Thursday, April 16, 2015

Outdoor Conditions in the Adirondacks (Apr 16)

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

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SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

BEST DAY: Sunday; Saturday will be cloudy with a chance of some isolated rain and gusty winds.

SUN AND MOON: Sunrise Saturday will be at 6:08 am; sunset at 7:44 pm. Moon rise Saturday will be at 6:08 am Sunday morning, and moon set at 7:48 pm. There will be a New Moon Saturday at 2:57 p.m.

FIRE DANGER HIGH – BURN BAN IN EFFECT: The Fire danger in the Adirondacks is HIGH and there were several wild fires reported this week – use extreme caution with campfires. Residential brush burning currently prohibited in the Adirondack Park. New York State prohibits residential burning during the high-risk fire season to reduce the number of wildfires and protect people, property and natural resources. Open burning of debris is the largest single cause of spring wildfires in New York State. When temperatures are warmer and grasses and leaves dry out, wildfires can start and spread easily. Learn more about the burn ban here.

WINTER CONDITIONS PERSIST: Deep snow and ice remains in the High Peaks. Expect the possibility of encountering isolated rains and overall cloudy and breezy conditions on Friday into Saturday afternoon which will give way Saturday to clearer skies and a sunnier Sunday. High temperatures will be in the lower to mid-50s on Saturday and the upper 50s to about 60 on Sunday. Nighttime lows will remain in the 20s in the central Adirondacks and 30s elsewhere this weekend. Areas below 2,000 feet are mostly bare of snow, but there remains between 6 inches and two feet between 2 and 3,000 feet with as much as three feet remaining in some locations at higher elevations. Snowshoes continue to be needed everywhere at mid-and upper elevations, and are required for summitting in the High Peaks. Also, if you are headed to summits carry traction devices as some ice remains on trails, especially at higher elevations. Always check the weather forecast before entering the backcountry. Never travel alone, carry proper safety equipment, inform someone of your itinerary, and be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods.

TRAIL CONDITIONS VARY: Trails and bare and muddy at trailheads and lower elevations trails but above 2,500 feet there remains more than two feet of snow. Carry snowshoes on all hikes that will take you above about 2,000 feet. Trails with hard snow in the morning will soften later in the day. Even with snowshoes hikers are sinking knee deep in snow when they step off the trail. Wear snowshoes when warranted and don’t posthole. If you don’t have snowshoes, turn back when you encounter snow. Visitors to the Eastern High Peaks are required by regulation to use snowshoes or skis when snow depths are 8 inches or more.

SNOW COVER REPORT: Areas below 2,000 feet are mostly bare of snow, but there remains between 6 inches and two feet between 2 and 3,000 feet with as much as three feet remaining in some locations at higher elevations. Snowshoes continue to be needed everywhere at mid-and upper elevations, and are required for summitting in the High Peaks. Also, if you are headed to summits carry traction devices as some ice remains on trails, especially at higher elevations. The snow depth at Marcy Dam (2,350 ft. elevation) is about 18 inches, Lake Colden (2,750 ft. elevation) has a little more than 2 feet of snow. Snowshoes or skis are necessary in the High Peaks and higher elevations elsewhere, and carrying traction devices is recommended.

WINDS ON SATURDAY ON SUMMITS: Expect winds 20 to 40 mph on summits on Saturday afternoon.

KNOW THE LATEST WEATHER BEFORE YOU GO: Be aware of weather conditions at all times by checking Adirondack region forecasts at Burlington and Albany, and the High Elevation, Recreation, or Lake Champlain forecasts.

ICE IS MOSTLY OUT: Ice is out on all but smaller high elevation waters. Although some smaller lakes and ponds at higher elevations may still be passable, they are covered with water and slush. No ice should be considered safe.

RIVERS AND STREAMS: Water levels are high, currents are swift and water temperatures are cold. Use caution near and while crossing rivers and streams this weekend in the High Peaks as snow and ice bridges has weakened and may no longer be safe to cross. Check local streamgages on the USGS website for waters where you intend to recreate.

WATER TEMPERATURES COLD: Water temperatures are in the lower 30s. The water temperature of the AuSable River at Wilmington, Arbutus Lake in Newcomb, Lake Champlain, and at Warner Bay on Lake George are all about 35 degrees. Wear life jackets – unexpected immersion in water less than 70 degrees poses a much greater risk of drowning. Wearing a properly zipped and or buckled life jacket will likely keep a person’s head above water and support their body should swimming ability fail or they become unconscious due to cold water immersion. The Coast Guard estimates that 80% of all boating deaths might have been prevented had a life jacket been worn.

RAFTING SEASON HAS BEGUN: Rafting on the Hudson River began last week. The North Creek streamgage was at 6.76 feet and rising on Thursday afternoon.

LONG RANGE FORECAST: A cloudy and rainy Monday and Tuesday will usher in cooler temperatures and partly cloudy skies with some slight chance of rain throughout the week. Expect daytime highs around 50 on Monday to give way to the mid 50s for the rest of the week. Next Saturday is forecast to be about 55 degrees and partly cloudy.

SOME CLIMBING AREAS CLOSED: Due to the presence of peregrine falcons, DEC has closed the following climbing areas: All routes at Moss Cliff, Upper and Lower Washbowl Cliffs in the Chapel Pond area, and Shelving Rock at Lake George. At Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain, all routes on the Main Face are closed except the following routes described on pages 39-45 of Adirondack Rock – A Rock Climber’s Guide: Waterfall area, Superman Wall, Luther Wall.

BACKCOUNTRY SKIING REPORT: Backcountry skiing can no longer be generally recommended due to exposed obstacles and bare patches, but die-hards will no doubt find some skiing left, although carrying skis may be required. Take the Marcy Truck Trail, which has some bare spots, to Marcy Dam. Avalanche Lake is covered in water and slush. The best bet for a Jackrabbit Trail ski is above the Whiteface Inn. The Opalescent no longer crossable in Flowed Lands. Skiing is no longer possible to John Brooks Lodge, but remains possible above there. Marcy still has cover, but the hiking trail portion of the Wright Peak ski trail is no longer recommended. There is still plenty of snow above Indian Falls.

DOWNHILL SKI REPORT: This will likely be the last weekend at Gore and Whiteface; expect spring conditions. All other downhill ski areas are closed. Gore plans on opening about 40 trails and four lifts (Northwoods Gondola, the Straight Brook Quad, High Peaks Chair and Topridge Triple), with a special rate of $30 per person. Beginner terrain is expected to be limited; last weekend only intermediate and expert terrain was available. At Whiteface, adult lift tickets will be $48, tickets for teens $38, and $28 for juniors. At press time Whiteface was not reporting what facilities they expect to have open, but visitors should expect about 40-50% of their terrain open with beginner, intermediate and expert terrain; the Cloudsplitter Gondola has closed for the season.

CROSS-COUNTRY FACILITIES: All cross-country ski areas have closed for the season.

SNOWMOBILE TRAILS REPORT: Snowmobiling has ended for the season. DEC has closed it’s gates and all club trails are now closed.

DO NOT RELY ON TECHNOLOGY: Do not depend on electronic technology in the backcountry. Cell phone coverage is spotty at best and often non-existent. GPS signal can be poor under heavy tree cover. Batteries expire quickly in cold temperatures. Plan and prepare before entering the backcountry and always carry a map and compass for navigation or at least as a backup – and know how to use them.

KEEP DOGS LEASHED: Dog owners are reminded that dogs must be leashed in the Eastern Zone of the High Peaks when on trails, at primitive tent sites, at lean-to sites, everywhere above 4,000 feet, or at other areas where the public congregates. It is recommended dogs be kept leashed in most areas for the safety of your dog, the protection of wildlife and as a courtesy to fellow hikers.

TROUT SEASON OPEN: This winter in the Eastern Adirondacks was historically cold, but there was abundant snow coverage for much of the winter. Larger trout streams have built an abundance of ice which can increase the mortality of fish, and anglers may not be able to reach rivers due to the buildup of ice along the banks. Anglers interested in Adirondack trout streams may want to wait until later in April for rivers and streams to warm enough for the fish to become active – especially with high rivers forecast beginning this weekend.

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 recently revised items for this week.

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

** Garden Parking Area: The Town of Keene has closed the unpaved road to The Garden Trailhead Parking area until the road has dried enough to support motor vehicles.

** Ice on Marcy Pond is thinning, especially over the channel. Consider using footbridge over Marcy Brook rather crossing Marcy Pond.

** Colden Trap Dike: Water is running down the Trap Dike under and through the snow and ice.

** Route 86 Bridge Closed: The Route 86 bridge over the West Branch of the Ausable River in Wilmington, Essex County, is closed to vehicles and pedestrians for a bridge replacement project. Businesses near the bridge remain open. The new bridge is expected to be opened by June 1. Detours direct motorists to Springfield Road (Essex County Road 83) and Fox Farm Road (Essex County Road 63). More information can be found here.

** Route 73 Bridge Work: The bridge carrying Route 73 over the East Branch of the Ausable River in Keene has been reduced to one alternating lane through November. The rehabilitation of this bridge, sometimes known locally as the “Post Office” bridge, will include replacement of its superstructure, including the beams and concrete deck. The concrete approaches will also be replaced. Work will be done in two stages. During construction, traffic will be controlled by temporary traffic signals at either end of the bridge. The bridge will be open to two travel lanes in late July to accommodate the annual Ironman Triathlon Race.

** Stay On Trails On Summits: Stay on trails or deep snow when on summits. Exposed and ice covered sensitive alpine vegetation can be easily damaged under winter conditions.

** Lake Colden – Avalanche Lake: Lake Colden and Colden and Avalanche lakes may be crossable, but it is not reccommended – both are covered in water and slush.

Elk Lake Trails and Clear Pond Gate: The two trails that pass through the Elk Lake property to Panther Gorge in the High Peaks Wilderness and the southern approaches to Dix Mountain in the Dix Mountain Wilderness are open for public use. The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed and will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season. This will add four miles to a round trip – plan accordingly.

Avalanche Pass Slide: The Avalanche Pass Slide is closed to public recreation of any type through the winter.

Connery Pond Road: The Connery Pond Road and its gate have been closed until the end of the spring mud season. Skiers and snowshoers may still use the road to access trails to Connery Pond and Whiteface Landing on Lake Placid.

Meadow Lane Closed: Meadow Lane (South Meadows Road) near Adirondac Loj has been closed. The trailheads for the South Meadows/Marcy Dam truck trail, Mt. Van Hoevenberg, and Klondike Notch remain open, but the closure adds just under a mile. The road will remain closed through the spring mud season.

Corey’s Road Gate Closed: The gate on Corey’s Road is closed until the end of the spring mud season. Those seeking to access the Calkins Brook and Ward Brook Trails must park at the Raquette Falls Trailhead and traverse the 3 miles to the summer parking lot.

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

Eagle Cave: Eagle Cave in the Siamese Pond Wilderness is closed from October through May to protect hibernating bats.

** Moose River Plains Wild Forest: All roads are closed for mud season.

** Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands: The Town of Lake Pleasant has closed & locked the gate at the north end of the Perkins Clearing Road at Mason Lake and the Village of Speculator closed and locked the gate at the end of blacktop on Elm Lake Road. These roads will remain closed through the end of mud season. All other roads also remain closed to public motor vehicle traffic through the end of mud season.

Blue Mountain Wild Forest/Township 19 Tract Conservation Easement Lands: The O’Neill Flow Road and its gate and the Barker Pond Road are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season.

** Ferris Lake Wild Forest: Beavers have caused flooding problems. The Fall Stream Trail from Piseco towards the Big Brook trail has one bridge flooded out; the Hurrell Vly Trail in Morehouse has a bridge flooded out.

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

** Lake George Wild Forest (Western): Gates are closed on the following roads until the end of mud season: Lilly Pond Road, Long Pond Trail, Palmer Pond Road, Gay Pond Road.

** Lake George Wild Forest (Eastern) The gate has been closed on the Dolph Pond Road in the Dolph Pond State Forest. The Town of Fort Ann has closed Shelving Rock Road to motor vehicles until the end of mud season. A barrier has been placed on Shelving Rock Road at the intersection with the Hogtown Road. Motor vehicles found beyond the barrier could be ticketed.

** Essex Chain Lakes Complex: all roads are closed until the end of the spring mud season.

Black Mountain: The Black Mountain Trailhead gate off Pike Brook Road remains closed, but only adds 15 minutes to hike up Black Mountain or other destinations.

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

** Fish Creek Pond Campground Open: The DEC’s Fish Creek Pond Campground in Franklin County has opened for the season.

** Upper Saranac Lake Boat Launch: The Upper Saranac Lake Boat Launch is closed for major reconstruction. It is scheduled to reopen before Memorial Day Weekend 2015.

Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: The Connery Pond Road and its gate are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. Snowshoers and skier may use the road to access trails to Connery Pond, Lake Placid and Whiteface Landing. The Lake Clear Girl Scout Camp Road (aka the St. Germain Pond Road) and its gate are closed until the end of the spring mud season.

Kushaqua Tract Easement Lands: The Mountain Pond Road is closed to motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season.

William C. Whitney Wilderness: The Lake Lila Road and its gate are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season.

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: Barnes Pond Road and its gate are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the beginning of the 2015 hunting season. The D&H Road and its gate are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season.

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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

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

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