November 2013

Friday -- November 8, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.86     Water Temperature: 52

It looks like the river and the weather are going to cooperate and I think we're going to have a good day for the workfest on Sunday. I was afraid that the leaves wouldn't be down in time but things look a lot different now then they did last week. Early last week most of the silver maples on the Island were still green, but now, with all of this wind and rain, most of them are leafless.

The river is very low now and very clear. It's amazing what you can see on the river bottom (including an old bed spring by the ferry landing) when the visibility in the water is 10 to 12 feet.

Monday -- November 10, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.86     Water Temperature: 52

Great workfest yesterday! We got all of the docks in before noon and all of the fallen leaves got picked up. There was a crew doing brick work on the walkways and another crew adding more lighting and plugs in the tool shed! The club house got cleaned, the food was excellent, and I think everyone had a great, Sycamorean time.

Thursday -- November 14, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.86     Water Temperature: 45

We had a good turn out for the monthly meeting last night. Everyone wanted to be here to hear John Lentz talk about his new book. The book is John's first, and it is a beautifully bound collecting of some of his canoeing adventures on some of the the most remote rivers of Canada and Russia. The title is "Tales From The Paddle". It's an honor to have such an accomplished wilderness paddler and author as one of our members.

Winter has arrived but since the wind has died down it's actually pretty nice out. The trees, without their leaves, allow the sun to reach it's warmth down to the river and the light reflects a blue sky between the newly-fallen yellow leaves floating by.

I'm working on the outside painting and hope to get the siding by the deck done before it gets too cold.

Sunday -- November 17, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.87     Water Temperature: 46

Our crystal-clear river of yesterday is gone and today the river beneath the ferry is ink black. Well, maybe not ink black but stained very dark, like a strong cup of tea. I suppose the change is due to the amount of leaves that have fallen into the river but it's still surprising to see the river change so much. Suddenly, the Potomac looks like a river in the Pine Barrens on the Eastern Shore.

Speaking of the eastern shore, Mary and I paddled the Tuckahoe river in Hillsboro Md. yesterday. It's a twisty turny tidal creek that flows into the Choptank. The weather wasn't perfect but there was little wind and the temperatures were tolerable. We put in at low tide, near the birthplace of Frederick Douglass, and paddled easily past mud flats surrounded by wooded bluffs covered with colorful oaks and beeches. We saw killdeer, kingfishers, bald eagles, hawks, waxwings, warblers, thrushes and lots of ducks and geese.

We came around one bend early in the trip and noticed some Canada geese a few hundred yards in front of us. We held our binoculars up to get a better view when suddenly the still air was broken by the sound of shotguns blasting from the right bank. We became alarmed since we could see the buck shot hitting the river, right in front of where we were headed! It was obviously goose-hunting season and the "geese" we saw on the water were merely decoys. We turned the canoe around, not knowing what to do, but we were sure we did not want to run the shotgun gauntlet ahead. Just then we saw someone emerge from the right bank and we proceeded cautiously down stream. We got his attention and waved, and as we weaved between the fake geese we noticed two more hunters in a blind to our right. We thought that they might be mad at us for interrupting the hunt, but they were nice, and we wished them luck. They also reassured us that it was safe to travel down the creek, past the other duck blinds, since we didn't look much like geese.

We went down for a couple of hours and found a nice place to stop for lunch and watch the tide turn. We paddled downstream a little further but then let the rising tide carry us back up river to our car.

Wednesday -- November 20, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.87     Water Temperature: 46

The Island is covered with leaves and they're still falling! It's hard to tell that the place was raked clean just last week at the workfest.

I got the painting done just in time. The weather cooperated just enough to allow me to get one coat of primer and one coat of stain on the exterior siding that I stripped. It looks great!

I noticed yesterday that the canal was being filled with water. I'm hoping that I can use the canal to paddle to Georgetown and back but the water level in the canal has been so fickle, it's anybody's guess if it will have water today or tomorrow

Remember folks, the river is cold, no use of Club boats now that the river is below 50 degrees.

Saturday -- November 23, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.9     Water Temperature: 46

The river has been below three feet for all of November and it looks like the entire moth will be below three feet. I'm not complaining, I like it when the river is low, but seems unusual for this time of year.

The river is low but the canal actually has water in it. So much so that instead of walking to the Brookmont Church for the art show last night, we paddled a canoe there and back. We had to dodge some fallen trees but the route was clear all the way to lock six. It was a little creepy coming back in the dark, in the realm of beavers, owls and other unidentified creatures in the night. At one point, one such creature splashed next to our bow suddenly, causing us both to jump and scream.

Monday -- November 25, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.78     Water Temperature: 40

Holy Cow! It's cold out there! There were big white caps on the river all day yesterday and there was ice forming on the edges of the river and on the tiny rocky islands. The wind has died down now but it still feels like January. I'm not too worried about the river freezing over yet, but I did have to winterize the bathrooms and club kitchen yesterday. That means that the only working bathroom will be the men's room and you'll have to fetch your water from there as well. Usually I don't drain the pipes and put up the temporary walls in the bathroom until later in December. Last winter, or rather, earlier this year, It didn't get cold until January and I didn't winterize the bathrooms until January 16!

I'll be working on collecting, splitting and stacking firewood for the Clubhouse but please, if you use the wood stove, replace any wood you use.

This burst of cold air, along with the coming storm front should bring us some winter fowl. So far I've only seen the occasional pied-billed grebe. The Canada geese aren't even here yet.

Friday -- November 29, 2013
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.0     Water Temperature: 38

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone had a fun, family-filled day yesterday!

The river shot up to four feet on Wednesday and it looks like it's going to stay that way all week. It's a great level for paddling, too bad the water is barely above freezing.

As predicted, there were three beautiful buffle head ducks on the river yesterday morning. Let the migration begin!