Wednesday, July 15, 2020

RIP Yellow Blazes at Shelton Lakes

The old yellow blazes refused to fade...
Once upon a time, the 4-mile Rec Path was but a dream. There were plans, for sure. A route had been determined. But the City didn't even own all the property that was needed. No matter. The Trails Committee optimistically created parts of the Rec Path as a simple hiking trail on the properties the City did own. Those trail sections were blazed yellow.  After the Mayflower Lane fiasco, the Committee wanted to get a trail established wherever possible before residents moved into new homes next to the trail. Because based on resident feedback, it appears that a nearby trail constructed before a home is built is a valuable asset to the neighborhood, while a nearby trail constructed after a home is built is just a conduit for bearded pedophiles to attack small children and steal big-screen TVs. The Committee scrambled to get the trail built as fast as possible, even as a simple foot-path.

Later, a portion of what is now Nells Rock Trail and Basil Brook Bypass were also painted yellow to help people along the so-called "Bridge to Bridge" route. More on that later. they were covered over.
After the Rec Path was fully constructed as a multi-use path, we decided to let the old yellow blazes fade. It didn't seem necessary to mark this big, wide path with traditional hiking trail blazes. But we didn't cover them over, either, since some people were used to them.  And then we forgot about them.

This tree trunk got wider and split the blaze
You know how you stop seeing things that are in front of you all the time? It was like that. We just stopped seeing the yellow blazes. I got a call from someone referencing the "Yellow Trail" at Shelton Lakes a few weeks ago. I said we don't have a yellow trail at Shelton Lakes. Completely forgot about the old blazes. Well, we don't have a designated 'yellow trail' on the maps, and haven't for many years. But those old blazes never faded like they were supposed to, and someone not referencing a map would assume they were on the Yellow Trail.

Blaze covered over
So those blazes were finally painted over this past week with a special shade of ultra flat Behr paint called "Landmark Brown." This color seems to match most tree bark the best. If you're ever looking for paint that's the color of the average tree trunk, just go to Home Depot and ask for the Landmark Brown shade.

Old map showing the "Bridge to Bridge" route and yellow markings

Painting over the blazes meant getting off the existing Rec Path in places and traipsing through the woods, because the route that was constructed with heavy equipment wasn't always exactly where the hiking trail had been placed. The blazes were sometimes 20 or 30 feet off the existing trail, especially in the Wesley Drive neighborhood.  One old section was found to be still in use by mountain bikers.

Nells Rock Trail
In 2005, much of the Rec Path existed as either a narrow foot-path or as a newly-constructed gravel multi-use trail, but there was still a section in the middle near Oak Valley Road that was privately owned and couldn't be built. So the Trails Committee created the so-called "Bridge to Bridge" (B2B) route, using other trails to bypass the missing section. That allow people to hike from Pine Lake to Huntington Center.

Old map, "bridge to bridge" route in orange.
Times have changed. Notice no Paugussett Trail.

From Pine Lake, you could follow the Rec Path to Hope Lake, then take the orange-blazed Dominick Trail (now the blue Paugussett Trail) along the shore of Hope Lake to Nells Rock Trail at a place we call "Four Corners." At that time Nells Rock Trail was a smaller loop, and the old woods road leading through new open space out to the powerlines was not marked. That was blazed yellow to help hikers connect with the southern sections of the Rec Path. (Later, Nells Rock Trail was enlarged, with white blazes added.) Once at the powerlines, the yellow trail turned left for a bit, then took a right into the woods at what is now a short section of Basil Brook Bypass, to join was is now the existing Rec Path. The rest of the yellow-blazed route to Huntington Center was close to the existing Rec Path, usually within 20 or 30 feet.

In 2011, the last piece of property, known as "Great Ledge", was purchased. By that time the rest of the Rec Path on either side of this new property had been upgraded to a gravel multi-use path, and soon enough the two halves were connected to complete the Rec Path. The Bridge-to-Bridge Route was no longer needed to get from the north end of the Rec Path to the south end. The yellow blazes were retired and left to fade. Or not, as it turned out. But they are now covered over.

RIP yellow blazes. 

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