Sunday, January 30, 2011

Snowshoe U

It was a pleasant 40 degrees and sunny today when we ventured forth for our winter hike. We had to relocate the hike from the Land Trust's Nicholdale parcel to the Shelton Lakes Recreation Path to have some safe areas to pull off, but otherwise things worked great.

We met at the Shelton Intermediate School and took a little while to get organized.

Most people had snowshoes, and we had a number of doggies. The trails were packed down pretty well, and we added to that compaction. We crossed the street and went in by Silent Waters.

The conga line worked it's way forward to the Silent Waters Bridge where the Conservation Commission took their 2011 Team Photo (minus Ed & Jim).

Unfortunately, we didn't get a photo of everybody crossing Rt. 108 in snowshoes at the crosswalk, but it looked funny. We ventured past the Dog Park and headed up the RecPath past Hope Lake.

The route was pretty easy, although there were some soft areas if you didn't have snowshoes. At one point we passed other snowshoers going the other way. Traffic jams on Shelton's trails - in winter - who knew!

We went down to Oak Valley Road & then looped back along the Paugussett Trail on the backside of Hope Lake.

We stopped at various places along the trail to enjoy the scenery, catch our breath and enjoy a snack.

Some folks stopped at the Dog Park on the way back (it was busy), some walked back along the road, and the rest of us snowshoed or hiked back along the trail.

It was a fun afternoon & it was great that everybody could come out to explore the park in the winter. It was a good workout & I'm sure all the 2-legged and 4-legged hikers will sleep well tonight.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sunday Snow Hike 1/30/11

The hike scheduled for this Sunday, 1/30/11 at 1:00 has been relocated from the Land Trust's Nicholdale parcel on Rt. 110 to the RecPath opposite the Shelton Intermediate School on Constitution Boulevard North. Click here for a trail map.

It should be fun but be prepared for a winter hike. Dress warmly in layers, bring your snow boots, clamp on your crampons, strap on your snowshoes, slip on your skis, and harness the sled dogs.

Bring something to drink and snack on. Unfortunately we can't do the marshmallow roast in this area, but we will be going by the Dog Park so bring Fido & Rover if they handle the snow. We'll also walk along the newly graded section of the RecPath overlooking Hope Lake, so it should be pretty.

We think that if we pack the trail down a bit with snowshoes it'll be easier for everybody to walk, but we'll see. When we originally scheduled this hike we were unaware that this January would be the snowiest month in Connecticut's recorded history. The Land Trust's parking lot is snowed in, but we should be able to park safely in front of the Intermediate School.

And we may see more snow before the hike, so be ready. If it keeps up like this snowshoes may not be enough. Saddle up the Tauntauns, we're headed for Hoth.

Monday, January 10, 2011

R.I.P. Bob Wilkins

Bob Wilkins; original Shelton Trails Committee member, and former Shelton Parks & Recreation Department Supervisor, died last Friday; January 7th, 2011. Services will be held Friday, January 14 (details can be found here.)

He had been sick for a long time, & had not been able to be active on trail work parties during the last couple of years, however he still was an active member of the Trails Committee assisting us with planning & design during our meetings until a couple of months ago. Just before Christmas he stopped by City Hall to drop off some ideas for a chainsaw bench for Rich to make.

Bob (lower left corner in above photo) was consistently an active guy who helped us get stuff done. He never minded getting his hands dirty, and was always creative in re-using things (as in the above bridge on the Turkey Trot Trail made out of an old machine pallet). He also helped establish the semi-official Shelton Trails "uniform" of plaid flannel for work parties.

Here's Michelle Papa & Bob at an earlier Trails picnic that we had every summer for volunteers. They moved to Milford after Bob retired from the Parks and Recreation Department, but that retirement didn't stop Bob from continuing to help with Trails. Bob even started recruiting his neighbor Burt to come up from Milford and help us build the Lane Street Boardwalk.

Here's Bob pointing out some aspect of the Lane St. Boardwalk to Bill Dyer. The constant back and forth banter about the best way to construct something was a staple of the Saturday morning work parties. He could be a crusty old fart when he wanted to be, but he had a lot of humor, was engaging, and kept working to get things done. Bob was responsible for a lot of our bridge designs, ordering equipment, and coming up with Rube Goldberg solutions for construction on a limited budget.

Bob never liked publicity or putting himself out in front. We had to practically shove him in the front of the table for this photo with the CT Post from a few years ago when they were doing a story on trails. From left the people are Bill Dyer, Tom Harbinson, Bob, and Terry Gallagher. Note the ongoing plaid theme.

And here is a good picture from the New Haven Register story on the Lane St. Boardwalk in 2006. Bob is third from the right. This project a nice partnership between the Shelton Land Conservation Trust and the Trails Committee. Bob was instrumental in coordinating all the construction over many weekends. Bob supported a number of conservation organizations and kept up to speed on a number of issues. He was always coming up with ideas and questions on issues that you might not expect from him on first glance.

He liked working on trails because he liked keeping busy and he enjoyed seeing people using the parks. He always liked going to ball games, fire works, concerts and Shelton Day to see how people enjoyed his parks.

Here's one of our trail parties to a small waterfall off Wesley Drive. Bob, Lynn Reid, Terry Gallagher, and Bert Sobanik had cleared out a trail so people could see the waterfall while doing the Bridge to Bridge hike.

And here's the victory photo at the end of the Lane St. Boardwalk construction. Bob is the second from the left, in plaid, with a cold beer. When you're out enjoying Shelton's trails, bridges and boardwalks it is because of volunteers like him. Thanks for everything Bob; your planning, humor, hard work, and friendship will be missed.

-Posted by Terrance Gallagher

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Meetings. Yawn.

Efforts to build trails actually start right here, in Room 303 of City Hall. This is where the Trails Committee meets each month and comes up with a Plan of Attack. From left to right: Richard Skudlarek, Terrance (Terry) Gallagher, Marianne Chaya (clerk for Conservation Commission - she arrived early), Jim Taradine, and Bill Dyer (Chairman). Sheri Dutkanicz somehow skipped out of the picture.

They schedule upcoming work parties and guided hikes, and talk rather endlessly about the ongoing Rec Path construction. Here is a condensed version:

Terrance: Cut the trees.
Bill: Save the trees.
Terrance: Cut the trees.
Bill: Save the trees.

A more nuanced synopsis of said discussions, aka "meeting minutes" can be found here.

Meetings are open to the public and all are welcome. They are held the first Wednesday of each month at 5:00 pm in Room 303 of City Hall, followed by the Conservation Commission's meeting at 7:00 pm.