Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Always Improving

Another Saturday, another work party. A re-routing of a small section of the Paugussett Trail between Wellington and Independence Drives was started a few weeks ago, but the path had to be widened to accommodate the committee's Gator, needed for mowing and utility work.

Click on photos to enlarge
Jim and Sandie get the easy task of bringing the assorted tools to the work site

Terrance starts the ball rolling by cutting back the brush and weeds that sprung up as a result of the heavy and persistent rain. In spite of all the protective gear, Terrance was still spitting shredded weeds for days afterward

A dead tree meets a timely end at the hands of lumberjill Sandie (note the rest of the crew keeping a safe distance)

Joe and Luis trim back and rake the annoying brambles and weeds
"Don't jump, Luis!" The crew heads back to civilization after spending a hot and humid morning making our trails easier to enjoy

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Blue Trail from Buddington

Here's the new pull-off on Buddington Road at the powerlines. I recommend backing in like the car you see in the photo so that you can more safely pull out onto Buddington Road.  The spot is next to the mailbox for #184 Buddington, but the number "1" has been lost and it just says "84" now. 

There's an access trail leading from the pull-off down to the Blue Trail.  The access trail is marked with small blue squares, while the main trail is marked with long blue rectangles. The Eagle Scout bridge built by Josh Kreitler is right at the beginning. Before all the rain, there were lots of tadpoles in the water, but they seem to have been washed away by the storm a week ago when 4 inches fell.  

The trail was littered with spent blossoms from Tulip Trees and Mountain Laurel. 

After several water crossings that were more challenging than usual due to a good six or seven inches of rain in the last week (water-proof boots and a walking stick are helpful just now), the trail rises up to a promontory.  I remember standing on the ridge before the city bought the land and thinking this is exactly where the trail would go. Nice. 

Then there is the haunted mountain laurel thicket (does that blazed tree in the photo above look like it has two eyes and a mouth?) and before you know it, you're ready to cross the powerlines. 

Follow the cairns to the towers. And look at the mountain laurel, it's in full bloom!

Beautiful!  You might hear ravens while hiking this new section of trail. They must have a nest nearby. 

The blazes slip behind the mountain laurel and into the forest, but not before a decent view from the ledge outcrop, especially now when the mountain laurel are blooming. 


There's a quick descent through the forest to a low spot that was fairly wet today, but it's not as hard to cross as it first looks. There are plenty of roots and rocks to step on. If you hear a frog that sounds like a plucked banjo string out where the wet spot turns into a cattail marsh under the powerlines, those are Green Frogs. Then the trail heads up a knoll and passes a short side trail to another ledge lookout under the powerlines. It's only 20 or 30 feet from the main trail. Nice place for a picnic. 

A side trail leads to this lookout

From the lookout, you can see the tower you just walked under.  The cattail marsh is down below, and was a real barrier to the trail, since the wet area extends into the woods. 

And before you know it, you've come to Nells Rock Trail, blazed white. Today, the blue blazes still turn right to follow the trail, but very shortly they will go left instead, to follow the white trail for just 100 feet or so before turning right. 

And then your objective is to climb up to this rock. The route was marked only with survey tape today, and not raked out.  I hope to finish it off tomorrow.  

Near the top of the ridge, you walk along the base of this ledge, then do a sharp switchback to climb on top of it. 

There. Now you're looking down on Nells Rock Trail far below. I've been hiking in this area for twenty years, but was never up on this knoll before looking for a location to reroute the trail. 

It's an attractive, flat-topped knoll, with plenty of rock features to walk along. It's a nice alternative to walking along the White Trail. 

And then 2/3 of a mile from Buddington Road, the new route rejoins the old route along an old woods road. A bit further on is what we call "Four Corners," which is the big intersection between the blue, white, and fading yellow blazes at the #6 waymarker. 

Coming back down the hill towards Nells Rock Trail, it started to rain, and these rocks didn't look like they would offer much shelter. But the leaves blocked most of the rain and by the time I got home the sun was back out. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Major Blue Trail Reroutes

Here's a map showing the recent reroutes to the Blue Trail (future Paugussett) at Shelton Lakes. Click the photo to enlarge or click HERE for a pdf version you can print. 
  • Reroute "A" is located between Independence Drive and Wellington Court and is an Eagle Scout project still in progress. This is a bad section of trail right now, because the old route has become overgrown [update: the Trails Committee cleared this section on June 15] and the new route has a wet spot the Scouts will be building a bridge across. All the heavy rain has made the crossing very muddy and difficult. The reroute is not yet blazed.
  • Reroute "B", which is complete and fully blazed, is a significant change on either side of Route 108 that consisted of shifting the trail off of the powerlines and joining the Rec Path to cross the Silent Waters dam. 
  • Reroute "C" [is complete 6/19] should be complete within a few days, and involves both a reroute and an extension south to Buddington Road. The 1/3-mile extension was constructed as an Eagle Scout project by Josh Kreitler and included a substantial bridge over a swamp.  There is a parking area on Buddington Road at the powerlines, next to a set of mailboxes (include #184, which reads "84").  The 1/3-mile reroute was done to allow the old section to connect the new section and to take the trail away from the houses along John Dominick Drive, including the ongoing construction of new homes on that street and Buddington Road. Only the northern 1/6 mile of this new route is not yet blazed (the section north of the White Trail). That portion is flagged and cleared. 
About the old sections of Blue Trail: We have not decided what to do with those sections. In some cases the blazes have been covered over, in others the old blazes have yet to be removed, and in still others the long rectangular blazes were partially covered with spray paint to create small blue squares.  The latter blazes might be converted to blue/white blazes in the future where they connect the blue and white trails. 

Why are we messing with everyone's head? Because we are trying to have the Blue Trail formally adopted by CFPA as a Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trail and an extension of the Paugussett Trail. Reroutes "A" and "B" were recommended by CFPA.  Reroute "C" is partly in response to new construction. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

No Rest for the Weary!

 The recent rounds of heavy rain have contributed to the already weakened root systems of many trees in the state, causing uprooting in inconvenient places. The Trails Committee was notified by a Rec Path user that a large cluster had effectively blocked the paved portion between Meadow St. and the Shelton Intermediate School. Since this was an obstacle that was difficult to bypass and posed a danger to those who tried, our highly skilled, professional (ha!) reaction team put down their Sunday papers to tackle the problem.

This cluster of over five large trunks stopped most path users in their tracks

The challenge is in removing branches and trunks in the proper sequence

Rich makes the first cut

Once the big stuff is gone, the cleanup follows. Terry and Rich handle the small stuff

While we're at it, Sandie drops a dead tree that threatens to take out an innocent passerby or two

What obstacle???

Trails Day 2013

 It was hot, humid, and a change in venue from our previous Trails Day hikes. This was to be shorter, but more of a climb than what had been our usual level walk along the Shelton Lakes Recreation Path. Fortunately, the hardy souls that showed were prepared for a real hike!

Click on photos to enlarge

We assembled at the parking lot across from the Indian Well  falls trail
Terry Gallagher was designated hike leader and trail guide, having experience in distinguishing between poison ivy and hallucinogenic mushrooms

The hikers started from Indian Well State Park by The Maples.  We had a few more late additions, but it was a nice turn out.   Here's the "Before" picture while we were all cool and dry.
 From the parking lot, it was only a short distance of easy walking before the uphill climb

 Terry points out the stone retaining wall built by the WPA during the Great Depression

 Hikers pass a long abandoned home foundation halfway up the hill

One of several obstacles that had to be tackled along the way. Due to the relatively dry Spring, streams and brooks did not pose a problem this day

Pets as well as folks consumed their share of water
At the half way mark (this was a round trip) Bill Dyer had pre-placed a cooler with ice water, a welcome treat
Hot and tired, but knowing that the return trip was downhill, the survivors wait for their Trails Committee guides to stop stalling and proceed with the remainder of the hike.

All things considered, and in spite of the less-than-ideal conditions, all participants seemed to enjoy the day. The first-timers expressed interest in future outings, so we hope to see all of them in the near future.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Mountain Laurel Season along the Paugussett Trail

It's prime viewing for Mountain Laurels on Shelton's trails.  One of the best places to see then are south of Rt. 108 along the newly re-routed Paugussett Trail Extension.  The portion between Oak Valley Road and Buddington Road has been re-routed by Teresa Gallagher to move the hiking trail away from new  residential construction and take advantage of some very scenic spots.

The newly re-routed section winds through some rolling woodlands and comes out on a rocky knoll at the powerlines with this beautiful view of the Mountain Laurel all in flower.  The pocket wetland at the bottom is jammed with Grey Tree Frogs doing their mating songs.

The trail crosses the powerlines and continues south to Buddington Road.

The new bridge that was just constructed by Josh Kreitler and his Eagle Scout team survived Storm Andrea.  We had about 4" of rain Friday night and the bridge weathered the storm just fine.

Photo: Another completed Eagle Scout project on the trails: Josh Kreitler & Co. built an extension to the extension of the Paugussett Trail, so the trail now comes out onto Buddington Road instead of ending at John Dominick Drive. Nice bridge! That section is not yet blazed.  Another Scout is working on the section between Independence Drive and Wellington Court.

Here's Josh and his family just after construction of the bridge.  They also cleared out a long section of new trail on either side of the bridge from the powerlines to Buddington Road.  Nice work by scout volunteers.

Other good places to see the Mountain Laurel in bloom right now are along the Recreation Path (there is a nice tunnel of Laurel between the Ice Cave and the powerlines, and along Oak Valley Trail.  So get your camera's, take a walk, and send your photos in to the Shelton Trails & Conservation Facebook page.