February 2014

Monday -- February 3, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.5     Water Temperature: ice

The ice in the main channel of the river is slowly melting away but our ferry crossing is still just thick ice. The river is predicted to go up about a foot in the next day, so it will be interesting to see what happens next. Sometimes the rising river can cause some dangerous and damaging ice flows.

Tuesday -- February 4, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.8     Water Temperature: 34

Miraculously, almost all of the thick ice is gone from the river. Sadly, the river is rising, so I'm going to have to leave the "Ferry Closed" sign up for a little while longer.

Wednesday -- February 5, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.4     Water Temperature: 34


The river is rising a little faster than predicted and the ferry landing is quickly disappearing. The river is predicted to crest on Friday, so lets keep our fingers crossed that we can open the ferry by Saturday. The ferry has been closed for three out of the last four Saturdays because of ice, not to mention thirteen days out of the month of January.

I learned that they had to close White's Ferry today on account of a large ice flow coming down the river. I hope it breaks up at Great falls before it gets here, I've already seen some barge-sized ice flows go by!

Friday -- February 7, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 6.8     Water Temperature: 34

No Ferry today, no ferry tomorrow and probably no ferry on Sunday. It's just that time of year.

Living at an outpost. That's the rub to being a caretaker at Sycamore Island. The greatest challenge is the living day to day in the middle of a big, ever-changing river where the word logistics takes on a whole new meaning.

Monday -- February 10, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.2     Water Temperature: 34

The ferry will be closed again today but it looks like tomorrow we'll be back in business. It will be nice to have the ferry back, I haven't used the ferry yet this month!

Tuesday -- February 11, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.9     Water Temperature: 34

The ferry is open!

Friday -- February 21, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.1     Water Temperature: 34

The ferry is closed.

The river just went over five feet and it is expected to continue to rise until late on Sunday, cresting at about eight feet on the Little Falls gauge.

Monday -- February 24, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 7.5     Water Temperature: 41

Well the river crested last night at just below eight feet. The river level is on a slow decent and the ferry will most likely be closed until Thursday afternoon.

The annual Sycamore Island winter bird walk was yesterday and I think they had a very successful outing. I wasn't a part of it but they tallied quite a few species even though they weren't able to come over to the Island. Some of the more unusual sightings were a gadwall duck, a common golden eye and a white-winged scoter, although I have my doubts as to whether or not they saw an actual white-winged scoter since they are coastal birds.

They did mention seeing both eagles near the nest so I think that the bald eagle eggs must have hatched already.

The snow is all gone and now it's mud season, at least until the mud freezes later this week. I hope the river doesn't freeze again, it's supposed to be down in the twenties for the rest of the week.

Friday -- February 28, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.3     Water Temperature: 37

The river will be too high to open the ferry until much later today but it looks like the ferry will be open and running all weekend. Lets hope that the river will stop freezing and flooding now that it's almost March.

Mary and I went hiking across the river at Turkey Run Park yesterday and we discovered the location of the old soapstone quarry that used to operate there. During the late 1800's and early 1900's the soft stone was harvested there and used as hearth stones or carved into sinks or tubs. The quarry was located at the top of the cliffs on the Virginia shore, just downstream from that large concrete pillar know as Leiter's guage. I had always wondered about that large treeless section of Turkey Run Park that is right next to the exit ramp for the CIA off the GW Parkway, but now I get it. We found the crumpled ruins of several brick and stone buildings, concrete foundations, steps, curbs, and the traces of an old paved road, maybe Leiter Road. We also found some soapstone in the eroded parts of the cliff.