Friday, December 25, 2015

I'm Dreaming of a Warm Christmas

Well 2015 is definitely shaping up as a weird winter.  We're got record high temperatures up and down the East Coast for Christmas and no snow in sight.  Some folks are complaining about the lack of snow, but after last year a lot of people are enjoying the warmth.

The Charlie Brown Christmas Tree along the Recreation Path at Lane Street has grown up.  Click here to see what it used to look like.

And so to has the tradition of everyone hanging an ornament or two on the tree to celebrate Christmas.  This year the Land Trust suggested using natural ornaments due to left over tinsel and glass from last year.  This created some back and forth discussion over what types of decorations were appropriate, some of which the Land Trust folks tried to accommodate but didn't realize all the ramifications of.

Some people got really creative making some natural ornaments to hang on the tree.

But the bottom line is enjoy the Christmas season, show the kids how to enjoy stringing popcorn and cranberries, be responsible and clean up after yourselves, have a wonderful time with your families, and enjoy Shelton's beautiful open spaces,

I took Biscuit out for a walk today & I was HOT in a long sleeved shirt on December 25th!!!.  What the heck.  It's a fluky year - enjoy it while you can.

Here's this year's Christmas theme song .

Eventually we'll get whacked by Old Man Winter and then it will be time for snowshoeing, but until then crack out those light hikers, shorts and tee shirts and hit the trails. 

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Your Shelton Trails Committee Volunteers.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Is it winter yet?

We're not complaining...the weather has been ideal for catching up on our Fall clean-up! With over 14 miles of trails in Shelton to maintain, we'll take all the good weather that can come our way!

Click on photos to enlarge
The ducks had the right idea. Just relax in the sun on Silent Waters!

It all starts with cranking up the leaf blowers. Harry fires up his machine
Terrance and Mary focused on clearing away invasive Russian Olive
Before: Leaf litter all but obscured the rec path between Constitution Blvd and Silent Waters
After: Much easier to walk, run, and ride your horse (if that's your means of transportation)

Harry disappears inside the Russian Olive that he's taking apart
"Where are we gonna put this stuff?"

Richard and Harry clear away the debris from the rec path
Found in the overgrowth: A birds nest transformed into a seed and berry stash?
At mornings end, one small step for the Shelton Trails Committee, one giant leap for......well, at least we cleared up part of the picture!

Thanks to Mary and Harry, our volunteers, for giving up their Saturday morning to help out, and to Terrance, Richard, and Jim (who failed to get into the pictures), from the Shelton Trails Committee.

Tahmore Trail 2.0 Blazes and Benching

Anybody see a trail here??
In November, CFPA asked Terry & Teresa (the one writing this post) to become Trail Managers for the Paugussett Trail from the Monroe border to Indian Well State Park, including the side trail known locally as Tahmore Trail. The first order of business was to assess the trail and see what needs to be done. We decided to start with Tahmore Trail on the assumption it had been overlooked for several years. 

A very faded blue/yellow blaze

We were right. Wow.  Many of the blazes were faded, and with a thick covering of fresh oak leaves on the ground, finding the trail was not easy. First order of business: Reblaze. There were also a few areas with brush that needed to be cut back and some blowdowns to be removed. Finally, the trail has always suffered from poor footing. There are a few steep spots, but worse is the cross slope along one section. The combination of the cross slope and slippery oak leaves made the trail downright hazardous, even when I was wearing microspikes on my boots, so the trail needed to be leaf-blown immediately. Lots of work to do! 

There. That's better. 
The previous blazes were the tradition CFPA blue blaze with a yellow "dot", signifying that the trail was a side trail off of the Paugussett. CFPA has changed that style of blaze because it required the blue paint to dry before the yellow paint was added over it. The new style consists of the top two thirds of the blaze painted blue, and the bottom 1/3 painted a secondary color, in this case yellow.

Clarified trail junction. Go left to the Paugussett Trail,
right to do the Tahmore Loop. 
We reblazed about 3/4 of the trail, but left a section unblazed where it comes very close to homes and backyards while we think about a possible reroute. That section is easy to follow, so we're not too worried about people losing the trail. There is some yellow survey flagging out there marking the possible reroute. The new route would take the trail up the hill to an open area and seasonal views. 

Before: bad cross slope, faded blazes. Where's the trail??
After we got the trail back to where people could follow it, we decided to improve the footing along a hundred-foot stretch where there was a steep drop, a bad cross slope and a steep rise. This section was rerouted to follow the contours and eliminate the drop, but to do so had to be benched into the side of the hill. It's a lot of work, but is a huge improvement. We will be looking for Eagle Scouts and others who are interested in improving the footing along this trail. Many opportunities here!

Benching in a trail is hard work. 
Rocks in the treadway are moved to the downhill side.
Much better! The original trail was about 30 feet down hill. 

Update 12/28/2015: 

For Christmas, Emma Gallagher routered up a sign for the Paugussett/Tahmore junction as her father's present. Check it out: 

Also, we've proposed the following reroute to the Shelton Land Trust. The reroute would move the trail away from backyards and driveways, and add in a scenic hilltop with partial seasonal views of the Housatonic River: 

Proposed reroute
The reroute would go here instead of next to people's back yards. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Dining al la Cart

We're having a streak of unusually mild December weather so take advantage of it.  You never know what you'll find.

Like this guy, out enjoying an early dinner on the 3rd Hole at Oak Lane Golf Course.  I decided to walk 9 holes after getting our Christmas Tree and this Red Tailed Hawk was polishing off a squirrel and allowed me to play through without any problems.  With this weather the animals are still all out and the leaves are down so you can enjoy the outdoors in unexpected ways.

We got our tree this year at Jones Farm.  There were some beautiful overlooks of the White Hills.  These are good examples of private properties that encourage walking, just please buy something and support your local farms.  Helpful Trail Tip: go early.

There was this really cool carving from the Civil War era in the wreath barn back at the yard.  I hadn't seen it before.  It's folk art of cutting the family tree, or possibly an early trail work party?

Our next work party is Dec. 12th at the Turkey Trot Trail & RecPath - come out and join us if you have time and maybe you'll see something interesting.