JULY 2003

Tuesday -- July 1, 2003
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.4     Water Temperature: 75

I'm sorry I haven't reported in for a while, I had some bad luck with my computer. You'll notice that my last entry was on Friday the thirteenth. My modem was damaged in a storm that day and I'm just getting my computer back now, thanks to Tryon.

Well the river is down and the water is warm so it is definitly peek island time. Sunday was a big day down here with many Islanders visiting as well as many contestants from the Down River Race. The race was a lot of fun and Kaylen and I won first place in our catagory (we were the only ones in our catagory). It was great to canoe through Mather Gorge for the first time and then be greeted by pizza and lemonade when we reached the island.

Pepco was here all week last week and they have completed the installation of the new utility poles. They were a great bunch guys and they even helped cut up the fallen tree with their chainsaws, that saved me a lot of work! Unfortunately, last night's storm brought down more big branches.

Wednesday -- July 2, 2003
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.1     Water Temperature: 78

We're bracing ourselves for Tropical Depression Bill. It's supposed to bring a lot of rain to the basin today which means river rises on Thursday and Friday. I don't expect it to rise above five feet or so but I could be wrong. I hope people don't have to cancel their island plans for thr Forth. I'm wondering what it will be like here on the forth, I don't want to celebrate on the island alone.

I saw a Polyphemus Moth under the light by my front door. It's an amazing moth with a wingspan of five inches and large eyespots on it's wings. This moth never eats and it's adult stage of life is spent mating and that's it.

Thursday -- July 3, 2003
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.1     Water Temperature: 75

The recent storms, combined with the saturated ground, have caused many trees to fall both on the island and along the canal. Two tree-sized branches crashed down on the island, one right across the boardwalk, and we lost a silver maple at the head of the island. There were two trees across the path up by the parkway, (I think I just heard the chain saws clearing those away) and the hill above the canal is strewn with giant fallen trees that just couldn't hold themselves up on that steep terrain.

I've been noticing some black-crowned night herons around. They are so cool with thier long white, D.A.-like feathers falling down over thier black backs. The Ospreys and kingfishers are back, I wonder if it has anything to do with the river being lower and less cloudy.

Monday -- July 7, 2003
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.2     Water Temperature: 80

Wow! What a great weekend on the island. Finally a nice long hot summer weekend with lots of activity to match. The 4th started with visits from early kayakers and didn't slow down 'til about 5:00. Large picnics at most of the picnic tables and all the club canoes out in the water. The swimming has been fantastic, (dispite the strong current),as the river gets clearer and warmer everyday. With the help of some strong paddlers we managed to get the swim float out into the river. We weren't able to get it exactly where we wanted it because of the powerful river but it's nice to have it out there just the same. There weren't many of us here in the evening but those that stayed were treated to a beautiful sunset paddle and a great fireworks display that we watched while floating in our boats in the river up by Rupperts island. The day ended as we drifted past Sycamore island with the sound of cannons in the distance.

Tuesday -- July 8, 2003
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.2     Water Temperature: 81

I think the heat is driving people to the island. I guess they know that it's always cooler down here and the swimming can't be beat. One jump into the river can change your whole attitude. The problem this week is that these thunderstorms keep driving everyone away.

I finally met the couple living in the lockhouse at lock six. They were very friendly and very happy to meet me. I invited them and thier young son to visit the island sometime, I'm sure we'll have plenty to talk about.

The ramp came apart from the canoe float again but with the help of old-timer John Matthews we fixed it better than new.

Thursday -- July 10, 2003
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.2     Water Temperature: 80

It seems that all the geese are gone now. I haven't seen any in over a week. The adults seem to molt at the end of June, we see thier feathers everywhere. I guess that the young ones get thier flight feathers by this time and they're off to other places. So the geese arrive in February and stay until July.

The meeting was here last night, for the first time in months, but the foul weather was discouraging and there were not enough present for a quarum. Our president, Ann-Marie the socializing advocate, did bring a chocolate cake that was very good. Remember for the next meeting, if you're not sure if you want to come, there may be some treats like home made cake.

Friday -- July 11, 2003
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.5     Water Temperature: 76

Quite a storm last night, no trees down but the river is expected to rise steady through Sunday. Monday -- July 14, 2003
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.4     Water Temperature: 79

Busy weekend on the island, some people even went camping on Rupperts for the weekend. It's great to see everyone enjoying the island and it's subtle allure once again. A friend and I paddled down from Angler's yesterday. It was thrilling to run the rapids and the scenery was unmatched but one of the most enchanting moments of the trip was gliding past the magical quiet that is Sycamore Island.

The water is clearer today but the river has yet to fall below four feet so the current is still very strong.

Tuesday -- July 15, 2003
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.2     Water Temperature: 78

Many of the jewel weed plants on the island have grown to five feet in hieght but very few of them have the yellow blooms. There is also another variety of jewel weed on the island which doesn't seem to grow as tall and has an orange flower.

Thursday -- July 17, 2003
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.9     Water Temperature: 79

Here it is the middle of July and the river is just now falling to below four feet for the first time this year. The water is clearing up too so it should be a great weekend for fishing and swimming.

Friday -- July 18, 2003
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.9     Water Temperature: 79

Today the well company is here to finish the well. They still have to seal the top with the "aqua plug".

I've been rather busy down here lately. Not only does the grass grow faster this time of year but I also repaired the lights on the trail and on Wednesday John Matthews, Tryon, David Winer and myself pulled the ferry out of the water and patched the gapeing crack on the pontoon. Yesterday Matthews and I reinstalled our extention on the ferry and launched it back into service. Getting all that water out of the pontoons is a big help and the ferry is high in the water and much easier to pull, I like easier.

I'm enjoying this nice dry summer weather we've been having. Reaping the benefits of island life. Looking forward to a big weekend and my girls will be here too!

Monday -- July 21, 2003
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.6     Water Temperature: 79

More great weather and another busy weekend on the island. The water has cleared up and the river level is down, so the swimming is superb. I got out the croquet set and some folks were playing with that, and I dug two pits for the houseshoes, one of my favorite games. Yes we're really enjoying this peak summertime weather and all the fun activities that go along with it.

The dragonflies are out now. You can see the discarded ectoskeletons of their aquatic childhood on the edges of the docks as you watch the beautifully colored adults drying their wings in the sun.

Tuesday -- July 22, 2003
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.5     Water Temperature: 79

The wind has died down today. Yesterday there was an unusual wind coming from down river that was quite strong at times. Its great canoeing when the wind is pushing you up river and then you turn around and the current takes you down.

There must have been some sort of major bug hatching last night. Today I awoke to find millions of tiny knat-like insects lying dead at all the windows. There are so many of them that every strand of every spider web is covered with them.

Wednesday -- July 23, 2003
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.8     Water Temperature: 78

The heavy rain last night was very local so it didn't effect the river level too much but all that runoff coming out of Cabin John Creek has made the water very cloudy and uninviting to swim in. That was a lot of rain last night, John Matthews said he got two inches. I was walking down the path at about ten and it was a rushing creek with waterfalls.

All the day lillies are gone now but the hostas on the island are doing very well and are producing many of their purple blooms. There are also some summer wild flowers that I have yet to identify, some pretty yellow ones at the head of the island.

Thursday -- July 24, 2003
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.8     Water Temperature: 80

A caretakers work is never done. Trim the trees, cut the grass, fix the cabinet, reattach rope to float, pull up the kudzu, replace rotted wood on porch, clean gutters, and on and on, and then John Matthews shows up with something else to do. I'm not complaining mind you, I love to work with my hands and when I'm done I reward myself with a refreshing swim at sunset.

I've also been doing a lot of reading for my class. I'm studying evolution and Darwins first book is the required reading. These slow summer days have their tranquilizing effect and I hesitate to admit that I've been doing a little high quality napping as well, at least partly attributable to Darwin's less-than-stimulating prose.

Friday -- July 25, 2003
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.7     Water Temperature: 80

Another perfect day for canoeing, sunny and warm and no wind what so ever. I went out last night at sunset and had a blast. I found that I could surf the baby waves above ruppert's and I did my first sideways surfing!

The eastern kingbird,a cardinal-sized flycatcher that's easy to identify by it's white-tipped tail, has become a regular sight, but I haven't spotted any kinglets yet.

Friday -- July 26, 2003
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.5     Water Temperature: 80

A lazy summer day. Gotta love it. Monday -- July 28, 2003
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.4     Water Temperature: 81

A beautiful summer weekend but it looks like this cold front is bringing some clouds and rain our way. The forecasted rainfall is not expected to effect the river levels much though.

I paddled from Angers Inn down to lock ten yesterday with the Cabin John Neighborhood Assoc. What a blast we had, thirty boats floating down the Potomac on a perfectly hot July afternoon. I met a lot of new freinds and I got to meet Dave Smith and the rest of the Potomac Outdoors Outfitters guides. They supplied all the boats, gave us lessons and were superb out on the river especially with all the novices we had with us. The highlights of course were watching all the canoes flip over at Yellow falls and having lunch by the waterfall at Scotts Run.

Tuesday -- July 29, 2003
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.4     Water Temperature: 80

Somebody told me that there are eastern coyotes in The Gorge and one may even be living on Offut Island. It's a little hard to believe but very exciting. I'll be listening for the sound of their howling in the night.