Cascading Waters can be found at 135 Olean Street on the eastern edge of Worcester's northwest parklands, the Cascades. The Cascades are 350 acres of park and conservation lands along the borders of Worcester, Paxton, and Holden, Massachusetts. Home to countless species of plants and animals, the Cascades are open to passive recreation year-round.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

More Drying Weather!

First of all, the stream gauge is out of commission for the foreseeable future.
The sizable rock that slammed into it has pulled the bracket part way off of the tree and the metal measuring rule is bent quite a bit and bending it back may not be possible.

Also of great interest to me is that while there have been quite a few days now since peak flow in the Cascades Brook the second stream channel is still running!

It has always puzzled me that the second stream channel does not run more regularly as the topography would seem to dictate. There is a rock berm along the primary channel that somehow has managed to hold the flow back without the water seeping through. Whenever you try to make an effective rock berm like this water simply flows through in between the rocks, but not here, and this continuously causes me great wonder.

Perhaps the force and flow of the latest storm breached that rock berm and now the two channels will run as the slope of the land would seem to have required all along?

It will be fun to watch and wait and see what the stream has in mind.

Today's Conditions as of 8:00 am:
USFS Fire Danger Class is LOW;
No recorded windspeed and there is a mist that has hung in the air this morning;
Pressure reading of 29.18" of Hg and level;
63.7 degrees F and steady;
96% humidity and steady (dang that is high for a non-rainy day. Must be the mist!);
The skies are clear and sunny;
The trails have mostly dried out though the mud is still soft.

Also of minor note here at the Lodge yesterday, the old fieldstone chimney got some attention to the flashing, mortar, and water seals to keep it in fine working order heading into the winter.

Yesterday also saw the GWLT Volunteer Trail Crew out and cutting their way through downed storm debris that has accumulated over time. More bow saw work was required than any trail I have worked on in years! The end effect was wonderful with the path re-drilled right through the dense thick woods.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Hard rock

What happens when you get two feet of water in a stream channel?
It can be tough on the stream gauge. This rock is probably 8 inches across, and there was enough water running down the channel that it got smashed into the gauge and bent it out of shape.

Our stream measurements may be a little off for awhile!
This morning, while everything is a bit muddy, most of the water is back in its normal channels.
It is 98% humidity under the trees.
It's 64.9 degrees and rising.
The barometer is 20.09 and steady.
We've gotten no rain since midnight; yesterday's total was an impressive 3.11 inches!
Dry off!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

At the height of the flood

Stream photos

A few photos from 8:30 am.
Here (with rain falling in front of the lens)  are the Cascades. If you've been there, especially during flooding, you know it's basically impossible to get a photo that represents how impressive they are. They're in full spate now.

And this is the source of the flooding. This culvert goes under Cataract Street. As you can see, at 8:30am, it was full. By 9, it had overflowed the basin, run across Cataract, and down the hill. By 10, the Lodge driveway was gone.


At 9 am this morning, the amount of leaves and water overwhelmed the culvert. There is now water coming through the backyard and heading for the driveway.
The brook is running at between 2.6 feet and 2.72 feet. We've now gotten 3 inches of rain since yesterday noon.
We here there's flooding all over the city; think about your route today!

UPDATE: At 10 am: the driveway is gone.



The Cascades are ROARING!
There is standing water everywhere around the Lodge.
The street, Olean Street, has around 4" of rain running down it.
The parking area is slowly going under.
The Cascades Brook is running 1' 7.2" at least, but we are having a hard time gauging this as the water is surging with an eddy around the tree the gauge is mounted on. It might be more.
The second channel is open and running fast.
There are substantial puddles on the trail.
The "optional" swamp has magically appeared on both sides of the brook and the access road.

NOT a fabulous day for a hike.
It is however a fabulous time to view the Cascades from Cataract Street.

8:20am Conditions:
2.87" of rain since yesterday noon;
56.8 degrees F and steady;
98% humidity and steady;
29.38" of Hg pressure and steady;
1' 7.2" of Stream flow (or more);
USFS Fire Danger Class is LOW (We are keeping it at NONE under the circumstances);
Occasional breeze, no reading.

Today's sign work is postponed.
There is no safe place to park around here and the shed of tools and supplies is surrounded by standing water.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


As you'll see below, we've had enough rain that the secondary stream channel is open. The stream is up to 6 inches (and muddy) with the 1.06 inches we've had since midnight on top of the half an inch from yesterday.
At 8 am, it is 58.6 degrees and steady.
98% humidity and raining steadily.
The barometer is at 29.47 inches of mercury and steady.
The fire danger remains NONE.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011


Ever get so caught off guard you have no clue how to respond?

So this afternoon I look down the access road from the Lodge and see a white sedan.
Cool! It is dreary and raining on and off and there are users out there!

Then I see the owner,
lumbering up from the trail by the brook,
with a significantly big stone on his shoulder,
clearly heavy based on his frame,
which he loads into his trunk.

What the...?

So I mosey down the access road slowly sort of gathering my thoughts, trying to figure out the situation, deciding how to respond.

I mean, like, what if the dude had a moment of deep personal epiphany and it involved this rock? Or what if he is about to become an internationally known sculptor and this rock has moved him so deeply to his artistic core as to open up a new vision on the world for us all? I don't know, what if his great great grandmother lived here and the family is trying to reunite a dying elderly member with a place of their past before they leave this plain... (I really think odd things like this.)

So I am predisposed to be a bit restrained.

Then he heads back into the brook for another one... Ok, um, maybe not.

So after asking twice if I can help, and introducing myself, he volunteers that these are for an aquarium. (First thought: My Lord! an aquarium the size of a house?! (I mean these are seriously BIG rocks, and I have worked with aquariums since I was a wee tyke.))

So then begins the conundrum,
How to address this to him as inappropriate behavior?

My first thought is the old saw: "Leave only footprints, Take only pictures."
But there is a whole host of other thoughts and ideas tangled up in that statement that getting to what amounts to a philosophical bumper sticker of a conclusion of personal behavior seems daunting.

My second thought involved the direct impact to the environment. You have a host of possibilities: erosion, macro invertebrate habitat disruption; stream course alteration; and a whole host of unknown "butterfly effect" ideas that make one pause and worry or pray before taking action. But again this is a host of ideas boiled down into a conclusion after deciding that the environment and its constituent portions have values that impact my personal choices of action.

Then I go into deep philosophical territory as a third foray. Cumulative impacts of human action repeated over and over, and especially on a small urban piece of property set apart as a reserve, conserved for future generations. Notions of "passive" and "active" recreation whirl in my head. Explanations of the core difference between the two, with "active" being an extraction from the property leaving it less than it was for others who come after, and "passive" attempting to be more neutral in its impact over time. And then I realize MAYBE I get two sentences with the dude, tops.

So, now, out of time, and not interested in offering a lecture or a philosophical treatise, I settle for over simplified "rules."
There are "rules."

I am sorry, but this land was invested in by the public and as a result there are rules. Folks aren't supposed to take things away from the site but leave them in place. Perhaps you might find a place not subject to these sorts of rules? I am very sorry.

He left with only his first rock.
I left deeply dissatisfied with my final answer.
And now I turn it over and over in my head seeking a more elegant and effective approach.

So far my best thoughts involve asking him questions, questions that might lead him to consider a more philosophical contemplation of him, his world, his place and role in it, and our responsibilities resulting from that. Alas, if only Socrates had done land management...

Rain again!

And so, last night, after having been dry for a week, it began to rain.

The vivid green on the plants always makes it look as if they are outwardly expressing happiness with the return of the rains, but perhaps it is a trick of the light.

Conditions as of 8:10 am here at the Lodge:

0.47" of rainfall measured here for this storm;
5.76" of flow in the Cascades Brook (up from yesterday's 4.8");
USFS Fire Danger is NONE;
No wind;
59.7 degrees F and steady;
96% humidity and steady;
29.21" of Hg pressure and steady.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Busy Day!

Today was a busy day!

First, there were the three crews of the Clark Outdoor Club who came to hike the Cascades and based their walk out of Cascading Waters. 32 folks in all.
Then there were the Clark students who just happened to show up on their own for a hike more or less about the same time.
And then there were the two Clark students (one past Intern, and one present Intern) who just showed up because they really wanted to cut trail! Phenomenal!

This was all on top of the typical busy shoulder season weekend traffic we see when school is in session and trips to far away places become more complex to set up. Hike local!

All of the traffic, particularly with the Clark Outdoors Club stopping for orientation on the way up, and for drinks and cookies at the conclusion of the trip, and the Interns crashing for trail work and then a well deserved dinner, was a whole lot of fun for all of us here at the Lodge.

Thanks to all!

Noting that there was inadequate seating for folks, we took the trunk of the Hemlock tree that was cut last year and cut it into sections, and split one section with wedges to produce some rustic seating. The longer stem was harder to split (time wise) and wasn't done in time for the crews but will be available for later.

The present conditions 9:22 pm:
73.9 degrees F and steady;
85% humidity and steady;
29.15" of Hg pressure and steady;
presently no wind recorded although the air does stir from time to time;
no rain has been recorded in days at this point (soon to change!);
USFS Fire Danger Class NONE.

= = = = = = = =

(And thanks to the generous cook who whipped up multiple bathes of oatmeal, raisin, chocolate chip cookies for the Clark folks!!)

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Cloudy Morning

The Trust will have a presence at the Spencer Fair on Friday as we are sharing a booth with the Common Ground Land Trust and Massachusetts Audubon Society regarding the preservation of a 325 acre property on the Spencer/Leicester bound that includes the venerable interstate "Mid State Trail."

On Sunday we are expecting a crew of hikers from the Clark Outdoors Club in their annual pilgrimage through the Cascades.

As for today...
Today the state officials with the Division of Conservation Services come to Worcester to examine the Esper Ave property. This would protect priority habitat here in Worcester, it would very nearly link the God's Acre area to Patches Reservoir land held by the Worcester Conservation Commission, and it would serve as a trailhead. But that is all geeky technical stuff. The land is gorgeous! Stone walls, sloping hillside, glacial erratics, stream, wetlands, some big old oak trees.... It looks and feels like old New England, and is right off of Mill Street.

7:57 am Conditions here at the Lodge:

62.4 degrees F and steady;
95% humidity and steady (way humid considering there was no rainfall);
29.47" of Hg pressure and steady;
No rainfall;
No wind;
Skies are cloudy;
5.52" of flow in the Cascades Brook (leveling out);
USFS Fire Danger Class is LOW.