September 2016

Monday -- September 12, 2016
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.67     Water Temperature: 82

It's already been a week since Labor day but I have to tell you about the great time we had that day. There was no required RSVP for this event so we had no idea how many people might show up for the festivities but the turn-out was spectacular. At one point I went around and counted heads and I came up with 120 members, waitlisters and guests kept arriving all day. The 60 burgers and 40 hot dogs that we grilled were gone almost instantly! I guess the perfect weather helped to swell the crowds but it's also a great sign that the Club is vibrant and full of energetic new members and waitlisters. A big "Thank You" goes out to Mia and Steve who organized and administered the event. We are really lucky to have such fun and willing people amongst our ranks. We also need to thank Scott for supplying all the squirt guns and organizing that part of the day. And thanks to everyone that brought dishes and desserts and helped with the food and grilling. It was a very fun and hugely successful Club event.

I just found out that there is no school again today so I'll be expecting the bell to ring quite a bit. I thought that things would begin to slow down now that the kids are back in school, but that hasn't really been the case. It seems that once folks get into the habit of coming to the Island, they start to come down more often. There was more than one couple that came down five days in a row last week! I can't say that I blame them, the weather and river conditions have been superb lately. The water is cool and clear and the weather has been mostly rain free.

This lack of rain means that the river is still very low and it is still very hard to get the ferry close to the dock on the Island side. I have been dredging the river bed but it's starting to look like we may need to extend the dock out into the river to make it easier to get on and off of the ferry. Not much rain but there were some dam releases from upstream this past week that I thought might help the situation. (Every September they lower the water levels at Randolph-Jennings lake on the north branch and Savage lake on the savage river.) I was hoping that those small water releases might make a difference to the water level down here but so far there has not been a noticeable improvement.

Tuesday -- September 13, 2016
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.69     Water Temperature: 82

It's beaver time again. Those little buggers are busy all night wreaking havoc. Last night's victim was the mulberry tree here by the boardwalk. They didn't get the whole tree, just some large branches growing out of the sides. The funny thing is that when the beaver tried to drag the branch to the water it got hung up on the ropes holding up the volley ball net. When the beaver got close to the shore, the rope went taut and the beaver pulled the net down while trying to free the branch from the rope. This morning we found the branch all tangled up in the rope by the shore.

No great egrets this year. There is no way to predict when these majestic birds will decide to hang around here, but this was not the year. Some years we'll have a dozen or so great egrets gathering in the dead tree just up stream from here.

Thursday -- September 15, 2016
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.68     Water Temperature: 80

Big news, I finally finished painting the back of the clubhouse! It was a lot of scaping and sanding but I think we have a paint job that is going to last us for a while. It is so gratifying to see the clubhouse freshly painted, transformed from it's former dilapidated self. Thanks to everyone that had to endure the irritating sound of the orbital sander running for hours. My next painting project will be the siding on the exterior of my living room. This addition to the original building was built relatively recently, in the 90's, so I think the prep is going to go a lot faster. Less sanding!

Our Club kayaks are starting to show their age and I had to patch a hole in the bow of one of the red ones. I also repaired the kayak rack. The metal brackets that I used were not tough enough for the heavy use that they were getting, so I replaced them with wooden supports like I should have done when I built the rack in the first place.

The jewel weed is everywhere, it's like our Island is one big jewel weed chia-pet! They are starting to wilt a bit now but most of them are still sporting pretty yellow blossoms. It may not be as spectacular as the Spring-time bluebells but it's quite a sight just the same.

One of the Club members is missing a kid's life jacket. He had it here for the regatta and now we cannot find it. It may have gone home with the wrong family so please check to make sure you don't have someone else's PFD, it has a whistle on it, thanks. Also, if you lost a fit-bit at the regatta, it's hanging in the lost and found locker.

Tuesday -- September 27, 2016
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.66     Water Temperature: 72

Autumn is here! Today you don't have to look at the calendar to know that, just look outside and you'll be able to tell that the warm days of summer have quickly come to an end. The sky is grey and the river is getting colder. We're not complaining though, there is still a lot of green out there and there are still a lot of late summer flowers hanging on. It's a great time of year to get out on the river!

I've been talking a lot about the low river levels but apparently I've seen the river much lower than it is right now. Back in 2002, when I first became caretaker, the river level was 2.18, or 400 cubic feet per second. Compared with today's reading of 1300 cubic feet per second. The lowest on record was 1966 when the flow was 121 cfps, and for comparison, the highest recorded level in 1936 was 484,000 cfps!

The beaver have been targeting our mulberry tree again. They hauled off a couple of small branches and stripped the bark from the trunk. I think we're going to start calling that tree "The Giving Tree". First it gave us shade then berries for all, and now it is giving it's branches to the beaver. I surrounded the tree with chairs to keep the beaver from destroying it completely.

I've been working my way around the house with the painting and I discovered a lot of exterior wood that is rotted. I guess it's not surprising to find some rotted wood in this shady, wet environment but I think there are some things I can do to minimize it in the future. I removed and replaced all of the rotted window trim and siding and I added some flashing and caulk to try to keep the water out. I can't wait to get the paint on there and get everything sealed up nice and tight.

Mary Kearney and I got written up in the Canal Trust newsletter! Check your latest Canal Quarterly to see a nice write-up about our blog and our successful fund-raiser for Swains Lock! Love the canal, support the Trust!

Friday -- September 30, 2016
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.34     Water Temperature: 70

They said that we might get more rainfall than we've seen in five years. So when they predicted that the Potomac river was going to reach ten feet at Little Falls I went into action. The funny thing is, I did all of that flood preparation for nothing. We didn't get the rain they expected and now it looks as if the river will remain calm and we won't have to close the ferry at all. I guess it's a relief. Next week we'll have to watch out for hurricane Matthew.

There is a new group of people using the Island and it seems to be a growing segment of the Club membership. I'm talking of course about the grandchildren of members. This seems to be a trend, and more and more members of the Club are becoming grandparents. The other trend, that kind of goes hand in hand with the first, is that many of our members are getting their joints replaced. The good and the bad of aging.

Big news! Potomac Riverkeeper will be here on the Island before the meeting in October! Dean Naujoks, our Potomac Riverkeeper will be giving a presentation about our great river on October 12. Come early and have a burger, I plan to start the grill and I'll be serving burgers and dogs starting at 6:00 pm!