Saturday, December 15, 2012

Tahmore Trail Tamed

A crack squad of volunteers (or a squad of volunteers on crack depending on your perspective) cleaned up the Tahmore Trail this morning.  The Tahmore trails are on land owned by the Shelton Land Conservation Trust and tie into the Paugussett Trail overlooking Indian Well and the State Park.  The volunteers split up into pairs and moved off clearing blowdowns and removing limbs, leaves, and slippery items from the trails.

Here's Rich and John clearing a section of trail on the northern half of the loop.  The Tahmore Trail is a rolling figure 8 that ties into the Paugussett Trail.  It is an easy access off the end of Tahmore Place without the climb up from the Indian Well parking lot on Birchbank Road.

Frankenstorm Sandy did not leave this hillside untouched.  This oak was off the trail and it looks like someone set off dynamite inside the trunk.

Luckily this wasn't hung up over the trail.  I don't even want to think how to cut this one down safely.  We'll have to put in for some C4 on our expense account if Rich can get us some on E-bay.

Here's John clearing out more of the upland trail.  Tahmore and the Paugussett Trail in this area are in open hardwoods and offer some nice views of the Housatonic River.  We even discussed taking out a few trees to improve views of the River from The Overlook.

It was a fun and productive work party.  Joe and Ryan Welch, Rich Jim, Sandie, Lynn, John, and Luis were a big help and made short work of the job.  Joe collecting 15 cents in old beer cans and Ryan made us all hungry for crab cakes with his fishing tales.  Thanks to Bob and Rob U. for taking care of the park.

Join us on Thursday, December 27th at 1:00 for a guided hike.  Meet at the end of Tahmore Place off Village Road in the White Hills.  It should be good hike for families with kids who are home from school. Enjoy a fun and safe Holidays on Shelton's trails. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

CFPA Volunteers Work Miracles on the Paugussett Trail

A dedicated group of volunteers met at the Methodist Meeting House in Monroe Sunday to clear a massive pine blowdown that was blocking the upper Paugussett Trail.  The crew went in on East Village Road about 0.15 miles west of Barn Hill Road.  At first it looked bad, but not too bad.

Then we crossed the powerlines, and it looked like a lumberyard.  And not a tidy lumberyard at that.  Hurricane Sandy had leveled dozens and dozens of pines of all sizes; several 30"+ in diameter.

One volunteer sawyer from CFPA  had been in earlier and dropped a lot of trees, but there were many logs on the ground or still lodged in blowdowns that had to be bucked up and cleared.

I don't know who the guy was that cut all those trees, but I can tell you one thing, he was good; really, really, really good with a saw.  Bill; the resident trail manager from CFPA called in for help because he didn't have a chain saw.  He should've called for a grapple truck and a log skidder.

After a while with two chainsaws going and a lot of hands rolling, dragging, and tumbling logs a trail began to re-emerge from the mist.  John in particular was impressive with the the way he was throwing logs out of the way; "They're light" he said "They're only pine".   

The CFPA folks were well organized.  Glen had brought some pre-painted shingles that the nailed up on trees as temporary blazes where they had to re-route the trail around blowdowns.

They also packed in all their tools, including the chainsaws, on modified frame backpacks.

Eventually the trail was cleared over to the old Hoop Skirt Dam on Boys Halfway River.  There used to be a mill downstream of the dam that made Hoop Skirts back in the 1800's.  Not much call for those today, but the river was pretty.

This is the "After" picture of what the Paugussett Trail looks like through the pine maze once the trail was raked.  I though that we had done some tough clearing of storm damage, but this takes the cake.  Many thanks to all the CFPA volunteers out there who take care of the 800 miles of Blue-Blazed Trails across Connecticut.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Successful Saturday at Boehm Pond

The Shelton Trails Committee and some great volunteers cleared ALL the blowdowns from the Boehm Pond Trail system on Saturday.  An eight person work party armed with a variety of loppers, rakes, chain saws, and leaf blowers cleared about 1.5 miles of trails in under 3 hours.  It was an excellent effort.

Sheri Dutkanicz and Mike Clay did a great job clearing the trail.  It was Mike's first trail work party and he came armed for bear; with a chain saw in one hand and a leaf blower in the other.  Excellent job Mike!

We fanned out from Farmill Street and tackled different sections of the trail.  Luis and Lynn cleared out the white and yellow loop.  Jim, Rich & Sandy moved over to Winthrop Woods Road and attacked the worst of the blow downs.

This was a typical before picture:  one oak tree came down and took out another oak and they both landed in a pile across the trail.

A little strategic whittling later (note the safety equipment), the trees were out of the way.

Here's Rich and Sandy clearing the trail down from Winthrop Woods Road.  There were a number of trees cleared at the stream crossing.  The yellow trail was in decent shape; but Luis, Mike and Lynn cleared out that loop too.  Jim and company also cleared out to Boehm Pond, and took out a large pine top that was blocking access to the footbridge.  Anybody hardy enough to go fishing now is back in business.

It was grey and raw but except for a little sleet the weather held off.  After the work party members of the trail party headed over to the Huntington Street Cafe for brunch and something hot to drink.  Unfortunately, we discovered that they don'e serve Irish Coffee (boy are they missing a market there), but the brunch was delicious anyways and the coffee was hot.  We should do this more often.  It was a good turnout - thanks to everybody who came.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Boehm Pond Clean-Up Saturday 12/01/12

The Post-Sandy trail clean up continues this Saturday at Boehm Pond Trail.  We'll meet at 8:30 at the trail head opposite 98 Farmill Street.

This pretty little trail system suffered last year during Hurricane Irene, but that was mostly the oaks.  This year the oaks got it along Farmill St., the pines got hit over by Boehm Pond, and the beeches and birches got  blasted in between.

And I do mean blasted, or maybe shredded.  Look at what happened to this sapling when the larger tree hit it.  It tuned the whole tree into a bundle of toothpicks.

The rest of the trail has other problems.  We can use a lot of help.  If you don't have a chainsaw, axe, or a team of mules don't feel bad.  We can use folks with gloves, rakes, leaf blowers  and bow saws to clear debris off the trails while others are cutting the worst stuff.  So if you want to help reclaim your neighborhood trail, or just explore somewhere new, come on down Saturday for some fresh air.  It may be a little noisy for a bit though.

In somewhat related news, Shelton has a large pile of wood chips available at the Transfer Station if you need them.  The City has a large tub grinder labeled "The Beast" gradually reducing the mountain of logs, stumps, and brush from damage clearing from the two storms.  Too bad we can't use that on the trails.

Now  if we only had a smaller woodchipper for storm clean-up.......

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Enjoy the Turkey Trot Trail this Thanksgiving

If you didn't run in the Turkey Trot race downtown this morning there's still an opportunity to enjoy Shelton's Turkey Trot Trail.

And you don't even have to bring an axe thanks to the hard-working volunteers that cleared out the Hurricane Sandy damage.  There was a lot of damage to the pines along Rt. 108.

The Turkey Trot Trail  is a 3 mile loop and a half that was set up as a 5K run for the cross country teams at the High and Intermediate Schools.  The access point is at the sign kiosk on Constitution Boulevard North between the driveways for the two schools.  It's an easy hike that's good for all family members; 2 and 4 footed.

We named it the Turkey Trot Trail because Bill Dyer and I chased 29 turkeys off the path when were building it.  They didn't go into the woods - just kept running up the trail ahead of us like big chickens.  Turkeys are funny birds that were pretty much wiped out in Connecticut a few decades ago.  Their re-introduction is a great success story & Shelton's open spaces provide good habitat for them.  Enjoy the trails and maybe you'll see a few that are not in a Norman Rockwell picture.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

More views...Sandy

In spite of the many deadfalls and debris brought about by Sandy and the Nor'easter that followed, the Shelton Trails Committee members and volunteers were able to clear the Rec Path within a few days after the storms. The following photos highlight some of the damage and the subsequent efforts to clean up the mess.

Click on photos to enlarge



Lynn does the heavy work, clearing up everyone else's mess

Richard cuts through a super fir

Terry carefully works through the last bit of a precariously positioned hinge

Luis clears debris as Jim creates more

The Gator serves in many capacities, here as a platform for getting at the high stuff

It also held all of our tools and gear

Sandie works one of the chainsaws

Daniel came all the way from Yale in New Haven to help out and at the same time write an account of folks reacting to storm damage

Daniel, Jim, Lynn and Sandie attacking the "pick-up sticks" blocking the Turkey Trot Trail

Pam lends a hand clearing branches

Al applies his expertise to a massive deadfall as Sandie and Jim await their turn to cut

Jim cut a notch before undercutting another monster fir

Richard trims the remains of another biggie

Thanks to all that helped clear up the aftermath of both storms, including work party volunteers, Trails Committee members, and strollers and hikers who took the time to pick up a branch or two.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Time for a New Chain

With all the storm damage clearing going on I noticed that my new chainsaw cut better than my old Stihl 025, so I was going to sharpen that chain.  However, when I compared the old chain to a new chain the Frugal Yankee (a.k.a. CYB) decided the old chain had been fully depreciated and it was time to splurge.

This is the new chain compared to the old one.  Almost all the steel in the teeth had been filed away from repeated sharpenings.

A sharp chain cuts better and safer than a dull one.  Stihl has a on-line video on how to sharpen a chain.  They throw in a lot of safety chat, but the video is actually helpful.

I stopped at Joseph Martinka and Sons Saturday (11/24/12) and picked up a couple of new replacement Stihl chains, and ran into one of my neighbors getting some parts for his John Deere.  Martinka's is a nice little family business in the White Hills neighborhood of Shelton if you need chainsaw parts.  Just doing our little bit to support local businesses.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

We need a Bigger Rake, or another Saturday Trail Work Party

Yes, we'll need a bigger rake and then some.  But, little by little, we're clearing up the damage from Hurricane Sandy and Nor'easter #1 of the 2012-2013 Season.  Join us this Saturday (11/17/12) for another exciting trails work party entitled "How do I clean this #?%@@X>* up?"

This is what the Turkey Trot trail looks like along Rt. 108 between the Silent Waters Dam and the powerlines.  Bill Dyer reports that the western loop out to Willoughby Road isn't as bad, but the section through the pines took a whuppin'.

Meet us over the by the Dog Park and Red Barn at 8:30 and we'll move over to the work site across the street from there depending on who shows up.  Helpers of all ages and abilities are welcome.  Bring gloves, old clothes (you will get some pine sap on you), drinks, rakes, bow saws, loppers, chainsaws, etc.  There will be a safe work zone between the sawyers and the branch haulers so don't worry if you want to bring younger folks.  There is a lot to do for everybody.

Future work parties will be listed under our Events page.  A new listing of Trail Conditions has also been posted to keep track of storm damage repairs.  We are in the process of hiking each trail to prioritize work parties, and encourage any feedback from the public.

Thanks to Bruce Nichols for this map he sent in of storm damage from one of his runs.  This was helpful in clearing up the damage behind Hope Lake the last 2 weekends.

And as always we encourage people to participate in either one of our formal trail work parties; like the one this Saturday, or just rake and clear your favorite stretch of trail.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sandy Clean-Up Continues

A crack crew of trail volunteers swung into action Saturday morning clearing blowdowns and other storm damage from Sandy & the Wednesday nor'easter.  We concentrated on cleaning up the blue-blazed Paugussett Trail extension behind Hope Lake.  The trail was hard hit with numerous pine trees snapped and toppled across the trail.

Here's a victory photo with Jim, Luis, Bill, Sandie, Rich, and Lynn after we cleared out the worst of the blow-downs.

The morning didn't start out smooth.  The RecPath had been cleared of blowdowns last weekend, however the nor'easter this week took down even more pine trees.  Rich had to clear branches off this tree just so we could scootch the Gator under the tree just to get the tools to the work site.

This spot had about 6 pines snapped and jumbled together.  Clearing this type of storm damage is tricky because everything is under tension and the trees are hung up.  We gradually whittled this mess down though.   At the end I said "What's that sound".  It was the quiet of the lake without the chainsaws.

This is one of the finished sections after the trees were cleared.  Lynn and Luis worked hard at cleaning up the trail so it's easy to follow.  If any scout groups need some White Pine logs for benches, bird houses, or derby cars we can hook them up.

Frankenstorm Sandy took down a lot of pines.  This one over by Silent Waters was laying down almost perfectly E-W.

Next Up; The Turkey Trot Trail along Rt 108.  The pines there are even worse, if that's possible, then the mess along Hope Lake.  We'll try to give advance notice for volunteers but this is an area where all help is really, really welcome.  Enjoy the trails and please do what you can to help with the storm restoration.