September 2015

It was a busy month down here on the Island. For the first time ever there were three major events here. First there was the Annual Labor Day Regatta, which was a huge success. There wasn't a lot of momentum to pull the regatta together at first but some how, some of the new members collaborated with some of the old members and before you knew it everyone was on the Island racing canoes. The next events were the Old-Timers Picnic and the Annual Fall dance. I wasn't here for either of these events as I was away on vacation. (first Old-timers Picnic I've missed in 14 years.) I heard that the food at the picnic was exceptional with everyone bringing their favorite dish. The only thing I've heard about the dance so far was that it was "lively". I hope everyone had a good time without me. While I was away, Ned Goddard, Club Treasurer, took over the helm as caretaker. I haven't heard yet how he faired but he did a lot of cool little improvements to the Island while he was here, like a new ceiling fan in the screen porch and a motion detector porch light. September is the perfect time to be on the Island but it's also a great time to take a vacation. Mary and I rented a cabin in western Maryland, in Garret County, right on the edge of the Potomac watershed. Not very exotic I know, but we did actually leave the Potomac watershed for a few days as we ventured over the eastern continental divide into Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania. The best part about that side trip was spending a cool, sunny day on the Middle Yough, Class II river through rugged mountains. It was fun being in the mountains and we learned a lot about the head waters of the Potomac. One thing that we learned was that all the lakes/reservoirs get drained every fall. Deep Creek lake wasn't that bad, but Randolph/Jennings lake and Savage River reservoir were both twenty feet below where they were only a month ago. Apparently, it's the same story on the Yough, with that lake being so low that you can see the remains of the township that they flooded when the lake was built. Of course, this did not stop us from paddling around the lakes, it just meant that we had to carry the canoe a long way to get to the water. Knowing about these dam releases helps explain why, in late summer, we sometimes get a little bump to the river levels down here at Sycamore Island, even though there's hasn't been rain in a long time. On the way home we drove through some of the old coal-mining and industrial towns along the upper Potomac river, Kitzmiller, Keyser, and Luke, where the paper mill dominates the river valley and where there was a recent chemical spill that's heading downstream toward us as I write this. It was a good trip with lots of canoeing and hiking (We even hiked to Hoye Crest, on Backbone mountain,the highest point in Maryland, 3370 ft. above sea level) But the best part was that the weather didn't turn bad until our return and that I was back in time to get the Island ready for the heavy rains and possible hurricane.