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.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Vole visit!

We were not quick enough with the camera for a photo, but one of our meadow voles tunneled right under the birdfeeder this morning, and we are catching glimpses of him as his nose comes up to grab some spilled birdseed. If you have open space in your yard, you, too, may have lines in the snow where the voles have tunneled under the snow to get (safe from predators) to and from where they need to be.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

It's the good stuff!

We see that we had an early hiker out here already today. While the parking area is not cleared, the trails are full of light, fluffy snow. If you have snowshoes or cross-country skis that have been gathering dust, c'mon out!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The trail sign is up!

You may have noticed a new addition at Cascading Waters. We now have a trail sign right at the end of the Cascades Trail by the parking area.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Snow is sticking!

4:06pm weather conditions at the Lodge:

Cascades Brook is at 2.6" of flow;
The temperature is 29.1°F and falling;
The humidity is 69% and rising;
The pressure is 29.74" of Hg and falling;
The fire danger is NONE;
The wind speed is gusting to 22.0 mph;
The snow is falling and sticking on stones and pavement as well as grass and leaves.

It is falling fast enough to have a real chance at carpeting everything by sundown!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Another Sunny Day

7:25am report:

The Cascades Brook is holding steady at 2.4";
The sun is out and shining brightly;
There is a light occasional breeze, but it peaks at 4-4.5mph;
The temperature is 38.3°F and rising;
The humidity is 72% and steady;
The pressure is 29.74" Hg and steady;
The USFS Fire Danger Class remains MODERATE.

There is a chunk of a pine tree down across the Silver Spring Road running through the Cascades.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Windy days

11:00am Weather Observations

The Cascades Brook is running at 2.4" in both channels. Perhaps more interestingly, closer examination in full sun and a little time shows a number of trees, some already deceased, blew over when we had wet soils and strong winds. Nothing blocked the trail or the cart path so they did not yell out for immediate attention. It is fun to watch the stream and its banks over the years to see how very dynamic and changing this area is without any outside intervention.

The USFS fire danger class is back up to MODERATE. The lack of rainfall, fresh fallen leaves and wind bring that about.

Temperature 49.5°F and rising;
Humidity 51% and falling;
Pressure 29.65" and steady;
Sunny skies;
No recorded precipitation;
Wind gusting to 7.0mph.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Blue skies?

We are seeing blue skies here at the Lodge on and off today, as things begin to dry out a bit. The first evidence of that: our fire danger is back up to LOW as of this morning!
Today the brook is running at 4.5 inches after .2 inches more of rain overnight.
At noon, the temperature is 54 degrees and steady
The humidity is down to 73%.
The barometer is back up to 29.41Hg.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Cascades this morning

11 am at the falls

The morning after: Tuesday

The power is still out here at the Lodge, though we see from the National Grid map that we've been assigned a crew.
Some of the heaviest rain of the storm fell last night: the rain gauge is up to a full two inches. The brook is up to five, and the Cascades are running! The secondary stream channel is open.
At 8:30, the temperature is 57.4 degrees and steady. We continue to have 98% humidity.
The barometer is 29.35Hg and rising as the storm moves out.
As you head out on the trails over the next few days, please let us know the specific location of downed trees and branches on trails.

Monday, October 29, 2012

9 pm Monday update

Just back in:
Brook is at 4.6 inches: quite a jump today.
Rain totals 1 1/2 inches thus far.
Maximum wind speed of 18 mph, dropping to zero.
The barometer is 29.09 Hg and steady.
Temperature is 60.6 and steady.
Humidity is 98% and actively raining.

We lost power at 7 pm and it is still out now.

6:50 Sandy Update

22 mph max, 5 mph min from a two minute sample; (we have been seeing peak gusts of 34 mph though)
1.3" of rainfall from the storm thus far;
4.0" in the Cascades Brook;
29.09" of Hg pressure and falling;
59.7°F and steady;
98% humidity and steady.

We lost power for less than a minute and had a flicker earlier in the day.

Highest wind gust we noted was 55 mph around lunchtime.

Interestingly, the loudest wind is not the fastest.

Minor branches down at Cascading Waters and a tree across the Cascades Cart Path just north of the falls.

4:30 Update: Hurricane Sandy

Cascades Brook is now running at 4 inches.
We've now gotten a total of 1.1 inches of rain.
A one minute interval has the wind topping out at 27 mph.
The barometer is at 29.06 Hg and still falling.
It is 57.7 degrees and rising.
98% humidity with rain coming in from the east.

2:30 pm Monday update

At 2:30 pm, we've been doing some trenchwork, as the soil has now become so saturated that the water is either standing on top or running across. We have now received 3/4 of an inch of rain.The stream, within the last half hour, has gone from 2.2 inches to 2.4 inches, and the secondary channel is now running.
Over the preceeding ten minutes, we've seen wind ranging from 11 mph to a high of 41 mph.
The humidity is at 98% with rain driving in from the east.
It is 56 degrees F.
The barometer is at 29.15 Hg and falling.

Noon update

The barometer is now at 29.29Hg and falling. We've seen the wind pick up; it's now fairly steadily in the twenties (25, 27mph) with gusts as high as 32 mph over the past fifteen minutes.
The temperature is 55 degrees and steady. Humidity is 98% with rain falling.
Heading out for a brook check now. ..

The brook is running at 2.2 inches. Also, it isn't really raining; there is just a lot of water flying around.

9:30 am Sandy Update

9:30 am Sandy Update

Cascades Brook is up to 2.0";
Total storm rainfall is up to 0.25";
Temperature is 54°F;
Humidity is 98%;
Barometric pressure is 29.44" Hg and falling;
Wind gusting to 18 mph, with a minimum speed in a 2 min. sample.

Monday morning update

Now we have rain, though at least for now, not much wind. Currently, we are topping out at 3 mph, sometimes sinking to none.
At 6:30 am, it is 52.2 degrees and steady. The humidity is 98% with steady, though not torrential, rain.
The barometer, at 29.47 inches, is falling.
We will be out to check the brook in a bit; it and the falls should be increasing over the course of this morning.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

9pm Sandy Update

Max wind gust 24.5mph, settling to 0mph;
Temperature is 49.5F and steady;
Humidity is 97% and steady;
Barometric pressure is 29.74"Hg and steady;
But not much beyond some mist thus far.

6:40pm Sandy update

Cascades Brook still at 1.6";
Precipitation at 1/16";
Peak wind 8.5mph and lowest at 3.0mph in a 60 second sample;
Temperature at 50.4F and steady;
Humidity at 96% and steady;
Barometric pressure at 29.74" (further down) but steady for the moment.

Our next door neighbor is out watering his freshly planted trees by lights, and while I understand, it is still funny under the circumstances.

5:30 update

We now have winds at about 12 mph.
The temperature is 50 degrees and steady. Humidity at 90% and steady.
We've readjusted our barometer (it had not been reset in some time) and it is now 29.74 inches of mercury and steady.

3:42pm Sandy Update at the Lodge

3:42pm Sandy Update at the Lodge

Wind has picked up: 13 mph. min. - 21 mph. max. gust over 2 min period;
Barometric pressure is down a little to 29.77" Hg;
Temperature is down as well to 52.9F and still falling;
humidity is up to 90%;
It is misting but not raining.

The canoe is tied up in the front glen!

2pm Sandy Update

Cascades Brook 1.6" of flow (primary channel only);
Highest wind gust reading 4.5mph, with still conditions;
Barometer at 29.88" and falling*;
Temperature at 56.6°F and steady.

* (this is the amended pressure after making an elevation correction following the 1pm post)

1 pm update

At one pm, the barometer has dropped to 29.15 inches under cloudy skies. It has started to mist. We are clocking winds of about 8 mph now.

Yes, the fire danger sign is right

After several clear days without rain, the fire danger is now MODERATE, though we fully expect that to change over the course of today!
At 8 am, the temperature is 50 degrees and steady.
The barometer is steady at 29.21 inches of mercury under cloudy skies. As yet, no sign of that drop we expect as Sandy comes up the coast and inland.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hurricane inbound!

But in the meantime, it looks like we have a couple of nice days ahead!
At nine am, it is 52 degrees and rising.
The barometer is at 29.44 and steady under somewhat cloudy skies.
The stream is trickling.

On the list of "to do" ahead of the storm: going up to check out our culvert! While the piers stand and having a house that's above running water is always exciting, we'd prefer to not have to rebuild the driveway again this winter if we can avoid it.
If you have a storm drain near you, do the DPW (and us all!) a favor and get the leaves off of it. If we get anything like the rain forecasted, we're going to need a place for it all to go!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fall brook

Here's the Cascades Brook this morning, running at about two inches. As you can see, the swamp maples have turned and are losing their leaves now. On an overcast morning like this one, they glow.

At nine am, it is fifty degrees and steady under overcast skies. The barometer is at 29.41 inches of mercury and steady. The fire danger is back down to LOW. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cook Pond drawdown

A notice from the Cook's Pond Association: beginning Sunday, they have begun a PLANNED drawdown of the pond for dam repair and spillway work.
The water should be down enough as of this coming Sunday, October 27. They hope to have the work completed by the first weekend in November, at which point they will bring the water level back up.
No need to panic!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Weirdly warm and a seasonal reminder

So, having sent us all scrambling to bring in anything that could be killed by frost, our New England weather has now decided to treat us to a day with a high in the 70's with a chance of thunderstorms for this afternoon. Hope you haven't yet put your shorts away!
It is damp here under the trees, but a brisk wind is drying things out and continuing to bring down leaves. We have a trickle of water going over the falls and down Cascades Brook. 

ALSO, an important seasonal reminder:
Archery season runs from October 15th - November 24th.
Shotgun season runs from November 26th - December 8th.
Muzzleloader season runs from December 10th - December 31st.

Hunting IS allowed on GWLT properties outside the city of Worcester: please recall that much of the Cascades parkland lies OUTSIDE of city bounds!

As such, we urge you to:

  • stay on trails
  • keep your dogs leased
  • wear bright colors (blaze orange if you have it)
Let's be safe as we share our open space.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


At nine am, it is 50 degrees and rising a bit.
The barometer is 29.26 inches of mercury and steady under cloudy skies.
All the rain is really bringing down the leaves: the beeches and birches are losing leaves, though the maples are still turning.
The brook is running.
We are not registering any wind.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Still wet

We're still experiencing the temperate northern hardwood rainforest here today: it is not currently actively raining, but it is once again damp, foggy, and overcast. The barometer is at 29.41 inches of mercury and steady.
The stream is continuing to run, though not at a great rate; we're measuring about two inches of water in it. The Cascades are trickling, therefore.
At 8:45 am, it is 62 degrees and rising, which is warm for early October.
The birches and the shagbark hickory trees are just beginning to turn, and we're seeing hints of red on the swamp maples.
At nine am, you can join us for sign and timber work here at the Lodge, if you like!

Monday, October 01, 2012

Falling leaves

Fall is really here!
The rain has cleared out, 'though we still are seeing some cloudy skies here. The barometer is at 28.97 and steady.
We've got a brisk wind right now--the latest gust was up to 16 mph. The fire danger for this morning is NONE, but we're watching it closely, as that wind is going to dry things right out. We'll probably be back up to LOW by this afternoon.
At 9 am the temperature is 55 degrees and rising, 'though slowly.
The brook is running, as are the Cascades! 

Saturday, September 29, 2012


We've got the fire danger back down to NONE today, and expect to keep it there this weekend. The rain last night not only soaked us well enough for that: the falls are running again!
And not only the tops of the trees are reminding us that fall is well under way; we have the annual migration of the mice into the attic to contend with, as well.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Feels like fall

While it isn't as chilly as it has been the past few mornings, it does feel like fall out there today!
At 8 am, it is 50 degrees and rising.
The barometer is at 29.47 inches of mercury and steady under clear blue skies.
The brook is again dry.

It is sign and timber work Thursday here at the Lodge; if you have some time this morning, come by any time after 9 to help with log hewing. If you saw us at stART, you know that we have a whole sign frame read to go for Pine Glen in West Boylston; we just need to finish the sign for that. The frame we're working on next will at the end of Dawson Road to mark the KinneyWoods property.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

See you tomorrow at stART!

The logs are loaded and we're ready to go! The annual arts-and-everything-else festival, stART on the Street is tomorrow on Park Avenue from 11-6. Look for us in our usual spot under the trees at the edge of Newton Hill (across from the corner of Elm and Park).
We'll have the bowsaws, adze, bark spud, and mallet and chisel ready for willing hands. Stop by and help us finish up the next property sign!
See you tomorrow!

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Friday, September 07, 2012

Heading into fall

The fire danger remains low and the brook is still running, as it's starting to get chillier at night and stay cooler during the day. Currently, the brook is running at about 2 inches.
The squirrels and chipmunks have been busy here lately, as the shagbark hickory nuts are ripening. You can sit outside and hear what sounds like rain, as the squirrels high up in the trees shell the nuts.
At 9:30 am, it is 72 degrees and rising under clear blue skies.
The barometer is 29.21 and steady.

And I have a squirrel scolding me through the window as I post this!

Note that this weekend marks the start of our fall festival season: please look for us at Worcester's Canalfest, which you might have seen covered in yesterday's paper.
And be sure to check out the video!

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Heading into fall

It's clear that we're heading into fall here, as the fire danger has been bouncing up and down this week, even without much rain. The dews are heavier overnight, and the days are not as dry. We've now put the fire danger for today back down to LOW.
The barometer is currently reading 29.35 inches of mercury and steady under somewhat overcast skies. We aren't expecting any rain.
The wood aster are in bloom now (those are the white small star flowers you'll see under trees). They are a native New Englander, so see them and be glad!
At 11:30, it has just hit 70 degrees here with a breeze of about 6 mph.

We're expecting a troop of Clark students through here today. As part of their Outing Club's annual fall start, they run shuttles full of students up to the Cascades Parkland to show them that Worcester is not just urban; it's also full of woodland and open space!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Cascades are RUNNING!

The Cascades are running today!
The brook height is at about 7 inches (jumping to 8 occasionally) as 400 acres worth of water comes over the falls! Worth a visit!
Since noon yesterday, we've had 2.32 inches of rain; on top of the .55 inches we got the previous 24 hours, that's a lot of water!
At 10:30, it is 70.7 degrees and steady.
The barometer is 29.12 inches of mercury and steady. We now have blue skies, 'though it was raining hard as recently as 9 am.
Damp and dripping in the woods today!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

More normal

The Cascades Brook is running again after all of the rain of the past half week. Our last envoy to the stream gauge said it was hovering around 2".

The fire danger had been suppressed by all of the rain and is LOW.

The soil is less dust and more dirt and the chirping insects are vociferous at night.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Baby hawks

We awoke this morning to the cries of hungry baby hawks, who apparently still have not been sufficiently fed, as we are still hearing from them. As best as we can tell, they are nesting by the brook (surprisingly close to the house), and their somewhat harried looking parent went so far as to perch for a time in the shagbark hickory not far from our back door in the search for food. The shrieks really sound like something in distress!
At 8 am, it is 72 degrees and steady
The barometer is at 29.23 inches and steady under clear, sunny skies.
The fire danger is rising to MODERATE today.
The brook continues to be dry.

At 8:30, we'll have sign and timber work happening here at the Lodge. Stop by if you have some time and want to do some work with adz and bow saw!

Monday, August 06, 2012

Fire danger back to NONE!

...but probably only for today!
Please forgive us if you went by earlier and we hadn't yet gotten the sign changed.The US Forest Service has put our fire danger for today back to NONE, due to last night's thunderstorms (which we hope you got a chance to enjoy!). Here at the Lodge, we got 0.31 inches of rain in total from the storm.
Not enough to get Cascades Brook running again, so it remains in its usual August rocky state.
At 11 am, it is 75 degrees and steady under clear blue skies.
The barometer is at 29.26 inches of mercury and steady

Saturday, July 28, 2012


We a lovely Saturday here at the Lodge, though it seems they are moving rocks next door again. The group on the hike up to Southwick Pond just came through, having started on the far side of the pond.
At 9:30, it is 72.1 degrees and rising.
The barometer is at 29.23 inches of mercury and rising.
Clear blue skies

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Join us at Muir Meadows at 11!

Muir Meadows is quite lovely this morning. Hope you will join us here (just over the Paxton line) for a celebration of the state grant that has allowed for its preservation!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


The thunderstorms came through for us last night, and we are consequently soggy this morning ('though if you're caring for a garden, I give you no less of an authority than Paul Rogers in telling you that you probably still need to water). It was not enough rain to get the Cascades going again; here at the Lodge, we recorded 0.04 inches after midnight, which is when much of the rain came through.

At ten am, it is 77 degrees and steady.
The barometer stands at 28.88 inches of mercury and falling under cloudy skies.
Periodic gusts of wind of up to 4 mph largely coming from the east.
We are bumping the fire danger back down to MODERATE today.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Muir Meadows celebrations!

This Thursday at 11 am, join Lieutenant Governor Murray, Secretary of the Environment Sullivan, and many others for a brief ceremony celebrating the preservation of Muir Meadows! You can find it at 205 Pleasant Street, which is just over the Paxton line. Plenty of parking at Howe's Farm Stand, should you need it.

For those wishing a rather more strenuous celebration, join GWLT staff on Saturday morning at 8:30 on a hike from Cook's Pond all the way to Southwick Pond in Leicester (which, thanks to Muir Meadows, is now that much more on preserved land!). This will take you through Holden and Paxton along with way; it is almost entirely UPHILL! Not for the weak of heart (or knees!). Call or email Mary (mary at for more details.


When we checked last night, we had only a 30% chance of showers, but this morning it appears that the 30 is what we got. We're at what the radar map is showing as the tail end of a band of showers here this morning.
At eleven am, it is 73.9 degrees and steady.
90% humidity, raining on and off
29.29 inches of mercury under cloudy skies
We've got wind of 4.5 mph

We put the fire danger up to HIGH over the weekend; we'll reassess that once the rain moves out. We really haven't (for the high humidity) gotten that much water falling from the skies!

The stream is rapidly drying up, as a result.

Friday, July 20, 2012

They aren't just weeds

If you come by during the day, you might wonder why we don't cut back all those "weeds" down by the sign.
If you're by a bit earlier, as the photo shows, you may have seen why.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hazy, lazy

We're expecting heat moving in over the next couple of days, so we hope you enjoyed the cooling off last night. The rain wasn't enough to get the Cascades really started back up again, but it did at least give the trees a drink!

At 9:30 am, it is 76 degrees and steady, with a light breeze ('though not measurable) here at the Lodge.
The barometer is at 29.12 inches of mercury and steady under clear blues.

Remember: it's always cooler under the trees!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Warm and dry

We're into week two without rain here, so the stream is drying up. It's still much cooler under the trees than it is elsewhere in the city, though. At ten am, it is just now getting to 75 degrees and steady.
We've got a bit of a breeze here, as well.
The barometer is at 29.47 inches of mercury and steady under clear blue skies.

We had a large group of people here yesterday for the every-other-Thursday work project, including a group from the Worcester Public Schools. Much sign routing, painting, staining, and log shaping going on well into the afternoon. You'll be seeing the fruits of that labor going up at various properties as we head into the fall!

The logging work at Cascades West is now completed (and if you didn't see the T&G report on this, check it out), and the new route of the Meadow Ridge trail is open for hiking. We've gotten some good reports on it already! We'll be watching the newly cleared space this summer as it starts to come back with grasses and bushes, much better and more mixed habitat for all that lives here.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

It's cooler here!

Up here in the woods by the brook, we've got a nice breeze and we just hit 77 degrees at 1 pm!

The barometer is at 29.15 inches of mercury and steady.

Bright and sunny, but not too hot, especially in the shade by the brook!

Note that RIGHT NOW we have signage going up on the Meadow Ridge Trail due to incoming logging work. The trail is being relocated. PLEASE FOLLOW THE NEW TRAIL, as we will have equipment coming in to get our open meadow back for the birds and critters very, very soon. Thank you!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mailbox being reclaimed by the forest

We have an enthusiastic grapevine trying to take over the mailbox.

I also realized today that we have chipmunks living under the front steps. Periodically, one stops on the porch and squeaks at us.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Effects of Rain...

Saturday saw over 2" of rainfall, a large amount by any standard.

But it is what happens because of the rain that is most interesting!

The Cascades Brook was up to 7.2" of flow with both channels open and a lot of noise. Less than 48 hours later the brook is down to 3.6" and while both channels have water things are sedate.

In the glen in front of the Lodge the Hawthorne trees are leaning over as they are thin and young and all of the leaves are weighted with rain drops.

At Nick's Woods a big old tree, encouraged by the wet soils loosening their grip on the roots, began a long slow arc towards the ground that continues to proceed with each day. (The area around it was dutifully marked off with flagging CAUTION tape by a volunteer. Thanks!)

And the plants are all green and growing with enthusiasm! It may be a confused time for outdoor recreation with the ever present chance of passing showers but the woods are soaking it up and thriving.

And more rain is predicted...

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Speaking of new families

...we have a growing number of these little guys (can you see him? In the center on the rock?) right around the Lodge lately. They seem to be living in the rock pile, though they frequently chase each other around and right under the house.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I found a red eft on our porch this morning, 'though he was gone when I went back out to take his picture.
On Monday, traffic stopped in both directions for a gigantic snapping turtle going back across Olean, having laid her eggs on the Cascading Waters property.
We also have a pair of robins frantically flying back and forth from one of the big evergreens by the Lodge, keeping their brand new hungry chicks fed.
Springtime is here!
At 8:45, it is 67.3 degrees and steady
95% humidity (though not currently raining)
29 inches of mercury and steady under cloudy skies
We've gotten half an inch of rain since last night.

Monday, April 30, 2012

7:00 AM conditions at the Lodge:

35.6 degrees F and rising;
29.50" of pressure and steady;
49% humidity and steady;
0" of precipitation recorded;
3.00" of flow in the Cascades Brook;
HIGH is the USFS Fire Danger Class;
0-3.0mph occasional breeze;

The sun through the leaves creates a dappled lighting, which is all the more wondrous when you look east through the forest and see the sparkling reflections of light bouncing off of Cook's pond agitated by the wind. The whole effect is worth stopping for and taking it in.

Yesterday we had an adventurer, intent on scrambling on Wunneompset, stop into the Lodge before heading out solo to check in and leave contact information. Smart dude.

You will begin to find that even in a drought there is a touch more moisture in the woods now. The leaves shield the forest floor form the sun while trapping the moisture from evaporating away. There is some moisture in the air that cycles in and out with the changes of humidity and temperature. On top of all of that the brooks are still running and the vernal pools have not yet dried up. It IS dry out there, but a bit less so.

Sun and Warmth

9:45 am conditions 4/29 at the Lodge:
The Cascades Brook is flowing at 3.12";
The temperature is 50.4° F and rising;
The humidity is 37% and steady;
The pressure is 29.35" of Hg and steady;
There was no precipitation recorded;
There is an occasional breeze;
The USFS Fire Danger Class is HIGH;
Blue skies with sun.
Simply a gorgeous day!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

We made it!

We are finally back down to a more normal "LOW" fire danger level today!
At nine am, it is 44.2 degrees and steady.
61% humidity and steady.
The barometer is 28.67 and steady under overcast skies.
Light wind of 3 mph
There is a high pollen alert issued for today (though I suspect that will not be news to some of you!).

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Rising Brook Watch!

We will post the rise of the brook with the falling rain as we are able.
This specific post will be periodically updated.

1:00 pm 4/22/2012 RAINFALL: 0.28" BROOK LEVEL: 1.88"
6:00 pm 4/22/2012 RAINFALL: 0.50" BROOK LEVEL: 3.36"
8:30 pm 4/22/2012 RAINFALL: 0.60" BROOK LEVEL: 3.84"
2:00 am 4/23/2012 RAINFALL: 1.08" BROOK LEVEL: 7.20"
6:00 am 4/23/2012 RAINFALL: 1.50" BROOK LEVEL: 7.80"
8:00 am 4/23/2012 RAINFALL: 1.61" BROOK LEVEL: 9.36"

Current conditions as of 2:00am:
Temperature: 40.6 degrees F and steady
Humidity: 97% and steady
Pressure: 28.73" and steady
5mph breeze - 23mph wind
Raining steadily

Flood Watch!

Already over 0.28" of rain have been recorded here at the Lodge and according to the weather forecast we haven't even begun to see the rain headed our way tonight!

2-3" of rain, with a little more tomorrow. Some chance of limited convection allowing local instances of up to 4".

Let me put this in perspective for you. When you build a parking lot or a subdivision and need to design the drainage system, you are required to design to handle a major rain event of 1" in a short stretch. Welcome to the new universe! Multiply that bad boy by 2x or 3x or more! In other words we are talking a rainstorm that many areas were simply never designed to handle.

Want to know a spooky secret? This isn't unusual anymore campers. The number of times the Worcester DPW needed to use flood diversion once was fairly rare. Now they do it at least annually. The guys who manage the pipes for us already know our world operates differently whether or not the regulations have caught up with that reality or the public has yet to grasp fully our new situation.

Want to know something else spooky? Many years ago I sat at a conference on the local impacts of climate change and someone asked what we ought to expect to see. The answer was more extremes. More long dry periods broken up by heavier flooding than used to be the case. Time is the ultimate validator of theory and I will say that our time here at the Lodge certainly gives credence to those ideas. More so the flooding until recent. Now both halves of the theory can be argued to be in play.

Since a baseline is useful in measuring impacts know that as of 1 pm the Cascades Brook was flowing at 1.88". Let's see how high that gets! Buckle in!

UPDATE: 6:00pm Cascades Brook depth is 3.36", up from 1.88" at 1:00pm

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I had the luxury of hiking this morning without a trash bag, or clippers, or paint brush, or camera. A rare treat!

Up Cascades Trail, Meadow Ridge Trail, River Trail, Mower Cart Path to Rte. 122 at Camp Street. Then River Trail, Silver Spring Trail, to Cascades Trail back to the Lodge.

A warm dry wind blew through the forest. That is great for keeping you cool and dry but keeps the fire danger level up at VERY HIGH.

At 11:30am the temperature was 77 degrees, which is part of our warm and dry pattern.

The trail is not soil but dust. Where normally would be boggy it is soil. Amazingly the streams still trickle away and have not dried up. While distressed a bit the main vernal pools still have water.

The weather promises rain starting this weekend. We have heard these things before and we don't always see them borne out. We will wait and see.

Friday, April 13, 2012

No, really: VERY HIGH

When we say the fire danger is VERY HIGH, it does mean even at the location below.
No burning in the woods, please.
Yeah, I'm sure you thought you put it out. Any of those embers given a breeze, or one of the burned sticks you left on the pine needles, could have gone up. Fifteen gallons of water later, it's out now.

And with thanks to the Rileys for reporting it.Please do if you see something similar!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Rain at Last!

Last night, lying under the angle of the roof in the Lodge I heard the most wonderful and welcome sound,


In over ten days here at the Lodge we have not had enough rain to be recordable. We have seen "red flag" fire danger warnings. We have watched area open spaces have brush fires. We have even see one of our invasive exotic ground covers turn yellow for lack of water!

And then there was rain! Audible, sustained, and badly needed.

It is not enough to remove fire danger, to refill the reservoirs, or to significantly impact the brooks, but it is enough to be a real help to the forest's spring plant life. Expect vivid greens in the understory today on your hike.

Conditions as of 9:45 am:

49.5° F and steady;
55% humidity and falling;
29.18" of Hg pressure and rising;
0.04" of rainfall recorded;
Light occasional breeze;
Broken clouds with sun.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

More Activity Here at the Lodge

It has been busy!

Today alone:

Jacob of the Dynamy program was here finishing the waterproofing of the tent platform,

Before heading out to Cooks Woods and Kinneywoods to measure trail distances,

And Dan swung by to grab 3 oak planks to rip them for trail signs, and

I was loading up gear from the shed to do boundline posting at Southwick Pond.

Another day without rain.

Good for drying stained wood, bad for plants.

And the Cascades Brook is getting low.

Monday, April 09, 2012


A red flag warning went into effect yesterday; it remains in effect until tonight. We continue to have strong winds and low relative humidity. ANY fire under these conditions will spread rapidly. Additionally, we are classifying today's fire danger as HIGH VERY HIGH.
There was a brush fire off of Grafton Street last night; a dead hydrant forced the closing of Grafton Street for some time. That property over there is a wetland (yes, swamps can burn) behind a neighborhood of homes. WFD and the Forestry department kept the fire away from the houses ('though I heard it got scarily close). Between three and five acres burned.
Please be particularly careful with fire today.
At 8 am, the temperature here is 43.5 degrees and steady.
Humidity is 59% and steady.
The barometer is 28.70 inches of mercury and steady under very overcast skies.  Doubtful that we will get any rain, though.
The stream is continuing to run.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Fire at Parson's Cider Mill

So far we're just getting this off the Twitter feeds of Ch. 3 and the T&G, but it sounds as though Parson's Cider Mill (owned by the city parks, conservation restriction by GWLT) is on fire. 
Fire danger is HIGH today.
And yes, Parson's Cider Mill is also pyrogenic, like Crow Hill.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012


A bit chillier out there than the sunshine might suggest today: it's 39.2 degrees and rising with a wind at 9 am.
The humidity is 39%: really low for spring. Fire danger is MODERATE.
This morning, we were lucky enough to see a muskrat eating, swimming, and generally having a great time across the street at Cook's Pond.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Drying out

We are posting a HIGH fire danger today. The rain, what there was of it, is moving out. The winds and sun will dry us right back out again

Fire Paradox

So, it has sprinkled rain Saturday, then it snowed a little. Yesterday it rained overnight, enough to get recorded! The fire danger sank to LOW.

But today is a new day. A day with sun and a breeze, and while 0.12" of rain is more than we have seen in quite a while, the parched earth and plants, the thirsty wind, and the sun are a strong combination.

The USFS fire danger, which tends towards the conservative, is back up to HIGH for today. Usually that means that tomorrow they will give us the actual observed class and it may likely have been VERY HIGH.

Be thoughtful out there please.

7:30 am Conditions at the Lodge:

38.1°F and steady;
84% humidity and steady;
28.85" of Hg pressure and steady;
0.12" of rain recorded overnight;
Steady 3.5mph breeze with some variation;
Overcast but offering signs of breaking up.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Red Flag Warning

So, in the parlance of safety, a red flag generally isn't a good and happy sign (unless you are a surfer at North Hampton Beach, in which case it rocks!)

For us it means "Critical Fire Danger."

The weeks without real rainfall, the sun and warmth, and the winds have dedicated the surface duff, leaves and brush, such that any fire, should it start would spread quickly and be hard to contain.

Interestingly, the Fire Danger rating scale is only at the HIGH or VERY HIGH level. It can co higher to EXTREME! Extreme is usually used where a fire is in progress in the area.

At the Lodge right now we have it posted for VERY HIGH.

No fires. No cigarettes. Careful with gas power tools.

The hard deep freeze of last night beat up the magnolia pretty bad with all of its flowers brown and wilted.

The daffodils did allright, as did the hyacinths, blood wort , and bulbs.

Enjoy the weather, even if chilly, because... tomorrow may rain, so today I'll follow the sun.


Note that the National Weather Service has issued a RED FLAG WARNING for Central Massachusetts. Due to high winds and very dry conditions, the danger of fire spreading is extreme.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

What a Week ((Month) Season)

That was a weird week!

But first, some notes from today's news in Canada:

"Northern British Columbia sees near record snowpack levels"
"Flooding continues across western New Brunswick"

No, no, no, this is not an apocalyptic post, BUT it is to say that I think I found where all of our rain and snow went!

So, the possible scattered showers predicted during the week all melted away the closer we got to the actual day expected. Similarly the rain predicted for last night and today melted from 0.10-.025" last night (actual recorded here was wet surface but no measurable accumulation) and the 70% chance of showers today is already down to 30% and the humidity is dropping!

Dry, warm, and RECORDS...

Thrs. RECORD 78 degrees F, prior 76 in 1938
Weds. RECORD 73 degrees F, prior 71 in 1921
Tues. (we only missed by 1 degree!)
Mon. RECORD 78 degrees F, prior 71 in 1894
Sun. RECORD 74 degrees F, prior 65 in 1999

And then there is the missing water...
Generally by this point in March we ought to have something on the order of 3.20" of accumulation of precipitation, instead we have 1.54".
Generally by this point in the year we ought to have something on the order of 9.92" of accumulation of precipitation, instead we have 5.94"

This gets into trick territory...
The vernal pool species all came out early because of the warmth, and they bred and laid their eggs, only the vernal pools are trying to dry up as if it were July.
Very bad news for amphibians indeed.

But it is overcast, and it did lightly precipitate, and the humidity was a little higher this morning, and there isn't a stiff wind,
So the Fire Danger Class is down from VERY HIGH to MODERATE.
That is goodish news for the moment.

The weather conditions here at the Lodge at 11:10am:

47.1 degrees F and rising;
50% humidity and falling;
29.12" of Hg Pressure and steady;
Occasional breeze;
No recorded precipitation, but trace amounts observed;
USFS Fire Danger is MODERATE

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Crow Hill Fire

This past week there was a brush fire at Crow Hill, a roughly 35 acre area.

Now, the reason it got State money for preservation was that it is a habitat called Black oak Savannah.

Black oak Savannah requires fire to continue to persist. It is called "pyrophytic" or fire-loving and is characterized by open low growth, like grasses and blueberry bushes with an overstory of oak trees. Fast burning ground fires burn any poplar or birch or pine trying to join the party and the blueberry make opportunity of the full sun and ash chemical mix added to the soil.

This is what used to be much more prevalent as the landscape in Worcester.

We were starting to see this situation slip away at Crow Savannah with the undergrowth getting thick and threatening to dominate the site. We were beginning to have a conversation about mechanically, and laboriously, needing to cut it back.

And then, one hot dry spring, helped or not, Mother Nature took over and she did her thing!

The paper estimated 4ac. burned.
Yesterday, the Trust's Americorps Dude went out with the Dynamy intern and a GPS.
Make that more like 10 acres!
We will have a final number next week.

This is truly exciting!

To identify a natural system, to speak of it, study it, to lead walks on it, to preserve a piece of it is all great. BUT to see it jump to life and actively transform itself like a caterpillar to a pupae, to a butterfly... a butterfly big enough to see on aerial photos! Is quite amazing.

Way to go Crow Hill Savannah!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Still rising

We've raised the fire danger sign again this morning to VERY HIGH. This is very,  very unusual for central Massachusetts, let alone for March.
At 8:45, it is 59 degrees and rising. 87% humidity and steady.
The barometer is at 29.41 inches of mercury and steady.

I should also note that we are lucky enough to have some excellent sign work going on this week, thanks to intern Jacob!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sign of change

As Crow Hill reminded us yesterday, it is drying out! We've posted a (very rare) HIGH fire danger for today.
The Worcester Fire Department would also like to remind us that yard waste burning is not permitted in city limits.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Records & Yard Waste

Today set a temperature record.
Yesterday did too.
Tomorrow has a chance to do so as well.

For today it was 78 degrees F up at the Worcester Airport.
The prior record set in 1894 was 71 degrees.
In the old order when we used words like "usually," we might have said that the temperature would "usually" be 44 degrees F. Last year was a little warmer than the "usual" as it was 47 degrees F.

Tomorrow's record is 77 degrees F.
The prediction is for 76 degrees F.
You never know... anything is possible.

Yesterday was another temperature record.
74 degrees F up at the Worcester Airport.
The prior record since 1892 was back in 1999 at 65 degrees.

Crazy days.


With all of the warm weather folks are out gardening.
Some folks have grown tired of the Christmas tree in the backyard and are looking to get rid of it.
Some have new bags of leaves and clippings.

Please, please, please resist the temptation to illegally dump your yard waste in the park, or conservation area.

There are a couple of problems with this, some you might have thought of, and some you might not have.

On the more obvious side:

  • It looks really ugly (imagine selling a post card of the White Mountains, or the beach, with mounds of yard waste);
  • While things may eventually compost over a few years in a managed compost operation, dumping in the woods takes much much longer as it is not tended to, not to say that looking at mounds of yard waste for even a couple of years is not at all wonderful;
  • It is considered dumping, and thus is an illicit act;

On the things you might not have thought of:

  • Illicit behavior encourages others to do the same. This gets overwhelming and out of hand very quickly! Especially in a city. Imagine one Christmas tree turning into 5, OR 1 day's labor of grass clippings and leaves each month for the spring, summer, and fall being multiplied by you and your 3-4 neighbors! or more! It gets pretty crazy pretty fast!
  • The stuff in your yard honestly has no place in the woods. Folks grow exotic flowers, bushes, and trees in their yard because they look pretty. Heck, even the grass folks grow really doesn't honestly belong here. More of the seeds and cuttings from those items survive and make a new home in the woods. They choke out the stuff that belongs in the woods and destroy the homes, food, and camouflage needed by all sorts of birds, beasts, and slithering things. Patches Conservation area is turning into one giant stand of Japanese knotweed;
  • The sheer volume of yard waste poured into brooks, wetlands, ponds, and lakes fills them in and reduces the water quality. Why might you care? Well, this is a bummer for folks who fish, or like to see fish, or to imagine fish might be able to live here. It reduces the presence of wildlife. Since Worcester closed its neighborhood pools all of the yard waste dumping right here along the Tatnuck Brook messes up water quality of the swimming area at Coes Reservoir for everyone.

But more than all of that, The world now requires each of us to know where we get our stuff and to know where it ends up.
Making our yard look pretty by making somewhere else look ugly is an act that is selectively blind to everyone and everything around us.

But we are Lucky!
Our trash is incinerated to create electricity. What remains, much smaller by volume is recycled or landfilled.
Our recyclables are picked up from our curb for free, and we don't even need to sort them any more!
Our yard waste is received for free and magically transformed into something good.

The old world notion of "out of sight, out of mind" is dead.
We own the responsibility for what we use and what we discard.
Even our leaves and yard waste.

We are blessed with a very progressive City that twice a year comes and clears the streets of leaves and small branches for free, and then, miracle of miracles, composts it, and then much like a dream, offers the compost back to its citizens FOR FREE!

Three areas of the City have public days designated for yard waste drop off FOR FREE, and again, these things all become free compost!

If those times do not work out for you there is a central City drop off for yard waste where you can make an appointment to bring your stuff.

Don't like that for convenience? The City frequently sells backyard composting kits for a reduced rate. No kidding!

To think that you can walk across the street, or push it over the back line of your yard and it "goes away" is to play a game of pretend, and one that we can no longer afford as a community.
But with all of the options we have it is an act of selfishness not to try. It is an act of violence against others.

But it takes a different mind set.
It takes thinking beyond our yard.
It takes caring about how we leave the world.
It also takes neighbors willing to speak to their relatives, friends, and neighbors about all of the great options, and unwanted impacts folks tend not to think of.

This last part is the most complex.
I know.
I have to face it frequently.
I had to do so today.
It is a pretty tense moment even with a gentle touch for some folks.

But if we love our trails, our parks, our streams, our forest, the fish, the hawks, the swimming holes, the beavers, even the crazy bears and moose who come by to visit our City from time to time,
If we want others to see the natural beauty in where we live and to want to join us and stay,
If we want to leave this place better than we found it,
We have no other option.

It is worth it.
That much I know.

Outrageously beautiful!

I ought to be more worried for larger climactic changes, but I can not help but enjoy today!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Clear & Windy

Peak wind as of 9:15 - 9:17 is 31.5mph!
Skies are blue;
The sun is full;
The temperature is 31.6° F and rising;
The humidity is 48% and falling;
The pressure is 29.62" of Hg and steady;
No prior measured rainfall.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

New Chip!

This past week there has been a crew of really amazing Clark students at Cascading Waters whipping up a storm of activity! They have been:

* stenciling, routing, painting, and sanding signs!
* cutting and moving brush!
* hewing timber!
* building stone wall! &
* raking out chip in the parking area!

Their generous gift of their break has left Cascading Waters looking truly fresh and ready for spring.

This whirlwind of action is what is most heartening about today's students. They really do see the nature we live in as important and they give of themselves.

Thank you guys!

Come and see their work!

Thursday, March 08, 2012


Well, folks, if you were waiting for spring, you've got it!
We are expecting that it will be in the mid-sixties by noon today, so get out there and enjoy it!
Should you be coming through here, do know that several days of melting means that trails are extremely muddy. In the places where the line between trail and brook is somewhat foggy (Silver Spring comes to mind), expect water. So long as you're prepared for that, great weather for it!
We also are lucky enough to have a spring break crew here from Clark for a second day, doing some timber shaping. This is in addition to our stalwart "every other Thursday morning" volunteers, who are routing some signs.
At 10:45 am it is 58.8 degrees and rising.
The humidity is 60% and falling.
The barometer stands at 29.35 inches of mercury and steady.
We currently have about 9 mph of wind

Sunday, March 04, 2012


Yesterday's drizzle and melt froze solid overnight creating an interesting footing with a cereal 'crunch' to it.

8:00 am conditions at the Lodge:

Overcast skies;
The anemometer is covered in snow and ice so it is out of commission but there appears to be stillness with no wind;
31.3° F and rising quickly;
87% humidity and steady (very damp!);
28.85" of Hg pressure and steady;
The rain gauge has a reading but what is drizzle from yesterday and what is melt is unknown;
The fire danger is NONE.

the forecast calls for overcast, warm, with a breeze. Expect funky footing out on the trails but pleasant temps to enjoy them.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Snow Coming!

9:30 am conditions at the Lodge:

35.1° F and steady;
44% humidity and steady;
29.50" Hg pressure and steady;
No recorded precipitation;
Cloudy overcast with occasional sun breaking through;
Fire Danger is LOW;
Gentle breeze moving through on occasion.

The folk wait expectantly for the promised snow, should or materialize.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

More sun, but Chilly

The sun is nice, as is the occasional breeze, but as it is just barely 40 out there it is nicer in theory than it looks from the other side of the window. If you keep active and in motion it is glorious, but if you stop and linger....

This Thursday a new trail information sign went up next to the falls. The traffic on the steep slope was too much for the trail and frequently too much for the hikers careening down, whether or not that was their intended direction. Sure, crazy folk will still want to go straight up avoiding the switchback trail, but honestly, hopping the rocks in the brook is safer these days than trying the eroded bank.

Plenty of hikers out there!

Also, yesterday's volunteers did burn the brush in the meadow. Nuts!

Today's conditions at the Lodge at 3:30pm:
Sunny with clear skies;
39.2°F and falling;
30% humidity and steady;
29.50" of Hg of pressure and steady;
No measurable precipitation despite the snow squalls yesterday;
Fire Danger Class is MODERATE;
There is some pretty ice from the spray and splash on the rocks of the Cascades.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Snow Squall!

What a crazy weather day!

40+MPH gusts,
Snow Squalls!



10:10 a.m. conditions at the Lodge:

Very Windy!
We just saw 41mph and know we have felt stronger!;
Snow flakes intermittently go by horizontally;
The sky is hazy / broke/ overcast;
Last night we received 0.60" of rain (the rain and wind blew down a downspout on the Lodge!);
Temperature is 39.2°F and steady;
Humidity is 46% and steady;
Pressure is 28.65" of Hg pressure and steady;
While the official USFS Fire Danger Class is LOW, on account of the extreme winds, sun, and leaf cover, we are posting it at MODERATE.

We are frequently having wind over 35mph and dry leaves are swirling.

Presently there are WPI volunteers and our Americorps dude up at the Cascades West meadow cutting brush so we can mow. If you see them please thank them.

They were supposed to be burning the brush but these winds make that impermissible.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Vernal Pools! & Signs!

Those night-time, warm, drumming rains.... they mean one thing!
The vernal pools are about to become active with late winter/ early spring!

In an effort to safeguard the specially state designated vernal pools at Cascades West, and the species that are entirely dependent upon them, GWLT is putting up new informational signs tomorrow.

We are asking folks within 500' of the pools to: Keep to the trail; Have your faithful dog leashed (so they don't go for a swim!); and Pack out any trash or waste.

Thanks so much!
We all look forward to the egg masses, the 'cheep' of the wood frogs, the colorful salamanders, and the rest of the vernal pool gang!

QUESTIONS? Please feel free to send us a message on Facebook or an email at

(Thanks to Americorps Dude Tyler Maikath for the incredible informational signage!)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Hike through the Cascades

A few photos from a walk back from West Tatnuck School yesterday...

This first is actually in Cascades West. There's a little corner of Cascades West that you cross when you go from Worcester Public Schools property (which much of that red maple swamp down the hill is) to Cascades Park.

Here's that stream you cross on rocks:

Here's the top of the Cascades

And the shot you're more used to, from Cataract Street.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


We did get a bit of rain overnight, but as of right now, nothing is falling. It is quite overcast, though, and humidity remains at 84% and steady.
At 9:30, it is 35.6% and steady.
The barometer is at 29.32 and steady.
The USFS Fire Danger rating is NONE (need to change the sign!)
The stream did build up some ice around the edges yesterday when it was a bit colder, but continues to run, as do the Cascades.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

More Sun!

OK, it is chilly, but still, you have to love the sunshine!

8:50 am conditions at the Lodge:

23.9°F and rising;
63% humidity and falling;
29.47" of Hg pressure and steady;
No recorded precipitation;
Variable breeze to 3.5 MPH;
Clear jazzy skies;
Fire Danger is MODERATE;
Ice on falls and brook but less than yesterday.

In short, a great day for a hike.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Grey Skies, but promising!

Conditions at the Lodge as of 8:05am:

29.3°F and rising;
74% humidity and steady;
29.15" of Hg and steady;
No recorded precipitation;
No recorded wind;
Grey skies (with some promising breaks);
There is flow in the brook an on the Cascades even though some ice lines the path of each;
USFS Fire Danger Class of MODERATE.

It remains an oddly good year for hiking without snowshoes, cross-country skis, or shoe grips. The odd shoulder season conditions continue.

Today GWLT volunteers are tabling at a UMass Med fair to call attention to the East Side Trail next to the hospital campus in the hopes of getting staff and students to venture out and use this great trail. Good luck guys!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Blue Skies

8:35am conditions at the Lodge:

31°F and rising;
56% humidity and falling;
29.15" of Hg pressure and steady;
Wind gusting to 10mph;
Blue skies;
No precipitation;
USFS Fire Danger Class is LOW.

Friday, February 03, 2012


Back to cold again today.
At nine am, it is 26.8 degrees and rising.
We have 52% humidity and steady.
The barometer is at 29.56 inches of mercury and rising; shaping up to a clear day.
High blue skies and frigid!
We have ice back along the edges of the brook and there is ice forming along the Cascades, which are running.
Fire Danger remains LOW.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

It's Groundhog Day!

And yes, Phil has declared we'll have six more weeks of winter. To which we say: what winter?

Phil's part of an old tradition. While North American groundhogs hibernate for the winter (and thus, Phil excepted, would generally not be awake in February), this stems from a European tradition of the observing the weather and animal activity on Candlemas (February 2) to forecast an early or late spring. Candlemas, at which the medieval church blessed the candles for the year, is an observance in the Catholic tradition of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple (as it's 40 days after Christmas). It also, not coincidentally, falls right next to the pagan feast of Imbolc, observing the swing in the calendar towards spring. In all cases, this is about getting more light and reassuring ourselves that we're getting there: spring will come again!

At nine am, here at the Lodge it is 35.6 degrees and rising.
We've got 81% humidity and steady.
The barometer is 29.27 inches of mercury and steady.

The Fire Danger remains LOW.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Weirdly warm

Happy February! Our unseasonably warm weather continues; we're seeing lots of mud this year.
At 9 am, it is 39.9 degrees and rising.
The humidity is 75% and steady.
The barometer currently reads 29.03 inches of mercury and steady.
Gray skies.
Not a bit of snow to be seen.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Good stuff... eventually.

Yesterday was "trash day" here at the Lodge. I took the opportunity to grab some construction debris that drifted over from the construction site next door and then, for good measure, grabbed some more trash that seems to migrate over from the other neighbor's pristine lawn. However, as I was in a good mood, trash pick up is not new to me, and progress is progress, I grabbed the stuff and moved along.

Things got more complicated this morning as the construction site billowed more debris, and some neighbor's recycling and newspapers succumbed to the winds of yesterday across the woods. Not optimal. Grabbing the debris revealed more debris from the pristine lawn and I ran out of hand and arm space for all of the trash. The positive energy of the day before and any sense of the "progress" was at a low ebb.

And then, just when considering various really foul attitudes, nature intervened.

I was scanning for trash when what should I see but a spruce tree.... and a fir... and then more!

Each about knee high, green, healthy, and unmistakably trees we had planted some years back.

As there is strongly overshadowing over story of older maples and ash these trees don't grow all that fast. In fact I had assumed this batch hadn't made it and succumbed to the hard conditions. I had seen little evidence of them since a walk through a whiles back in a drought season where the gang of seedlings looked to be checking out.

But there they were, years later, growing right along, on their own, slowly adding screening, adding species diversity, making Cascading Waters home.

And then with a glad heart I brought the trash out of the woods, and happily hummed to myself as I went up the cart path.



Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Really nice (if complete unseasonal) day out there today: As the hiker who just came through, sat down on a rock and turned his face to the sun: get out and enjoy it!
At 11 am, we are just about to break 50 degrees F (49.6 and rising).
We currently have 78% humidity, though with a wind of about 11 mph, that is falling.
The barometer is steady at 29.15 inches of mercury under blue skies.
The brook is running between and under banks of snow. Trails that have been active will be a bit slippery, and by this afternoon, the edges will be mud.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Coyote Tracking


So, about 9:40 am my daughter and I are waiting for a school bus on Olean Street. The street is quiet and there is little traffic as a result of the 2 hour snow delay. And then we see it! A full grown coyote pops up from the Cascades Brook, crosses the street in broad daylight right in front of us, and heads up Cascading Waters and out of sight.

It was big enough where your first impressing was not "scrawny coyote" but "big dog." This was a healthy critter! Its shape, posture, coloring, and gait all were clearly coyote and before it was half way across the street you are thinking "wait a minute!"

Now, we all know coyotes live among us. Some of us hear their howls. Some of us see their scat. Some of us see their prints. And from time to time some of us see them in person. My last good clear sighting of a coyote was in the middle of a hot summer night some years back when a coyote had managed to separate a baby raccoon from its mother and had it cornered under the Lodge, and, as fate would have it, under the bedroom window. The horrific screeching of the baby raccoon got my interest and attention, and that was more than the coyote was willing to deal with. But then nothing. No coyotes. For a real long time. Until this morning.

So my next thought, after all school bus issues were addressed, was to follow the coyote tracks to see where they came from. This led me down and out onto frozen Cooks Pond, around a few of the minor islands, and to a place where the coyote had clearly bed down on a smaller island. It was really cool to see that. Then following it back further in time out to the Cooks Pond beach and up the driveway. I was struck by the way the coyote used other tracks when available to mask its own. Once I managed to track it to a mess of prints around the driveway entrance on Tory Fort Lane I changed my path and headed back to Olean Street to see where in the Cascades it was headed.

This was also interesting. The coyote used other tracks when available, be they tire tracks, foot prints, or other dog prints. The coyote happily mixed following the brook and following the trail. Once up at Cataract Street the coyote headed north on the cart path for a while, then hopped up the slope and found a prominent stone wall with a view to scope things out.

When moving through the woods the tracks are a straight line, but when approaching a street or an area of activity they zig, pop up to a spot, return down low, and are more tentative.

Here is one of the coolest things for a trails designer, builder, maintainer, hiker. The coyote used the dang switchbacks up the Cascades slope! How crazy is that? Following the switchback for a better grade and to double up on other prints when possible.

Then we took off through the woods and headed over to the Chatanika / Wild Rose / Navasota neighborhood where the coyote used the back lines, and side property lines to weave its way through the neighborhood, with more of the careful zig and pop when getting to an active area.

I finally lost the tracks at the corner of Middle Mower Street. I walked up the street and down the street to find where the tracks started again, but found nothing. It must have walked the street for a ways before ducking back into the snow and the cover. By this point I had wet boots and socks from being heavier than a coyote on a frozen stream so I was ok with letting the adventure stop there.

Monday, January 16, 2012

More Arctic Cold!

You gotta love this!
Winter tundra returns to Central Massachusetts!

As of 8:00 am the temperature out there was 7 degrees F and steady.
Pond hockey folks, we keep this up and you might be able to skate somewhere other than a state rink!

Conditions as of 8:00 am:

7 degrees F and steady;
45% humidity and steady;
29.71" of Hg pressure and steady (think High or good weather);
0" of precipitation overnight;
USFS Fire Danger Class of NONE (totally unsurprising);
The sky is clear and it is sunny;
The ground with its snow and ice mix is crunchy;
There is no recorded wind movement or stirring at present.

Today there will be a crew of Americorps folks up in Cascades West's Meadow cutting back the saplings trying to grow in to forest in celebration and commemoration of MLK day. The idea being that service would be the way MLK would have wanted us to commemorate his birth and life. There may also be folks working on cutting back the saplings that are constricting the Silver Spring Road that runs through the property. It is a very cold day out there folks, so if you see them thank them. If conditions cooperate they also have a burn permit from the Town of Holden and may burn those saplings, and possibly gain a little warmth from that while they are at it.

Thank you Americorps, and thank you Tyler Maikath for organizing this worthy event!

By the way the overnight low up at the airport was 5 degrees F.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


It was 5 degrees F as of 8:00am!
That's real ice-freezing, ground-hardening, invasive killing cold!

The dog walkers are in Carhart full body suits!

Now that's my NewEngland!

Weather at 8:00am:
5 degrees F and steady;
Wind was 0mph at that moment bout had been stirring,  it has since been at least as high as 15 MPH;
47% humidity and steady;
29.38" of Hg and rising (good weather!);
Sunny w/o clouds;
No recorded precipitation overnight;

Friday, January 13, 2012

65 mph!

That last gust measured 65 mph here!



UPDATE: 49.5 mph!

So, wind was predicted by the National Weather Service for this afternoon... up to 50 mph gusts.
Thus, we weren't surprised by the howling winds here up at the Lodge.
But the cascades wall, the forest, the valley here along the Tatnuck Brook, usually all of these afford us a great degree of shelter, so we rarely see these top predicted wind speeds.

So imagine my surprise when I saw "42 mph" on the anemometer read-out!
And that was just one peak, it may have been and get higher.
Pretty amazing!

Hang on tight!


Yesterday was good fun, with the rain/snow lines from the weather map not panning out.
We stayed colder longer, we got more snow, longer, and as a result, when it did finally warm up, and even when it rained for hours, we still had snow to show for it.
To our west they had rain in Palmer so truly the temperature profile anticipated just didn't pan out.
Lucky for us, we get a small visual of snow.
Unfortunately for our school buses it was a long sloppy slog and waits at bus stops here on Olean Street were an hour or more.
That is more like winter!

The snow plows were throwing a wall of slush when they plowed yesterday afternoon. A wall of slush big enough and heavy enough to hit and throw the mailbox and its post down to the ground left us with frozen group and no mailbox.
We did a classic New England and got a 5 gal. bucket, a 60 lb. bag of sand and whipped together a quick and dirty repair job.

Yesterday we opted to not shovel.
This morning, with the world coated in fresh ice, this turned out to be a very good strategic move.
Things might be a little crunchy at the parking area, but there is more traction for tires as a result.

Friday, January 06, 2012


Just a dusting, but we haven't seen any since October. At least this makes it look a bit more like winter, instead of that extended brown of late fall we've had.
We're just breaking the freezing mark at 8:50 am, and the temperature is still rising.
It is 68% humidity and steady.
The barometer is at 29.06 inches of mercury and steady under overcast skies.
The brook is running through edges of ice, as are the Cascades.
The trails are nicely passable today, with a bit of snow on the ground, and the mud frozen.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012


There may be no snow, but there's no mistaking the season this morning: it is COLD outside!
At 8 am, it is 22.5 degrees and steady (brrr).
52% humidity and steady (it's getting too cold to hold much water in the air)
The barometer is 29 inches of mercury and steady
The stream is running steadily, with some ice around the edges. The Cascades did some melting and refreezing over the weekend, and continue to run.
Fire danger continues to be NONE.

Yesterday, we were cutting trail and flagging a new trail loop at Kinneywood at the Dawson Road. We had a big enthusiastic crew for a great start to the new year!

Monday, January 02, 2012

Work project today

Volunteers are out at the end of Dawson Road this morning, starting off their new year with trail clearing on the KinneyWoods property. Much lopping and clearing going on 'til noon!