The Heat of Summer – Once Again!

Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn’t it a pity
Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city…
…………..The Lovin’ Spoonful

The temperatures began its rise into the 90s last weekend. Knowing that it was going to get very hot, we started our walk earlier than usual on Sunday. We were on the trail at Swains Lock before 8 O’clock! In spite of the early start, it did not take too long before we began to feel the sweat collecting on our necks and back. It was going to be one of those days!

We walked towards Great Falls. Here is a picture of the tavern at Great Falls.

We continue to see flowers for the first time this year along the towpath. The numbers I am recording are staggering. These include Tall Meadow Rue,

Yarrow,


Trumpet Flower,


Pickerelweed,


Mullein,Thistle,what I believe is Bindweed of some kind,


Black Cohosh,


Day Lily,Basil Bee Balm,

and a couple of flowers that I could not identify.

We also found raspberryand pawpaw fruitalong the trail.

The heat of the summer also brings out the dragonflies and the butterflies. We saw a few skimmers, a zebra swallowtail, and even a Red Admiral and a Crescent butterfly. (I will post some of these and other pictures in my Pbase photo galleries.)

We took a detour on to the River Trail just north of Great Falls on our way back to Swains Lock. It was a delightful experience! We ended up walking on a narrow trail along the side of the river. There were very few people on the trail and we saw a lot of birds. There were so many herons on the other side of the river, with many of them standing on their own individual rocks!I have to believe that there is a park on the other side of the river that is attracting the herons.

We also saw a Indigo Bunting.At first I was not sure about the identity of this bird, being confused by a shaft of light falling on its breast, but I now feel more confident of my conclusion. (Of course, I am not an expert on this matter, and my process for identifying a bird is always subject to verification/confirmation by any knowledgeable birder or ornithologist who happens to come this way!)

Here is the video of the song that I mentioned at the beginning of the blog.

A Boat Passes Through Lock 20 at Great Falls

A little while ago I posted a blog about the operation of a boat on the C&O canal in the area of Great Falls, the boat being pulled by mules walking along the towpath.  When the boat gets to the lock at Great Falls, which is lock 20 on the C&O canal, the mules are unhitched from the boat, and the boat makes its way downstream through the lock following the process below.

As the boat approaches the lock, the upstream gates are in the open position and the gates downstream of the lock are closed  so that the water in the lock is at the level of the water upstream of the lock. The boat enters the lock.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter the boat has completely entered the lock, the upstream gates are closed.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe next step is to open up the valves in the downstream gate so that water can escape downstream and the level of water within the lock can begin to go down.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter the water level has gone down to the level of the canal below the lock, the downstream gates are opened completely.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe boat now proceeds out of the lock.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd finally it is clear of the lock!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe National Park Service offers tours on the Charles F. Mercer on weekends between spring and fall.

The Mules of Great Falls

I have been wandering along the C&O canal for many years and this is the first time I have seen the mules in action.  We came upon the boat ride being offered by the National Park Service on the canal at Great Falls by chance.

The Charles F. Mercer, the boat used for the tour, is a replica of the original canal boats.  It replaced the previous canal boat replica, The Canal Clipper III, which had fallen into a state of disrepair, in 2006. There is some nice information about the boat here.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Incidentally, it looks like excursion boats have been operating on the C&O Canal for a very long time.  There is a document about excursion boats on the C&O canal that has been posted online at this locationThis is the current version of the document.  There are fascinating pictures in the document.  The “Reminiscences about Mules” in Appendix B is very interesting.