Thursday, January 2, 2014

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Jan 2)

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This weekly Adirondack outdoor conditions report is issued on Thursday afternoons, year round.

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SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

** indicates active, new or revised items.

** WINTER CONDITIONS: Extreme cold weather is forecast through mid-day Saturday. Temperatures will rise as the weekend progresses, but will remain below freezing with very cold wind-chill values (-10 to -20, and ten degrees colder on summits). 3-6 inches of snow is forecast around the region over the next 24 hours. There is the potential for sleet, ice, and rain on Sunday afternoon and into early next week, but another round of extreme cold is forecast for next week. Some forecasts are calling for a milder second half of January. In the meantime, be prepared for extreme cold. Pack and wear extra winter gear, extra layers of clothing and a winter hat and gloves. Always check the weather forecast before entering the backcountry.

PREVENT HYPOTHERMIA: Dress properly and add or remove layers to regulate your body temperature. Carry plenty of food and water. Eat, drink and rest often. Being tired, hungry or dehydrated makes you more susceptible to hypothermia.

** SNOW AND ICE: Snow and ice are present at all elevations. Snowshoes and/or microspikes or crampons will be necessary for any foray into the backcountry. We have an unusual snow pack situation. The Old Forge – Inlet corridor and areas West of Route 30 recieved about a foot of new snow on Tuesday. The High Peaks region, especially north of Route 73, has relatively little snow at lower elevations, about 5-7 inches. There is about 16 inches at the Lake Colden Interior Cabin and snow is deeper in the higher elevations and on summits. Snow cover is more substantial (10-14 inches) on Tug Hill, in the lake effect areas of the Western Slopes, in the South Central Adirondacks, and in southern Warren County. There is about 8-10 inches at the periphery of the park elsewhere.

** SNOWSHOES, TRACTION DEVICES AND CRAMPONS: Snowshoes or skis are required in the High Peaks, and encouraged elsewhere, wherever snow depths are 8 inches or more. Expect to use snowshoes above 3000 feet. The use of snowshoes or skis eases travel through snow, avoids injury and prevents “post-holing”, which ruins the trails for others and makes them dangerous to traverse. Traction devices should be worn at lower and middle elevations. Crampons should be carried for use on icy areas.

** BLOWDOWN: Blowdown may be found on trails, especially secondary, lesser used trails and in areas affected by the recent ice storm in the Northwestern part of the Adirondacks.

** KNOW THE LATEST WEATHER: Adirondack weather can change dramatically in a short time. Check the weather before entering the woods and be aware of weather conditions at all times. The National Weather Service (NWS) at Burlington and Albany cover the Adirondack region. NWS Burlington provides a weather forecast for elevations above 3,000 feet and spot forecasts for the summits of a handful of the highest peaks in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. [LINK]

** FIRE DANGER LOW: The fire danger in the Adirondack region is LOW. Campfires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness at all times. It is illegal to leave a fire unattended until it is fully extinguished. Use extreme care at this time of year with open fires.

** RIVERS AND STREAMS NORMAL: Rivers and streams are running at normal levels for this time of year. Ice has formed on all waterbodies. The US Drought Monitor reports Abnormally Dry conditions extend through all of Essex, Warren, and Hamilton and Herkimer counties.

** ICE ON WATERS: There is more ice than has been seen at this time of year in many years. Unbridged streams have mostly refrozen and Opalescent River is now crossable in the Flowed Lands. Most small and mid-sized lakes have at least 6 inches of ice. Lake Champlain north of Port Henry and most of Lake George remain open. Always check the depth of ice before crossing and avoid inlets, outlets and ice on or near running water. Ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. Always use caution on ice over water.

** DOWNHILL SKI REPORT: All of the region’s downhill resorts will be open this weekend with excellent conditions and about 60% of their terrain open. The exception is Big Tupper which has still not opened. Hickory Mountain is planning to open, but visitors there should call ahead to be sure. The Adirondack Almanack‘s Ski Season Preview has been posted here.

** CROSS COUNTRY SKI REPORT: All cross country ski areas are now open, and conditions have generally improved, but the better opportunities are outside of the Tri-Lakes – High Peaks region. Conditions in the High Peaks will be thinner and icier, although forecasts are calling for a few inches of snow by Saturday, so there may be some improvement – visitors should call ahead in those areas for more detailed conditions on Saturday. Instead, try the smoother terrain at Dewey, and the Paul Smith’s VIC (which will be grooming this weekend), or the Hays Brook or Fish Pond Truck Trails. Best bets this weekend are Lapland Lake and Garnet Hill, which both have all of their terrain open and plenty of cover.

** BACKCOUNTRY SKI REPORT: The Hays Brook and Fish Pond Truck Trails have cover, but blowdown remains from the recent ice storm. Backcountry skiing in the High Peaks region is limited to smoother terrain. Flatter terrain on the Jackrabbit Trail has been skied, but the snow is thin and steeper terrain can not be recommend there. Lake Colden has about 16 inches, but cover is still too thin at ADK Loj and the Marcy Dam Truck Trail to be recommended. The best bet this weekend will be Newcomb which has plenty of cover, the new state lands (the Essex Chain Lakes), Hoffman Notch and Pharaoh Mountain Area, the Lake George Wild Forest, and in the South-Central Adirondacks including the Inlet-Old Forge corridor. Try the Pigeon Lake Wilderness there.

** SNOWMOBILE REPORT: The Old Forge – Inlet corridor and areas West of Route 30 received about a foot of new snow on Tuesday and the trails there have about a 6-inch base and are in good to fair condition. Moose River Plains and Perkins Clearing are in good condition, although the woods trails are fair to poor. The best riding will be there, on Tug Hill, and in Southern Warren county which received about a foot of snow on Thursday. Northern Warren county received less snow and trail conditions there will be fair to poor. Do not ride on closed trails and be aware of the possibility blowdown in areas of the northwestern Adirondacks which were hit by the ice storm before Christmas. On February 16, historian and Adirondack Almanack founder and editor John Warren will present a talk at the Adirondack Museum tracing the history of snow machines in the Adirondacks from the early 1900s through the development of the personal sled.

RECENT CHANGES IN THE ADIRONDACK BACKCOUNTRY

These are recent changes (within the last two weeks) to outdoor recreation roads, trails and facilities around the Adirondacks.

** indicates new or revised items for this week.

HIGH PEAKS – LAKE PLACID REGION
Including, Wilmington, Keene, Western High Peaks

** Snowshoes And Traction Devices Needed: Snowshoes or skis are required in the High Peaks, and encouraged elsewhere, wherever snow depths are 8 inches or more, although skis are not yet recommended. Expect to use snowshoes above 3000 feet. Crampons should be carried for use on icy summits and other areas where ice has built up.

** Skiing Not Generally Recommended: Skiing conditions are still not great as good base over rocks, roots and other obstacles has not formed yet. The lower portion of the Marcy Truck Trail provides the best skiing opportunity at this time.

** Ausable Lakes: The public easement agreement for the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (Ausable Club) only allows for hiking, snowshoeing or skiing on the designated trails and roads. Traversing the Lower or Upper Ausable Lakes is prohibited.

** Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake: Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake have frozen up but ice is thin near the Avalanche Lake outlet and people continue to break through the ice – avoid this area.

** Flowed Lands: Unbridged streams have mostly refrozen and Opalescent River is now crossable in the Flowed Lands.

** Johns Brook Valley Campsite Closed: The designated campsite on Big Slide Mountain Brook in the Johns Brook Valley near the intersection with the Phelps Trail has been permanently closed due to site degradation. Other designated campsites are located across from the Howard Lean-to and just past Johns Brook Lodge. Signs on the hiking trail direct hikers to these sites.

SOUTHERN-CENTRAL ADIRONDACKS
West Canada Lakes, Fulton Chain, Long Lake, Speculator, Indian Lake

** Adirondack Canoe Route/Northern Forest Canoe Route: Ice has formed on all waters. Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs, aka life jackets) must be worn by all people at all times in boats less than 21 feet in length until May 1.

EASTERN-SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS
The Hudson, Schroon, Lake George, Champlain, Sacandaga, Washington Co

** Former Finch Lands – Essex Chain Lakes Tract: The Town of Newcomb is plowing Goodnow Flow Road. The public can park in the designated plowed area along the Goodnow Flow Road just before the Chain Lakes Road entrance – this is the road used in the summer to access the Hudson River at the Polaris or Iron Bridge. The public can access the Essex Chain Lakes Tract to ski, snowshoe or otherwise traverse the roadways and the lands. Interim winter public access will be limited this year as no plowed parking areas have been designated on the Essex Tract itself. The plowed parking area on the Goodnow Flow Road is used by the Gooley and Polaris Club members to park vehicles and snowmobile trailers – it is likely to be crowded on weekends. The Deer Pond and Chain Lakes Road gates have been closed and locked. The roads beyond are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. Members of the Gooley and Polaris Clubs will be able to use snowmobiles on the roadways to get to and from their camps.

Tongue Mountain Range: Trails in the Tongue Mountain Range are snow and ice covered, especially on the top of the ridge, small traction devices are recommended.

Jabe Pond Road: The Jabe Pond Road is impassable to motor vehicles due to heavy ice build up, access may be gained by foot.

Cat and Thomas Mountains: Trails on Cat and Thomas Mountains are snow and ice covered, especially near the summits, small traction devices are recommended.

Siamese Ponds Wilderness: Blowdown was cleared from the Sacandaga Trail from the Eleventh Mountain Trailhead to the Old Farm Trailhead, and also along the Second Pond Trail. On the Halfway Brook Trail the washout of a culvert at Barton Mines Road was temporarily repaired and is passable for the time being. Also on the Halfway Brook Trail the washed-out timber bridge crossing near the Vly has been repaired.

Eastern Lake George Wild Forest / Sleeping Beauty: Blowdown has been removed from the Sleeping Beauty Mountain Trail.

NORTHERN-NORTHWESTERN ADIRONDACKS
Santa Clara, Tupper and Saranac Lakes, St. Regis, Lake Lila

** Adirondack Canoe Route/Northern Forest Canoe Route: Ice has formed on all waters. Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs, aka life jackets) must be worn by all people at all times in boats less than 21 feet in length until May 1.

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: The D&H Road Linear Recreation Corridor is closed to public traffic until the end of the spring mud season. The gate is closed and locked and the Barnes Pond Road is closed to public motorized traffic until next September, except for use by people with a Motorized Access Permit for People With Disabilities (MAPPWD). The Town of Franklin will continue to plow the Goldsmith Road parking area during the upcoming snowmobile season. All snowmobile gates are currently closed.

DeBar Mountain Wild Forest/Kushuqua Conservation Easement Lands: The Town of Franklin will plow the Loon Lake Mountain Trailhead parking area on County Route 26 to allow off-highway parking for winter recreation enthusiasts using the Loon Lake Mountain Trail and the conservation easement lands in that area.

Whitney Wilderness: The Lake Lila Road gate has been locked and the road will be closed to public motor vehicle traffic through the winter and until the end of mud season. Hikers, skiers and snowshoers may still use the road, but are prohibited from trespassing on adjacent private lands. Park along the Sabattis Road and do not block the gate.

——————–

General warnings and announcements drawn from DEC, NWS, NOAA, USGS, and other sources. Additional detailed Adirondack Park camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation information can be found at DEC’s webpages. A DEC map of the Adirondack Park can also be found online [pdf].

The DEC Trails Supporter Patch is available for $5 at all outlets where sporting licenses are sold, on-line and via telephone at 1-866-933-2257. Patch proceeds will help maintain and enhance non-motorized trails throughout New York State.

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff

Stories written under the Almanack's Editorial Staff byline are drawn from press releases and other notices.

To have your news noticed here at the Almanack contact our Editor John Warren at adkalmanack@gmail.com.


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