Thursday, April 9, 2015

Outdoor Conditions in the Adirondacks (Apr 9)

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; there will be some mixed precipitation, very high winds, and near zero wind chills on Saturday on summits.

SUN AND MOON: Sunrise Saturday will be at 6:20 am; sunset at 7:35 pm. Moon rise Saturday night will be at 2:20 am Sunday morning, and moon set at 12:32 pm, Sunday. There will be a Last Quarter Moon at 11:44 pm on Saturday night.

WINTER CONDITIONS PERSIST: Deep snow and ice remains in the central Adirondacks. Mixed precipitation is expected through Friday, especially in up-slope areas of the Western Adirondacks. Saturday will see very high winds (gusts over 55 mph) on summits with wind chill values near zero. Higher winds and temperatures in the 50s on Friday and Saturday and 60s on Sunday will begin to reduce the snowpack and could raise the levels of rivers and streams considerably. However, nighttime lows will remain in the 20s and 30s this weekend. There remains between 6 inches and four feet of snow around the region, with more in some higher elevation areas, and snowshoes continue to be needed everywhere in the central Adirondacks and at higher elevations elsewhere. Also, 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.

SUMMIT WIND AND COLD ADVISORY: Expect gusty winds through Friday and Saturday, with summit winds at 45 to 60 mph early Saturday morning, and higher gusts, especially at high elevations on western aspects. These winds will only slightly lessen to 40 to 55 mph on Saturday afternoon which will mean wind chill values near zero on summits on Saturday before winds move off Saturday night.

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.

TRAIL CONDITIONS: Hiking trails consist of firm snow softening by mid-day. Hard packed and well-traveled lower elevation areas may be icy in the mornings and steeper sections may require traction devices, but snow will soften by mid-day and require a switch to snowshoes. Visitors to the Eastern High Peaks are required to use snowshoes or skis.

RIVERS AND STREAMS RISING: Use caution near and while crossing rivers and streams this weekend. The snowpack remains very cold at higher elevations, but the Ausable River and Sacandaga watersheds are forecast to rise to near bank full by the end of the weekend. Rivers and streams will continue to rise through the coming week. Be advised that some stream crossings may no longer be cross-able, and snow bridges over streams may be unsafe. Larger rivers are below normal for this time of year. Checking local streamgages on the USGS website for waters where you intend to recreate.

SNOW COVER REPORT: Recent snows and cold weather have kept the snow pack mostly intact and added nearly a foot at the highest elevations. No additional accumulations are forecast. Snow depths at lower elevations generally range from a patchy 6 to 10 inches at the periphery of the Adirondack Park (south facing and open areas are mostly bare below about 2,000 feet) to one to two feet at lower elevations in the interior, and three or four feet at mid-elevations with four or five feet at above about 4,000 feet, although some south facing areas, especially where bedrock is exposed, may be bare. The snow depth at Marcy Dam (2,350 ft. elevation) is about 2 feet, Lake Colden (2,750 ft. elevation) has about three feet of snow. Snowshoes or skis are necessary, and carrying traction devices is recommended.

ICE REPORT: Rivers and streams are beginning to melt and rise, but lakes remain covered in ice with water and slush on top. Use extreme caution on ice at as conditions vary, especially at lower elevations, the southern Adirondacks, and over areas of current, and around inlets, outlets and near bubblers and moving water. Always check the thickness of ice frequently when traversing frozen waters.

LONG RANGE FORECAST: The coming week is expected to be mostly sunny and in the upper 50 to mid-60s with nighttime lows in the upper 30s and lower 40s until next Saturday, which is currently forecast to be rainy and with a high in the 50s.

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: Spring conditions will be found this weekend on backcountry ski trails. All trails remain skiable, with caution on the steeps which have generally fast. The Jackrabbit Trail has about an 8-inch base, and is skiable its entire length with the exception of the section along River Road in Lake Placid, on the Lake Placid Club golf course, and at the start of the trail off McKenzie Pond Road. Cover remains good top to bottom at Wright Peak and Marcy – there is still more than five feet of snow above Indian Falls. Conditions in Newcomb remain good. Phil Brown recently skied Dewey Mountain, over the summit of Mount Van Hoevenberg, and the Mr. Van Trail in the High Peaks Wilderness. His report can be found here.

AVALANCHE AWARENESS: Changing conditions, additional snows, and high winds this weekend mean that avalanche prone areas should not be skied or traversed without taking proper avalanche assessments and using proper safety gear – if you are unsure, don’t go. Watch for ice and snow falling from exposed, ledge areas and be aware of avalanche safety precautions. Two Saturdays ago two climbers triggered a wind slab avalanche in the upper end of the Trap Dike, in an area with a slope angle of approximately 30 degrees. Both climbers were partially buried, but were able to dig themselves out. See DEC’s Avalanche Preparation Webpage.

DOWNHILL SKI REPORT: This could be the last weekend, expect spring conditions. Big Tupper, Hickory and Oak Mountain have closed for the season and McCauley will only be open on Sunday for one last day (see details below). Gore has about 50% of their terrain open this weekend, but lifts are servicing only intermediate and expert terrain. They will be closed Monday-Thursday, April 13-16, and then weather permitting, are planning to re-open for Friday-Sunday, April 17-19 (that’s unlikely in our opinion). Whiteface will have about 50% of their terrain open, with a variety of beginner, intermediate and expert terrain open, although the Cloudsplitter Gondola has closed for the season. Whiteface had announced a tentative closing date of April 12, so call ahead after Sunday. McCauley will be open for Sunday, April 12 only with variable conditions, no grooming, and bare spots expected. No beginner hill will be available – intermediate to expert level only. There will only be one lift operating and no cafe and lounge, rentals or ski tuning available. The ski lodge will be open with restrooms, lunch tables and WiFi.

CROSS-COUNTRY FACILITIES: With the exception of Mt. Van Hoevenberg, where good conditions are still being reported, all cross-country ski areas will be CLOSED this weekend. Van Hoevenberg is closing Monday and Tuesday through the end of the season.

SNOWMOBILE TRAILS REPORT: snowmobiling can no longer be recommended and private trail systems have closed for the season. Snowmobile trails are closed in the Blue Mountain, Ferris Lake, Jessup River, Moose River Plains, Hammond Pond, Vanderwhacker Mountain, Wilcox Lake, DeBar Mountain, Saranac Lakes, Chazy Highlands, Taylor Ponds, and Eastern and Western Lake George Wild Forests, and the Kushaqua Tract, Sable Highlands, and Paul Smiths College Conservation Easement Lands. The D&H Road and its gate are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. In the Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands gates on the Clearing Road, Cave Hill Road, Fly Creek Road, Robbs Creek Road and the south end of the Perkins Clearing Road remain open for snowmobiling this weekend.

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.

ABNORMALLY DRY DROUGHT CONDITIONS: The U.S. Drought Monitor is reporting the entire Adirondacks are experiencing abnormally dry conditions.

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

** 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 will be reduced to one alternating lane starting Monday, April 6, 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.

** Colden Trap Dike: Two Saturdays ago two climbers triggered a wind slab avalanche in the upper end of the Trap Dike, in an area with a slope angle of approximately 30 degrees. Both climbers were partially buried, but were able to dig themselves out.

** Lake Colden – Avalanche Lake: Lake Colden and Colden and Avalanche lakes are crossable, but avoid inlets and outlets, especially at the outlet of Avalanche Lake, where winter travelers frequently fall through.

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

** Great Sacandaga Lake: The gates have been opened and the water has risen about a foot and is expected to be up about 3 feet by the weekend. Next week dock owners should protect docks from ice damage. There is expected to be ice for another two weeks on the 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 and snowmobile trails are closed.

** 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. Gates on the Clearing Road, Cave Hill Road, Fly Creek Road, Robbs Creek Road and the south end of the Perkins Clearing Road will remain open for snowmobiling as long as conditions allow.

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.

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

** Lake George Wild Forest (Western): Snowmobile trails are closed for the season, 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.

New Upper Hudson River Cross-Country Trail: DEC has opened a new cross-country trail along the Goodnow and Hudson rivers in Newcomb. The 4.2-mile loop begins on Goodnow Flow Road just before the Goodnow River where there is a parking lot for three or four cars. The new loop trail follows old logging roads and ATV trails and is recommended for intermediate and advanced beginner skiers (skiing the route counterclockwise is easier). Phil Brown recently skied the new trail. Vehicles that park on nearby lands posted by the Goodnow Flow Association are trespassing and may be towed. You can read about his trip here.

Essex Chain Lakes Complex: The Shadow Dam Gate which provides access to the Deer Pond Parking Area is closed and the road beyond is closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. The Chain Lakes Road North Gate which provides access to the Iron Bridge/Hudson River Parking Area is closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. The gate on the Chain Lakes Road in the southern portion of the complex near the Outer Gooley Club has also been closed. The Town of Indian Lake plows the road to the raft put-in site. The roads beyond will be closed to motor vehicle traffic until after 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

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. Snowshoers and skier may use the road but must not trespass on adjacent private lands.

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: Barnes Pond Road and its gate are closed to public motor vehicle traffice 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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