Saturday-- September 6, 2008
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.8     Water Temperature: 83

I decided to close the ferry for today. No sense in risking injury pulling the ferry on a blustery day, especially since no one will be coming down anyway.

We really need to address our roofing problems. Yesterday I discovered that not only is the roof above the club kitchen in terrible shape and dripping water on the floor but the lower roof above my kitchen is also leaking like a sieve. We had to do some rushing around to control the damage yesterday morning as the water came pouring down the wall onto my bookshelves. After taking a close look at that lower roof it is not surprising that it leaks. It looks like it has been patched many times over the years. It worries me a bit to think about all the mold that might be growing behind that wall and between the roof and my ceiling.

Sunday-- September 7, 2008
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.5     Water Temperature: 73

The ferry is open today.

The river is a funny brown color but its below five feet so I guess I have to run the ferry. The worst part is that I now have to go back and let the ferry rope down and restring the bell rope across the river. One early riser made it to the landing this morning before the bell was back up and had to resort to calling me from his cell phone to bet picked up. Worked pretty well actually.

I've been secretly hoping that the river will rise above five feet just so I can get a break from this unprecedented onslaught of seasonal visitors. I'm afraid I'm becoming one of those old grumpy caretakers who doesn't want to be bothered. I much prefer being the happy caretaker. Maybe it's a good thing that this summer season is ending and soon the Island won't be so busy. It's not a good sign when I'd rather deal with a flood than run the ferry on a busy Sunday.

Tuesday-- September 23, 2008
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.7     Water Temperature: 75

I fixed my oven yesterday. For some reason the heating element on the bottom of the oven became fractured and would not heat up properly. I wasn't sure why the coil would break like that but I figured it was some kind of short circuit or power surge since it's an electric stove. I ordered a new heating element and when I went to install it yesterday I realized what had happened. Apparently a mouse had found its way behind the oven and when it scurried over the electrical connections it short-circuited the power. I removed what was left of the "conductor" mouse and finished replacing the heating element. I then I cooked a pizza, yum!

There seem to be another repair job on the horizon. When the water is running in the kitchen upstairs I can hear water dripping above my bathroom ceiling. Since everything is made of plywood the water isn't coming through the ceiling but it is going somewhere and that can't be good. The problem is that I'll have to cut out the plywood th get to the leak, big job.

We talked about getting the roofs repaired properly at the last meeting but so far I haven't heard of any plans to address the problem. Hope it doesn't rain!

I heard that a large portion of the towpath has been washed out! The heavy rains that we had two weeks ago were too much for the canal berm above Anglers Inn and 120 feet of the towpath has been obliterated.

Also on the towpath, they did some clean-up work where Cabin John Creek flows under the canal. Two years ago that was the seen of heavy creek flooding and many large trees were thrown up on the path between the creek and the canal. The same creek flooding occurred two weeks ago when we had over five inches of rain adding to the huge piles of fallen trees and debris. Thankfully all that trash is now gone.

As we get more news about construction delays I find myself hoping that the renovations never happen. The more I think about the plans the more I don't like them. I'm afraid I'm going to end up with a very dysfunctional residence.

Monday-- September 29, 2008
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.7     Water Temperature: 72

The river is on it's way up but will level off before it gets to four feet so not to worry. I'm a little surprised that the river is going up because around here we didn't get that much rain, only a quarter of an inch fell at National(I like that they still call it National Airport on the NOAA web site)on Saturday, while three and a half inches fell at BWI.

I biked up to Anglers Inn on Friday to have a look at the section of towpath that has been washed out. It was sad to see the fencing across the towpath and to see the canal completely drained and dry. I crawled through the barriers and scrambled down to the river bank to look at the damage from below. The landslide felled many huge trees and left others sitting precariously at the cliff's edge with their roots exposed. The twenty foot wall of quarried stone that was holding up the towpath has crumpled and now lays buried by the rivers edge. This break happened just up river from the major break we had at Anglers after the flood of 1996, and portions of that reconstruction project are now exposed. I watched as a small stream of water continued to cut through the layers of imported gravel and clay and realized that it will probably be a long time before the towpath is repaired again. I guess water always wins.

But I wonder if this break could have been avoided. The canal has been drained all summer and flows have been restricted because of a sink hole in the canal near Carderock. Were the makeshift dams at Carderock the reason the water backed up to the weak spot above anglers Inn? Could a lock have been opened to prevent all that rain water from filling up the canal? Maybe not, maybe we're just relearning what the Canal companies of the past had to learn; the repeated flooding of the potomac makes it almost impossible to keep this canal watered.

Don't forget, the October meeting will be on October 15 at 8:00. Also that night we have a special presentation by club member Bob Beauchamp. He will be presenting a slide show about global climate change. Should be interesting, don't miss it! And to further entice you to come to the Island that evening I've decided to grill up some burgers an dogs for everyone. Show up at 6:00 with something to eat or come at 7:00 for the show.

Tuesday-- September 30, 2008
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.5     Water Temperature: 72

Here is a special notice to everyone concerned about the recent canal breach.

The C&O Canal National Historical Park and the C&O Canal Trust will host a free community forum on Saturday, October 4, at 9:30 a.m. to address issues related to the serious breach in the canal near Angler's Inn. The forum will take place on the canal just downstream of the breach. Sturdy shoes are encouraged for those who wish to see the breach up close.

Kevin Brandt, Superintendent, C&O Canal NHP, and Matthew Logan, President, C&O Canal Trust, will be on hand to provide the public with information how repairs will be undertaken as well as ways the public can help in the repair effort.

The damage to the historic canal occurred September 6th during the heavy rains associated with Tropical Storm Hanna. Cracks in the towpath first appeared on September 5th and grew rapidly into a full-scale breach when the downpour arrived the next day. It is now estimated to measure 125 feet across at towpath level and is continuing to grow. The affected section of towpath, between the Angler's Inn parking area and Great Falls, is currently closed.

Speaking of erosion, we have some erosion issues here on the Island that need to be addressed. When it rains the path down the center of the Island becomes a fast moving stream. There is no vegetation on the path to keep the water from carrying off large amounts of soil as it carves a ravine through the Island. I think we need to devise some kind of terraced system to slow the water and prevent our Island from being washed away.

It's also time to think about the upcoming Fall Workfest. This year's focus will be on ridding the Island of invasive plants, so I'm hoping some knowledgeable plant people come forward to help lead us. We could use more leaders in general, the problem we've had at the workfest's since we started the phone tree is too many indians and not enough chiefs.