May 2014

Thursday -- May 1, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 8.4     Water Temperature: 55

The ferry is closed.

I guess that it isn't too surprising considering the amount of rain we had yesterday. Sadly, it looks like the ferry will be closed all weekend.

Saturday -- May 3, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 6.7     Water Temperature: 60

The river is going down, but very slowly. It looks like the ferry may be closed through Monday. I feel so bad for the families that had birthday parties and camp out schedule for this weekend. You just can't depend on this river to cooperate with your plans. I guess the people that built the canal understood that.

The rain not only caused the river to rise but it also caused a major sewage spill with raw sewage pouring into the canal. They closed the Crescent trail below Fletcher's and the man hole here at our ferry landing was gushing waste water all day and night on Wednesday. The canal is now littered with toilet paper. Gro-oss! There is a video at

I reported it to DC Water and to Potomac Riverkeeper and they came out and replaced the man hole cover, that was it.

It a good thing that I moved the trail light by the steps when I did. They came out on Thursday and cut down the tree that it used to be on. They have a couple of other trees tagged, so maybe they plan to work on the bridge again soon.

I've been able to do some of the post flood stuff before I leave, like push the docks back out and shovel the mud from the board walk. Members will have to put the club canoes back on the rack and return the life rings to their stations, and stuff like that.

Saturday -- May 17, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 10.1     Water Temperature: 65

The ferry is closed and will be closed all weekend due to flooding. It sounds like a broken record of two weeks ago, before I went on vacation.

I had to cut my vacation short because of the flooding but I'm so happy I was able to get back to the Island in time to prepare for the flood, they say it's going to be a big one.

Monday -- May 19, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 7.7     Water Temperature: 65

The ferry is closed and it looks like it might be Friday before we can open it again.

I left the Island on Saturday morning when the river was at 10 feet. The river crested yesterday at 11.7, so the flooding wasn't too terrible. I got back last night and everything looks pretty good. It's important to be here while the river is receding so that I can push the docks out as the water goes down and keep them from getting beached on the Island. If that happens, it's like a workfest all over again to get them back in the river.

I had to struggle with the ferry when I got here. I paddled out and removed all of the debris that was trapped on the chains and on the bow line and pushed it out from under the willow tree.

There is a lot of debris scattered around the Island and it looks like one of the leashes to the swimming dock came lose. We'll have some work putting the boats back in the shed and cleaning up all the mud, but nothing was broken and nothing was lost.

Friday might be the day that we ask people to come down and help clean up. Saturday might be a better option but the CCA Down River Race is that day. We,ll just have to wait to see what the river does next.

I just spent the last two hours pushing out the docks and clearing them of debris. And when I say debris, I mean long branches and big logs. The trunk that was laying on the swim dock rope was over two feet in diameter.

Speaking of the swim dock. I decided to attach a second rope to it since the upstream cable had snapped off during the flood. (Turns out that it wasn't the cable that failed,but the board holding the cable that broke under the pressure.)I also had to paddle out to the dock to free it from a tree branch. I'd hate to come home and see the dock hanging from a tree after the water went down. I pulled the dock back up to it's place and twisted it back around so that the ramp faced the shore, not the river. All the docks should be ok now until the river goes back down.

Thursday -- May 22, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.4     Water Temperature: 65

The ferry is closed and it looks like it will be closed until Saturday morning. The good thing is that it will be open for the holiday weekend.

Yesterday I worked on putting all the boats back in their places. I moved about forty boats from their racks on Friday and yesterday I put most of them back. The bigger aluminum canoes will be easier to move with two people so I just turned them over so they didn't fill with rain.

If people want to come down on Sunday, we could move some of the driftwood and put the last of the canoes on the rack then.

The red swimming float is going to need some help. It's beached on shore in a pile of driftwood.

Friday -- May 23, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.2     Water Temperature: 65

It looks like the ferry will be open tomorrow, just barely at five feet. Please take down the "Ferry Closed" sign in the morning.

The Canoe Cruisers will be here early to set up for the race.

Sunday -- May 25, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.7     Water Temperature: 66

Gearing up for a busy day on the Island. It's nice weather, plus there is an orientation, and some members are coming to work on the swimming safety station.

Tuesday -- May 27, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.2     Water Temperature: 70

The water is warming up the swimming is great, but remember the current is still pretty strong.

The new safety station, with its bright yellow rescue board has been erected by the swim dock. The big yellow surfboard looks ugly and out of place but I'm sure everyone will feel safer for having it.

Unfortunately the swimming float is not yet out in the river and it looks like it's going to be a few weeks before it gets launched. Not only did the float get pushed up on shore during the flood, but Drew, the Club captain, has plans to redo the anchors. I don't know what the new plan is but the old anchors have been cut off.

Big and busy weekend, I pulled the ferry back and forth 38 times on Sunday and 18 times on Monday. That beats last year's Memorial Day Weekend total of 50. That's over three miles of pulling the ferry through the high water! The other important factor, last year the river was 3.6 on Memorial Day, this year it was 4.4, that's over double the volume of water! It's no wonder that everyone had trouble running the ferry this past weekend.

As usual, the birding is great at this time of year. There are many migrants and some nesting on the Island like the orioles and the prothonotary warblers. The roosting great blue herons can be seen every evening as the head upstream by the dozen.

It's still very muddy around here but we're slowly recovering from the flood. Drew Walsh and Steve Newman replaced the broken board on the swim dock and almost all of the canoes are back in the canoe shed. We moved a lot of the driftwood, and put the grills and tables back, but there is still much to do if you want to pitch in.

Wednesday -- May 28, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.5     Water Temperature: 70

That was a pretty strong storm that came through last night. I'm so glad I cleaned the gutters on Monday.

I also went around with the weed wackier and cleared all of the trails. It was amazing to come back from vacation and find that the jewel weed had completely taken over the Island, all the trails were obliterated. Happily, that jewel weed is easy to cut back. Once the rain stops, I'll start to work on the poison ivy again.

There is a dock washed up on the head of the Island, well, half a dock. Someone from the CCA recognized it as a dock that belonged to Calleva. It must have been moored to one of their island camps near the Seneca breaks. Incredibly, it made it over Great Falls and it's not in too bad a shape. It's actually a much better built dock than the ones that we have. I'm not sure if they want to come down and drag it out of here. If not, I guess we could put it to use after some minor repairs.