtesy of Bertucci's Restaurant at Hope Lake at mid hike, but more about that later ....
Apparently a lot of other folks thought that today was a splendid day to go for a walk in the woods also. The Abby Wright parking lot on Nells Rock Road was packed.
We had about 40 people and a dozen well-behaved dogs. So we headed off clockwise around Nells Loop Trail.
The woods were lush and green with new, fresh leaves. We walked thru a canopy of huge Tulips, past some old stone piles (placed by tired farmers?, indians?, aliens?) and then headed over toward the Dominick Trail (was blazed orange but is now blazed blue) toward where the scouts had been working all morning at the J-Pond Bridge and the Eklund bypass.
Here's Nick Shigo of Scout Troop 55 at the just-completed J-Pond Bridge replacement. Nick was directing a team of scouts as part of his eagle scout project to replace a bridge that had seen better days and cutting in a new bypass trail up Eklund Cliff so it would be safer for mountain bikers to use.
Nick and the scouts had done a great job replacing the old bridge that morning, and were cutting in the bypass trail up the cliff (see Richard's Bridging It post for more photos). Here's the nice entrance to the bridge that we got all muddy.
Here's Burt & Nina Jackson of Milford coming up the Eklund Cliff (Trail Com. Member Bob Wilkins sent us some customers). Also in the back are the daughter & father who came out on our Frost Hike in January. Today was a much more pleasant day for a hike.
We then went up to the Eklund Native Species Garden where Teresa discussed the history of the parcel and showed off some of the plants that were in bloom.
Nope, it's not the fabled Shelton Trails Conga Line. It's the hike winding it's way up and around the paths at Eklund. Mr. Eklund must've wanted to get out of the house alot & he built of lot of stone walls and paths around the property.
Here's one of the Pink Ladyslippers that we saw along the trail. There were a number of attractive wildflowers still in bloom along the trails.
We went across Oak Valley Road to the southern point of Hope Lake & headed up to the parking lot and picnic tables at the trailhead where we met....
Christine and her colleagues from Bertucci's who were setting up a woodland feast. Christine had contacted Lynn Reid after one of our earlier hikes and volunteered to donate some food for one of our public walks.
And they didn't just bring some pizzas (which we also liked). They had trays of meatballs, zitis, stuffed shells, and all kinds of good stuff.
Just look at this! This wasn't just a picnic - it was a catered dinner. Thank you Christine & all the nice folks at Bertucci's. It's really great when a local business offers to help out like this. We can vouch for the tastiness of the food - go to Bertucci's on Bridgeport Avenue some night for dinner.
Everybody had a great time hanging out at the lake. Particularly that one retriever that pounced when Jim dropped his meatball on the ground. The dogs were very well behaved.
There were a lot of other folks out enjoying the open space at Hope Lake.
There were some guys kayaking. Other families were hiking or picnicking.
Some folks were trying to do a little quite fishing until we showed up. A lot of the fishermen were probably grumbling at the noise, but then when we explained the event they were joking about how we were "roughin' it" hiking.
On the way back to Abby Wright everybody was noticeably slower. Maybe we shouldn't have a big feed part way thru the hike - NAH. We stopped at a little vernal pool below the Eklund Garden and Terry showed off a red eft to the kids. This little area has a lot of wildlife in it when you stop to look around.
Everybody had a great time. I don't know how we'll top this for the next hike. There is a work party scheduled for next weekend, and then June 5th 2010 is National Trails Day. There are four hikes scheduled in Shelton this year. If we get weather like today's it should be a lot of fun.