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C&O Canal - Inspecting Levels 20, 21, & 22...
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aka - Watching the Prism Dry - 21 Nov

So, in the two weeks since the National Historical Park drained the upper three Levels of Canal, what has been accomplished? On Mon, 21 Nov, Dan Robinson and Alf Cooley set out on ebikes from Swains Lock to find out.  Not a helluva lot, it appears - aside from the draining - and even there, the NHP gets an incomplete - the top mile of the oft frequented Violettes Lock section is perfectly navigable. Water is being admitted at Feeder #2 at ca 50 cfs, giving a level only six inches below the usual. Sunday Paddlers, take note!


    Heading upstream, we saw that the towpath bank had been mowed along the three miles up to Pennyfield - where the responsible brush-hog was parked. A mile on we came to the gas pipeline crossing the Canal (MP 20.8), where a little delta from a sidestream holds up the water level, affording navigability upstream. Just above is our Transfer Trail (MP 21) at Blockhouse Point and another mile got us to Violettes Lock

   Returning to Swains along the towpath we encountered at MP 18 a ten-vehicle caravan of NHP officials also on an inspection tour. It was a sparkling day along the river/canal for both parties - just that we were out in the 30-degree weather and they all bundled up in their cars and trucks.  We saw that the water which flushes through each lock had precipitated out muck into the placid section just below.  At the upper end of Swains Level just up from MP-19, a side stream has made the biggest delta, which blocks the whole canal.

   From Swains I stopped by the Great Falls Tavern/Lock 20 and, as at Swains and Pennyfield, found the waste weir open and the Canal a mere trickle. The NHP says it wants to let the prism dry out for a couple of weeks, an activity that requires no expenditure of energy, perhaps explaining the absence of any workmen along this part of the Ditch.

A deer and two very chilly Great Blues - but no turtles.

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