Notes from the Island
September 2005

I can't believe that it's been three years since I loaded all my worldly possessions onto the ferry and started my new life on Sycamore Island. And as I watch the news of the flooding and misery caused by Hurricane Katrina I can't help but feel very fortunate that those three years have been unmarred by any major flooding… but, then, it's only a matter of time.

The last two weeks of August were really great down here, the humidity subsided and the river was nice and clear for swimming. The fishing was good too and we had an impressive turnout for the annual fishing derby with many anglers taking advantage of the perfect conditions; even I caught a bass. It was fun to see all the people and activity on the Island and my girls seemed to be happy to be back on the Island, too, even if it did mean that school was starting again (Kelsey starts high school this year!). I've been doing more paddling as well and I've been going through the canoe shed and sampling some of the boats that are there collecting dust. The sunsets seem to be better this time of year too and it’s a real Sycamore moment to swim out to the swim float when the sky and the river are bright pink and orange.

The first two weeks of August I was on vacation. I spent the two weeks at a cabin on a lake near a watery playground known as Traverse City, Michigan. I really liked it there and I did a lot of paddling. I kayaked in some of the dozens of lakes that dot the landscape, all with public access, and I also found three beautiful rivers to float. The most exciting river was the Boardman that flows north through Traverse City before emptying into Lake Michigan. The mouth of this river is quite urban and looks more like a canal as it flows past the marinas, the breweries and the trendy shops; but, just outside of town it's much more interesting. The upper Boardman (or would it be the lower Boardman since it flows north?) is lined by rich parkland. Here the river drops several feet within a two-mile stretch of bouncy class-two rapids. The best part is that it is lined by a manicured trail that made for a leisurely jog back to the van and an easy solo shuttle. The other rivers I did were flat, fast-moving watery pathways meandering through the countryside and like the Boardman they were crystal clear and pretty small (about the size of Antietam Creek). The neat thing about the Platte and the Betsy were that they flowed past giant sand dunes and emptied into Lake Michigan with its waves and white sandy beaches.

I'm looking forward to September on the Island. It’s a great time to be outdoors either playing or doing some of the projects I've planned. I want to paint the roof of the canoe shed and we're hoping to build another canoe rack like the one for the club canoes. I also want to get rid of all the invasive plants on the Island. I really need help with this. If anyone is interested.

-- Joe Hage, Sycamore Island Caretaker