September 2011

Friday -- September 2, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.80     Water Temperature: 78

Big news. They are going to permanently close the bridge over the canal until they are completely finish with the painting. That means that, starting on Tuesday morning, September 6, you will not be able to cross the canal here at the Island. If you want to use the Club you will have to cross the canal at lock 6 or at lock 7. Lock seven if closer, about half a mile. Lock 6 is close to a mile away. I'm going to think about the possibility of building a temporary bridge. I'll keep you posted.

Friday -- September 3, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.80     Water Temperature: 78

Today is the big day, Regatta day! I know that the weather people want to scare everyone away but don't listen to them. Come on down and join us for a day of big fun and good food! The party starts at 1:00.

Good fishing reports from yesterday, finally the river is clearing up enough for the bass to see the lures.

Wednesday -- September 7, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.57     Water Temperature: 70

Another named storm is passing through this week. Tropical storm Lee is dumping on us pretty good but it does not look like it will be the major flooding that they were expecting. Right now they are calling for 10.2 feet, back on Monday they were calling for an astonishing 17 feet. Thankfully that is not going to happen.

I've been doing some preliminary flood preparations and I took all of the chairs and grills away from the rivers edge. I also spent some time trying to get the phone line that crosses the river up a little higher. The line was hanging pretty low and I was afraid that a tree might get stuck in it during the flood. It wasn't easy trying to reach the limbs that were preventing the cable from going higher but I managed to cut the limbs from a canoe with a pole saw, takes skill. Then I climbed the utility pole to raise the line. It was really hard work but I'm happy with the success I had and the phone line is about three feet higher than it was, yea!

The good news is that since it has been raining all week they have not closed the bridge to start the painting. My guess is that it will be shut down on Monday morning.

It is now 5:00 and it looks like most of the rain has passed us. I have a new rain gage in the field and we got 3 1/4 inches of rain since Monday morning. Ilene brought us 3 inches last weekend, according to my gage.

Thursday -- September 8, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.0     Water Temperature: 70

It's still raining! I've never seen anything like it. We've had four more inches of rain since I did my last post, yesterday at 5:00!

It does not look like we will have any serious flooding though, the river will stay below 8 feet on the Little Falls gage. 8 feet is not too serious but it does mean that the ferry will be closed. We are just about to hit the magic number of five feet so as of noon today, the ferry will be closed until further notice. So the ferry will be closed for the weekend and may open again on Monday afternoon, we'll see.

Monday -- September 12, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.0     Water Temperature: 70

The waters have receded and the ferry is open!

The river went past the predicted 8 feet and on Thursday night I had to scramble to get the place prepared for the ten feet of water that we eventually got. I was out by the zip line at about ten o'clock when there was a meeting of the waters. The rising river on the Maryland side came pouring over the ridge of the Island and met with the water that had inundated most of the Virginia side of the Island. Thankfully it crested later that night and by morning the river was back down to 8 feet.

The ferry was closed on Saturday and I was gone all day. When I returned I found that the canoe I had locked at the stairs was capsized and was floating upside down at the landing. There was another club canoe there and I was perplexed about how my boat got capsized and a club boat made it to this shore. I was not too happy, especially since I was wearing my suit. I was not dressed for unswamping a canoe and I was mad that someone would just leave it like that. I flipped the canoe and found that the two paddles and a towel had floated away. The two pfd's were still there, sloshing around in the swamped canoe. I guess I should have been happy that at least I had a canoe there that I could get back home in, but this boat was really muddy and had a little water in it too. There were also three kayak paddles in it, curiouser and curiouser. Maybe people don't realize that this is the only way I have of get home.

Tuesday -- September 13, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.3     Water Temperature: 73

There was a major sewage spill in the canal on last Thursday night, right here next to our ferry landing! It must have been a big backup, with thousands of gallons of sewage spewing into the canal. The top of the sewer was blown completely away and the buckets of deodorizers that they installed were left dangling from chains on the outside. The area is now littered with toilet paper and other debris, and the soil around the sewer structure is completely eroded away. The force of all that water also left a huge gash in the bank leading into the canal. I immediately called the park service and the WSSC on Friday but no one has come to put the cover back on. I hope they come soon, the smell is pretty bad at night. I alerted some friends that live downstream, near lock six. They said that they noticed an unusual amount of suds in the water on the downstream side of the lock and that there was a strong odor of laundry detergent permeating the air. I took some pictures and sent them to The Potomac Riverkeepers, maybe they can get to the bottom of why a sewer top gets blown off and tons of sewage is allowed to spill into our canal. I suppose you could blame it on the rain but the 72-inch sewer line running along here is not a combined sewer and storm drain so I don't know why it would get overwhelmed.

Friday -- September 16, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.9     Water Temperature: 70

The river temperature has dropped below 7o degrees but that is quite a bit warmer than the air, which went down below 50 degrees last night.

They finally came and put the cover back on the manhole. It took six of them to do it but thankfully it is done.

The bridge work is progressing slowly and I don't think it will be possible for them to finish by the end of September. My guess at the completion date would be more like the end of October.

I built a rinky-dink bridge across the muddy canal, but the hard part about getting up the hill is traversing the woods on the other side.

The lights on the trail quit working. I took the big ladder over there yesterday and I think I found the problem, which is usually the hard part. There are a lot of things that can go wrong when trying to wire the lights on the trail and I guess you just have to accept that eventually a branch will cut a wire or that water will get into a connection or that the wires will simply wear out. Today I'll go up and splice out the bad cable and rewire the box. Hopefully that will do the trick.

Friday -- September 23, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.0     Water Temperature: 70

Well, they have taken a couple of the steps off of the bridge, so unlike last weekend, we absolutely cannot use it. Sadly, with all of this bad weather, the painters haven't worked on the bridge since Wednesday. I'm using my lame bridge, which works, but it is not an easy trail from the bridge to the path up the hill. I cleared most of the way but there is one very large tree across the trail which requires some scrambling.

I see that there is not anyone schedule to be relief caretaker tomorrow morning. I guess I don't care if no one else does, I just hope that everyone knows that its my day off and I'm not expected to be here.

Monday -- September 26, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.5     Water Temperature: 70

It was a slow weekend. We had a birthday party here yesterday afternoon but otherwise, dead. I'm not surprised, of course, no bridge, lots of rain, and the river is muddy brown.

Exciting news, someone spotted a mountain lion in Brookmont last night!

Tuesday -- September 27, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.4     Water Temperature: 72

Club member Mac Thornton was on Fox News talking about the sewer that runs along the canal, the same sewer that overflowed right here at Sycamopre Island landing during the heavy rains. Check it out.

There is also alot of other information at the Potomac Riverkeeper website, including serious river access issues. Please check it out and get involved.

Speaking of Riverkeepers, I'll be speaking at the REI in College Park on October 5th. I'll be there with Potomac Riverkeepers, Ted and Whit and we'll be talking about my Island to Island fund-raising kayak trip. If you can't make it out for that one, we will probably be speaking at the stores in Bailey's Crossroads and in Rockville sometime in November.

Well, I have not seen the mountain lion yet but very early this morning, (couldn't sleep, fighting a virus) I did hear the yelpings of coyotes.