Monday, December 16, 2013

Mike Yevich's Project - the Upper Birchbank Bridge

A look back at another fine scout project at Birchbank Mountain.  Mike Yevich of Troop 27 and his team built a very sturdy bridge over Upper White Hills Brook in 2012.

These scouts not only stand behind their work, they stand on it.

This was an area where there was some ATV damage and the bridge allowed hikers to cross the brook during high water.
Concept picture of bridge crossing the brook
Mike and his team had to do a number of steps prior to actually building bridge.  Some of the tasks were to:
  • Decide what project to do and prepare a preliminary design,
  • Get approvals from the Trails Committee and Conservation Commission,
  • Get approval from the Scout Council,
  • Also get approval from the Shelton Inland Wetlands Commission (bridge over a stream),
  • Raise funds for purchasing materials (they held a car wash),
  • Buy the materials and haul the stuff to the jobsite,
  • Build the bridge.
These can be typical steps for many Eagle Scout projects.  There is a lot of behind the scene action in addition to actually building the project.

Fabricating the beams for the bridge
 Access to the site was limited so they fabricated some of the larger pieces on site rather than trying to carry them in.
Braces installed

All told, Mike's team had over 95 volunteer hours invested in the project and raised over $400 to buy materials. The cost of materials was lowered substantially when Lowes discounted a lot of the materials (THANK YOU Lowes).

Decking installation
There was a very nice article in the Shelton Herald on Mike's Eagle Scout Ceremony this Spring with additional pictures and information.

Completed project!
Thank you Mike for all the hard work by you and your team.  Another fine project at Birchbank Mountain  by the scouts.

Engraved decking

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Let It Snow on the Paugussett Trail

This morning's work party on Oak Valley Trail was canceled due to weather; snow.  And not the light flurries topped with a some freezing rain that we usually get, but some real snow.

But the snow made for a very pretty backdrop for the new Paugussett Trail sign that was installed by the Connecticut Department of Transportation on Rt. 108 this week, just down the hill from Oak Valley Trail.  We've worked on miles of new trail construction and re-routes this year but somehow it looks much more official when we get a blue oval sign along the State Road.

Thanks to Clare Cain at CFPA for ordering the sign and Ernie Lagoja at ConnDOT District 3 & the sign crew for making sure it got in the right place.

The Paugussett Trail crossing is located about 500 feet west of the Constitution Boulevard/Nells Rock Road intersection.

The snow made for a picturesque Christmas card scene at The Red Barn just around the corner.  The Red Barn is located at the Nells Rock RecPath entrance and the Shelton Dog Park.  If the lot is plowed out it makes a good access point to explore the trails.  Maybe we'll have one of those impromptu snowshoe hikes in the near future.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Birchbank Kiosk by Matt Vittori

Birchbank Mountain Open Space has a sturdy new kiosk thanks to Matt Vittori's efforts to become an Eagle Scout.  This picture was taken from Birchbank Road, which might also be called Indian Well Road in that spot. This location has always been difficult to describe to hikers, and many confuse it with Indian Well State Park (the white trail at Indian Well is a full mile to the south).  We've been asking for a kiosk in this location for a few years now. 

The team had a crane.  A crane!

The kiosk is strategically located in front of a large boulder. Hopefully this will discourage people from vandalism-by-truck. And it looks nice. 

The kiosk looks nice and sturdy.

The Birchbank Mountain Open Space now has two Eagle Scout bridges, a kiosk, and another Eagle Scout project is in the works to address the extreme erosion issues along parts of the trails. All the efforts have made the park more accessible to hikers looking for a more of a workout while they hike (the elevation gain for Birchbank Trail is about 300 feet), or those who just want to enjoy the waterfalls and famous spring wildflower display.  Great job! 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Upcoming Work Party - Oak Valley Trail

A work party is scheduled for this Saturday at 9:00 on Oak Valley Trail.  We'll see if the weather cooperates or not.  Winter work parties are always fickle.

We'll meet at the powerlines on the south side of Rt. 108.  See the Events page for more information.

The trail needs brush cut back, particularly on the insides of the curves where it's growing into the treadway.  There's a lot of opportunity for loper and bow saw work.

Depending on the weather and the turn out we'll work on Oak Valley trail (white), the blue-white connector to the Paugussett Trail, and Dog Paw Path.

The Dog Paw Path is a short connector that people like to loop from the Dog Park up to the RecPath and back.  It seemed to be getting a lot of use this past weekend.

The Dog Paw Path has slightly different markings from our other trail blazes, but you don't need to have a puppy to enjoy it.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Swanson Salvages Scavenged Shovels

The Trails Committee has a some tools for volunteers; some purchased, some donated, and some collected from the Dump (aka The Transfer Station) on Rt. 110.  One of the great innovations at the Dump this year is the Swap Tent.  Residents deposit stuff in the tent that they think is junk, but junk that is too good to just throw away.  Other residents, after unloading their vehicles of their junk can then go in and see what good free stuff was left in the Swap Tent.  Sounds like a George Carlin routine.  Some people leave with more stuff than they came with.

You can also pick up free woodchips at the Dump for mulch.

On a recent Saturday excursion there were several old shovels leaning up in the Swap Tent.  Three looked OK but covered in concrete and two had cracks in the blades.  Luckily, my neighbor Rick does welding in between restoring antique cars, and has been very helpful to us in the past.  I left the two cracked shovels with him and he welded them up.  A little cleaning and elbow grease and all three shovels are back in business for use on trail work parties.

It may seems silly to scavenge old tools from the dump, but $50 or $60 bucks saved adds up over time. Think about it if you have excess tools that you might want to donate; they can get used on trails, or the community gardens.

Thanks to Rick Swanson for helping us out once again.  If anyone has a classic car that they need restored he's a automotive artisan, when he's not welding up the neighbor's shovels.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

PILGRIMS' PROGRESS (a hike on the Turkey Trot Trail, post-Thanksgiving)

Whew! Work off those drumsticks and pumpkin pie! Several were up to the challenge and joined us on an easy Sunday walk before settling in to watch the ritual football games. It was a pleasant afternoon, welcome after days of cold, wind and rain. Our trek started At the trailhead on Constitution Blvd., where we herded our dog and kids, and headed into the wilderness known as the Turkey Trot Trail.

Click on photos to enlarge

 Future hikers gather to await guidance from trail leaders.

Furry companions are anxious to move out.

Some furry companions get the royal treatment from interested third parties.
It was a great day for using the trails, as we encountered bikers and other pet walkers.
Pack leader Terrance, with sidekick Biscuit, tries to impress hikers with tales of Sasquatch and others of his friends.

Peter and entourage were latecomers, but caught up with us.

Another of our monthly treks completed. Stay tuned for information of future hikes, as well as volunteer opportunities for our lots-o-fun work parties.