December 2014

Wednesday -- December 31, 2014
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.5     Water Temperature: 40

Happy New Year Sycamorians!!

Keep the river clean, in 2015!!

I guess that we should all collectively knock-on-wood and breath another sigh of relief. We got through another year and another hurricane season without a major flood, and so far this year, there is zero snow pack up in the mountains. I probably shouldn't jinx it but except for that sudden flood last May, the past year has been a good one as far as river levels and river flooding.

Another reason to be thankful is that they have finished resurfacing the towpath from lock 5 to lock 7. I don't know how we ended up being the lucky ones to get a new surface on our 2 miles out of 184 but it is a really big improvement. I want to commend whoever it was that picked the material to lay on the surface. I can recall past efforts at resurfacing that left the towpath covered in muddy clay with round river stones. This new material however is much more sandy and the aggregate is much more angular making for a much better path. We all need to be sure and thank the National Park Service and The C & O Canal Trust for all of their efforts, they get a lot done with very little in the way of money and resources.

Speaking of the Canal Trust, Mary and I stayed at lock 22. It was like sleeping in a stone tent (no electricity and no plumbing) but it was a great experience and it was a joy waking up on the river and hiking up the Towpath to Seneca Breaks. That makes it five separate lock houses that Mary and I have slept in, 6,10,22,28,49. We'll be sleeping in lock houses again in May 2015 as we plan to do another long canoe trip down the Potomac. We'll keep you posted on that.

It's winter on the Island and we have started to use the wood stove in the Clubhouse. The fire is nice but it keeps us very busy gathering kindling and splitting firewood. The members have been really good about replacing the wood that they use. I think some people actually enjoy splitting logs. I've also been busy getting all of the leaves up before the snow flies. Even after that magnificent effort to rake up all the leaves during the workfest, the leaves were still knee deep around the canoe racks and canoe shed. I've learned that it's important to get the leaves out of the canoe shed so as not to attract nesting critters.

The critters that we least want to see on the Island are those pesky beavers. They continue to wreak havoc, not only on Sycamore Island, but also on our sister island, Rupperts. Sadly they have now even hunted down some of the bigger trees that we thought might be too big for their ravenous and powerful teeth. I'll reinforce the chicken wire and try to keep them at bay.

Finally, it looks like I will be forced to shut down the water to the Club house this week. The temperatures are dropping and the pipes over there are vulnerable to freezing. Fear not, there will be one bathroom (the men's room) that will be "winterized". That will be the bathroom and you can get fresh water from the sink in there.

See you on the river.