October 2010

Friday -- October 8, 2010
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.19     Water Temperature: 64

The river looks good again, meaning that it has cleared up quite a bit after last week's rain. The weather is warm and the river is clear so I'm tempted to go for a dip, but then I saw the water temperature. Not sure if I'm ready to jump into that cold river.

I just returned from a vacation in Austin. I had a great time and I was surprised at the number of beautiful rivers in east Texas. I paddled the flat waters of the dammed Colorado in the heart of Austin and I also spent an afternoon of whitewater fun on the Guadeloupe. I'll have to go back there for more paddling adventures.

Sadly, the person that we had lined up to be my substitute decided to blow us off. Where was the sense of duty? I guess you just can't get good help these days.

Friday -- October 15, 2010
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.1     Water Temperature: 62

It must be autumn. The buck on the Island has a full rack of antlers, the gold finches aren't gold anymore, and the heavy blankets are back on my bed.

Wednesday -- October 20, 2010
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.89     Water Temperature: 60

There is a spot on the towpath, just down from here, where the trees open up and you can get a beautiful view looking up river. There is a good view of the Island there and it is a popular spot to watch the sunset. I knew all this but I was a little surprised when on Sunday, a towpath user stopped me on the ferry and kindly asked if I could pick up the trash that was at the foot of the Island. Seems there was a very big and bright, florescent orange traffic cone marring up the otherwise perfect natural setting. I had seen the eyesore days before but had forgotten about it, out of sight out of mind. I'm almost sure that it came down Cabin John creek from the beltway during that rain we had on the first of this month. I pulled it out of the mud and carried it up the hill yesterday, maybe, instead of trashing it, I'll take it back up to the highway construction site.

While I was at the foot of the Island moving traffic cones I saw the majestic shape of a bald eagle flying up river towards me. As it came up river along the virginia shore it was joined by another impressive eagle and the two of them flew in unison as they crossed the river towards me. I stood there trying not to move in the hopes I would get an even closer look at them when to my astonishment they were joined by a third eagle. Three fully mature birds with their stunning white heads and tails soaring directly over me at the foot of the Island! Then I saw a forth bird. It was in the distance heading down river so I can't be positive, but I think it was another eagle. This makes me think that it is mating season for the eagles (they lay their eggs in February)and maybe these guys are establishing the borders of their nesting territories. Oh, I also saw an american coot while I was down there.

One more cool bird sighting. I was running in Virginia at Turkey Run Park and as I came around the corner near the old river gage I scared up a group of morning doves. (They seem to flock together at this time of year) I stopped to watch them for a second when all of the sudden a huge hawk came swooping in from belt way my right! With it's big wings tucked into a dive, it threw itself into the flock of prey. There was a crashing noise as the hawk slammed into the dead vines that covered the hillside, but I didn't see any feathers fly. The doves scattered. The unsuccessful hunted collected itself and flew off across the river. This was no accipiter.(the kind of hawk you would normally see hunting other birds) My first thought was that it was a red shouldered hawk but this bird was so chunky that I'm guessing it was a broad-winged hawk.

Worked on the trail a little yesterday. One of the timbers was loose so I dug it out and repositioned it. Big improvement.

Friday -- October 29, 2010
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.93     Water Temperature: 62

It's cold and windy today leaving no hint of the wonderful warm weather we've had here the last two days. The river warmed up to 66 degrees! That's a whole 10 degrees warmer than it was just a week ago. It was warm enough yesterday, in fact, for a couple of hearty souls to swim out to the rocks in the middle of the river.

I've said before that September is the best month to be here but I must confess that this past October has been exceptional as well. This past month has been like a caretaker's dream, low river, nice weather and lots of color. I can't even describe some of the amazing views we've had. One day, strangely, a thick fog formed on the river just before the sun went behind the trees. It was a thick fog covering half the river, but it was low so that the colorful trees on the far bank were still visible. The low cloud seemed to appear out of nowhere and after thirty minutes it was mysteriously gone. Only to return again from 6:00 to 6:30. I know that there is some kind of scientific explanation for this phenomenon involving dew points and water vs. air temperature, but in the light of the October sunset, it felt like magic.

I'm looking forward to seeing everyone at the workfest on the 14th of November. I have a great list of fun projects, including installation of the new lockers! We will also be raking leaves so bring your rake. It should be a fun day of work, food and a warm fire.