Sunday, March 13, 2011

Spring Thaw

On Saturday I decided that Chandler and I needed to get out for a short hike. We hadn't been in the woods since early December due to the sheer amount of snow that had fallen this winter. The front lawn had reappeared this week, after some sustained warmer temperatures and several days of rain, so it seemed likely that some of the trails must have defrosted also. I didn't want to deal with steep hills that might still be icy or a creek likely to be raging from snowmelt and rain, so we headed out to J.B. Williams Park.

The entrance was a bit icy, but it looked like significant portions of the trails were clear as Chandler and I headed off on the trail. The park looked to be mostly deserted and Chan has a good recall, so I let him off leash to sniff and run. I soon found out that a significant portion of the trails were still icy.

That dark area is where the rainwater
has melted out the ice and left a channel.

However, it turned out that the ice and snow were largely limited to the trail areas behind the wooded hill that is located in the center of the park. For today, I limited our walk to the broad track that circles the hill. I must say I was disappointed in the amount of dog waste visible on the snowy parts of the trail. This particular park has a lot of trash cans available, so there isn't a lack of places to put it. When the trail totally thaws in a few weeks, there will be toddlers and parents with strollers all over it; not picking up after your dog under those conditions is largely inexcusable in my opinion.

See, the snow has mostly melted at the top of the hill here.

Chan and I traveled along the path to the upper pond area, one of my favorite parts of the park. Unfortunately the pond has silted up and now it mostly resembles a stream. For the first time, we ran across some damage from the excessive snows of winter.

This bird house is looking a bit droopy.

There was more damage as I followed Chandler to the stream that leads into the upper pond.
The concrete bridge that crosses the stream was missing its metal railing. It looked like part of a nearby pine had fallen upon it and snapped it off. Only one pole was standing.

It looks like they cut down the tree that fell on it.
See it off to the right?

Chandler ignored the minor changes and made a beeline for his favorite shallow pool in the stream. It's backed by a tiny waterfall and he likes to lie down in the water and wallow. I swear he must think he is a Labrador.

Cold water?
Oh come on, it is only snowmelt and it is over 40 degrees today!

After soaking, Chan entertained himself by checking out the trails and burrows of some small rodents near the edge of the pond.

Critters! Lemme at them!
Chandler also amused himself by leaping on one of the picnic tables that were scattered around the upper pond picnic and camping area.

Picnic table? I thought it was a jungle gym!

I leashed Chandler soon after leaving the upper pond because we were heading toward the lower pond which is much larger and deeper. Given Chan's danger-prone tendencies, my paranoia wasn't about to give him a chance to zoom out onto thin ice, no matter how unconcerned he was with cold water. It turned out to be a good precaution.

How unfair!
She would not let me check out the bottles spilling out of that trash can!
Hey, how did it get out there anyway?

After checking out the pond, we backtracked to head for the trail that goes past the children's play area. I'd heard that the pavilion had not survived the snows, and wanted to see what was left. It turned out that the wreckage of the pavilion had been totally demolished and removed, but the kitchen and bathrooms that stood next to it were still intact.

Wow, it looks like they plowed a path to get everything out.
That's the kitchens on the right.
The big empty spot to the left of it was where the pavilion stood.

The sheer destructive power of the collapse was evident when I examined the metal picnic tables that had been under the pavilion's roof. They were all bent and twisted.

I didn't climb on these. Mom said there might be sharp edges.

The good news is that the town is planning to replace the pavilion ASAP. J.B. Williams is one of the town's most popular parks, and there is a long list of reservations every summer to use the facilities. Hopefully they will be able to get something constructed in time for the spring picnic season.

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