Saturday, June 25, 2016

Paugussett Trail Work Party

While most of us would prefer to spend the day at the beach or lounge lazily in the back yard on such a great day, some hardy souls chose to work on improving a section of the Paugussett Trail in Shelton. Work started at the entrance to the trail on Mayflower Drive and ended at the crossover on Route 110 (Leavenworth Rd). (The accompanying photos appear somewhat distorted due to an erroneous camera setting by the knuckle-head photographer).
Most of the work involved cutting back stray vines and especially Japanese Barberry, an invasive plant that covers large sections of the woods, and is nasty to control. Loppers, weed-whackers, and hedge trimmers were put to use in this battle

Terry explains to Val and Sheri the safety measures he takes while using the weed-whacker
Mark works at clearing the entrance to the trail at  Rt 110. The area had been completely overgrown and was difficult to find from the street
Many thanks to volunteers Val, Luis, Mark, and Shelton Trails Committee members Sheri, Jim, and Terry. Knucklehead Richard was behind the camera

Another day, another clean-up. Hope to see you at our next event!


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Short Crew of Minions on Saturday

We had a short crew on Saturday.  Actually we were probably of average height, but only 3 of us showed up.  We did get a fair piece of work done before we had to leave for our other weekend tasks though.

The goal was to mow the Paugussett Trail though the Wiecek Open Space on Constitution Blvd North, however since we had limited staff we focused on moving rocks and filling in ditches and walls left over from recent CL&P construction along the powerlines.

Here was a diversion ditch filled in with rocks to make it easier to walk, bike and drive maintenance gear over.

The farmer had started to hay the lower Wiecek Meadow last week so we left the upper meadow alone for now.  Follow the blue-blazed stakes along the perimeter of the hay field until we mow.

 The cut-out in the stone wall was cleared.  The viburnum and greenbriars were putting on a flowery show.

We then cleared out the trail from Constitution Blvd North toward Wellington Court, cut out down toward Dyer Straits, then the battery in the mower shorted out.  The brushcutter also wouldn't idle properly, so we used the string trimmer until that ran out of string.  It just wasn't our day.  Luckily the hedgetrimmer worked so we were able to convince Rich to keep working while we went old school and started cutting briars manually.

June is a tough month to keep trails clear.  Especially in the open areas when it rains and there's a lot of warm sun; everything just explodes.  Jim later cleared blowdowns by the Dog Park, and Teresa cut brush back on the Paugussett Trail, the RecPath, and at other trails.  So enjoy the trails, and follow Bill Dyer's ABC advice; Allways Bring Clippers.  Seriously, bring your clippers when you go bike riding, running, or walking because you'll need them.  Or plan to join us for a trail work party because we appreciate any and all agile active trail aficionados. See the work party page for more info.

And check out the Mountain Laurel on the RecPath south of the Dog Park this week.  You won't be sorry.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Trails Day 2016: Paugussett Trail North

Birchbank Trailhead
A group of intrepid hikers tackled Shelton's most difficult trail for Trails Day 2016, and one of our thirteen hikes of the 2016 Shelton Trails Marathon. The Paugussett Trail between Birchbank and Indian Well has some challenging footing in places, especially when the rock is damp and slick like it was for Trails Day.  We gave it the hardest rating in the CFPA Trails Day Guide: A black diamond. 

Upper White Hills Brook, Birchbank Trail
The hikers took Birchbank Trail up from Indian Well Road until the white blazes met the blue blazes of the Paugussett Trail at the chimney, where the Paugussett was recently rerouted. 

The Birchbank Chimney
From the chimney, the hike took a left turn onto the Paugussett Trail and continued up the hill to the overlook.

Birchbank Overlook

It's always hot on Trails Day, and this day was no exception. It was also muggy, with slugs and giant millipedes wandering about the trails. This made the next section more of a challenge, because there was a lot of damp rock, and all it takes is one slip to break a leg. 

Maidenhair Fern
Most of the uphill climbing was done by the time the hikers arrived at the overlook, but there was still a good rocky scree section. It's good to go slow with this type of trail and think about where you want to place each foot. Walking sticks are helpful, too. 

Up the mossy scree slope

First of The Boulders
After the scree, comes The Boulders. This is still in Birchbank, just before you arrive at Indian Well. There is one clump of boulders that hikers need to "scramble" over, meaning they need to use their hands. After the boulders, a few trail sections were overgrown, so Teresa stayed behind to clear the trail. 
Once the trail hits the Indian Well line (marked with yellow paint on a tree near a stream, with a Shelton Open Space marker looking in reverse), the footing is much easier until the descent down to Indian Well Falls, which is very steep and may be rerouted. 

Sadly, the Indian Well overlook was overgrown and there was no view. This is something we will bring up with CFPA and the DEEP, because we can't go in there and start cutting trees on state property.