Hitting the Snowpath

Dam 4 Winch House

Dam 4 Winch House

Over the last couple of days, the area dodged a bullet and missed out on a projected 4-8″ of snow and instead received–perhaps–an inch instead.  The high today reached 40 degrees and left the towpath a muddy mess as the lingering snow, plus Saturday’s additional light total, started to melt during our hike.  Nevertheless, there was plenty of the gushy white stuff to provide an interesting backdrop for today’s pictures.

Below Dam 4 on the towpath

Below Dam 4 on the towpath

The idea today was to explore Dam 4 Cave, but I left home without my flashlight.  We were able to make it about halfway into the cave, but I’m saving that story for later.  In the meantime, we took a slippery trip down the slope from the rise overlooking the dam Along the way, we spied a row of turkey tracks and evidence of deer, but the footprints ended not too far below the dam.  My car was the only one in the lot, and we would later be the only visitors at McMahons Mill.  At first I wondered why, but my wet feet were soon to be the first clue.

Wast Weir at mi. 84.35

Wast Weir at mi. 84.35

Lately, I seem to have developed a thing for waste weirs, but this one is particularly interesting because the towpath is actually supported by wooden framework and several porch jacks.  The canal is generally watered to some degree for some distance above the dam, and in wet weather a stream passes from the canal through this weir and on to the river.

Between two islands--Shepherds Island

Between two islands–Shepherds Island

Later, in the vicinity of Mile Marker 83, I walked to the river bank and saw where a small channel of water separates two islands.  The Potomac was running a little bit on the high side today, so I’m not sure whether or not this is one continuous island in low water.  These are very narrow pieces of land close to the middle of the river, and a couple of decent-.sized sycamores are taking root at the tip of the upper island.

McMahons Mill.  For whatever reason, the snow was deeper here than along the towpath

McMahons Mill. For whatever reason, the snow was deeper here than along the towpath

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