March 2007

Friday -- March 2, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.2     Water Temperature: 39

The ferry is closed today due to high water and will be closed all weekend.

Saturday -- March 3, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 7.5     Water Temperature: 39

It's too bad that the river is so high, this weather is perfect for a little canoeing.

Sometimes I'm amazingly lucky. Maybe I was really tired when I paddled my canoe across the river last night but for some reason I didn't drag the boat far enough up the bank to be safe from the rising water. This morning, the first thing I saw when I rolled out of bed and looked out the window was my canoe slowly floating away from the island. I wasn't fully awake and I stared at the canoe in the muddy river for a couple of seconds, dumbfounded. The canoe stopped, snagged on one of the tree branches that now reached deep into the river. I had a chance the save her! I tried to hurry but I was still reluctant to jump onto the flooded river before coffee. I threw on some clothes, grabbed a paddle and ran to the closest canoe I could find. As if on cue, as soon as I got outside the run-away canoe became unsnagged from the tree branch and started moving quickly downstream. I jumped into an old Grumman and caught up with the canoe. I tied her to my seat but by this time I'm down at the foot of the island with no hope of paddling both canoes up river against this strong current. I made a bee-line for the shore and it seemed my crisis was over, but no, those tree branched that helped me before now had a firm grip on the empty boat behind me. I used the handle of my paddle to hook a tree on the shore and with all my might I pulled until I was able to hug the tree and tie off my canoe. The branch was pulling back with a lot of force making it hard to untie the rescued boat but finally I got it free and crawled aboard. I still can't believe that I just happened to wake up just in the nick of time to save my canoe. My record of not losing any canoes has been preserved.

Monday -- March 5, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 6.7     Water Temperature: 39

The river crested at 8.7 and is on it's way back down. We should be below five feet by Wednesday afternoon.

There were lesser scaups and canvasbacks at the foot of the island all weekend. They seemed to be content paddling against the current and picking food from the surface of the flooded river as if the river were a giant food conveyer. There were about twenty lesser scaups and half a dozen canvasbacks. This morning they were joined by a striking pair of hooded mergansers and a female buffle head.

I caught the ground hog out of its lair under the house and I quickly sealed up the entrance. I hope that keeps her out.

It seems that the women's bathroom needs a new faucet. I had to turn off the water in there to keep it from leaking.

There is a stretch of land above Macarthur Blvd. between here and the dam the has been preserved as a conservation area by the Glen Echo Heights Assoc. I hiked there on Sunday and found amazing views of the river as well as a cool rope swing. There is an empty house and lot up there that just sold for 4 million dollars!

Tuesday -- March 6, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 6.4     Water Temperature: 39

Holy Moly! I'd heard that we were in for another cold snap but I was caught totally unprepared for this. It's three degrees with the wind chill! The wind sounds ominous as it rips through the trees and looks very threatening to canoeist as it storms downstream. I wish that I didn't turn on the water to the clubhouse because now all the lines are frozen, uhg. I'll just have to hope for the best.

Lesser scaups still hugging the southern shore of the island.

I can't wait for the warmer days when I can see George Malusky fishing for carp along the canal.

Wednesday -- March 7, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.6     Water Temperature: 39

There are about eighty or so tundra swans sitting in the river just above the dam. I heard their coo-hooing off in the distance before dawn this morning and after I got the kids off I took my scope down to the foot of the island to check them out. What a beautiful sight, I think it made my day.

Lesser scaups still hanging around.

The park I talked about above MacArthur is officially called The Potomac Palisades Park and is a county park.

The children were so happy to not have to climb into a canoe this morning. We're using the ferry to get back and forth now but we're still closed for ferry service until the river gets down to five feet, probably tomorrow.

Wednesday -- March 8, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.2     Water Temperature: 39

Slowly, the river is getting back to it's normal self. This will be the first weekend that the ferry has been open in over a month.

Tuesday -- March 13, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 4,6     Water Temperature: 46

I'm still working on the plumbing. Yesterday I had to replace the faucet for the ladies room sink and the line to the toilet in there had to be replaced. I fixed the phone line as well. I branch fell on it and pulled it down along with a piece of siding from the clubhouse. I renailed the siding back into place and reattached the line to the house.

There were two red-breasted mergansers fishing at the foot of the island yesterday afternoon. I usually don't see the red-breasted and makes three different types of mergansers that I've seen this week; The common, the red-breasted and, my favorite, the hooded.

Starting to see some members down here. We had two visitors on Sunday and two yesterday.

Friday -- March 16, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.6     Water Temperature: 46

Sorry folks, it looks like another weekend of high water and no ferry service. The river is supposed to crest on Sunday at about seven feet. They were calling for higher levels earlier but the rain in the west turned to snow and is not an immediate threat any longer.

I have a new method of raising the ferry rope and I was able to get it very high above the river.

Saturday -- March 17, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 6.3     Water Temperature: 44

I know we're all ready for Spring to begin but a lingering winter means lingering winter birds. I love having the Island surrounded by all types of diving ducks and mergansers. They've been hanging around here for close to a month but its still a rare treat to look out the window or stroll down to the foot of the Island and see these birds.

I'm waiting for the river to go up enough to allow me the joy of doing the zip-line over the water. Probably won't happen this time, maybe someday.

Monday -- March 19, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 6.3     Water Temperature: 44

They are calling for high water all week, so no ferry service. The human inhabitants of the island are much chagrined by the prospect of having to use the canoe all week.

I just learned that there is a new land trust right under our noses. It will be Chaired by Roy Sewall, maybe we should try to get someone on their board.

C&O Canal Trust, Inc. 5619 Oak Place Bethesda, MD 20817 (301) 530-6720

Wednesday -- March 21, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 6.3     Water Temperature: 44

The dock on the Island has been under water for days now. Usually when we have high water it rises slowly but recedes very quickly. At least the wind has died down a little.

I just realized that the canoe I picked to use when the river was frozen and to serve as our high-water ferry is the same boat that John Thomson is carrying in the photos of him in the clubhouse. I'm guessing that it's the same boat he used in many of his famous outings. Is it wrong to use a vessel that has seen so many big adventures on this river for such menial tasks as ferrying and ice-breaking. I hope not, and I like to think that John would approve, this canoe is not out to pasture yet.

The double-crested cormorants have returned. I forgot to mention their arrival last week. I also have phoebes now, looking for possible nesting sites on the island. The grebes I'm seeing are starting to show their breeding plumage now and the necks on the red-necked grebes are actually looking a little red.

Thursday -- March 22, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 6.1     Water Temperature: 46

Not much to report except that with the expected rain it looks like the ferry will be closed for yet another weekend.

There is a movement afoot to move the workfest back to the 15th of April instead of having it on the first of the month. Keep your ears and eyes open for a possible change. If you have a preference please let the President, Jeff Komarow, know.

The noisy "goose wars" are in full swing.

Monday -- March 26, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.7     Water Temperature: 46


The dock is still under water so I'm getting lots of canoeing practice.

It looks like the lesser scaups, the canvas backs and the red-necked grebes have finally decided that it's warm enough to fly up to their breeding ground. To take their place we have the wood ducks and the cormorants. The geese are getting agressive and will try to intimidate anyone who dares to venture into their territory. Today the wood ducks were on the edge of the field along with the geese. I've never seen the wood ducks grazing on land like that.

Wednesday -- March 28, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.2     Water Temperature: 46

With some difficulty, I restrung the bell rope and lowered the pull rope. The ferry is operating once again. The river will be right at five feet tomorrow so we're open for business in the morning.

There are two yellow trout lilies and some dutchman's britches blooming next to the boardwalk.

Friday -- March 30, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.8     Water Temperature: 46

We saw this year's first blacksnake on Tuesday. Usually, you don't see them until you're about to step on them, and our teenage guest let out a load scream as she came close to stepping on one as we walked down the boardwalk.

I heard that the shad are running. I learned through the grape vine that ten shad were caught from Shad Bank, near Fletcher's, on Wednesday. Spring is ALIVE!