RIDGEFIELD, Conn. — Connecticut is blessed with hundreds of miles of trails where you can take to the woods to find some peace, gain some perspective and get some exercise.
To highlight some of those outdoor opportunities, Jeff Glans of Trumbull presented the third talk in the Community Conservation Initiative series at Ridgefield Library recently to an audience of enthusiastic hikers.
Michael Rubbo, executive director of the Woodcock Nature Preserve on the Wilton/Ridgefield line, introduced the speaker. A trail maintainer on the Saugatuck Trail, Glans is also a recently retired chemistry professor at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield. Glans also maintains part of the Appalachian Trail that runs through Connecticut.
Glans opened with a review of essentials hikers should carry with them. He's done some search-and-rescue work and works with Scouts, so he appreciates the importance of being prepared. First on the list were a map and a compass — and the knowledge of how to use them. Glans pre-empted any thought of relying on cellphones, pointing out that cellphone coverage isn't available everywhere when you're out in the woods.
"We assume cellphone coverage will be available, but that's not true," he emphasized. He shared his rule of thumb for setting out on a hike, "I should be prepared to spend the night out."
Glans said it's easy to get turned around when you're out in the woods.
"I mean, I got turned around in this library," he joked, to chuckles from the crowd.
He then moved on to some of the popular trails in the area, with a focus on the 825 miles of blue-blazed trails in Connecticut, which are maintained by the Connecticut Forest & Park Association. He suggested getting trail maps from the CFPA website, from town websites, or from land trusts before setting out.
For those preferring to go on organized group hikes, Glans suggested contacting the Connecticut chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club or the Mohegan Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club. An audience member also suggested the Discovery Center at Ridgefield, which offers guided hikes.
Glans then posed a question to the audience, asking what the most-common non-human-caused problem is on Connecticut's trails. It isn't bears or downed trees, as some guessed.
"It's beavers!" Glans said, explaining that dam-building by beavers floods trails, which causes more trail closures in the state than any other issue.
Among the many trails, Glans focused on his favorite, the Saugatuck/Aspetuck Trails in Easton, Weston, Newtown and Redding. He maintains the Saugatuck Trail. When the connector between these two trails was built recently, it involved a lot of work, including building eight bridges.
In other words, there's plenty of work for anyone who would like to volunteer to help with trail maintenance. Glans encouraged the audience to consider coming out for a trail work party at least once.
For upcoming programs, including hikes organized by the Discovery Center at Ridgefield, click here.
For information on Connecticut's blue-blazed trails, click here.
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