Tuesday-- November 4, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
This afternoon about 1500 hours, while inspecting the upper end of the Island, I was
startled by a daylight sighting of the legendary and elusive monster bear/beaver reported
by Peter Jones (but not really believed by this Caretaker until now.) I can only report
how happy I was to see a beaver tail on so huge an animal, which could have easily weighed
80-90 pounds, and would not have believed it if I had not seen it. He was on the uppermost
of the two small islands between Sycamore and the towpath. Fall has reduced the foliage
so it was suddenly apparent that he had a den beneath a large fallen log because the opening
showed much coming and going. He strolled out of the opening and into the water and although
I waited a long time I never saw him surface again.
Wednesday-- November 5, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
The captain has come down to make a new, permanent little dock to be used by winter canoers
and kayakers after the large dock has been taken out at the Workfest. I think this was
prompted by a chance encounter with an exuberant Penny Doolittle, who asked rhetorically
what she would do when the large canoe float came out for the winter.
Friday-- November 7, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
The following is the 1404 hours report on the river
STAGES ARE RISING ALONG THE UPPER POTOMAC...THE SHENANDOAH AND THE
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVERS DUE TO PRECIPITATION AND RUNOFF IN THE BASIN. RISES
OF ONE HALF TO THREE QUARTER BANKFULL ARE ANTICIPATED FOR MOST RIVERS
IN THE BASIN AREA OVER THE NEXT 24 TO 48 HOURS. MOST ALL GAGING POINTS
ARE EXPECTED TO EXCEED THERE CAUTIONARY LEVELS BY LATE AFTERNOON. RIVER
USE SHOULD BE AVOIDED UNTIL STAGES RETURN TO A MORE SAFE AND NORMAL LEVEL.
PRECIPITATION DURING THE PAST 24 HOURS RANGED FROM ONE HALF TO TWO AND
ONE HALF INCHES WITH SOME ISOLATED REPORTS OF THREE INCHES IN THE
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORECASTS THE STAGE AT LITTLE FALLS
TO BE NEAR 3.6 FEET TOMORROW MORNING AND 4.0 FEET ON SUNDAY MORNING.
Saturday-- November 8, 1997 -- The Club is CLOSED
Well folks... it has been a day of scrambling and battening. We had forgotten what it was
like from last winter. The new ropes and rings on the canoes work like a charm... quickly
and efficiently for tie up to flood ropes. All new tables are roped in, all floats pulled
in... all stray stuff gathered from low lying areas. Today we had the first geese on the
Island in a long time, high water refugees we are sure. Following is the Saturday 1155
hours river forecast:
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORECASTS THE STAGE AT LITTLE FALLS
TO BE ABOVE FLOOD STAGE ON SUNDAY MORNING. A CREST OF 11-12 FEET CAN BE
EXPECTED. FLOOD STAGE IS 10 FEET.
The crest is not expected until Sunday night. No dull moments this weekend.
Monday-- November 10, 1997 -- The Club is CLOSED
The excitement is over... the river has receded to "only" 8 feet... the only casualty being
one of the new picnic tables that your negligent Caretaker did not get to in time. It was
the one near the swimming float, and the first time the rope I took was not long enough. I
figured that surely I had time, but when the water rose after 1600 hours Friday it rose very
quickly, and when I got back to it, it was already a hip deep wade. I have just talked to
the Captain about the purchase of actual waders as part of the Caretaker's equipment. Anyway,
to my amazement those heavy new tables floated as soon as the water reached the table top.
All night I saw the loose table floating, pushed by the current up against the Island, and
thus did not worry that it might be swept out into the river, or even get passed the trees
since it was so inboard. None the less, between midnight and 0300 hours Saturday morning it
Thursday-- November 13, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
At the monthly meeting last night the weather report for this weekend was considered... mixed
rain and snow possible on the Sat morning of the workfest. Maybe sleet! None the less, it was
decided that we go... short of actual downpour. Already we have decided to abort the concrete
work on the corner of the building until better weather allows materials delivery in dry weather
(when the river is not so high) and of course this can and should be attempted on a good day
when it need not be a trial and chore.
Saturday-- November 15, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
The Workfest is on... so get on down here. The water level has returned to normal, the snow
and sleet threatened by the weatherpeople just yesterday has disappeared from the forecast
and this morning looks to be a beautiful day.
Monday-- November 17, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
What an amazing Workfest!! There were over 101 people logged in at the ferry. Probably there
were more, as the first two log sheets were lost and it was not possible to count the number
of times a couple or family signed in on one line... a common occurrence. The Island was raked
clean and looked great when everyone left. When chow time came the clubhouse was crowded with
folks chatting and chewing and seemingly having a good time and hopefully making new friends.
Tuesday-- November 18, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
The rest of the leaves are coming down pretty fast now. Incredibly, the notable holdout seems
to be the massive maple tree near the ferry landing, which is still green. I had surmised that
the Island trees were later to change because of the warmer temperature of the water, but in the
last week that temperature has dropped from 48 degrees to 41 degrees, and I would think the
ground was warmer that that.
Wednesday-- November 19, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
Captain Matthews was down to repair and reinforce the new permanent winter canoe dock. This
was under water during the recent flood and also suffered during the Workfest when someone
unknowingly tried to pull out what appeared to be a floating part of the ramp to the large
Thursday-- November 20, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
Tryon Wells was visiting for dinner and decided to stroll outside and mark a tree when he
noticed a small shadow chase a large shadow up a tree. The small shadow turned out to be
our own diminutive Madelyn. A flashlight was called for and, sure enough, the large shadow
turned out to be Rocky the racoon. In fact, a much larger Rocky... now at least three times
as large as Madelyn. As usual, Rocky did not seem to be too concerned about the presence of
humans, and given his size and nonchalant attitude, it was left to the imagination to decide
if his antics with Madelyn were fearful or playful. Still, next time you see that cute little
black kitty meet you at the ferry, be mindful that she considers herself a tigress and to be
Queen of the Island... except in the presence of beaver or groups of more than three geese.
Saturday-- November 22, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
John Matthews was down early, with a long list of projects. First, the ferry rope had to be
re-configured. Last November the rope had to be cut because of high water, and when we put
it back up and connected it to the new post put in at last years November Workfest, the cable
and chain part was longer so that it wrapped around the post and there was no way to cut the
rope simply by cutting a link in the chain. Although this project has been on the Captain's
mind, there was now a special urgency because of the high waters of 7-10 November, when in
fact the cable could not be cut and the rope was barely in the water at crest. So the wire
cable portion has been shortened and the chain portion lengthened so as to allow the ferry
rope to be cut by cutting one link of the chain, and the Captain has taken one of the Island's
two chain cutters home so that in the event of high water there will be someone with a cutter
on the towpath side to sever the chain.
Next, a new anchor cable was made to connect the top of the new post to the large tree near
the towpath used for anchoring previous cables. Then the new rope that has been strung across
the river this year to allow us to raise the ferry rope was itself re-attached about four feet
higher on the towpath side, hopefully giving us some extra leeway before the ferry rope might
have to be cut.
Moving to the Island, electrical cord was strung from the canoe shed to the new winter canoe
dock so that the Captain could finish some sawing of wood to complete that project. Finally,
new chain purchased by the Captain for the purpose was attached to all new picnic tables and
also the table at the lower end of the Island. These tables are now permanently anchored to
trees by chain, and in no danger of floating off... or being carried off, for that matter.
And so, a happier John Matthews left the island mid afternoon, leaving an exhausted caretaker
to contend with the crowds... because, be it noted, despite the chilly damp weather and the
lateness of the season, on this day there were many visitors to the Island and five different
people out in canoe or kayak.
Monday-- November 24, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
There were whitecaps on the water when I took Phyl across this morning... and very cold.
Today is the first day I have looked out the window and actually noticed the predominance of
leafless trees. Won't be long with these gusty winds.
Tuesday-- November 25, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
There are geese feeding on the Island again... nine of them... been coming off and on for a
few days, but it looks like they are here to stay. Because the white goose has passed on,
it is still uncertain if they will stay if we do not feed them... which we will not. Madelyn
caught a wren this morning, which I rescued and put on the platform feeder we have attached to
the front window. It was only then I noticed the tail feathers were missing and the poor thing
was never going to fly. What to do?? I went to find an old box, and when I returned the bird
was gone. Thinking it had tried to fly and had fallen to the ground below the window, I went
outside and searched. No luck. But the crows sure were making a racket. Was the bird able
to leave without tail feathers, or did some predator take it right off the window??
Wednesday-- November 26, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
Traffic on the Island continues unabated. Yesterday 3 people were out on the water. Today
there have been 4 canoeist/kayakers by 1400 hours. Phyl and I have been asked to Johnna
Robinson's house for Thanksgiving dinner at 1300 hours. When I inquired about my responsibility
to be on duty, she replied that on holidays Members should be expected to remember the
combination to the lock. I love it!!
Friday-- November 28, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
The captain was down today to investigare the new possible leak in the kitchen roof and to
raise the Island end of the lift rope for the ferry rope. On the roof the rubber sheeting
has perhaps shrunk and at any rate is pulled back from the edga in a second place. Jim Drew
helped get a ladder and a Caretaker up in the sycamore tree to re-engineer the rope, and
afterwards we all moved the air conditioner out of the quarters and to the workshop for the
Saturday-- November 29, 1997 -- The Club is OPEN
This has been a busy Sat... approximately 30 people on such a drizzly and cold day. Twelve
of these were a group of buddhist monks, nuns, and lay people who came to the Island at the
request of your Caretaker and his wife to conduct a fire puja ceremony in which the Island
is blessed and purified. A deer appeared on the Island during this time and this was
considered to be an auspicious sign.