Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rec Path Celebration Unmarred by Satellite Impact

Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, a cut-off Low Pressure System, and a falling NASA satellite (maybe somebody's trying to tell us something?) failed to stop the Rec Path Celebration from being a success on Saturday.

The start up at Pine Lake drew a good crowd of participants despite the gloomy weather. Over 4" of rain had been forecast for the night before & Saturday morning, but we did not have to use the rain date.

Mayor Mark Lauretti was there to say a few words about the recent improvements to the Recreation Path and citizen efforts. Approximately 2 miles of Rec Path were built & the final key 13 acres of Great Ledge open space purchased this year.

A number of local people were there, including the Dikovsky Family & Terry Jones (second from left). Terry, along with Harriett Wilber, came up with the concept of the Shelton Lakes Recreation Path when they were chairmen of the Conservation Commission over 10 years ago. Our Rec Path is modeled, in part, after the Stowe Vermont RecPath. It's taken a looong while to get this built, but we're getting close to completion.

The Mayor presented an award to Bob Van Egghan of PerkinElmer in recognition of all the volunteer efforts of their staff to help complete finish grading and landscaping along the Rec Path. PerkinElmer sponsored 3 days of work parties for dozens of employees as part of their For the Better campaign.

The Mayor also presented an award to local poultry farmer Basil Dikovsky, who generously donated some of his land to help build the Recreation Path near Wesley Drive. The City also formally renamed the stream that runs along that portion of the RecPath "Basil Brook" in honor of Mr. Dikovsky earlier this year. The Brook is one of the scenic highlights of the Rec Path.

Teresa Gallagher explains how to find the hand-carved stamps for the Rec Path Passports that were handed out. Sassafras Restaurant in Huntington Center was giving participants ice cream cones when they presented their passports at the end.

Tom Harbinson, Conservation Commission Chairman did his auctioneer imitation as part of a charity raffle before the hike began. A number of local businesses and individuals donated prizes for the event & it made for a fun hike - especially for the kids - even the "older kids". Some of the people and businesses that donated things included Beechwood Market, Center Deli, Connecticut Forest & Parks Association, Bill Dyer, Gallagher Family, Gifts on the Green, Tom Harbinson, & Royal Bakery. Sassafras partnered with the Shelton Conservation Commission for the ice cream at the end.

The crowd took off and broke up into groups of runners, bikers, strollers, and dog walkers. The Rec Path was in good shape following last night's storm and there were a lot of people out enjoying it even if they didn't start at Pine Lake. Here are Sandy & Rich overlooking Silent Waters from the top of the dam.

We did pass the debris field from NASA's satellite (at least we think it's theirs). Or it could be part of of '53 Buick.

The debris was clearly marked with an official NASA sign to deter souvenir seekers.

We also want to thank the guys from Pruzinsky & Sons, and Fairview Tree Farm who attended. They did a great job with the recent construction on the Recreation Path; on-time, under budget, & really nice craftsmanship working the Rec Path into the landscape. We got a lot of positive comments about their work. My personal favorite is the section west of the the Iroquois Gas Pipeline.

Basil's son & his dog Flocka were really rubbing it in our face for most of the bike ride. He had run past us while we were biking (we did stop to stamp in and catch some breath), and they had made it to Huntington Center and were running BACK when we showed up at the Lane St. Boardwalk. They were the winners of the Fastest to Huntington Center division.

But the Bike Brigade did make it to Huntington Center and earned the first ice cream cones. And we needed them; the air was pretty thick & we were hot by the time we got there. Thank you Sassafras. Maybe we should have seen the chiropractor too while we were there.

Then after some refreshment we started the ride back to Pine Lake. We passed various groups of walkers on their way to Huntington Center.

A couple of hikers were stamping their passports to earn their ice cream cones.

This is a copy of what the inside of the Passport looked like. Teresa Gallagher carved all the stamps for this event showing scenes along the Rec Path.

The Shelton Police Dept. loaned us some cones and signs along Huntington Street to help with traffic protection; thank you Sergeant Zakowicz. We really need a good concrete sidewalk built here to connect from 90 Huntington St. to Beechwood Market.

Teresa, Biscuit, and Laurie Gianotti from the DEP Greenways Office were the official sweepers making sure everyone made it out alive.

Sandy & Terry posing at the End of the Trail back at Pine Lake starting point. We had a fun 10 mile round trip.

Here's the real End of the Trail Party at the Huntington Street Cafe. It was a good time for everybody. Thanks to all the businesses and individuals who helped make this a fun Shelton Lakes Recreation Path Celebration. Wait until we get the center section completed & can have a real grand opening ceremony next year.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rec Path Celebration

Update 9/24 *****Rec Path Celebration is ON for today, Saturday!!!***
Join us this Saturday at noon for our big party/hike/bike -the Rec Path Celebration. Hike or Bike from Pine Lake to Huntington Center on the NEW & IMPROVED Rec Path. FREE ICE CREAM AT SASSAFRAS!! A few scattered showers are OK. Just throw some rain gear in a pack and you're good to go. The woods can be really neat in this type of weather. See the events listing in the right margin for more details.

To get the free ice cream, pick up a Rec Path Passport at the start of the event, then stamp your passport along your journey to Huntington Center. We'll have six stations along the way with hand-carved stamps. Redeem the passport at Sassafras for a free single scoop ice cream.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Busy Leprechauns preparing for RecPath Celebration

With the RecPath Celebration less than one week away the leprechauns have been busy making the route passable. Brush has been cut, storm damage cleared, paths raked, leaves blown, mudholes filled; all so you can enjoy your walk or bike ride.

Jim Taradine & Rich Skudlarek cleared out around the mudholes on the Great Ledge property. The City just acquired this central open space last month after several years of negotiations - we thought we were all set, and then we had record rainfalls that flooded the existing gravel road.

So the Mayor got the Bridges & Highways Dept and the Parks & Rec Dept to drop off some road millings from recent City jobs. Volunteers from the Trails Committee hand dug drainage ditches, cleared briars, and filled in some of the wetter areas to make the road passable for now.

The long term plan is to improve this section to full handicapped accessibility like the other sections, but that may have to wait until next year.

Here's the location of the Great Ledge Open Space at the end of Oak Valley Road. The City of Shelton and the Shelton Land Conservation Trust now own all the Right of Way for the Shelton Lakes Recreation Path. Join us Saturday at Noon at Pine Lake on Rt. 108 for the festivities. Bring kids, bikes, dogs, shoes, wheelchairs, or pogo sticks. Fun for all ages.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Get Outside Today!

It's a beautiful Fall weekend - perfect weather - get outside & enjoy it!

Father & son fishing off the RecPath Bridge at Pine Lake last weekend - not many more days like this ahead.

Strollers using the RecPath crosswalk near Constitution Blvd. North headed toward Silent Waters.

Trail runner taking advantage of the RecPath along the Land Trust Meadow off Lane Street in the early morning.

Friends out walking on one of the new RecPath sections near Wesley Drive. New fences have been installed on some of the steeper sections to help protect younger bikers.

So get out today & enjoy the trails and open spaces.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Rec Path Helmet Cam

Here's a helmet cam view of the Rec Path by bicycle, taken a week after Hurricane Irene. The video starts behind Hope Lake (aka Nells Rock Reservoir), which is at about Mile 1.5 on the Rec Path. That's the high point of the Rec Path, so it is generally downhill to Huntington Center.

Featured is our new property purchased just over a week ago called "Great Ledge." The CL&P maintenance road through that property is a little rough, but provides linkage between the northern and southern halves of the Rec Path.

It was about 6:00 on a Sunday evening with rain coming in, so the trail was nice and empty. There's a LOT of debris on the Path from the Hurricane and in some places you can hardly tell it's there except for the hole through the trees.

Thanks to the guys for all that work clearing away trees from the Path!

Rec Path Celebration is September 24 at noon at Pine Lake. Bike or walk your way, we'll show you how to get through the unfinished center of the Rec Path.

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.