Saturday, February 23, 2013

Schneeschuhwanderungen am Geburtstag

Today was my birthday and with my family's busy schedule I got to do at least one thing for myself, I got in another snowshoe!  This time I went over to George C Waldo State Park, which is across the river the from Upper Paugussett State Forest.  My tracks from two weeks ago looked old and were partly filled in but the snow was still pretty deep and the consistency, being more like a snow cone, still needed snowshoes or it would have been a Napoleon's Death March. 

It was lightly raining while driving over to Waldo with an occasional splatter or wet snow.  At one point I even got a little sleet but then it changed back over to drizzle again.  Following the Waldo trail was easy because it's well marked but the other trails were tough.

My plan was to do the Waldo Figure 8, take the main trail to the Hunter's trail and then down to the forest road.  From there do the Extra Credit Loop, visit the beach and then back up the Main Trail, to the Hunters Trail again, up Daffy's Dack and then back to the trail head on the main trail.  My track from today is in red and you can see I missed the actual trails (blue) in some spots.  It's funny how if the trail isn't marked it's a bitch to find it and I know these trails!

I had another reason for coming out in this sloppy weather - test my new Garmin GPSMAP62 s, it actually belongs to the Connecticut Chapter of New England Mountain Bike Association which I am the President of and basically the chief GPS guy.  The Chapter also has a GPSMAP60 CSx but it now resides on the other side of the state with the Chapter's Treasurer.

The track from the 62 is on top of my old Garmin Edge 705 which I have decided to keep for non biking activities now that I have an Edge 800.  The 62 equally as accurate as my 705.  I am sure the slight variances were due to the way it was riding on my pack.  It's a great device and the 1:24,000 topo maps are super clear.


Lake Lillilohna was frozen and the ice looked pretty thick so ventured out a bit on it.  I noticed some interesting features over at Upper Paugussett State forest that I never noticed before that need exploring.  I think if there is still snow on the ground next weekend I might try to get in another trek at Upper Paugussett, this time exploring down behind the kissing oak.

There were some incredible cracks in the ice but it was still solid as a rock.  I should have tried chopping through to see how thick it really was but I didn't have anything on me to do so.

It was cool to see how the water level had receded a bit and these rocks pushed through the ice.

A few things I need to remember to keep in my pack:  a hatchet, would have been handy to see how thick the ice was, a hand saw, and maybe a little more survivalist gear.  Of course, once the snow goes away there won't be much more if any hiking at all because I will be riding again.  All in all, it was a great workout!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Support the Sandy Hook Ride on Washington!

26 Cyclists from around the area, three of whom live in Newtown, will ride from Sandy Hook Elementary School to Washington D.C. to deliver a message to the United States Congress:  People have had enough and we now need meaningful legislation in order to curb future gun violence! 

Here is how you can help:  Spread the Message by liking their Facebook Page and letting your friends know about what they are doing, by tweeting and or emailing them!   

You can also support them by buying an official Sandy Hook Ride on Washington decal for your bike and apply it 26 cm from your headset to show your solidarity for their cause.  100% of the proceeds go to supporting their ride to the Capitol.

You can also pick one up at one of three area bike shops and one in College Park, MD!

Bethel Cycle
5 Depot Place
Bethel, CT 06801

Class Cycles
77 Main Street North, Suite 105
Southbury, CT 06488

Proteus Bicycles
9217 Baltimore Ave
College Park, MD 20740

Outdoor Sports Center
80 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT 06897

On March 9th, a group of riders will start with them riding from the Newtown Municipal Center, to Sandy Hook Elementary School for a moment of silence and then past Hawley Elementary School and Head of Meadow Elementary School.  Team 26 will then split off on their route towards DC and those of us in the sendoff pack will complete a 26 mile loop through Newtown and Monroe passing by Middle Gate Elementary School and the new home of Sandy Hook Elementary School, Chalk Hill Elementary School in Monroe, CT.  From there we'll ride back to Sandy Hook Elementary School and finish back at the Municipal Center.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Snowshoeing like a Mountain Biker

My goal to day was to snowshoe up the Gussy, hit the reroute (on the Gussy) and then run down the new Mulikin, and then find my way back to the Echo Valley lot.  Word of caution, don't try parking at Echo Valley unless you have 4 Wheel Drive and an SUV!  Cars won't make it in the driveway.

There were some interesting snowshoe track on the Gussy.  The old tracks you see here on the ROW were the same tracks I saw the other day that entered from the Poly Brody but I never went far enough in to see where they went.  Well today I found out where they went.  They followed the Gussy for about a third of the way in and then veered off to the east coming back to the Gussy around the double stream crossing and then heading west to pick up the ROW.  Must have been a hunter.  Found another set of tracks that came from the blue trail cutting across the Gussy and heading east towards the Poly Brody.  Ironically, for the most part the Gussy was still virginal!

Temperatures were in the upper 20s but I had to ditch the jacket because I was getting way too hot too quickly and the wind was freezing my ears so I went to a balaclava.  Found some small pine trees blocking here and there that must have had snow on them causing them to bend over and more snow held them in place.  I got them free but I think I might have to come back and cut them.  I think I will start carrying a hand saw in my pack.

While there have been some unconfirmed Catamount sightings in our area these cat tracks belong to the Bobcat variety.  The gait is too short for a big cat.

A lot of activity on the Poly Brody.

The New Mulikin parallels this stream for a bit.

I retraced my route down the new Mulikin.  There might be a few sections on the new trail where the climbing will be a little steep but they will be short.  Otherwise this is going to be one kick ass trail.  There is one section that will be series of banked turns heading down to the old cart path.  I can't wait to start working on this re-route!

On the way back I took the west side blue trail and once again reconfirmed that I really hate this trail.  It blocked in numerous spots by blowdowns but the steep up and downs on this trail are pathetic.  I wanted to take the horse trail but couldn't find it so for the most part I snowshoed the blue trail.  Finally I picked up the Reach Around and then the lower part of the Gussy and was happy again!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

The Brew Crew
I found a great deal for a bike light on Craigslist the other day so when I met the guy to buy it I asked him whether he rode around here and he said Upper Paugussett.  When I told him about the Gussy Trail he recognized me and told me he was part of the The Brew Crew!  Wow, small world.  So we got to talking about the trail and I told him about this roller that I found the other day that has a little trail leading up to it.  He recognized what I was talking about and told me that is what they call the The Three Bears!  I love it!

Roll at your risk!

The single * is start of Papa Bear!  It appears daunting at first because it's steep and you have that tree on your right but it's unbelievably smooth, even though it doesn't look like it.  Mama Bear (**) I have rolled this feature numerous times before but never took the approach that new Papa bear.

Here I am QM'ing Papa Bear.  I backed up about 20 feet and then went for it and it's smooth as Buttah!

Here is what it looks like today with a lot of snow on it.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Snowshoeing the new Mulikin Trail

I finally got back to Upper Paugussett to re-walk the new route for the Mulikin that walked with the State Forester in early January.  The Mulikin is becoming quite a popular trail.  I have seen equestriennes and doggers, hikers and mountain bikers.  However there are sections that are not sustainable and the increased usage is starting to show.  The Mulikin is the best way, in my opinion, into the heart of the Upper Paugussett and to the Upper Gussy Trail.  

Stream crossing

At first it looked like the The New Mulikin was poached but it looks like this way was just alternative to the connector trail.  Probably cut by sledders.

It was looking like the Mulikin was virginal until I found snowshoe tracks further up the trail.  I saw a family earlier gearing up for shoeing where it looked like Mom and Dad had shoes and their little ones did not.  It was funny to see little kid boot prints following the snowshoe tracks.

Found a nice break in a stone wall that the New Mulikin will go through

At the top of the Gussy Trail it was time for a reward!

Nothing beats an ice cold PBR after good snowshoe!

Looks like someone came through on old school shoes earlier in the week

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Where did Waldo go?

You might recall that I fell on my bike last Friday on an icy patch at Upper Paugussett in which I was walking on.  Well, Monday after rushing home midday because my wife thought we had a frozen pipe that might have busted, turns out it wasn't broken at all, just the shut off valve must have gotten bumped.  I went to salt the driveway and ended up tweaking my back even more.  That meant a visit to the Doctor the next day and prescription of muscle relaxers that I can only take at night - can you say Black Slacks?  Thursday is when things started to feel better and I decided to go out for a light snowshoe at George C Waldo.

I guess I wasn't really paying attention to well and I ended up losing the trail a few times.  A friend of mine was here earlier today and really lost the trail, big time and he had a nice sunny day.  I think his error came from hunters reflector thumb tacks that he probably thought was a new trail.  My plan was to hit Daffy Duck and then head back to the lot via hunter's trail and the access road but my back felt like it was tightening up again so I bailed, made a b-line for the access road and headed back to the lot.  While I only did a mile, it was still a pretty good work out and probably just enough to get me ready for a bigger snowshoe at Fairfield Hills on Sunday Morning.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Snowshoeing around Fairfield Hills

Originally, I wanted to go XC Skiing but the deep snow and potential for even deeper drifts was enough to dissuade me to throw on the snowshoes.  Paula was still snowed in so I told her I would pick her up on my way.

I got her at Bancroft and Pole Bridge, which was only plowed to one lane.  We headed over to Fairfield Hills.  We could have gone to Waldo assuming we could park but I also wanted to map out a section in the woods behind the Newtown Youth Academy for what might become the Sandy Hook Memorial Trail.

The one thing to remember about Fairfield Hills is to be prepared for a variety of conditions.  First starting out, while cold, we quickly heated up but once in the open fields the wind gusts just suck the heat out of you.

We encountered a 4 foot drift near Wasserman Way. 

 Paula lost a snowshoe in it and I went back to help her out.  
That drift was deep!

The big field by the corner of Wasserman Way and Minehill South was a rippled with deep drifts.

The wind in the open fields was brutal!

We took a break in one of the dugouts at the ball field by the Emergency Operations Center.  With full sun and out of the wind it was the perfect place to get a drink of water and have an energy bar!

The wind got even worse by the time we were headed back to the car.

The wind had to be gusting up to 30 mph!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

I found NEMO!

Or it found me!  I put off riding as long as possible Friday morning so that I could still get in a decent ride without having to use lights and still make it to the office (dinning room - today's home office) in time since Winter Storm Nemo was shutting down the state.


I started out by riding up the Mulikin.  The snow from earlier in the week was virginal and there were no tracks in the snow.  Still, looking at sections of this trail, there is going to be a lot of work involved in a few places.

The ride down the Gussy was nice, someone had come before me and it looked like the rider did an out and back from the Echo Valley lot because the goods were untouched.  I cleaned the Wet Spot, hitting the right line, which everyone seems to shy away from, at least this guy did.  The Reach Around looks like more people are riding from what I can see on Strava  and she is getting broken in really well.  The wind storm from last week blew some sticks down but nothing major.

Up and down the Gussy is great ride and while on the way down I didn't notice anything in particular it was on the way up that discovered a new feature.  It appears someone foot raked a path that lines you up with a real decent roller.  It has a great run out, too, and throwing caution to the wind I backed up and went for it.  It was a really nice roll!  Just have to remember to hit it on the way down.

Embolden by my success on this new roller I hit the Log Ride Short but slipped off of it mid way through but was able to keep riding.

Still feeling cocky I hit the other big up and over at the yellow trail intersection and cleaned that as well!

Time was running short so I headed down the Poly Brody and it was turning into a fast pedal until I found that the snow on top of the ice near the entrance was not rideable what so ever and went down.  So, I decided to walk the icy parts.

That still wasn't a good idea because slipped on the ice and went down hard, landing on the bike.  I got a nice raspberry in the lower back from my pedal and my back landed on the frame which I think may have resulted in a bruised rib.  Looks like I won't be mountain biking for a couple of weeks.  Then again, with the snow predictions, I don't think the trails will be rideable for quite sometime, either.