August 2017

Wednesday -- August 2, 2017
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.3     Water Temperature: 78

The river is muddy and running fast but that didn't keep people from coming down here for a swim yesterday. It has been surprisingly busy for the last two week days, considering how ugly the river looks right now. The river has been going up and down like a roller coaster but thankfully it never flooded or even reached five feet from all of that rain from last week. It's very rare to have the river this high during what is normally the season for drought.

The giant tree that had fallen across the trail has now been cut and the path is no longer blocked. We're not sure yet who was responsible for cutting the tree. I called the county and Stan called the park service but I have a feeling that it may have been our friends and neighbors from Rembrandt Builders that live at the Sycamore Store. Those guys can do anything.

Important River News!

Small victory for paddlers. The Coast Guard shelves plan to shut down Potomac near Trump resort. Story in NY Times.

Sunday -- August 6, 2017
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.5     Water Temperature: 78

It is a wonderfully quiet Sunday morning. It's cool(I'm wearing a fleece in August), cloudy, and no trace of the strong winds that we've had to endure recently. The river is calm and low too, compared with last Sunday's volatility, and we're back down to normal summer water levels. There is a Club member hosting an all-day board meeting in the Clubhouse but other than that the bell has been quiet too. What a difference a week makes.

But I'm afraid it won't last. Soon everyone will catch on that this is the nicest weather that we've ever had here in D.C. in August and they will be marching down the hill in droves.

We had fun here last Thursday. One of the new waitlist members brought his extended family down for the first time and they really made an afternoon of it. One of the fun things they did was to catch minnows from the captain's dock and put them into one of the aquariums that I have stashed here. I was glad to have an excuse to bring out the aquarium again and the kids really enjoyed watching the minnows up close. I decided to leave the aquarium out there so that it will be ready to use during the Fishing Derby, which is only three weeks away.

I repaired the toilet in the ladies room. It was leaking at the bowl so I removed it and installed a new wax ring to seal up the leak. Then, with the help of waitlister Chris M., I reinstalled the toilet. I think it's good now.

Monday -- August 7, 2017
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.1     Water Temperature: 80

Busy day on the Island yesterday. After a very slow start, the ferry had to kick into overdrive to get through the afternoon and evening. It was a fun day though, and we were entertained by the members of the Outta Scope Band, fiddle, bass and drum. It was really magical to hear the instruments with the sound of the cicadas keeping the rhythm. We also had more fun with the aquarium. Young Caleb had the good fortune to catch a tiny catfish and we kept it alive in the aquarium all day for other kids, and adults, to look at. It looked exactly like an adult catfish but it was only an inch long! I know that some members thought that my aquariums were just junk lying around, but I'm so glad that I resisted the push to have them thrown away.

The story today is RAIN. It seems rather unusual to have this kind of rain at this time of year. This day totally reminds me of an early Autumn day in September. The rain will mess up the swimming and fishing but it doesn't look like it will flood the river and cause the ferry to close.

Friday -- August 11, 2017
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.6     Water Temperature: 78

Warning, no one has volunteered to run the ferry tomorrow afternoon, so if you come down be prepared to pitch in.

It turns out that I was wrong and it wasn't Rembrandt Builders that cut the tree on the trail. My next best guess is that it was cut by the park service. It's nice to have a Club Captain with connections to the park service.

Sunday -- August 20, 2017
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.2     Water Temperature: 84

The river is clearing up and it's the clearest it has been in a week. The temperature of the water is creeping up but the recent rains have helped to keep the river water from getting up into the 90's like it usually does in August.

Waitlister, Jared F., brought me a baseball cap from his company Clean Choice Energy. It's a really nice hat, but what's important is the noble mission of the company, helping people switch to renewable energy for a cleaner world with less greenhouse gasses! Jared and his company are so committed to this cause in fact, that they are actually helping this Club by paying the small difference in costs for renewable energy. I'm so proud that the Club is using renewable energy and it only seems right to do so since our mission is to enjoy and protect the Potomac River. Check out their website: and help save the planet! Thanks Jared!

There was a large snapping turtle in the canal on Friday. It was cool to watch it from the bridge above. Amazingly, it's head and neck were almost as long as it's shell. I paddle up to Ruppert Island at sunset the other night. There was a heron a nd some mallards and, surprisingly, a little fawn feeding near the bank. It seems really late in the season to see a young deer but maybe they can have multiple litters in a summer. Makes me wonder just how many deer are over there at Rupperts at any given time.

Monday -- August 21, 2017
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.1     Water Temperature: 84

The deadline for the September Islander was yesterday so I'll have to make this quick. I didn't want to send in my log until I had a chance to write about what it was like to watch the (almost) total solar eclipse from Sycamore Island. There were about twenty of us on or around the Island when the eclipse started and luckily nobody came or went between 1:30 and 3:30. Mary and I were down at the bottom of the Island trying to stay in the shade yet still able to see the sun. We didn't notice any changes in the behavior of the birds and animals and the fish were definitely not biting. The light began to change and we watched it through a viewing box made from a cereal box. Thankfully, someone had two extra pairs of safe-viewing glasses and we were able to get a very clear look of the moon passing in front of the Sun. Soon afterwards, the wind picked up and a sudden thundershower blew in. Some folks made a run for it and left the Island when they heard the thunder. Others waited it out and soon the sun was shining again and we saw a small rainbow as I took them across on the ferry.

I don't think it has anything to do with the eclipse but there are a lot of spider webs on the Island right now. Some of them are huge, 36 inch diameter, webs, spun across the trail one after the other. They are amazing structures and I felt bad destroying at least big webs on my way to the bottom of the Island with the mower.

Our resident Canada geese have vanished. They were here everyday for several months and now they seem to be keeping their distance and staying off of the Island. It's funny, it took me over a week to realize that they were no longer underfoot.

The paw paw fruit are just about ripe and there are still a few of them on the Island. Some of the fruit have been harvested by members but I saw a remaining few next to the swim dock while I was swimming. They were near the waters edge, right next to the deep purple blossoms of a NY iron weed.

I replaced a missing grab rope on one of the blue kayaks and I took another stab at repairing the other red Club kayak. I used some plastic weld that was recommended to me and then I'll cover that with some epoxy for rigidity. We'll see. I also installed two new signs. One for the Women's room and one for the men's room.

Monday -- August 28, 2017
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.9     Water Temperature: 84

What a time we had at the fishing derby! I don't know how they do it but George and Shelly know how to deliver a good time and some good fishing. No turkey bacon this time but they brought the donuts and the fishing trophies, fancy cigar boxes filled with shiny new lures! We got everything set up and then we ate donuts and drank coffee while we waited for all of the competitors to show up.

It was a slow start but eventually we had enough people for some real competition. I wasn't here when the fishing boats returned with their catches but I was on the captains float for what I think was probably the most magical moment of the day. After George was done chumming the waters with chicken livers, and after he had helped all of the kids get their kid-sized fishing rods in order, we all ventured down to the captains float to see what the kids could catch. One of our most active new waitlister families, the Wales, were there with son William and daughter Catherine. I guess they are about 11 and 9 respectively. Catherine had her little purple rod with a big hunk of chicken liver on it which was so big that her dad said that it looked like a roast beef sandwich dangling from the hook. They were fishing pretty hard for a while until finally Catherine hooked a fish! Her rod was so short that it didn't bend, but we knew it was a big fish because her reel was whizzing loudly from the fish pulling on the drag.

Luckily, George was there to coach her, and her older brother was there, ready with the net. Catherine's eyes were as big a saucers as she reeled in the big 17-inch catfish, the first fish that she had ever caught in her life! I quickly ran for the aquarium so that we could admire the catch before we let it go again. Catherine and her brother posed with the fish for the camera but Catherine was reluctant to be the one holding the slimy thing for the picture, so William did the honors. Eventually, Catherine was able to shore up her courage and she allowed herself to touch the fish, but only with her one index finger, so cute. Congratulations to Catherine and to all of the other participants, and a big thank you to George an Shelly!