Wednesday, October 30, 2013

That Darn Dam!

Not unlike painting the George Washington Bridge, trail maintenance many times requires going back over a particular area or structure on a regular basis to provide safe passage or to define a path through a heavily wooded area. Thus, leaf-blowing some trails in Autumn or fence-mending when needed.

 Though not technically a trail item, the red barn does house the tools required to get the job done, so keeping the barn from collapsing by holding it together with paint is somewhat desirable. That's why we have work parties!

 Click on photos to enlarge

"What's going on here?" We had a number of weak or damaged rails that had to be replaced on the fence along the Silent Waters dam. With only 10 new rails to work with on this day, we had to be selective in replacements. The safety of the trail users was our primary concern.

Jim offers advice as Jeff removes a broken rail.
Jeff's son Anthony clears the growing accumulation of leaves from the Rec Path at Silent Waters.

"Well! Just don't stand there! Do sumthin'".
Jeff and Terry force another new rail into place.
Jim and Richard prepare to recycle the old rails.
"Time to go home?". Terry whistles "Hi-ho, hi-ho!", not realizing that there's painting to be done before the day is over.

 No, it's not over! Work continues at the barn. A new coat of paint was needed, and we had the brushes, paint, manpower, and Bill Dyer, "aka, "Tom Sawyer", to convince the volunteers that painting was fun!

Anthony shows how it's done.

Bill's concern was keeping the paint on the barn, and not on his clothes.

The other Bill was just trying to stay warm on this cool, breezy Autumn day.

Jim preferred the high life, spending most of his time on the ladder.

Jim watches Richard trying to restore an old edge to an old barn

We like to start at the bottom, and work our way up!

It was a fun day, really! Nice weather, easy projects, good exercise. This is a great way for a family to enjoy a productive, educational, and community improvement day. By all appearances Jeff and son Anthony experienced a morning of working together as a team.You can't buy that bonding!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hoptoberfest (we can't do free work all the time)

Another Saturday morning, another work party.  We met at the Red Barn by the Shelton Dog Park, then headed off to work on the Shelton Lakes Recreation Path.  It was a great team with a lot of  volunteers; we levitated leaves, we fixed fences, we found benches, we beautified barns, all at no cost to the taxpayer.  God were we gullible goobers, but we had a good time on a beautiful Fall morning.

Rich and Sandie will probably detail  the "work" portion of the work party, however some of us had enjoyed the "party" portion at The Slab afterwords.  The Derby-Shelton Rotary Club was hosting their first ever Hoptoberfest  by the Farmers Market.

So while a few Trails Committee members were watching a nail-biter 62-17 UConn game (and not in a good way), the rest of us were out supporting the Rotary Club.  They sponsor Shelton Day where we have our annual booth to talk to folks about open space and trails in their neighborhoods.

Teresa was enjoying Howie and the Soul Potatoes at the Pavilion in the sun.  A very fine design by Jim Tate & Company.

It was a beautiful afternoon, if somewhat blustery, at The Slab along the Housatonic River downtown.  Its hard to imagine what this brownfield site used to look like in it's post-industrial heyday before it became the major downtown park.  The Conservation Commission and Trails Committee have been long-time supporters of better public access in downtown along the River and it is starting to pay off with downtown revitalization.  It's really good to see community events like this bringing people into downtown.

A number of folks were trying out their bikes and skateboards along the Riverwalk.

Terry & Bill were doing their part to support the Rotary Club.  Don't ever let it be said that the Trails Committee isn't civic minded.

We'd like to discuss a few suggestions for next year though; start a week earlier, add several more porta-potties, and fill up larger cups.  Possibly add a polka band just to fit in and keep up the Valley image.

All in all it was a great time & we'd recommend doing it again next year.  We'll definitely have more trails volunteers off the Disabled List by then and be able to make a better showing.  We need more parties at the end of work parties.

And a nice job by Allegra Printers on the graphics for the event.  They've helped out with printing for the City on our trail maps and brochures.  They are a good local business if you need printing.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Paint the Barn this Saturday

This weekend's (10/26/13) trail work party will be re-painting the Trails Committee's Barn at Nells Rock Road on Saturday.  We may also be retrieving a bench, fixing some fence rails on the RecPath, and clearing some brush depending on who shows up.

The Barn was last repainted by the Trails Committee in 2010 before the Dog Park was constructed and the White House torn down.  It's been needing re-painting but we've had other trail work that was a higher priority.  Emily Tarini's repainting of the Dog Park Shed is making us look bad and we have to spiff up our Barn.

So meet at the parking lot on Nells Rock Road and Rt. 108 at 8:30 and bring your old clothes.

Afterwards, some of us are going down to the Riverwalk at 1:00 to support the Shelton-Derby Rotary Club in their noble cause:  Hoptoberfest.  Tickets are $25 if purchased in advance, $35 at the gate.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Eagle Scout Project: Josh Kreitler's Blue Trail Extension

Here's another one of the many Eagle Scout projects completed in 2013. Josh Kreitler was responsible for building an extension to the Blue Trail (future Paugussett Trail), about 1/3 mile in length, from the powerlines near John Dominick Drive south to Buddington Road. Some photos of the new route were posted a few months ago. 

Constructing the bridge.
The trail extension included a significant wetland crossing, which is why this trail was not built previously. The problem was solved by using telephone poles to cross the gap, with planking attached.  Getting the hefty poles through the woods and into place was not easy.
Nice way to start a hike.

Nice job!

As an aside, the new trail section was built more or less as depicted in this plan from several years ago, when UI was selling the land alongside the powerlines:

The trail as built
At the time, one of our local developers was hoping to purchase the land to complete a block of land for a subdivision. The City of Shelton had the 'right of first refusal' because it was land from a public utility, and the Conservation Commission recommended the City purchase it for open space, which was done.  The second plan shows how the trail would have looked if the City had not purchased the land and the twelve proposed homes had been built (the two homes on the right are in the final stages of construction, but the rest of the proposal is dead).

Homes and trail under an earlier proposal.

Monday, October 21, 2013

An Independent Bunch of Scouts

The residents of Shelton were fortunate enough to have not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, but 5; count'um 5 eagle scout project completed in August, 2013.  It's a new record, with more on the way in the Fall.

Two separate projects from Troop 27 were completed north of Independence Drive along the Paugussett Trail Extension.  Wesley Sekelsky's team constructed two footbridges, re-routed trail, constructed an earthen ramp, and cleared bush for two stream crossings.

Daniel Vigezzi's team also constructed a bridge and moved a number of stones along the stream.

Both sets of improvements are part of a larger project to extend the Paugussett Trail from Indian Well State Park to Buddington Road this year.  

The earthen ramp down from the north side of  Independence Drive makes for a much easier walk or ride.

These two bridges criss-cross a pair of wetlands that we had to cross when the trail was relocated off the powerlines at the request of CFPA.  This should reduce our maintenance efforts because the powerlines always needed a lot of mowing in the Spring.

Dozens of groups and volunteer work parties have been chipping away at this 6 mile trail extension.  Good job Wesley and Daniel and all your team mates - thank you for all your hard work.

Update: A surplus of $373.55 was donated to the Conservation Commission and is ear-marked to be used for future Eagle Scout projects. 

New Kiosk at Nells Rock

An incredible total of eight Eagle Scout projects were undertaken this summer.  This new kiosk at the Abbey Wright parking lot for Nells Rock Trail is Dan Heiden's project, from Troop 55.  Some hikers left a note on the plexiglass. 

Note left by some random hikers.
 We agree!

Kiosk stocked with info.

I put the note under the glass with the trail map and signs. 

Trail map with QR code
The trail map has a QR code that people with a smart phone can scan in order to have the map on their phone. Over half of Americans now own a smart phone, and since people tend to hike in groups, there is a good chance someone in the group will be able to scan the code.  So QR codes are a very handy way to provide trail maps to the public. Paper maps left at kiosks have to be restocked frequently and also tend to get wet. 
Map obtained by scanning the QR code.
To scan a QR code with a smart phone, you need to have a bar code reader app installed. My phone came with one pre-installed, but some people need to download an app. You open the app and scan the QR code, which causes a web link to appear on your phone. Just touch that link, and the map will load. You can zoom in or pan around the map as needed to see it clearly.  

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Paugussett Trail Work Party (and we weren't rowing)

It was a beautiful Fall morning for a Paugussett Trail work party, but as we were turning on Indian Well Road the cops at the intersection asked if we were going to the Regatta.  "Oh, you're going to Trails" the officer said with a pleasant smile looking in the back of the car at the rakes and chainsaws, "Well good luck with parking".  Yup, we scheduled a Trail Work Party at Indian Well State Park on the same day as the Head of the Housatonic Rowing Regatta; one of the largest rowing events in the northeast.

As it turned out we had most of the little parking lot by The Maples to ourselves, but as we watched the line of school buses, trailers with rowing shells, and school vans carrying all the teams rolling by we wondered how long that would last.  We were putting fine touches on the Paugussett Trail Southern Extension in anticipation of CFPA mapping the trail by GPS for formal inclusion into the Blue Blaze Trail System.  Some of us headed off to Mayflower Lane and worked northward to avoid everybody getting blocked in.  The rest headed across the meadow and into the woods.

Jeff & Anthony raked, Jim weedwacked, Bill chainsawed, Rich leaf blowed and Lynn, Bill, Jim, Ian, John and Terry spread out and cleaned up the trail.

John and Ian are walking along the trail that follows a historic road running past an old Civilian Conservation Corps camp.  Workers from the CCC built the stone walls and roads leading to Indian Well State Park as a conservation program during The Great Depression in the 1930's.

The volunteers cleared up a lot of trash and leaves that collect along the wall from Rt. 110 down into Indian Well.  New blue trail blazes were recently painted as requested by CFPA during a field review last month.

One of the tasks was to repair some stone steps that had washed out in places.  The stairs were built in gravel at the end of one of the retaining walls and had some severe problems.  Steps were rebuilt or extended, large stones were scavenged from downhill and laboriously carried up the steep slope across slippery dry leaves, new treads were added, coping stones were placed along the edges.

Stair building takes a surprisingly long amount of time.  It might not look as elegant as some stairs, but it is a lot safer and easier to walk down than it was.  If there's any complaints blame Rich, he came back to help and as such inherits all responsibility.

Trail Safety Tip:  If you're dropping two heavy rocks on top of a third rock, make sure your fingers and toes are clear first.

Once the stars stopping swimming in front of my eyes and I could breath again I uttered a number of unprintable things.  Luckily no children's ears were nearby to hear how much I enjoyed The Granite Kiss. One of the occupational hazards of trail building, but pretty minor compared to the shape of some of the other Trail Committee members right now.

Other that that it was a successful and safe work party, and as it turned out our cars were not blocked in by the Regatta.  Hundreds, possibly thousands of people were out enjoying a warm beautiful day on the Housatonic River.  Everybody can also now enjoy the new Paugussett Trail Extension this Fall.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Saturday Trail Opportunities

There are two events planned for Saturday 10/12/13; a Trail Work Party on the Paugussett and a Nature Hike on Nells Loop.

The Trail Work Party meets at The Maples parking lot on Indian Well Road near Indian Well State Park off Rt. 110 at 8:30.

We're putting a lot of finishing touches on the Paugussett Trail from Indian Well up to Mayflower Lane;  raking, leaf blowing, chainsawing logs, fixing stone steps, cutting trippies flush with the ground, clearing out sightlines, and whatever else needs to be done.  This is a good project for high school students looking to fill out their community hours.


There's some stone steps climbing up to the road that have some loose treads and pins that need resetting and possibly some heavy work.

The Nature Hike at 1:00 meets at the Abby Wright parking lot on Nells Rock Road across from L'Hermitage Condominiums.  Registration is required - see the Events Page for more information.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Greetings from Shelton Day 2013

Well, the weathermen lied to us again.  Instead of a nice partly sunny Fall day it started out cloudy, got drizzly, cleared somewhat, got cooler and windier, and finished misty.  Not the best day for Shelton Day.  However we did set up our booth and talked to a lot of folks despite the weather.

Here's Bill Dyer and Jim Taradine talking to folks about trails and handing out trail maps.  On a week when our ranks were severely depleted by injuries and accidents we were still able to field a team for Shelton Day.

A number of people signed up for our e-mails about trail work parties and events; which is our main reason for doing Shelton Day.  Shelton's trails are built and maintained by volunteers so we're always interesting in getting new folks involved.  We had some great discussions with residents about trails in their neighborhoods, destinations for tourists, and City-wide attractions.

Lynn Reid brought candy bars, but her two puppies were the main attraction to the booth.

I mean, who can say no to little kids and little dogs.  I do think the pups may have been a little heavier after the Smoke and Bones barbecue, and the Liquid Lunch leftovers.

There were a lot of other community organizations at the event; including our friends for SEDC and the History Center.  Love that Canal Street Rendering - we can hardly wait until it's finished to tie in with the Riverwalk all the way up to the dam locks.

Another interesting event in the books.  Next year we'll laminate some of the maps in case of rain and that'll ensure good weather.  Thanks to the Derby-Shelton Rotary Club for hosting the event, and to all the people that stopped to say hi or sign up for our events.  See you at our next work party or hike.