Saturday, September 26, 2009

Housatonic River Paddling at Sunnyside

This Saturday started cool then turned warmer in the afternoon - perfect weather for paddling. I happened to see these two guys launching their boats into the Housatonic River behind Sunnyside School. They were going for a trip downstream past Ayer's Marina.

They looked like they were going to have a good time. I particularly liked the contractor's boom box stapped on the back of the one kayak. You don't have to have all the highest tech gear to have an enjoyable afternoon on the Housatonic River.

Sunnyside Park has a small park along the river at the boat ramp that most people don't know about. Just take the drive on the south side of the school past the Little League ballfields and down to the bottom of the hill. It's one of Shelton's little gems along the Housatonic Greenway. The picnic area can get busy in the summer, but early Fall is also a great time to enjoy the river. Stop in at the little Polish deli across River Road & have lunch in the Valley.
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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Our Lakes At Leisure

A morning fog enhances the mystique of Silent waters

What better way to relax than a cool morning fishing expedition on Hope Lake
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Bluff Walk Hike 9-22-09

We started our Fall 2009 season of guided hikes with a ramble along The Bluff Walk in Riverview Park last night. It was a pleasant September evening with about a dozen people, plus some of their four-footed friends. We met at the children's playground in the northern end of the park. The entrance to the path is at the top of this picture behind the white SUV, just follow the sign.

We followed some of the historic trail along the hillside overlooking the Housatonic River, the Yale Boathouse, and the Ousatonic Dam. The Bluff Walk follows the path of the trail that used to be there in the 1800's before the park road was built, and went over some of the stonework that was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930's.

We met with the Shelton Parks & Recreation Commission last week and they are going to help us through the winter and fall when they have time to open up some of the vistas to the river and controlling some invasive Japanese Knotweed that has grown up over the last few years. The trail had been a bit fragmented but we re-routed sections, added mulch, signs, blazes and trail markers to make it easier to follow.

Some of us looped back to the beginning along the Rt. 110 sidewalk and park road. We got a nice view of the ballfields, historic markers, and war memorials. Other folks took the stairs to the bottom of the slope & came back by the RR tracks along the river (look out for the occasional freight train).

Hopefully someday the SEDC will be sucessfull with their plan to link the Riverwalk in downtown Shelton with Indian Well State Park via a paved bikeway on this route. This would be a real amenity for both downtown and state park users. This photo shows all the people sucessfully making it up the hill past some of the old CCC stonework.

Once upon a time this whole hillside was mostly grass so people could watch the rowing races - see the Shelton Trails website at for historic photos.

And we returned back to the kiddy playground, which was still being heavily used by a variety of families. The Bluff Walk is a nice ramble that is good for a wide range of folks - neighbors walking their dogs, families with little kids, people trying to get a little exercise at lunch, etc. The total loop is 1.2 miles. We had a good time and would like to thank the Shelton Parks and Recreation, and Police Departments for helping us clear up the trail in preparation of this hike.

The Bluff Walk is an ongoing project and if any community groups or scout troops would like to help in improving it, please contact the Trails Committee or Conservation Commission. There are a number of places with mulch, clearing and erosion control is needed and this would make an ideal project for younger volunteers. Enjoy Riverview Park and the Housatonic River.
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Tuesday, September 22, 2009


What a shame! This bench was handmade as a memorial to a beloved colleague, place in a shady area overlooking a peaceful and picturesque field at the Lane Street meadow , but it couldn't remain unsullied for long. I guess some kids find it amusing to desecrate some things that are not theirs. Would they do this to their parent's gravestones?
I've seen teens hanging around, friendly enough and by all appearances just enjoying the location away from the streets. Maybe it's the same kids, maybe not. If we were ever to find out who they were, I would like to see them made to sand down and refinish the bench to our satisfaction, instead of a slap on the wrist and a half-hearted warning. If only I were king!

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Another Day at the Office

Another productive Saturday work party! In spite of the threat of rain and potential birdshot from our irritable road boss, we managed to spread wood chips on the trail behind the baseball field at Riverview Park (Bluff Walk). No volunteers were permanently harmed during the filming of this exercise.

Golf in Open Spaces

Where do all the golf balls come from?

Wherever we work on trails and open spaces in Shelton we find golf balls. I often wondered how they got there. Some were near open areas or ball fields that I just assumed guys went to practice hitting balls. But some were well back in the woods, in swamps, or far out along the trails. I was a non-golfer and could never understand how golf balls became so ubiquitous. I think that after a few million years when they find a layer of fossil golf balls in all the rocks they'll call this the little white ball age.

I had never played golf before this year when Bill Dyer kindly gave me a set of his legacy clubs to play in a charity tournament (luckily I had good partners so we didn't finish last, so my objective was achieved). I had a good time playing in the tournament; I can see now why my friends like playing this game. I have since taken to thwacking balls in the back yard or at driving ranges for the fun of it. It's grown into a weird obsession; like eating pistachio nuts, you can't have just one - it has to be a bunch. I'm gradually coming to understand that you have to be a little nutty to like golf.

Well I've also finally found out where all the golf balls come from on the trails:

Monday, September 7, 2009

We're in Business at the Boat Club

Rich Skudlarek models the latest yachting apparel at the Silent Waters Canoe Launch (and we also allow kayaks, john boats, and inflatables if they are not too trendy). The access is on Constitution Boulevard North across from the Intermediate School. Rich & I cleared out the puckerbrush on Saturday along the road & set up the sign after we got pipes for the scouts & stopped at the big EMS tag sale. You can now park and safely off load your boat for some easy paddling fun along the RecPath.

Here is a photo of the improved canoe ramp and lake. I added 2 Gator loads of rip rap, plus some larger rocks that were scavenged. The ramp could use a few more stones in the end, but I was running out of steam on Labor Day afternoon, so everybody bring a rock to add when you go boating. I had a number of folks come up to me and ask if they could canoe/fish/hike here (I really have got to work on keeping a straight face when I offer to sell those special Shelton Open Space Passes for $5 cash). But no, I always tell them the truth; that they can enjoy the park for free. I had some people come up and ask what City Department I worked for, and after I got done laughing, I said it's all volunteers folks. You get out of it what you put into it. Hopefully some people sign up at the Shelton Trails website for our upcoming work parties.

The lake is small & shallow so it's a good place for families with kids learning to paddle.

It was nice seeing everybody out using the greenway. There were people out fishing, walking their dog, couples strolling, and families biking. I chatted with one nice guy who was surprised to see the canoe launch, and then went home & brought his brother back to show him where to launch their boat. They had been carrying their boat up & over the dam (they said it was way more work than using our new canoe ramp). I hope they get a big bass next time they're here.

Enjoy the canoe launch & please pick up whatever trash you see. Happy paddling from your friends at Shelton Trails.
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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Eagle Scout Project - Abbey Wright

Craig Richard, a member of Venture Crew 2727 in White Hills (in my youth they were called Explorer Scouts), had chosen as a community project toward his Eagle Scout award to divert standing water at the Abbey Wright trail head away from the trail, raise the path to avoid puddles and wet areas, and tidy up the area between the street and the parking area by spreading wood chips and planting shrubs. His project included advance planning, meeting with the affected parties, soliciting donations, and supervising the labor involved. He was assisted by members of his Venture Crew and supported by members of his family.

Work begins on digging a drainage ditch to alleviate ponding at the beginning of the trail.

Craig and friend relocate huge obstacle from projected trench path.

Back-breaking work, but that's what young men are for!

Another crew spreads wood chips between the road and the parking area

Crew 2727 pulls together to help Craig meet his objectives. break!
Pipes laid, trench filled, path raised with millings, looks good! Job well done by Craig Richards and the men of Venture Crew 2727!

Check out the Venture Crew 2727 web site:

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Friday, September 4, 2009

An Urban Rail Trail

If you don't know about it yet, the city of New York has developed what was once an elevated train route into a linear park/walkway, calling it the "High Line". I was quite impressed with the design and aesthetic of the "trail", which is only partly finished . If you are in the city, in the old meat-packing district, you can access the High Line at several places between Gansevoort St. and 20th St.


For a Thursday morning, the High Line had quite a few users, but it was a gorgeous day, so...

The path is broken by areas of tall grasses, flowers, trees and shrubs, and passes under, around and through old and new buildings.

Plenty of benches, chairs, and in this area, lounges.

Elevated views of the local neighborhoods.

An elevated prairie?

Work continues to complete the High Line.

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Bluff Walk Video

Watch the Bluff Walk at Riverview Park. Select "HQ" to watch in higher quality.