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, 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!