May 2013

Tuesday -- May 7, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.5     Water Temperature: 66

Well things are really picking up down here, and over the weekend the Island actually resembled a canoe Club. We had lot's of people picnicking, new members pitching tents, and young kids learning how to hold a paddle. The bird world is also extremely active and there are breeding pairs of birds all over the Island. My favorite is the prothonotary warbler nest inside the bluebird house. We have several Canada goose chicks scuttling around with their parents but there are a surprising number of geese still sitting on their nests.

The fishing hasn't really picked up yet but we had some fishermen down here to try their luck. I did see some bluegills by the ferry landing and we all marvel at the huge carp, visible in the newly-watered canal.

I put up the new zip-line and it's fun to see how quickly the kids all gravitate towards it. I haven't put up the slide on the dock yet but I'll get to that as the swimming season nears. It's still a little cold for swimming.

I also had to replace the steel cables that hold the ferry line. We noticed that the old lines were getting rusty and frayed so I took down the rope and replaced them. The trickiest park is getting the ferry rope nice and taut again.

I did some more carpentry work. I had to replace some boards on the porch landing and one of the steps at the ferry landing had to be fixed.

The bluebells are faded now but everything else is growing like mad. I've been using the weed wacker to keep the trails clear and I've got the mower all ready to go when the rain stops.

Thursday -- May 9, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 6.2     Water Temperature: 66

The Ferry is Closed. The river is shooting up like a rocket and it looks like the ferry will be closed all weekend.

It's been an interesting morning. When I got home at 9:00 this morning the river was about six inches below the dock. By the time I had made some coffee the river was six inches over the dock. I drank half a cup and ran out to raise the ferry rope and secure the ferry before everything got submerged.

It was funny, I moved the chains to one corner of the ferry so the it was pointed straight into the current and when I unhooked it from the Island the thing took off across the river. I was in a canoe by that time and the pilotless ferry was racing across the river, coming close to running me down. I jumped back on and redirected it back to the Island shore where I fastened it to a tree to keep it from going anywhere.

I spent the rest of the morning moving and tying down all of the grills, tables, canoes and anything else near the water's edge. I also had to tow a canoe over to the mainland so Star could have access to the Island during the Down River Race. That's right folks, they are still planning to have the Down River Race. It will be a quick race this year with the river at about 7.5 on Saturday.

Friday -- May 10, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 8.8     Water Temperature: 66

I may have seen the river go up that fast before but yesterday was a pretty quick jump. On Wednesday night the river was at 3.9 feet on the Little Falls gauge, by Thursday night it was at 8.9 feet!

I actually thought that the river was going to get about two feet higher than it did. Usually, if the gauge in Paw Paw W.V. reads 22 feet on Wednesday night then I would expect 11 feet here at Little Falls on Friday night. I guess it just goes to show you can't always predict what this river will do next.

The river crested this morning but with more rain expected it doesn't look like the ferry will be open for a while.

Wednesday -- May 15, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.2     Water Temperature: 64

The ferry is closed today but will open first thing in the morning on Thursday.

Thursday -- May 16, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.9     Water Temperature: 64

The river is down and the ferry is back in action. I can't say that the river looks very inviting though. Still brown and moving fast.

All the docks are back in place, I had to shove them out as the river dropped to keep them from getting beached on the Island.

The swim float will have to repositioned. The high water forced it downstream a bit. Personally, I think we should wait until the river is three feet or lower before we try to put it back where it was. Just easier that way, plus no one is swimming yet anyway.

Friday -- May 31, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.6     Water Temperature: 76

It's been a great month down here on Sycamore Island and we rang in the summer season in style over the Memorial Day weekend. The place was crawling with Sycamoreans and their fortunate guests and it was so cool to see all of the canoes and kayaks off the racks and in the river. We had babies on blankets and kids on the zip line and people throwing horse shoes and frisbees. The swimming has started so the joyful sounds of swimmers could be heard coming from the swim docks. We even had a large-scale water war on the Island, I think we can say that it's officially Summer. It's wonderful to see all the familiar faces again, not to mention all of the super-nice new members.

You will be happy to know that Drew Walsh and Bob Whalen have installed the new safty equipment on all of the docks. It is a much needed improvement that probably should have been done a long time ago. Please "Think Safety" and make sure all the equipment is in place before you leave the dock. Thanks, and kudos to the safety committee!

The snakes are out and we've had some exciting episodes of snake sightings. The geese are mostly gone from the Island now but the baby eagle across the river is big enough to see in the telescope. The birding slows down in June but we do see the humming birds at this time of year and I hope to see the black-billed and the yellow-billed cuckoo. I saw a meadow lark when I was down in the northern neck of Virginia on Wednesday!

Like I said before, the Island was really busy over the holiday weekend and for the first time I decided to keep track of the number of times I pulled the ferry back and forth. All day on Sunday and all day on Monbday I put a notch on the sign-in sheet everytime I pulled the ferry. By the end of two days I (with a tiny bit of help from others) pulled the ferry to the mainland and back 50 times! I decided to measure the distance from the mainland to the Island, something else I had never done before. I measured it today and the distance is 157 feet. So that's 157 feet one way and then another 157 feet on the way back. That's 314 feet each trip, times 50 trips, that's 15,700 feet. Divide that by 5280, number of feet in a mile, and it looks like I pulled the ferry just 140 feet short of three miles! That's like pulling the ferry up to damn near lock ten!