Sunday, November 29, 2015

Turkey Trot Trek

It turned out to be a great day to work off those Thanksgiving calories, and 22 folks (and one pooch) took advantage of the opportunity. The weather cooperated and the trail had been prepared the day before. So off we went!

 Click on photos to enlarge
We met at the Shelton Intermediate School
Terry explained the route we would be taking

The entire two miles of the trail had been prepared the day before. Leaves and especially acorns were blown clear, brambles and overgrowth were cut back (Thank you, volunteers!)
Terry leads the way
At an intersection on the powerlines, Terry points out the different route options available to hikers
A short uphill climb
Happy hikers near the end of their trek
It was a great day and a pleasant hike. We had some new folks as well as returnees, and all appeared to have a good time. See you at the next hike!

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Saturday, November 28, 2015


We wanted to make it easier for the participants in the following day's Turkey Trot Trek, knowing that the Thanksgiving feasts would slow down the bloated hikers for several days, so this work party sort of carved the trail rather than the turkey.

 Click on photos to enlarge

Volunteers gather at the starting point for our work party. Eva thinks this is fun, not realizing that work is part of the party!
First things first. "How do we start this darn thing?"
After clearing leaf debris that was backing up this little brook, Bob trimmed away encroaching brambles from the trail
Mary walked behind mike, cutting away at wayward branches and brambles

Mike put his leaf blower to work clearing a path through a thick layer of leaves. Acorns were also in abundance this year, creating a dangerous situation , especially on slopes, where it was like walking on marbles. In the background, Richard had started from the other end and met Mike here

Luis and Terrance cut away the invasives, such as Russian Olive, that were closing in on the trail

The Turkey Trot is a great walk, passing through picturesque woodlands and providing a fun and healthy means of getting that exercise you've always said that you needed

 Many thanks to Mike, Mary, Luis, and Eva for volunteering to help us out on this day. Shelton Trail Committee members toiling away were Bill, Terrance, Bob, Jim, and Richard

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Screw the Gator, we gotta get some of These!

We have a John Deere Gator that we use for trails maintenance.  It's The World's Greatest Wheelbarrow.  We can haul stuff, tow stuff, mow stuff, and maybe even carry an injured person out of the woods (EMS's job technically).  But it's a great tool and and we've gotten a lot of heavy duty use out of it.

 Here's Jim and Rich mowing the RecPath at Lane St this summer with The Gator.  It's a great tool for trail maintenance.  We've been hemming and hawing about the best time to get the water pump fixed on the Gator this Fall, what Martinka's schedule was, how to fit it into our mowing schedule, etc.

Screw the Gator, lets get a couple of these bad boys.  If we get not one, but two of these (you always need a back up), we could not only do trail work, but we could catch illegal ATV's on the trail.  Heck, if Bill can get the Gator airbourne imagine what he could do with one of these things (Rich, that is not an invitation to Photoshop).   Whatever you do, do not stick Bill's noggin on a Dukes of Hazard photo.

 I was getting a Stihl kit to add to my leaf blower so I could clean my gutters at home. I picked it up at CT Powersports in Wallingford, and they had enough ATV's and off road vehicles to look like the scene from a Mad Max Movie.  I was amazed.

I asked one of the guys there what these go for, ballpark.   He said "$9,000 and up, the sky's the limit".  These things not only have heat, they have windshield whippers, roll bars, and cup holders!  These rides are sweet.

And they had a whole building full of them, a big building, plus more outside!  Plus they had other outdoor toys like jet skis and motorcycles.  This place was impressive.

It's amazing how much money is being spent on these vehicles.  I say in jest that we should trade in our John Deere Gator, but it's been a great tool for us, and we would never get rid of it.  I wonder where are all the places that people ride these off-road vehicles and ATVs; do folks have permission to ride them legally there?  The City of Shelton has banned motorized vehicles from City streets, open spaces and parks due to all the damage and complaints.  So too has the CT DEEP at State Parks, Aquarion Water Company at their watershed property, UI, Eversource, Iroquois Gas at their ROWs, and most of the major farms and landowners at their property.

They look really cool, but where do people ride these expensive toys legally?  Maybe some of the people who sell these things could fund some privately-owned ATV parks where they can ride legally.  It seems like the market is there, the questions are where can they be ridden legally, and how high can Bill get one of them to go.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

We Blew It!

Crisp Autumn air, blue skies, a slight breeze, the fragrance of newly fallen was a great day to be outdoors, removing Mother Nature's annual prank from our trails. This day we chose to clear our Bluff Walk trail that runs the length of Riverview Park, through the woods on the slopes below.
 Loaded for bear with back-pack leaf blowers and old-fashioned rakes, we set out to once again clear a path through the wilderness of Riverview Park

 Click on photos to enlarge

Bill, Eva, and Val work together as a team. In some stretches the leaves were almost knee deep and wet, which required muscle work with the rakes before the leaf blowers could do their job 

Richard and Bill meet up. Richard had started at the farther end of the trail and worked his way toward Bill

"Val, you're holding it wrong!". Actually, in many instances the leaves were so deep they had to be shoveled out of the way

 Bill and Eva insect some of their work. This trail overlooks the Housatonic, noticeable with the leaves gone from the trees

"It ain't over 'til it's over", as the late Yogi Berra would say. Some trees were still holding out as we finished. We'll get them next Fall!
Thanks to volunteers Eva and Val, and also to Trails Committee members Jim and Terry, who were out of camera range, purportedly working at the other end of the trail, but probably sitting in Dunkin' Donuts wondering what to have for lunch

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Upcoming Riverview Park Work Party

There were some good things that were done this weekend.  A Fall Clean Up work party was held at the Eklund Native Species Garden on Oak Valley Road.  Five volunteers got the place in good shape for the winter.  It's amazing what can be accomplished in a short amount of time with the right folks.  Visit the Eklund Garden Blog at the above link to see the before and after photos.

There was also a work party at the Soundview Community Garden.

And there were a couple of dedicated volunteers out cleaning and flagging the Basil Brook Bypass Trail.  Meanwhile there was a little graffiti removal and map restocking at some of trail kiosks going on.

Next Saturday there will be a work party on The Bluff Walk at Riverview Party.  See the work party page for more details.

We'll be clearing leaves, brush, etc.  Bring your non-slip boots to prevent rolling down the hill on all the acorns.

A lot of families were out enjoying the kiddie playground at the park on a nice Fall Sunday afternoon.  The Bluff Walk goes from one end of Riverview Park to the other, and has some nice views of the Housatonic River.  Hope to see you there.

Kutt the Krud (getting rid of graffiti)

2015 has been a bad year for graffiti.  It seems that every knucklehead with a spray can or sharpie wants to add his or her initials to something that we built this year.  It would almost be ok if it were good art, but this is not Banksy-caliber work.  When you go scribble all over something a volunteer, or an eagle scout, or your fellow neighbors has built and maintained on their own time then you're just being a jerk.  But we are getting better at removing the stuff.

The Krud-Kutter Graffiti Remover from Home Depot (in the paint section) is pretty good at removing most graffiti.  It took off paint marker from one trailhead kiosk without impacting the Lexan.  The Goof Off remover will take paint off, but it takes longer than the Krud-Kutter.  Goof Off 2 works faster, but it turns some of the plexi-glass hazy so we think it eating that away too.  The Krud-Kutter doesn't seem to harm the plexi-glass.

Someone spray painted this Paugussett Trail sign along Rt. 110 near Indian Well State Park.  Why I don't know.  It was a custom sign that took Connecticut Forest & Parks Association weeks to arrange with the ConnDOT.  And the sign is up high too.  I remembered to bring the Krud-Cutter, rubber gloves, and rags, but forgot I needed a step ladder.  Luckily I have long arms.

It took a few applications, but most of the paint came off.  Next time I'll have to bring a step ladder, or Manute Bol.

It's a little harder to remove from porous surfaces, like wood, but the Krud-Kutter works well with repeated applications.  Sometimes you need to use a wire brush.

The map box cleaned up well.  The Trails Committee is planning to fix up this Trail Kiosk at Rt. 108 this Fall.  In the meantime, please keep an eye out and if you see someone messing stuff up say something to them.  There's no magic elves who fix all this stuff, just your friends and neighbors who are trail volunteers.  And if somebody out there really wants to paint something, give us a call because we can use the help.