CARETAKER'S LOG


Thursday-- June 28, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.9     Water Temperature: 77


The ferry is now open.

Thursday-- June 28, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.1     Water Temperature: 77


Ferry is closed as of now but maybe the river will go down later today. Maybe.

Saturday-- June 23, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.3     Water Temperature: 77


The ferry is closed today.

Friday-- June 22, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.8     Water Temperature: 77


We're open on this rainy Friday and some folks are here for a first-day-of- summer, wet canoe trip. It's smart to come here today, rain or no rain, because it looks like the ferry may be closed all weekend on account of the high water.

Thursday-- June 21, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.2     Water Temperature: 77


Happy Summer Solstice! Normally it would be time to celebrate all of the river fun at Sycamore Island but sadly, it keeps on raining, and the river is still muddy brown and we may have to close the ferry because of more flooding.

Thanks to all of the enthusiastic volunteers that we had here on Sunday. We really got a lot done. So much in fact that I couldn't assign the chores fast enough. We accomplished a lot but there is still more work to be done. I want to take the damaged canoe and sheet metal to the scape yard but we need to remove the rest of the damaged metal roof before I make that trip. Also, I fired up the chain saw and now there are many cut-up logs that need to be moved and stacked. There is trash scattered everywhere, here and on the upper Island, and that will need to be collected and added to the pile that we will have to take to the dump. We also need to remove the old bolts from the salvaged parts of the canoe shed so that we can reuse them.

Turning my attention to the lawn.Now that it's not raining and the river has gone down, maybe I can catch up on the grass-cutting. It's getting pretty bushy out there, and yet some areas are still too muddy and soft to push the mower through.

Friday-- June 15, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.5     Water Temperature: 68


The ferry is closed today but we are planning to have full service tomorrow. the water will be high so please help the relief caretakers if you can. Also, please come down on Sunday between noon and 3 and help us to clean up some of the extensive flood damage and get the canoes back on the racks. Thanks.

Wednesday-- June 13, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 6.6     Water Temperature: 68


The river seems to be going down and things are starting to dry out around here. The recent floods have left the Island looking like scorched earth and it's going to take a lot of work to get things back to normal around here.

We did not lose any boats but there is no more yellow slide for the swim float and the "Calleva" dock that was marooned at the top of the Island has floated away too. It's funny, that dock arrived here during the flood of May 20, 2014 and was here for exactly four years to the day. Sadly, the dock that I made last year for the fish camp was not tied down well enough and was washed away as well.

The worst damage was to the canoe shed. Two gigantic Sycamores fell and one of them took out half of the roof of one of the sheds. One of the main supports was snapped by the tree and the shed will need to be rebuilt. The other sycamore fell across the trail to the bottom of the Island and that will need to be cut as well. So far I haven't heard any plans to hire help, but I think we may need to get a builder and a tree-cutting expert down here.

We were lucky in that when the tree hit the shed it only crushed two boats. One was an old fiberglass kayak that was nice but had not been used in decades. The other boat was an aluminum canoe and it took a direct hit from the tree. Both of those craft will need to be taken to the dump.

It took a few hours and some hard work but I got the ferry rope and the bell rope back up. The ferry rope I used is a temporary one that was donated by Geoff, our tree expert. I will be stringing a new rope that I bought, once the river settles down. I've started to clear the other boats from the damaged shed and I've started sawing away at the branches and broken parts of the shed. It's slow going but I'm starting to get things cleared away so we can use the sheds again.

We are definitely going to have to organize a work day to fix this place up. Hopefully the river will go down and we can get a group of volunteers here on this Sunday.

The monthly meeting will be held at John Nobles house tonight at 8:00. I'm not sure I can make it. Canoeing home in the dark in high water isn't really my thing.

Monday-- June 11, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.2     Water Temperature: 68


The ferry is closed, again. What a bummer!

It looks like the rain has stopped falling upstream, but there is a bunch of water headed our way from Cumberland MD. The gauge at Paw Paw WV. is cresting now(7 PM)so we'll get our crest in 36 hours. Around midnight tomorrow night.

Then we have to wait for it to slowly go down. Maybe Friday or Saturday.

Sunday-- June 10, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.1     Water Temperature: 68


We're going to open the ferry today so that we can have the orientation for the new members. The orientation has already been postponed once because of flooding, so we're going ahead with it today, and the river was nice enough to recede just enough, for us to have the event. Thanks river!

We might be closed next week so please come down today to help us put the canoes and kayaks away before I have to rehang the "ferry closed" sign. Thanks!

Tuesday-- June 5, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 12.38     Water Temperature: 68


More rain and more flooding. I used to be such an optimist.

Actually we are very lucky in many ways. The flooding today is bad but it could have been worse, like we've seen in years past. I don't want to jinx it but the river has not gotten into the building in 22 years.

This current flood is mostly just an inconvenience and a drag because of all the work it's going to take to get the boats bailed and back on the racks. Plus, we'll have to restring the bell rope and the ferry rope, again. I was forced to cut both lines when a giant tree got snagged on them. And of course, there will be mud. Lets hope we get a few sunny days to dry things out.

It was pretty crazy yesterday, getting ready for the flood. I don't know why it always seems to flood when I go away on vacation and I was up in Ohio on Sunday when they confirmed the flooding. We rushed back on Sunday night but the rain was horrid so we stopped near Pittsburgh. By the time we arrived at the ferry landing it was after one o'clock on Monday afternoon and the river was over ten feet. Mary was with me to send me off but she stayed on the mainland. It's a little intimidating when you stand at the steps and it seems like the river is at eye level and the ferry rope is six inches above the river. but no worries, I've done the crossing many times in high water and it's never as bad as it looks.

I bailed out the canoe that I had locked up on the steps, loaded my supplies, and shoved off. I paddled straight out past the Sycamore before I turned the canoe to face upstream. The current was very fast but I was able to paddle across and get behind the eddy created by the ferry that was secured on the island and floating up into the trees. I shouted to Mary that all was well as I steered the canoe into the shade of the Island and up toward the board walk.

We knew the river was going to go up before I left town, so many things, like the ferry, were already prepared for the flood. What I didn't do before I left town, since I really didn't think it was going to flood this bad, was tie down all of the boats. So when I looked across the flooded lawn, my heart sank at what I saw. Two dozen canoes and kayaks floating from the bottom racks of the canoe shed and from the Club canoe racks, all floating around upside down and slowly heading for the main stem of the current on the far side of the Island. The funny thing was, we had just untied and restocked all of the canoes and kayaks on Thursday after the last flood we had. This is the kind of thing that happens when you get two floods in two weeks.

I quickly put on my waders, grabbed a whole bunch of rope, and jumped back into the canoe. I had to work fast because I could tell that the river was getting higher by the minute. I managed to lasso all of the boats and tie them off to trees. Then I went along and secured all of the boats on the second rack. By now the water was crotch-high and I took off the waders and jumped into the water to tie down as many boats as I could before the current got too strong.

That's when I heard the bell start to ring and I knew that the ropes were in the river and in the path of all of that flood debris roaring downstream. It didn't take long and before I knew it there was a huge tree stuck on the ferry rope and pulling it like an archers bow. I paddled across the Island and worked my way around all of the floating trees and reached up and cut the ropes. That's twice in two weeks that I had to take down the ferry rope. Unheard of.

The last things I had to rescue were the bird feeders and I think the birds really appreciated that. They don't seem to mind that the feeder is so close to the house now. I guess we all have to adapt to the high water, and the tiny Island.

The song birds are not the only ones keeping me company. Our baby deer is still here, and I saw the mommy deer too. I scared up the turkey again and the great blue herons are now fishing by the shed and by the deck!

Friday-- June 1, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.1     Water Temperature: 68


The ferry is closed and will reopen on Tuesday June 5 if the river goes down.

Thursday-- May 31, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.7     Water Temperature: 66


The ferry is running again!

Wednesday-- May 30, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.3     Water Temperature: 66


Today the ferry is closed because of high water.

We're hoping that the river will go down tomorrow so that we can have an emergency cleanup here from 3-6. So please come down to the Island tomorrow and pitch in to help us get things cleaned up here after the flood.

Tuesday-- May 29, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.9     Water Temperature: 66


The ferry is closed, no pull rope yet.

Monday-- May 28, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.0     Water Temperature: 66


The ferry is closed today, Memorial Day, due to high water and flood damage to the ferry rope.

There is tons of rain in the forecast so it's anybody's guess as to when things will get back to normal around here. Sorry folks.

Wednesday -- May 23, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 6.7     Water Temperature: 66


The ferry is still closed. It looks like we won't be able to open the ferry until about Monday. First we'll have to rehang the ferry rope since I had to take it down for the flood.

We found a fence post washed up on the Island and it had an address on it, 3436. Mary, in her genius was able to search that address in flooded locations like in Frederick or Point on Rocks. Amazingly she found a place on Catoctin Creek that seems to match the address. We're thinking about going by there to bring them their lost fence post.

Monday -- May 21, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 9.1     Water Temperature: 62


Make sure that you go to canalbycanoe.com and check out the pictures of Sycamore Island during the flood. Also, there is a picture there of a black snake swallowing an adult squirrel. Amazing nature-viewing on the Island lately.

Sunday -- May 20, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 9.8     Water Temperature: 62


It looks like we dodged a bullet and the river is not expected to hit record-breaking levels like they predicted two days ago. What a relief. Now maybe I can go back to my vacation.

There will be some major clean up to do though. All of the boats will have to be put back in their place and many of the club canoes are full of rain water. We'll have to watch the docks closely and send them out as the river goes down. We don't want them to end up on dry land. There will be lots of mud to clean up and one silver maple fell, just down stream of the lego dock. It's roots just couldn't hold on in that saturated soil.

Amazingly, we discovered a newly born fawn lying in the jewel weed with the flood waters creeping in around it. We thought about moving it but didn't. Today it was gone, so I guess that there is a mommy and a baby deer somewhere on the Island. The other amazing thing is that while I was looking for the fawn, I found a turkey! It was on the ground next to me when all of the sudden it leaped into the air! Holy cow, you never know what you'll find when you take a walk around the Island.

Thursday -- May 17, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 7.8     Water Temperature: 70


The ferry is closed and will be closed for a while. The river is predicted to reach 13.6 feet on Sunday! That would be the biggest flood since 2010 and one of the biggest in twenty years. I had to take down the ferry rope so it's going to be a while before the ferry is up and running again. That might be the least of our worries though, if these flood predictions hold up.

Mary and I tried to stay optimistic that the rain would not get so bad that we would have to postpone our paddle trip, but sadly we had to give in to the forces of nature and rush back to Sycamore Island to get ready for the biggest flood that we've had in over eight years. We hope to regroup and resume our trip sometime after the river goes down.

The river was already over seven feet when Mary and I returned here yesterday afternoon, but thankfully there were a couple of crews of Club members here on Tuesday and Wednesday that did the preliminary flood prep. John Noble, Drew Walsh, Richard Bertaut, Steve Newman and Dave Winer are the people that we need to thank for paying attention and taking action.

I moved all of the grills, safety equipment, and chairs up to the screen porch. I tied all of the picnic table down and I secured the ferry with a long leash. Tomorrow I'll start taking the boats off of the lower racks and I'll tie them to the long chain that I laid out under the zip line.

Monday -- May 14, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.1     Water Temperature: 70


We had great weather for the down river race on Saturday but now that's over and it doesn't look like it's going to be a very good week to visit the Island.

It doesn't look like a very good week to go camping either but that's just what Mary and I plan to do this week. Follow our trip at canalbycanoe.com and help us as we try to raise money for school busses to get more kids outside and into our wonderful C&O Canal National Historic Park.

Our geese are still sitting our their respective nests. The nest under the deck has had 7 eggs in it since March 25 and I'm afraid that they are never going to hatch. Just like last year. So sad.

Wednesday -- May 9, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.2     Water Temperature: 70


The ferry is closed right now but we may be able to open later this afternoon.

THE FERRY IS OPEN! It's such a nice day that I decided it was worth it to open the ferry a little prematurely. The river should be below 5 feet by the time the meeting starts.

Tuesday -- May 8, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.9     Water Temperature: 70


It looks like we may have to close the ferry later on this morning. The river is going up to 5.2.

Friday -- May 4, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.1     Water Temperature: 68


Good news! The spiral pedestrian bridge has been reopened and a detour trail has been built around the condemned trolley bridge!

Tuesday -- May 1, 2018
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.6     Water Temperature: 58


Happy May!

Lets hope that the river doesn't flood too much like last month.

Thankfully, we were able to have the work fest last Sunday. The river was just barely low enough to get everyone over here. It wasn't easy mind you. The river was cranking out 25000 cubic feet per second and the wind was howling at 15 miles an hour making it the most difficult day that I've ever had running the ferry, no joke.

Once we had everyone on the Island we had a grand time. It was so great to see all of the new wait-listers and old members coming together and bonding over Island chores. I want to thank everyone that came out and pitched in. And a special thanks to George and Shelly for doing the grilling and to Kevin Haley for leading the charge to get the docks out. I was also very grateful for the brand new wait-listers that arrived. It looks to me like we have a great new batch of future Islanders.

I got approval to buy new screen doors to replace the old decrepit doors that we now have. I had painted and hung a new screen door as a sample for everyone to look at at the workfest and to my delight, everyone seemed please with the door I picked out and the way I prepared and hung it. It's already exciting to see how nice it's going to look up there with out those old, (is this place abandoned?), screen doors. I'll order the rest of the doors today!

The other major improvement that was made to the deck is the addition of a brand new shade umbrella! Ever since the large maple was taken down there has been no shade on the deck, making it impossible to sit up there in mid day. Now there is shade. The new umbrella is red, a perfect contrast to the green clubhouse, and fit right into the table that we already had. I think everyone, even the treasurer, will agree that it was worth the 60 bucks that I spent.