October 2015

Thursday -- October 1, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.8     Water Temperature: 70

We're not sure yet how high the river is going to get but we do know that the river is going to rise so I went ahead and got ready for the flood, just in case. It's been a while since I had to paddle out into the muddy waters and wrestle with the ropes and docks.

First I shut down the ferry and raised up all the ferry ropes. Technically, it might not be above five feet in the morning tomorrow but I figure no one is coming down here during the deluge anyway.

I pulled the swim float closer to shore and made sure to get all of the cables unsnagged from the river bottom. Most importantly, I put some floatation under the ramp to the plastic canoe dock. I used my new little mini dock under the ramp so now the ramp can float up with the dock as the river rises.

Monday -- October 5, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.5     Water Temperature: 70

It looks like we dodged a bullet this time as far as the flooding is concerned. Thankfully, that hurricane went out to sea and we can breath a sigh of relief. There was some rain though, and the river is predicted to go up yet again. I opened the ferry yesterday, but it looks like I will have to close the ferry again this afternoon as the river is not done with it's surprises. Right now they are predicting that the ferry will be closed all day tomorrow as well.

Wednesday -- October 7, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.8     Water Temperature: 70

River is down, ferry is open.

Friday -- October 14, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.0     Water Temperature: 65

I tried to get this in the Islander, but I wanted all the Club members, past and present, to know that George Loeb died on September 14, 2015. George died after a bout with C.diff, an infection he acquired after a heart failure episode.

George was a member of The Sycamore Island Club for over 50 years! He and his wife Marcia and their two boys, Alex and Dan, became members way back in 1964. During those fifty years, George was a huge asset to the Club, serving several terms as Club Captain in the early 70's and then several terms as Club President after that. George and his wife Marcia were also instrumental in reviving the long-dead Annual Sycamore Island Labor Day Regatta back in the late 90's. George and Marcia also led the Entertainment Committee and George was there running the grills and serving up the burgers and dogs when I first met him at my first Regatta.

Sadly, George had spinal and cervical arthritis and had to quit coming down to the Island in recent years. I was never very close to George but I feel like I have a connection to him and his family through his canoes that are still here on the Island.. Years ago, I bought a C-1 canoe from Georges son Dan, and last year I bought George's sailing canoe and sail. He will be missed.

Here is the link to his obituary

Thursday -- October 15, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.2     Water Temperature: 65

My little mini dock worked very well as floatation for the canoe ramp and I was able to move the canoe dock through the recent flood waters without a problem.

I met the new POTOMAC RIVERKEEPER, Dean Naujoks. He had just completed his 300-mile Potomac river paddle, from Cumberland, Maryland to Point Lookout, Maryland! I was lucky enough to join him for the last twelve miles of his three-week trip and I had a good time paddling the tidal Potomac and getting to know him. He's a great guy and we're lucky to have such an experienced Riverkeeper on our Potomac.

To see the pictures follow this link

I'll ask him if he wants to do a presentation for the Club.

Wednesday -- October 29, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.0     Water Temperature: 56

Lots of rain but no flooding predicted. The river is supposed to jump up from 3 feet to 4.5 though.

Tuesday -- October 28, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.0     Water Temperature: 58

I saw the grey fox for the first time. Not the whole fox mind you, just it's shining orange eyes in the darkness reflecting the light of my headlamp. I was coming home after dark and as I was crossing on the ferry my light was reflecting off of something down by the canoe dock.

At first I thought it was a reflective sticker on a canoe or something but then I realized that it was probably our new resident grey fox. I kept my light on it and the eyes never turned away, they just kept shining back at me as I pulled the ferry.

I quickly jumped off the ferry and went to investigate. I lost track of the animal as I walked down to the canoe dock area but saw it's eyes flash again before it disappeared toward the bottom of the Island. With my headlamp beaming, I ran down the path past the Frank Davis Grill. There I saw the reflection of a pair of eyes near the bank on the Virginia side of the Island. I headed in that direction and soon I realized that these were a different pair of eyes, much further apart and reflecting bright white instead of the orange of the fox.

I took a few steps closer before I stopped frozen in my tracks. Suddenly I found myself very close to a huge white-tailed buck. I was close enough now that my lamp illuminated the entire beast, not just his eyes and it was a frightening sight. The beams coming from it's eyes seemed to be about 8 inches apart. The nostrils seemed to be 4 inches apart and I would have thought it was a big cow except for the 4-foot span of humungous antlers that adorned it's head. The frightening image was made even more scary by the fact that those giant antlers were draped with dangling pieces of felt, like Spanish moss hanging from an oak tree. Suddenly I felt very vulnerable and I quickly backed away, hoping that those antlers and hoofs wouldn't follow.

Tuesday -- October 20, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.0     Water Temperature: 56

The river is down and the river temperature has plummeted as well. The cool thing is that the water is very clear now and I can see the river bottom under the ferry.

This morning there was no fog, but yesterday the fog was thick and beautiful, slowly blowing down the river in small clouds. It's such a pretty time of year.

The receding waters have left a rim of mud around the Island which makes it hard to get near the water without getting muddy but it does create a great place to look for animal tracks. I saw the usual raccoon tracks and there were also some fresh deer tracks, which means there may be a deer here right now.

I also saw the tracks of a grey fox! I didn't think that the foxes liked to swim and this would be the first fox tracks that I've seen here when the river wasn't frozen. I'm pretty certain about the tracks because there was also some identifiable scat nearby. It's pretty cool being surrounded by all these wild animals!

Wednesday -- October 21, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.0     Water Temperature: 56

I looked up Grey Foxes and apparently they do swim and they do like being around bodies of water. They can also climb trees! The other neat thing I learned is that the grey fox is not closely related to the red fox or any of the other canines out there. It is believed that the grey fox is the oldest fox species on earth.

Thursday -- October 22, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.9     Water Temperature: 60

It's sad that so few members were down here today because it was the most spectacular day to be down on the Island. The air was warm, the breeze was soft, the sky was clear and the trees were ablaze with color.

We sat on the dock and watched the birds and the planes flying by and the minnows swimming below. We wondered at all the amazing insects and the underwater trails, and the tracks in the mud. Then, just before the sun went down, I paddled upstream a ways and watched as the sun's golden light cast its magic across the river landscape and the Island.

Then, to top it all off, I caught my first ever walleye, and it was a fat one! Like I said a spectacular day.

Monday -- October 26, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.0     Water Temperature: 59

I happened to be up before dawn this morning and as I crossed the river on the ferry I saw some very bright stars in the sky. It turns out that the planets Venus, Jupiter and Mars were forming a planetary trio in the eastern sky. The planetary trio – any grouping of three planets inside a circle having a 5 degree diameter – will be visible until around October 29. Venus, Jupiter and Mars are making up the first planetary trio since May, 2013. We won’t see a planetary trio again until January, 2021! Very cool, sometimes it pays off to get up early.

Tuesday -- October 27, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.0     Water Temperature: 59

I was up early again this morning. We didn't see a planetary trio (too cloudy) but we heard the barking and screeching of the grey fox that's hanging around here. First we heard the other-worldly sounds up at the top of the Island but by the time we were crossing on the ferry the screeching sounds had traveled past the clubhouse and down to the bottom of the Island. We couldn't see anything moving but we heard the fox as it passed very close to the ferry landing. I can't figure why it was making so much noise, usually it's so quiet and stealth.