Mud Season!

Notes on the Day:


  • cloudy
  • windy
  • sunny the day before
  • around 50°F
  • thunderstorms at night
Scott, J. (2020). Mud. This is a picture of mud found on a trail in my town. Certainly tough to walk through!

Mud season occurs in early Spring when dirt trails and roads become muddy from melting snow and rain. It usually lasts until Memorial day, which is in the end of May. For avid hikers it can be difficult when all you want to do is hit your favorite trail on a warm Spring day, but the health of the environment depends on you not to. Although tempting, there are important reasons why the trails close.

The ground can only hold a certain amount of water, when it overflows we see these big mud puddles all along the trail. You may think that you don’t mind getting your shoes dirty, but with every step you take, you risk soil compaction and erosion. Soil compaction makes it harder for vegetation to grow and increases the risk of flooding because the amount of water the soil can hold is reduced. Similarly, erosion leaves rocks and roots out in the open as it carries the soil away (McLane, 2019).

You may be thinking you could just step on the outskirts of the trail, right? Wrong. Walking on the edges of the trail causes significant harm to the growing vegetation and ends up increasing the width of the path as well.

This isn’t to say you won’t find a trail without mud. Sure, you may come across one that is relatively dry in the beginning. As long as you are stepping on durable material, meaning NOT MUD, you should be fine to continue along the trail. Stick to rocks and hard, dry soil. If you see lots of muddy sections with no rocks to forge your path, turn around. You’ll be doing your environment a favor and your shoes.

Thoughts: Mud season is certainly frustrating. I learned a lot about the importance of staying off the trail during this time. Had I not heard this mentioned in class or researched it on my own, I would probably be hiking the muddy trails in my town and causing damage to the soil. I’m glad I learned about this and I hope you learn something too! 🙂


McLane, Kristin. “Mud Season Has Arrived!” Green Mountain Club Long Trail, Green Mountain Club, 4 Apr. 2019,

April: Transformation from CT

Notes on the day:

  • 60°F
  • sunny
  • windy
  • little to no mud
  • had been cold and cloudy before this (40°F )

More Spring Discoveries!

White Memorial Trail in Morris, CT

This past Sunday, after a couple of cold 40°F cloudy days, it was 60°F and sunny! Granted there was a significant wind chill, but I thought it would be a good opportunity to go on a hike and get out of the house. I went to White Memorial, a set of trails a couple towns over from me. The trails in my town were shut down because there were too many people, believe it or not. These sure are interesting times…

Scott, J. (2020). Painting. The more I look at this picture, the more it transforms into a painting.

How to Tell if it’s Spring

The Vernal equinox occurs around March 20 in the northern hemisphere. This signifies the beginning of Spring! Have you noticed the days are much longer, not to mention warmer? The precipitation we expect has transitioned from snow to rain. We can see new plants popping up. Animal activity has increased as well. These are the telltale signs of yet another transition to Summer (Di Silvestro, 2011).

Scott, J. (2020). Butterfly. This butterfly is called a Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa).

I had to search online for what type of butterfly it was. After scrolling a while I figured out it was Nymphalis antiopa, or mourning cloak (Chandler, 2018). This is a really cool name by the way. It flew out of nowhere and really caught me by surprise. I was worried it would fly off before I got the chance to take a picture.

Notice where the butterfly landed. Look closely at what the ground is composed of:

  • decomposing pine needles
  • dead leaves
  • dead grass
  • sprouting grass!
Scott, J. (2020). Water. This is a picture of Ongley Pond at White Memorial.


Unfortunately, our public parks often times are disrespected by trail goers. I found a soda can right next to the water on the trail. Littering can have implications for wildlife through water pollution and choking hazards. Litter may also carry germs that the animals aren’t used to being exposed to.

Another rather interesting discovery I saw when I was right next to the water. I had crouched to look at a plant when I noticed something floating in the water. A dead fish had washed up at the Pond’s edge. After a quick examination, I noticed the fish was missing a fin and likely couldn’t swim. It probably washed up from a storm we had a little bit ago. Nonetheless, I was a little bit startled and of course questioned the quality of the water for a minute.


I threw a lot at you during this post…did you catch it all? I can confidently say Spring is here; I’m sure we will all eagerly watch as it advances. I love the warm weather and I cannot wait for the sun to come out more and the temperature to rise.


Chandler, R. (2018, June 7). Butterfly Identification 101. Retrieved from

Di Silvestro, R. (2011, March 17). 5 Ways to Tell Spring Has Arrived • The National Wildlife Federation Blog. Retrieved from

March Awakening from Woodbury, Connecticut

Despite not being in my usual Centennial spot 🙁 I have found plenty of places near my hometown to explore :). Curious enough, I see more people outside now than I ever have; even on rainy days, people are walking on the sidewalks or out hiking. These weird circumstances we’re living under seem to be eye-opening for us. We are finally taking time for ourselves and for a lot of people that means getting outside. It feels good to see this. I myself have gone out a lot more than I would have at school, I admit partially because there’s nothing to do in my house. The following are my observations on the world:

Spring is Here!

  • The grass is greener (yay!) –>
  • Sunny days are nice and warm, but cloudy days seem to be more often
  • It rains a lot
  • Some flowers are sprouting
  • The days are around 50 °F
  • BUGS are out, I see them everywhere now

A little update on me and my adventures:

February Survival

Description of the Day, 2/22/20:

  • Sunny
  • 50 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Little to no wind
Figure 1. Phenology site February update image. Jolie Scott (2020).

Tracks Found

As I was stepping through the snow I noticed very clear white-tailed deer tracks. I found more tracks the farther I followed it, suggesting the presence of multiple deer. In the winter, deer typically are less active and find shelter predominantly under coniferous trees to protect them from wind and possible predators. During the day and the night deer typically are either slow-moving or resting in a warmer area like under the trees (Tufts, 2018). Deer are browsers so their diet typically consists of twigs, grasses, available plants, and support these with high-calorie foods like fruits, nuts, and mushrooms. Sometimes they dig under the snow to get to food, but they don’t need to. Predators of deer include humans, black bears, coyotes, and eastern bobcats. If wolves are around, they are also considered a predator of white-tailed deer (White-Tailed Deer).

Interactions with Tracks

The primary interaction I noticed with the deer was that they crossed the stream I followed the tracks to. I noticed they continue on the other side of the water which means the deer jumped over the water despite it being a challenge for a human to jump. I followed one set of tracks and found interactions with another set that led into a different direction the more I followed it. This shows that the deer peacefully interacted with each other and went their separate ways. I also noticed different tracks that followed a galloping formation.

I believe that the deer interacted with each other because the tracks looked as though they were made at the same time. They were both the same depth as well. I know the snow had been variable the past few days so it would be easier to tell if they came at different times. However, it is possible the deer did not interact with each other and instead came at different times during the same day. The strongest evidence to support this would be the tracks crossing. If they were interacting it doesn’t seem likely that they would’ve crossed each other. Either theory is possible though.

Figure 4. Deer interaction documentation with stream. Jolie Scott (2020).

Phenology Changes

The main character I noticed during my visit to my site was that the snow was slushy. The day I visited was about 47°F, sunny, and low in wind. On my walk through the woods to track my deer, I noticed that the snow was much deeper than I expected, about halfway up my shins. I followed the trail to a small stream and found the water to be very muddy. It was only clear on the shallower edges and the water flowed faster than usual suggesting the warm weather was melting a lot of the snow cover and contributing to runoff into the stream. A lot of dead or brittle plants stuck up through the snow, there were many fallen branches and snapped twigs. The plants were withered and dull. I found there to be a lot of overlapping tracks of humans, dogs, and deer. I found more wildlife signs than I expected to and especially since last time which may have been because of the warm weather that day.

Phenology Notes

Figure 5. Image of phenology notes on February 22. Jolie Scott (2020).


How do deer survive harsh winter weather? (2018, January 30). Retrieved from

White-Tailed Deer. (n.d.). Retrieved from critters/mammals/white-tailed-deer

January; Endurance

Wildlife Tracking

a. Squirrels

  • Galloper gait
  • 3 cm track size

b. Deer

  • Diagonal gait
  • 8-11 cm track size

c. Possible Mink

  • Bounding gait
  • 5 cm track size
  • Area is fairly close to water, this supports the mink theory

Winter Twig Identification

Deciduous Trees:

  • Paper Birch
  • Sugar Maple
  • Oak

Sugar Maple and White Oak

Sugar Maple Twig:

  • twig is brown and slender with sharp, pointed, brown buds
  • opposite, simple leaf (Sugar Maple, 2019)
  • you can see in the images above that the two on the left are brown twigs with sharp and pointed brown buds

White Oak Twig:

  • twig is red-brown/gray with multiple terminal buds
  • alternate, simple leaf (White Oak, 2019)
  • you can see in the images above that the one on the right has a red-brown twig with multiple terminal buds

Phenological Changes

There’s not much difference in the area from the last time I visited. Perhaps the most noticeable is the path is completely covered in ice. The deciduous trees have lost their leaves, the ground is lumpy with debris of plant and snow, the temperature is colder, so there’s no mud as seen in my last visit. 

Scott, J. (2020). My Site. This is an update of what my specific site looks like. The boards are covered in ice and snow; very slippery!

Twig Sketch and Picture of Notes

Scott, J. (2020). Twig Sketch Page 2. This is a picture of the second page of my notes, talking about phenological changes.


Virginia Tech Dendrology. “Sugar Maple.” Virginia Tech Dendrology Fact Sheet, 2019,

Virginia Tech Dendrology. “White Oak.” Virginia Tech Dendrology Fact Sheet, 2019,

Extra Credit Orenaug Park Phenology Part 1

Orenaug Park in Connecticut is a short and steep trail with three trail entrances that lead to a firetower. This firetower offers a full view of the town of Woodbury. One trail entrance is by a pond, another is by the senior center, and the third enters on a road. I will attach an image to clarify. 

Orenaug is surrounded by pines, oaks, and maples. There were many leaves on the ground and fallen branches, off of the path but around it nonetheless. In Centennial there are mainly white pines, sugar maples, and paper birches. The path at Centennial is muddy compared to Orenaug and seems to be less obstructed by fallen branches. 

Overall, being at this site feels a bit different from my site in Burlington. Orenaug is more a part of the town, and not as isolated as Centennial Woods. I feel familiar in both spots, perhaps more so in Burlington because I’ve visited my spot there to a greater extent. Although both are away from the local town enough, Orenaug feels more a part of the community and I experienced more people on my travels there. 

The sunset at part of Orenaug trail

Orenaug is the “Native American name for the trap rock cliffs” (Town of Woodbury, Orenaug Park section) which suggests part of the history of the natural area. Many surrounding areas and landmarks are named after the Native Americans who lived there before, such as the Nonnewaug River. 

The fire tower itself was built in 1911 to lookout for fires within the Pomperaug River Valley. 

The geography of Orenaug is more rocky than Centennial. There are rock cliffs and caves, whereas Burlington is mainly ups and downs as well as mud and pines. I mentioned vegetative species in one of the above paragraphs. I notice that this fauna is kind of similar, but more tuned to the natural environment of both places. For example, the type of soil and weather differs. Orenaug is rocky and dry while Centennial is typically muddy and supports a variety of species. Both places are significantly filled with hills; however, I believe Centennial offers more variety.

I have been to Orenaug before but this time I explored a new trail of it. This definitely made me feel more of a sense of place in Burlington because the trail I went on in Woodbury felt dark and lonely almost. I also came across evidence of people’s history there as I have in Centennial. In Burlington, I know my area well, I am familiar with the landmarks of the area like the large pine and wooden planks. For Orenaug I had to discover these things for the first time.

Thanksgiving Break Sense of Place

The sense of place I chose was the firetower in my hometown of Woodbury, CT. I go here a lot when I’m home and it’s a nice place to take a quick hike and socialize with friends or get away from family. It’s universal among the younger kids, ages 14-19, as a place to hang out and get some exercise. The hike itself is relatively short but it’s a steady incline so it gets your heart rate pumping. I remember when both of my sisters were in high school they would go to the firetower all the time, and I found myself doing the same. The top of the structure is covered with graffiti on the inside, marking everyone who’s been there before. It’s nice to see how people can express themselves in such a public and safe way without consequences. It’s like the firetower is ours. 

Part of the firetower trail was a place of worship for a nearby church where some members would go to for service. The trail also connects to the senior center in the town which is right next to the police station. The other end of the trail is by an off-road next to a picturesque pond. Some areas of the firetower trail have been clear cut for access to nice views, but there aren’t many instances of this. 

There are a lot of walking and hiking trails within easy access of all parts of town; this creates a nice refuge for those who need some relief. The whole town just feels homey and safe. 

I think that the majority of the town has a lot of variety, so it’s the perfect place to grow up in. There are plenty of places to eat and walk and it’s pretty lively the majority of the time. This deepens the sense of place I have for Woodbury because I get excited to visit some of these places. 

Over my lifetime, I found that my hometown was getting smaller. There wasn’t as much to do and I would frequently visit other places. The only things that are really available now are restaurants, diners, and a couple parks. I still find peace of mind when I’m there, but when my friends are away, it feels much lonelier. Since I left home for UVM, I found myself wanting to see the people in my hometown rather than the town itself. I was excited to see certain landmarks, like the cannons on the green, or the most popular grocery store there, Labonnes, as my mom and I drove through it entering Thanksgiving break. Overall, I still feel at home when I’m in Woodbury, but I realize that my sense of place is with the people I love: my friends and family. 

My sense of place at home has influenced the types of environments I feel comfortable in. Since it’s relatively suburban, I am wonderstruck by cities and feel lonelier around isolated areas. Also, considering the physical environment around me, I appreciate the mountains and oceans more because I don’t see them as much. 

This is me at a clearing on the firetower trail
This is me in a hammock at the top of the firetower