Sunday, September 4, 2011

Blowdowns, Deadfalls, & Widowmakers, Oh My!

Rich & I spent the better part of yesterday clearing blow-downs from Hurricane Irene. The storm that knocked out power to half of Connecticut made a shambles of the woods along the trail system.

Rich had spent a good part of the week cleaning up things where he could, but there was only so much one person could do. Here he is clearing up portions of a triple domino blow-down at Lizard Head Rock on the RecPath. The guys from Pruzinsky & Sons were really helpful with their excavators knocking down some dangerous trees that were hung up.

This is the after image of the same section near Scotch Pine Drive.

There were trees and branches down on every section of the RecPath. Here's a big leaner behind Pine Lake that was hung up in the tree. The dangerous part of this is cutting the branches gradually so we could get it down out of there without it crashing down on us.

This is the "after" picture & we had this nice couple come walking along right after we finished. There were a lot of people out enjoying the trails & it worked out well having two of us clearing the deadfalls.

These doggies had no problem getting under the fallen trees.

Once the trees were down it was much easier, but we had to shift the trunks to avoid pinching the saws. The Gator was really helpful because we were able to carry all the gear with us.

A lot of the trees were crisscrossed and hung up - like these ones behind the High School. That made the clearing interesting. We would drop the easiest ones so they could be bucked up, but we had to be careful of trees and branches that would spring back and move when cut.

The multiple blowdowns were definitely sporty. The trees could behave unpredictably at times as the pressure was released. It was good that many of the trail users were able to give us some room while we worked.

And here's the "after" picture with Rich getting ready to do his famous chainsaw juggling act.

It seems like Hurricane Irene didn't enjoy the good news about the City finally buying the Great Ledge open space at the end of Oak Valley Road. She dropped a big oak tree across the access gate.
But here is the "after" picture. The gate has been "antiqued" with that "broken in" look, but it still works. This section links to the newly constructed RecPath at the powerlines. We inaugurated the first run of the entire RecPath route with the Gator. This will definitely make trail maintenance easier in the future.

There still are 3 big maples down across the RecPath near the Land Trust Meadow off Lane St. These will have to be their own work party next week, but at least you can walk around these and they're not a hazard.

We even met two nice ladies who where farming caterpillars in the milkweed plants in the meadow. Who knew we had butterfly farmers in Shelton?

After a brief respite at the Huntington Street Cafe we resumed our journeys around the trail system. We clearing this large oak that was hung up across the Eklund Garden access on Oak Valley Road. We used wedges to avoid getting the saws pinched. There's still more of the tree that's hung up, but at least it's not an immediate hazard to hikers or mountain bikers.

We went on a little excursion with the Gator, saw more blow downs, and got back to the Barn. We were drenched by the end of the day, but we got everything cleared except for Lane Street.

We owe a Big THANK YOU to all the trail Samaritans who started clearing the trails earlier. It made our job a lot easier. Anybody who wants to clear up some wood please be our guest. Stay tuned for upcoming work parties - there will be a lot of them.


  1. Thank you for taking such good care of the trails! Your efforts do not go without recognition.

  2. I think we should start referring to that gate as "the bent gate." As opposed to the other Oak Valley gate. I tacked up a couple open space signs on the gate after the trees were cleared :)

  3. Besides Terrance and myself, Bill Dyer was instrumental in clearing operations, in spite of having to work with a sore shoulder. And, again, hats off to the anonymous person(s) that cleared serious obstructions at several points along the Rec Path.

  4. Richard, you're doing a great job!!

  5. Looking forward to the Marshmallow Hike!