Saturday, January 14, 2012

New Contributor: Pete Nelson, Lost Brook Dispatches

Please join us in welcoming the Almanack‘s newest contributor, Pete Nelson. Pete has been a lover of the Adirondacks for 50 years since his family discovered Blue Mountain Lake in 1954 and made it a family summer destination. As the years have passed, Pete’s increasing love for unspoiled territory has changed his focus to wilder areas in the Central and Western Adirondacks and the High Peaks, although camping on Long Island remains a favorite. Pete recently purchased an in-holding in the Adirondacks and will be writing about his adventures exploring it. Readers of his Lost Brook Dispatches should know that some of the details of where it’s located will be changed to obscure its true location.

An avid backpacker, climber and bushwhacker, Pete has hiked extensively in most of the major mountain ranges of America and in a quest to immerse himself in the most remote areas of the park, Pete spends the vast majority of his time off trail. Pete’s wife Amy and kids join in all manner of crazy excursions.

Like every Adirondack lover Pete has a number of favorite private spots. “A certain perch at the top of Wallface, the otherworldly tarn lying between Allen and Redfield, a small waterfall north of the Sargent Ponds,” he told us, and most of all, “a lonely lost brook running through virgin forest in a mountainous cleft in the Central Adirondacks, far off the beaten path.”

When not in the Adirondacks Pete is a college math teacher, musician and professional stilt walker in Madison, Wisconsin.


Friday, January 13, 2012

This Week’s Adirondack Web Highlights

On Friday afternoons Adirondack Almanack compiles for our readers a collection of the week’s top weblinks. You can find all our weekly web round-ups here.

Subscribe! More than 7,500 people get Adirondack Almanack each day via RSS, E-Mail, or Twitter or Facebook updates. It’s a convenient way to get the latest news and information about the Adirondacks.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Adirondack Events This Weekend (Jan 13)

Visit the Adirondack Almanack every Friday to find out everything that’s happening around the Adirondacks.

The Almanack also provides weekly back-country conditions and hunting and fishing reports for those headed into the woods or onto the waters this weekend.

Region-wide Events This Weekend

Lake George Region Events

Lake Placid Region Events This Weekend

Old Forge Area Events This Weekend

Tupper Lake Region Events This Weekend


Friday, January 13, 2012

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories

Each Friday morning Adirondack Almanack compiles for our readers the previous week’s top stories. You can find all our weekly news round-ups here.

Subscribe! More than 7,500 people get Adirondack Almanack each day via RSS, E-Mail, or Twitter or Facebook updates. It’s a convenient way to get the latest news and information about the Adirondacks.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Adirondack Fish and Game Report (Jan 12)

Adirondack Almanack provides this weekly Hunting and Fishing Report each Thursday afternoon, year round. The Almanack also provides weekly backcountry recreation conditions reports for those headed into the woods or onto the waters.

Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Report Friday mornings on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1), WSLP (93.3) and the stations of North Country Public Radio.

SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

** indicates new or revised items.

** WINTER CONDITIONS
Winter conditions exist throughout the Adirondacks. Day time and night time temperatures are mostly below freezing, though much colder air is expected to arrive this weekend bringing temperatures into the single digits above zero during the day and below zero at night. There was considerable freezing rain and sleet on Thursday across the region, so expect conditions to be icy. Snow cover varies around the region with the most snow along the southern and eastern Adirondacks and the south central Adirondacks into the High Peaks. Wind chill on summits this weekend is expected to be as low as 20 below zero. Be prepared by wearing appropriate footwear and outerwear including a hat and gloves or mittens. Pack and use snowshoes and ice traction devices (cross country skis are not generally recommended in the backcountry at this time). Dress in layers of wool and/or fleece (Not Cotton!) clothing. Drink plenty of water and eat plenty of food to avoid hypothermia.

** SNOW DEPTH REPORT
Snow depths around the region vary, from more than a foot along the Tug Hill Plateau, 2 to 4 inches of snow in the lower elevations in the High Peaks area, with 12 inches or more in the higher elevations. There is 6 to 8 inches in Southeastern and South Central Adirondacks. Twelve inches of snow is being reported at the Lake Colden Interior Cabin; 8 inches at Lake Clear, 5 inches at Paul Smiths, 4-6 inches at lower elevations in the High Peaks and along the Northern and Eastern slopes of Adirondacks, 2-4 inches around Old Forge, Cranberry Lake, and Long Lake; 6-10 inches in the Moose River Plains with up to a foot toward Inlet, and an 5-8 inches in around Schroon Lake, Northern Warren County, Speculator, and Indian Lake. Portions of the Adirondacks, especially across the Southern and South Central regions could see an additional 4-6 inches on Friday. The National Weather Service snow cover map provides a good gauge of snow cover around the region, albeit somewhat under-reporting actual snow accumulations.

** ICE ON WATER
Ice has formed on lakes and ponds and the smaller bays of larger lakes. Ice fisherman, skiers, skaters and others have begun accessing many waters. 8 to 9 inches of ice are reported on Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden and 5 to 7 inches on many smaller lakes at lower elevations. there is thin ice at the north end of Schroon Lake; on South Bay on Lake Champlain; and at Huddle Bay on Lake George. 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.

** MOST SNOWMOBILE TRAILS REMAIN CLOSED
Most of the region’s snowmobile trails remain closed, the best opportunity to ride this weekend will be in the Moose River Plains and toward Inlet which has begun grooming (although Indian Lake has not). Perkins Clearing is not recommended at this time. Each individual club has the final authority as to whether to open their trails or not and snowmobilers should show restraint in areas with insufficient snow cover to avoid damaging the trails. Also, a reminder to respect the landowners who have given permission for trails to cross their land. Check with local clubs before venturing out. A map of New York State Snowmobile Association Member Clubs by county, complete with contact information, may be found here.

** WARREN-SARATOGA COUNTY SNOWMOBILER WARNING
The railroad right-of-way from North River in the Town of Johnsburg in Warren County to the City of Saratoga Springs is now an active railroad and snowmobile access to it has been eliminated. The Thurman Connection snowmobile club has announced that several property owners who’d previously agreed to allow trails to circumvent the closed railroad route have backed out. The loss of the trail will limit access from Warren County to the trails near Speculator and Old Forge. Club officials hope to find a solution before next winter. Questions about the railroad right-of-way should be directed to Steve Torrico, Saratoga North Creek Railway Manager, at 518-251-3959, or email: torricos@iowapacific.com.

** SNOWMOBILE SAFETY WEEK BEGINS MONDAY
Snowmobiling is enjoyed by over 4 million people across the United States and Canada. While, the sport is safe and enjoyable if done properly and with respect, the excitement of snowmobiling may occasionally turn into tragedy. Injuries and deaths that are related to snowmobiling can be prevented. Frequently reported contributing factors in accidents include excessive speed, drowning, unsafe operation, inattention, and operating under the influence of alcohol. In fact, over 50% of snowmobile-related fatalities involve intoxicated operators.
The purpose of International Snowmobile Safety Week is to expose people to safe snowmobiling practices and to demonstrate how operating safely can prevent mishaps. Learn more online.

** NON_RESIDENT SNOWMOBILE REGISTRATION ONLINE
Non-residents of New York State who have snowmobiles registered in their home states may now register their sleds in NY online. New York registration is required to operate the snowmobile on New York State’s 10,500 miles of trails. A temporary NYS registration is issued at the end of the transaction for immediate operation of the snowmobile in NYS. New York State residents cannot use this to register their sleds yet, that is expected to be implemented by the Department of Motor Vehicles in the near future. Registrants who join a NYS Snowmobile Association club first, reduce their registration cost from $100 (non-club member) to just $45 per sled (club member).

** MOOSE RIVER PLAINS
Currently there are 4 to 6 inches of snow on the roads in the Moose River plains, with the higher amounts toward Inlet. Motor vehicles (cars & trucks) should not be using the road system. There is not enough snow at this time for groomers to operate on the snowmobile trail system at the Indian Lake side, but groomer are operating in the Inlet area. DEC Region 5 has updated the Moose River Plains Wild Forest map.

** DEC SEEKS INFORMATION ON SICK OR DEAD DEER
The DEC is asking the public to report any instances of deer appearing sick or acting abnormally. DEC is only investigating deer that appear to have died from unknown causes and not those that were killed by a vehicle, the agency announced today. Anyone who sees a white-tailed deer acting abnormally or who finds a dead deer that was not struck by a vehicle is asked to report the animal to the nearest DEC regional office or to an Environmental Conservation Officer or Forest Ranger. People should not handle or eat any deer that appears sick or acts abnormally. Sightings of sick, dying or dead deer should be reported to the nearest DEC regional office or an Environmental Conservation Officer or Forest Ranger. To locate your nearest DEC office, see www.dec.ny.gov/about/50230.html. [Read More]

** KNOW THE LATEST WEATHER
Check the weather before entering the woods or heading onto the waters and be aware of weather conditions at all times. The National Weather Service (NWS) at Burlington and Albany cover the Adirondack region.

** Fire Danger: LOW

FIREWOOD BAN IN EFFECT
Due to the possibility of spreading invasive species that could devastate northern New York forests (such as Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Wooly Adeljid and Asian Longhorn Beetle), DEC prohibits moving untreated firewood more than 50 miles from its source. Forest Rangers have been ticketing violators of the firewood ban. More details and frequently asked questions at the DEC website.

STATE FOREST PHOTO CONTEST WINNERS ANNOUNCED
DEC’s Division of Lands and Forests has announced the winners of the 2011 “Celebrating New York’s Forests” photo contest. More than 530 photos were submitted and judged. The winners’ and semifinalists’ photographs for each of the five categories: “Enjoying the Forest,” “Trees Where We Live,” “Forest Products,” “State-owned Forests,” and “Commissioner’s Choice,” can be viewed by going to the Celebrating New York’s Forests – Photo Contest webpage on DEC’s website.

ADIRONDACK FISHING REPORTS

** Ice Fishing Has Begun
Ice fishing season has begun on smaller lakes and ponds and the the smaller bays of larger lakes. Ice depths are reported on small lakes between 5 and 7 inches around the region. There is thin ice at the north end of Schroon Lake; on South Bay on Lake Champlain; and at Huddle Bay on Lake George. Please use extreme caution. Check the depth of ice before crossing, avoid inlets and outlets. Ice on or near running water should be avoided. Remember, ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. The Almanack covered the beginning of the hard-water angling season on Thursday.

** Water Temperatures
Water temperatures in many of the Adirondack waters have dropped into the lower 30s, colder water temperatures can be expected in higher elevation waters. Lake Champlain water temperature is 38 degrees.

DEC Issues New Statewide Fishing Map
DEC’s Bureau of Fisheries has issued a new, free color map for freshwater fishing. The I FISH NY Guide to Freshwater Fishing in New York State provides information on over 320 NY lakes and ponds and 112 river and streams. The large 36″ x 37.5″ map folds to 3.875″ x 9″ size. One side provides a map of New York state identifying locations of fishing waters recommended by DEC regional staff. The other side provides tables with details on each water, including species, access, campsites and permits or other restrictions. Anglers will also find important phone numbers and e-mail addresses for various contacts, along with a quick response (QR) code providing a smartphone link to the current New York Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide. Color identification photos and descriptions of popular sportfish in New York are also provided. To receive a map in the mail, e-mail a request to DEC at: fwfish@gw.dec.state.ny.us. Requests by e-mail should include the name and complete address of the recipient, as well as NY Fishing Map in the subject line.

Latest Annual Fisheries Report Now Online
In the newly released 2010 Bureau of Fisheries Annual Report includes reports on the yearly activities and research surveys conducted by DEC fisheries staff during the 2010-2011 fiscal year. The report includes summaries on our fish-stocking and hatchery efforts, I FISH NY outreach activities, recreational fisheries management angler surveys and population surveys, and much more.

Special Fishing Seasons Remain Open
The statewide trout season is closed but there are some exceptions to this regulation. The catch-and-release areas on the West Branch of the Ausable River, Saranac River and the Battenkill remain open as well as a few ponds such as Mountain Pond, Lake Clear & Lake Colby in Franklin County; and Connery Pond in Essex County. Lake Champlain and sections of its tributaries are open all year for trout and salmon fishing. To find out which waters near you still have trout fishing opportunities, check the special fishing regulations by County.

Currently Open Fishing Seasons
Open seasons include Pike, Pickerel, Tiger Muskie, Walleye (those seasons close March 15 and reopen May 15). Yellow Perch, Crappie, and Sunfish seasons are open all year. For catch and size limits view the freshwater fishing regulations online.

Personal Flotation Devices Required
Boaters are reminded all persons aboard a pleasure vessel less than 21 feet regardless of age must wear a personal flotation device from November 1st to May 1st.

Lake Clear
The gate for the road to Lake Clear Girl Scout Camp is open, but due to the condition of the road until further notice it should only be used by pickup trucks, SUVs and other vehicles with high clearance. This road is used to access Meadow and St. Germain Ponds.

Kings Bay Wildlife Management Area
The gate to access Catfish Bay has been closed. Road improvement work and logging to improve habitat are underway.

Use Baitfish Wisely
Anglers using fish for bait are reminded to be careful with how these fish are used and disposed of. Careless use of baitfish is one of the primary means by which non-native species and fish diseases are spread from water to water. Unused baitfish should be discarded in an appropriate location on dry land. A “Green List” of commercially available baitfish species that are approved for use in New York State has now been established in regulation. A discussion of these regulations and how to identify approved baitfish species is available online. Personal collection and use of baitfish other than those on the “Green List” is permitted, but only on the water from which they were collected and they may not be transported overland by motorized vehicle. Anglers are reminded that new regulations for transportation of baitfish are currently under consideration, and these proposed regulations can be viewed online.

Preventing Invasive Species and Fish Diseases
Anglers are reminded to be sure to dry or disinfect their fishing and boating equipment, including waders and boots, before entering a new body of water. This is the only way to prevent the spread of potentially damaging invasive plant and animal species (didymo and zebra mussels) and fish diseases (Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) and whirling disease). Methods to clean and disinfect fishing gear can be found online.

Health Advisories on Fish
The NYSDOH has issued the 2010-2011 advisories on eating sportfish and game. Some of fish and game contain chemicals at levels that may be harmful to human health. See the DEC webpage on Fish Health Advisories for more information and links to the Department of Health information.

ADIRONDACK HUNTING REPORTS

Sportsmen & Outdoor Recreation Legislative Day
The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association has set a date of Tuesday, March 20, 2012 for the 3rd Annual Sportsmen & Outdoor Recreation Legislative Awareness Day. It will take place from 9:00am to 1:00pm in the “Well” of the State Legislative Office Building in Albany. Sponsored by NYSRPA and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb the event focuses on lobbying around 2nd Amendment issues and exhibits and presentations by advocates, including a keynote address by Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President and CEO of the National Rifle Association.

** DEC Amends Chronic Wasting Disease Regulations
The first case of CWD in the state of Maryland was confirmed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources last year. In response, DEC has amended its Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) regulations, effective immediately, to prohibit the importation of the folhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.giflowing parts of deer taken in Maryland: brain, eyes, spinal cord, tonsils, intestinal tract, spleen or retropharyngeal lymph nodes. The movement of infectious material is believed to be one route of transmission. DEC advises hunters not to consume the meat of any animal that acts abnormal and to exercise precautions when butchering animals, such as using rubber or latex gloves. Additional information about CWD can be found at the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance’s website.

Santa Clara Tract Conservation Easement Lands
General public access has reopened on the Santa Clara Easement Lands.

DEC Tickets Dozens for Deer Poaching
Environmental Conservation Officers (ECO) worked set up patrols to target illegal deer shooting with the use of an artificial light, a practice commonly known as deer jacking and ended-up ticketing dozens in the stings. (Read More).

Winter Wild Turkey Flock Survey
Visit DEC’s Winter Wild Turkey Flock Survey (http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/48756.html) webpage and start recording observations of turkey flocks to help monitor their status and health. Just print a turkey-sighting form, record the number of turkeys you see in a flock from January through March, and send in your results to the address noted on the form at the end the survey period. In 2011, more than 640 reports were received, resulting in 10,200 birds counted in 49 of the 62 counties in New York State.

2011 Deer Harvest Update
The 2011 hunting year started out low compared to last year, with 5% less harvest in mid-November and 20% less harvest in the opening week of the Southern Zone regular season. However, harvest picked up during Thanksgiving week, boosting results to align more closely with results of the 2010 harvest at this time of year.

2011 Bear Harvest Update
The 2011 season is quite different from last year, with preliminary harvests down in the Northern Zone but at record levels in the Southern Zone. This year, new regulations opened bear hunting in eastern New York, ranging from Westchester County to Washington County. Hunters in the new hunting areas have taken more than 40 bears so far. Still, even without these additional bears, the preliminary take in the southeastern New York region may become one of the top harvests ever recorded. In central and western New York, harvest is topping around 300 bears, which has already shattered the previous record of 189 bears taken in 2008.

5-Year Deer Management Plan
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that it has adopted a five-year deer management plan. The final plan, which has been revised based on public comment on a previously released draft version, is now available online. DEC has prepared an Assessment of Public Comment as a brief overview of what seemed to be the principal issues identified with the draft plan, and including their responses to those issues.

Lewis Preserve WMA
The Brandy Brook has jumped its bank creating a braided stream channel across the main foot trail adjacent to the existing foot bridge. Users should use caution while attempting to cross this new stream channel as it may be deep and swift moving.

Kings Bay WMA
The access road to the parking area off Point Au Fer Road is repaired and passable.

Small Game Seasons Open
A number of small game seasons are now open including: Grey, Black and Fox Squirrel, Crow, Snipe, Rail, Gallinule, Ruffed Grouse, Cottontail Rabbit, Pheasant, Woodcock, Coyote, and Varying Hare. Fox, Raccoon, Skunk, Opossum and Weasel seasons are now open. Bobcat season is open in all Region 5 WMUs, except 5R which does not have a season. See the DEC Small Game webpage for more information on seasons and regulations.

Snow Goose Season Closed
In the Northeastern Waterfowl Hunting Zone Snow Goose season has closed, it reopens February 24 and closes April 15. Note that the boundary between the Northeastern and the Southeastern Waterfowl Hunting Zones now runs east along Route 29 to Route 22, north along Route 22 to Route 153, east along Route 153 to the New York – Vermont boundary.

Some Trapping Seasons Closed
Fisher and Martin seasons are now closed in all Region 5 WMUs; Bobcat season is closed in all Region 5 WMUs except in 5S and 5T where it closes February 15; Mink and Muskrat season closes April 15 in all Region 5 WMUs except 5R, 5S & 5T where it closes April 7; Coyote, Red Fox, Gray Fox, Raccoon, Skunk, Opossum and Weasel season closes February 15 in all Region 5 WMUS. The use of bait or lure is prohibited with body gripping traps set on land between December 11 and February 15 in all Region 5 WMUs, except in WMUs 5R, 5S & 5T. Otter season closes April 7 in all Region 5 WMUs except 5S and 5T where it closes February 28 and in 5R where there is no trapping season. Beaver season closes April 7 in all Region 5 WMUs.

——————–
Warnings and announcements drawn from DEC, NWS, NOAA, USGS, and other sources. Detailed Adirondack Park hunting, fishing, and trapping information can be found at DEC’s webpages. A DEC map of the Adirondack Park can also be found online [pdf].

The DEC Habitat/Access Stamp is available for $5 at all outlets where sporting licenses are sold, on-line and via telephone at 1-866-933-2257. Stamp proceeds support the DEC’s efforts to conserve habitat and increase public access for fish and wildlife related recreation. A Habitat/Access Stamp is not required to hunt, fish or trap, nor do you have to purchase a sporting license to buy a habitat stamp.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Jan 12)

This announcement is for general use – local conditions may vary and are subject to sometimes drastic changes.

Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Report Friday mornings on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1), WSLP (93.3) and the stations of North Country Public Radio.

The Adirondack Almanack also publishes a weekly Adirondack Hunting and Fishing Report.

SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

** indicates new or revised items.

** WINTER CONDITIONS
Winter conditions exist throughout the Adirondacks. Day time and night time temperatures are mostly below freezing, though much colder air is expected to arrive this weekend bringing temperatures into the single digits above zero during the day and below zero at night. There was considerable freezing rain and sleet on Thursday across the region, so expect conditions to be icy. Snow cover varies around the region with the most snow along the southern and eastern Adirondacks and the south central Adirondacks into the High Peaks. Wind chill on summits this weekend is expected to be as low as 20 below zero. Be prepared by wearing appropriate footwear and outerwear including a hat and gloves or mittens. Pack and use snowshoes and ice traction devices (cross country skis are not generally recommended in the backcountry at this time). Dress in layers of wool and/or fleece (Not Cotton!) clothing. Drink plenty of water and eat plenty of food to avoid hypothermia.

** SNOW DEPTH REPORT
Snow depths around the region vary, from more than a foot along the Tug Hill Plateau, 2 to 4 inches of snow in the lower elevations in the High Peaks area, with 12 inches or more in the higher elevations. There is 6 to 8 inches in Southeastern and South Central Adirondacks. Twelve inches of snow is being reported at the Lake Colden Interior Cabin; 8 inches at Lake Clear, 5 inches at Paul Smiths, 4-6 inches at lower elevations in the High Peaks and along the Northern and Eastern slopes of Adirondacks, 2-4 inches around Old Forge, Cranberry Lake, and Long Lake; 6-10 inches in the Moose River Plains with up to a foot toward Inlet, and an 5-8 inches in around Schroon Lake, Northern Warren County, Speculator, and Indian Lake. Portions of the Adirondacks, especially across the Southern and South Central regions could see an additional 4-6 inches on Friday. The National Weather Service snow cover map provides a good gauge of snow cover around the region, albeit somewhat under-reporting actual snow accumulations.

** ICE ON WATER
Ice has formed on lakes and ponds and the smaller bays of larger lakes. Ice fisherman, skiers, skaters and others have begun accessing many waters. 8 to 9 inches of ice are reported on Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden and 5 to 7 inches on many smaller lakes at lower elevations. There is thin ice at the north end of Schroon Lake; on South Bay on Lake Champlain; and at Huddle Bay on Lake George. 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.

** DOWNHILL SKI REPORT
Thursday’s snowfall and recent below-freezing temperatures, mean that this Martin Luther King weekend should see some busy slopes. Whiteface and Gore Mountain are open with top to bottom skiing (Gore with about half of their trails; Whiteface is reporting 75% of trails open). With the exception of Big Tupper and Hickory in Warrensburg, all the regions downhill mountains are open with some limited skiing. Ski with caution as many trails still have thin cover. Adirondack Almanack has also published previews for the cross-county, backcountry, and downhill ski seasons here.

** CROSS-COUNTRY & BACK-COUNTRY SKI REPORT
The region’s cross-country ski areas will all be open this weekend, albeit on a limited number of trails and thin cover, except for Lapland Lake, which would be your best ski area bet. The Lake Placid area has about 4 to 6 inches of snow so the Whiteface Highway is skiable and some sections of the Jackrabbit Trail are skiable with caution. The peninsula section from Saranac Avenue to the Whiteface Club is a good bet. Marcy Dam Truck Trail not skiable, but Meadow Lane to the summer parking lot is reported barely skiable, as is the Main Loop at Henry’s Woods on Bear Cub Lane in lake Placid. Newcomb Lake Road to Camp Santanoni is skiable as are the trails at the Paul Smith’s VIC where five inches of snow make that a good choice as is the Hayes Brook and Fish Pond truck trails. Although there have been a few die-hards skiing the thin cover of some of the new slides, there is generally not enough snow cover yet in the High Peaks. Updated cross-country and back-country ski conditions in and around the High Peaks are reported by the Adirondack Ski Touring Council online.

** ICE CLIMBING REPORT
Early climbing routes are in, the popular ones reported crowded. The Chapel Pond canyon climbs are in and Chapel Pond is frozen, but avoid the inlet and outlets areas. Cascade Falls (reported to be improved following Tropical Storm Irene widening) is claimable. There is decent climbing reported on the North Side of Pitchoff at Multi-Gulley, Chillar Pillar and in the southern Adirondacks / Lake George region. Roaring Brook should be in soon, but there are some climbs now at Poke-O-Moonshine, Mineville Pillar, Underwood Canyon. No climbing reported yet at Pharaoh Mountain or on the North Face of Gothics, but the Palisades on Champlain is being climbed. Updated climbing conditions are available online via Adirondack Rock and River Guide Service.

** 16th ANNUAL ADIRONDACK INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAINFEST
The 16th Annual Adirondack International Mountainfest, hosted by The Mountaineer in Keene Valley will take place from January 13-15. Mountainfest is an annual celebration of ice climbing and mountaineering, featuring guest athletes who entertain us with tales of climbing adventures, instructional clinics taught by visiting climbers and local guides, demo gear, and a chance to gather with the climbing community. This year will feature climbing guides Zoe Hart, Emilie Drinkwater, Bayard Russell and Jim Shimberg. A full schedule, a list of classes and instructors, and registration information is available online.

** MOST SNOWMOBILE TRAILS REMAIN CLOSED
Most of the region’s snowmobile trails remain closed, the best opportunity to ride this weekend will be in the Moose River Plains and toward Inlet which has begun grooming (although Indian Lake has not). Perkins Clearing is not recommended at this time. Each individual club has the final authority as to whether to open their trails or not and snowmobilers should show restraint in areas with insufficient snow cover to avoid damaging the trails. Also, a reminder to respect the landowners who have given permission for trails to cross their land. Check with local clubs before venturing out. A map of New York State Snowmobile Association Member Clubs by county, complete with contact information, may be found here.

** WARREN-SARATOGA COUNTY SNOWMOBILER WARNING
The railroad right-of-way from North River in the Town of Johnsburg in Warren County to the City of Saratoga Springs is now an active railroad and snowmobile access to it has been eliminated. The Thurman Connection snowmobile club has announced that several property owners who’d previously agreed to allow trails to circumvent the closed railroad route have backed out. The loss of the trail will limit access from Warren County to the trails near Speculator and Old Forge. Club officials hope to find a solution before next winter. Questions about the railroad right-of-way should be directed to Steve Torrico, Saratoga North Creek Railway Manager, at 518-251-3959, or email: torricos@iowapacific.com.

** SNOWMOBILE SAFETY WEEK BEGINS MONDAY
Snowmobiling is enjoyed by over 4 million people across the United States and Canada. While, the sport is safe and enjoyable if done properly and with respect, the excitement of snowmobiling may occasionally turn into tragedy. Injuries and deaths that are related to snowmobiling can be prevented. Frequently reported contributing factors in accidents include excessive speed, drowning, unsafe operation, inattention, and operating under the influence of alcohol. In fact, over 50% of snowmobile-related fatalities involve intoxicated operators.
The purpose of International Snowmobile Safety Week is to expose people to safe snowmobiling practices and to demonstrate how operating safely can prevent mishaps. Learn more online.

** NON_RESIDENT SNOWMOBILE REGISTRATION ONLINE
Non-residents of New York State who have snowmobiles registered in their home states may now register their sleds in NY online. New York registration is required to operate the snowmobile on New York State’s 10,500 miles of trails. A temporary NYS registration is issued at the end of the transaction for immediate operation of the snowmobile in NYS. New York State residents cannot use this to register their sleds yet, that is expected to be implemented by the Department of Motor Vehicles in the near future. Registrants who join a NYS Snowmobile Association club first, reduce their registration cost from $100 (non-club member) to just $45 per sled (club member).

** DEC SEEKS INFORMATION ON SICK OR DEAD DEER
The DEC is asking the public to report any instances of deer appearing sick or acting abnormally. DEC is only investigating deer that appear to have died from unknown causes and not those that were killed by a vehicle, the agency announced today. Anyone who sees a white-tailed deer acting abnormally or who finds a dead deer that was not struck by a vehicle is asked to report the animal to the nearest DEC regional office or to an Environmental Conservation Officer or Forest Ranger. People should not handle or eat any deer that appears sick or acts abnormally. Sightings of sick, dying or dead deer should be reported to the nearest DEC regional office or an Environmental Conservation Officer or Forest Ranger. To locate your nearest DEC office, see www.dec.ny.gov/about/50230.html. [Read More]

HURRICANE IRENE DAMAGE TO TRAILS
Backcountry users may encounter missing bridges, eroded trails and blow down when entering the backcountry in the Eastern High Peaks area. Pay close attention as many trails have been rerouted to avoid heavily damaged sections and low water crossings have been created near the location of many of the missing bridges. Caution: Eroded drainages can be mistaken for trails. Users should be able to navigate by map and compass. Plan accordingly and be prepared to turn back when conditions warrant. DEC updated closed trail map can be found online [pdf]. Full coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Irene is available here.

** WATERS RUNNING AT NORMAL LEVELS
Ice has formed on slack waters. The region’s rivers and streams are generally running at or just above normal for this time of year. Consult the latest streamgage data if you our venturing onto the region’s waters.

HUNTING AND TRAPPING SEASONS OPEN
Some small game hunting and trapping seasons remain open. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters and trappers on trails. Recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare. Hikers may want to wear bright colors as an extra precaution and now would be a good time to keep pets leashed and on the trail. Adirondack Almanack issues weekly Adirondack Fish and Game Reports each Thursday evening for those practicing these traditional sports.

** KNOW THE LATEST WEATHER
Check the weather before entering the woods and be aware of weather conditions at all times — if weather worsens, head out of the woods. 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

ACCIDENTS HAPPEN, BE PREPARED
Wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Hikers and campers should check up-to-date forecasts before entering the backcountry as conditions at higher elevations will likely be more severe. All users should bring flashlight, first aid kit, map and compass, extra food, plenty of water and clothing. Be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods and always inform others of your itinerary.

FIREWOOD BAN IN EFFECT
Due to the possibility of spreading invasive species that could devastate northern New York forests (such as Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Wooly Adeljid and Asian Longhorn Beetle), DEC prohibits moving untreated firewood more than 50 miles from its source. Forest Rangers have been ticketing violators of the firewood ban. More details and frequently asked questions at the DEC website.

PRACTICE ‘LEAVE NO TRACE’
All backcountry users should learn and practice the Leave No Trace philosophy: Plan ahead and be prepared, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife, and be considerate of others. More information is available online.

CAVE AND MINE CLOSURES
DEC has closed the Eagle Cave between October 15 and April 30 to protect hibernating bats. White nose syndrome, the fungal disease that’s wiping out bat populations across the northeast has spread to at least 32 cave and mine bat hibernation sites across the New York state according to a recent survey. Populations of some bat species are declining in these caves and mines by 90 percent. White nose was first discovered in upstate New York in the winter of 2006-2007 and is now confirmed in at least 11 states.

STATE FOREST PHOTO CONTEST WINNERS ANNOUNCED
DEC’s Division of Lands and Forests has announced the winners of the 2011 “Celebrating New York’s Forests” photo contest. More than 530 photos were submitted and judged. The winners’ and semifinalists’ photographs for each of the five categories: “Enjoying the Forest,” “Trees Where We Live,” “Forest Products,” “State-owned Forests,” and “Commissioner’s Choice,” can be viewed by going to the Celebrating New York’s Forests – Photo Contest webpage on DEC’s website.

ADIRONDACK CONDITIONS BY REGION

NORTHVILLE PLACID TRAIL

Blowdown Report: Blowdown has now been removed from the NPTrail with the exception of West Canada Creek north to Sucker Brook Trail and from Tarbell Rd. trailhead north to Shattuck Clearing. Those areas still have some major blowdowns but are passable. The rest of the trail may have a few blowdowns but in general is clear.

West Canada Creek: The bridge over West Canada Creek on the Northville-Placid Trail was washed away this spring. The 45 foot span bridge had replaced one that was lost in 2001. Crossing West Canada Creek now requires very careful crossing that may be intimidating to some hikers and may be impossible this weekend. Bridge replacement is expected now expected begin this spring and be completed by fall of 2012.

Lake Durant to Long Lake: About 4 miles north of the Tirrell Pond lean-to, a bridge is out that crosses Chick-a-dee Creek in the middle of a former lumber camp clearing. It may be possible to cross on the remains of the bridge in low water situations.

ADIRONDACK CANOE ROUTE / NORTHERN FOREST CANOE TRAIL

Ice has formed making travel on the region’s waterways impossible.

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

** Snow and Ice: Winter conditions exist throughout the Adirondacks. Day time and night time temperatures are mostly below freezing, though much colder air is expected to arrive this weekend bringing temperatures into the single digits above zero during the day and below zero at night. There was considerable freezing rain and sleet on Thursday across the region, so expect conditions to be icy. Rocks, sticks and vegetation are above or just below the snow. Cross country skiing is not recommended until there is additional snow cover. Snowshoes are not necessary or recommended for the lower elevations. However snowshoes should be carried as they are recommended, though not required, to be used in the higher elevations. Traction devices may be needed for icy conditions found on trails in lower elevations and on open summits. Wind chill on summits this weekend is expected to be as low as 20 below zero. Currently there are 2 to 4 inches of snow on the ground in the lower elevations; the caretaker reports 12 inches of snow at the Lake Colden Interior Cabin.

** Marcy Dam Crossing Reroute: The new low water crossing below Marcy Dam (the reroute created due to the washing away of the footbridge over Marcy Dam) currently consists of well-packed snow and is usable. Hikers can also use the Marcy Dam Truck Trail from South Meadows Trailhead to access the trails on the east side of Marcy Brook. The Marcy Dam Bridge replacement will not begin until Spring at least.

** South Meadow Road: The South Meadow Road is closed to motor vehicles at this time. Vehicles may be parked at the end of the road by the barriers, but do not block entryways as emergency equipment may need to access the road.

** Corey’s Road: People accessing the Western High Peaks using the Corey’s Road should be alert for logging trucks. Timber operations will occur throughout the winter at Ampersand Park which is located at the very end of Corey’s Road.

DEC Closed Trails Map: DEC updated closed trail map is available online [pdf]. The trails depicted on the map will remain close through the winter. The opening of these trails will be evaluated next spring.

Deer Brook Flume – Snow Mountain: The low water route through the Deer Brook Flume on the Deer Brook Trail to Snow Mountain remains impassable due to severe erosion.

Duck Hole: The Roaring Brook Bridge near Duck Hole is out. One side of the Duck Hole Dam has washed away and the pond has dewatered. The bridge over the dam had been previously removed due to its deteriorating condition. A low water crossing (ford) has been marked below the dam near the lean-to site. This crossing will not be possible during periods of high water. Note: This affects the Bradley Pond Trail and not the Northville Placid Trail.

Adirondack Mountain Reserve Closed Trails: The first (northernmost) cross over trail between the East River Trail and the West River Trail in the Adirondack Mountain Reserve remains closed. This affects access to the W.A. White Trail to Lower Wolf Jaw. The alternative is to approach via the Deer Brook trailhead (although not through Deer Brook Flume, see note below). The bridge will be rebuilt next spring a few yards downstream. The other four cross over trails and bridges are open and can be used to travel between the East River and West River Trails.

Johns Brook Valley: The Southside Trail from the Garden Trailhead to John’s Brook Outpost remains closed due to landslides. The trail will remain close through the winter. The opening of this trail will be evaluated next spring. Due to the significant erosion caused by Ore Bed Brook the Ore Bed Brook Trail from John’s Brook Valley to the Range Trail (between Saddleback and Gothics) is open but may not be recognizable. Pay close attention to trail markers and watch for reroutes.

Cold Brook Trail: The Cold Brook Pass Trail between Lake Colden and Indian Pass remains closed. The trail will remain close through the winter. The opening of this trail will be evaluated next spring.

Dix Mountain Wilderness- Clear Pond: The Clear Pond Gate is closed. Hikers, skiers, and snowshoers must park in the area near the gate and hike or ski one mile to the trailhead.

Elk Lake-Marcy Trail: The bridge is out in Marcy Swamp on the Elk Lake-Marcy Trail. Also there is light blowdown between Marcy Swamp and Panther Gorge Lean-to.

Klondike Trail: The bridge near South Meadow Road on the Klondike Trail is out. The Mr. Van Trail and the Marcy Truck Trail will need to be used as a detour to reach South Meadow Road. The Mr. Van Trail is clear of blowdown between the lean-to and the Klondike Notch Trail, however there are a number of bridges out.

Feldspar Lean-to and Lake Arnold Trail: There is heavy blowdown on the trail between Feldspar Lean-to and Lake Arnold.

Indian Pass: The Indian Pass Trail is clear of blowdown to the Wall Face Bridge, but the Wall Face Bridge is out and the Henderson Bridge is damaged. All bridges encountered on the Indian Pass Trail from Upper Works are gone, the trail has been rerouted to low water crossing in many locations.

Calkins Creek Horse Trail: The Calkins Creek Horse Trail has two bridges out, making it impassable for horse drawn wagons and difficult for horses.

Dix Mountain Wilderness: The Carry Trail from Adirondack Mountain Reserve to the Colvin Range Trail contains some blowdown. The Colvin Range Trail from the summit Blake Peak south to Pinnacle and beyond remains closed.

Giant Mountain Wilderness: Beaver activity has flooded the North Trail to Giant Mountain from 9N just past the lean-to.

Hurricane Mountain Wilderness: The Jay Mountain Road between Jay Mountain Wilderness and the Hurricane Mountain Wilderness is open at this time, but is a seasonal road that is not maintained in the winter. The O’Toole Road is a seasonal road that is not maintained in the winter.

McKenzie Mountain Wilderness: Blowdown remains the McKenzie Mountain Trail above the intersection with the Jack Rabbit trail. The Connery Pond Truck Trail has been cleared and washouts fixed. A winter gate has been installed that is closed when it snows. Those accessing Whiteface Landing when snow is present should park at the newly developed and paved parking area along Route 86 immediately west of the bridge over the West Branch of the Ausable. A trail connects the parking area and Connery Pond Road.

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

Black River Wild Forest: The Haskell-West River Road along the West Canada Creek from Route 8 into the Black River Wild Forest is closed with no current timetable for reopening (though it is likely to reopen next year).

Eagle Cave in Jessup River Wild Forest: DEC has closed the Eagle Cave between October 15 and April 30 to protect hibernating bats.

** Moose River Plains: Currently there are 4 to 6 inches of snow on the roads, more towards Inlet. Motor vehicles (cars & trucks) should not be using the road system. There is not enough snow at this time for groomers to operate on the snowmobile trail system on in the Indian Lake end but groomers are operating on the Inlet side. DEC Region 5 has updated the Moose River Plains Wild Forest map.

** Perkins Clearing Easement Lands: Currently there are 2-3 inches of snow on the roads. Motor vehicles (cars & trucks) should not be using the road system. There is not enough snow at this time for groomers to operate on the snowmobile trail system.

Sargent Ponds Wild Forest: The South Castle Rock Trail is clear of blowdown. The Upper Sargent Pond Trail beyond Castle Rock has some blowdown. The Outlet Bay Lean-to on Raquette Lake is damaged and in poor condition from a tree fallen on its roof.

Silver Lake Wilderness: There is heavy blowdown on the Northville Placid Trail between Benson and Silver Lake.

West Canada Lakes: Two through hikers on the Northvillle Placid Trail report plenty of blowdown north of Spruce Lake and also from Stephens Pond to Lake Durant.

West Canada Creek: The bridge over West Canada Creek on the Northville-Placid Trail was washed away this spring. The 45 foot span bridge had replaced one that was lost in 2001. Crossing West Canada Creek now requires very careful crossing that may be intimidating to some hikers. Bridge replacement is expected to begin next spring.

Wolf Lake: The Wolf Lake Landing Road from McKeever on Route 28 east toward Woodhull Lake is passable only with high clearance vehicles.

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

** Santanoni Historic Preserve: Martin Luther King holiday weekend (January 14-16) will be the first of three Winter Weekend events to be held at historic Camp Santanoni this season. Cross-country skiers and snowshoers will be able to access the Gate Lodge, the Main Lodge and the Artist’s Studio, view interpretative displays, and take interpretive tours. The Winter Weekend events are being hosted by DEC, Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH), the town of Newcomb and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s (ESF) Adirondack Interpretive Center. AARCH staff will staff the Artist’s Studio, which will serve as a warming hut with a fire and hot beverages, and provide tours of the Main Lodge. The Adirondack Interpretive Center will provide snowshoes to lend to visitors at the Gate Lodge. Events will also be held on the President’s Day holiday weekend, February 18-20, and the weekend of March 17-18. See the press release for additional information.

** Lake George Wild Forest – Jabe Pond Road: The Jabe Pond Road is closed to motor vehicles due to snow and ice. The gate will be reopened to snowmobiles once there is enough snow cover on the ground.

Warren-Saratoga County Snowmobile Warning: The railroad right-of-way from North River in the Town of Johnsburg in Warren County to the City of Saratoga Springs is now an active railroad and snowmobile access to it has been eliminated. The Thurman Connection snowmobile club has announced that several property owners who’d previously agreed to allow trails to circumvent the closed railroad route have backed out. The loss of the trail will limit access from Warren County to the trails near Speculator and Old Forge. Club officials hope to find a solution before next winter. Questions about the railroad right-of-way should be directed to Steve Torrico, Saratoga North Creek Railway Manager, at 518-251-3959, or email: torricos@iowapacific.com.

Crane Mountain: The Crane Mountain Trail Head is accessible from the south by car and truck by way of Ski Hi Road via Putnam Cross Road. The south end of Ski Hi Road is washed out but Putnam Cross Road bypasses the washout. The north access by way of Crane Mountain. Rd is washed out and not accessible with any vehicle.

Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: The bridge on the trail to Lapland Pond from Pike Brook Trailhead has been repaired.

Hammond Pond Wild Forest: A bridge over Crowfoot Brook on the Crowfoot Trail is out. The bridge over the Berrymill Brook on the Hammond Pond Trail is out. The Lindsey Brook Trail remains closed due to flooding by beaver activity.

Hudson River Recreation Area: A few roads in the Hudson River Recreation area are open but have significant washouts and should only be accessed by 4-wheel drive and other high clearance vehicles, these include: River Road; Buttermilk Road north of the Town line; and Gay Pond Road before Campsite #13. The following roads or sections of roads remain closed to motor vehicles due to damage caused by Hurrican Irene, they are passable on foot: Buttermilk Road Extension north of the Gay Pond Road; Gay Pond Road past Campsite #13; and the access road to Darlings Ford Waterway Access Site.

Pharaoh Lake Wilderness: The bridge over Mud Pond Outlet between Putnam Pond and Treadway Mountain Trails has been replaced. The following trails have been cleared of blowdown: Rock Pond Trail, Rock Pond to Lilypad Pond Trail, Crab Pond to Lilypad Pond Trail, and Bear Pond Trail. The trails along the northern and western sides of Pharaoh Lake (the two trails between the Lake and Glidden Marsh) have extensive blowdown in the sections along the lake. The Springhill Pond Trail has extensive, large-sized blowdown along the entire length from parking area on West Hague Road to Pharaoh Lake. The Goose Pond Trail is in fair condition. The Grizzle Ocean Trail is clear to southern end of Putnam Pond. The Blue Hill Trail has larger sized blowdown (greater than 2 feet diameter)and some minor trail washout from streams jumping banks. The trail is very wet with flooding in some areas deeper than the top of hiking boots. The Sucker Brook Horse Trail contains extensive blowdown and is need of brushing out. The bridge over Wolf Pond Outlet on the East Shore Pharaoh Lake Trail was replaced. There is a short reroute between the bridge and the intersection for the Swing Trail. The Glidden Marsh-Pharaoh Lake Trail on the north side of the lake has been moved up hill from the lake. Follow the Blue Trail Markers.

Siamese Ponds Wilderness – Eagle Cave: DEC has closed the Eagle Cave until April 30 to protect hibernating bats.

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: The Spur Trail between West Stony Creek Road and Baldwin Springs has extensive blowdown. There is substantial blowdown on the Stony Creek Trail to Wilcox Lake beyond that to the east Stony Creek bridge; blowdown continues up the trail to Wilcox Lake. Mud Pond Road has been cleared of trees to the Mud Pond Trail Head, due to washouts it is recommended that it be used by trucks only. There are multiple trees down on the Pumpkin Hollow Road at the Wilcox Lake Trailhead preventing access to the Wilcox Lake Trail, the Murphy Lake Trail and the Pine Orchard Trail. The bridge over a small stream just north of Fish Ponds on the Bartman Trail is out. The bridge over Georgia Creek on the Cotter Brook Trail is under water due to beaver activity as is the Pine Orchard Trail .5 mile south of Pine Orchard. The Dayton Creek bridge is out on the trail from Brownell Camp (at the end of Hope Falls Road) to Wilcox Lake. During low water conditions crossing can be made by rock hopping. The Murphy Lake Trail is brushy and difficult to follow along the east shore of the lake from the lean-to to the outlet and is also flooded at the north end of Murphy Lake.

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

New Paul Smith’s College VIC Trails: The Paul Smith’s College VIC has nearly doubled their winter sports trail system, and currently has about five inches of snow. To help defray the cost of the trail improvements and the purchase of grooming equipment, VIC patrons will be required to purchase a day or season pass to the trails. Access to the VIC trails will remain free during the non-winter months. Three categories of trails, for snowshoeing, classic and skate skiing, will be maintained and marked for daily use from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Snowshoe trails will be packed primarily for snowshoeing but may also be skied on when conditions permit. Some trails will also be designated for skijoring. Trail users will be asked to register at the visitor’s building. Trails will be monitored by a trained volunteer first-aid ski patrol, and a courtesy patrol to assist people with directions. More information van be found here.

Lewis Preserve WMA: The Brandy Brook has jumped its bank creating a braided stream channel across the main foot trail adjacent to the existing foot bridge. Users should use caution while attempting to cross this new stream channel as it may be deep and swift moving.

Kings Bay WMA: A section of the access road to the parking area off Point Au Fer Road has washed out. The damaged road is still passable but very narrow. The washed out section is marked with an orange barrel at each end.

Chazy Lake Boat Launch: The Chazy Lake Boat Launch is essentially unusable due to the water level draw down by the Town of Dannemora. The concrete ramp ends several yards from the water’s edge.

Lyon Mountain – Chazy Highlands Wild Forest: The re-route of the top section of the Lyon Mountain Trail is complete and the trail is clearly signed and marked. Hikers should use the new trail and avoid the old trail which is not maintained and is in poor condition due to erosion.

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: The Barnes Pond Public Use Area campsites #4-6 on the Barnes Pond Road are currently inaccessible due to a road washout. Access to these sites will not be reopened until road repairs can be made and the road beyond the washout is assessed for storm damage and cleared of blowdown. The three furthest campsites along the True Brook Road are inaccessible due to poor road conditions

Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: There is blowdown on the Deer Loop Trail between Route 30 and the bridge. Hikers accessing Whiteface Landing should park at the newly developed and paved parking area along Route 86 immediately west of the bridge over the West Branch of the Ausable. A trail connects the parking area and Connery Pond Road.

St. Regis Canoe Area: Ice has formed on all lakes and ponds. 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. A section of the canoe carry about half way between Long Pond and Nellie Pond has been flooded by beavers. This will required a short paddle across the beaver pond. Significant work on campsites in the Canoe Area was conducted last year. A new webpage has been created to provide information including maps and recreational opportunities.

Whitney Wilderness: The Lake Lila Road is closed to public vehicle traffic for the winter. Hikers, snowshoers and cross-country skiers may still use the road to access Lake Lila, Mt. Fredrica and other areas of state land. The land on either side of the road is private, trespass on these lands is prohibited.

Norton Peak Cave / Chateuagay Woodlands Conservation Easement Lands: Norton Peak Cave has been reopened to the public following the expiration of the cave closing order on March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. DEC is considering whether to close all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easements to protect the bat population. It’s best to stay out of caves at this time.

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Warnings and announcements drawn from DEC, NWS, NOAA, USGS, and other sources. Detailed Adirondack Park camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation and trail conditions 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.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

DEC Seeks Information on Sick or Dead Deer

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is asking the public to report any instances of deer appearing sick or acting abnormally. DEC is only investigating deer that appear to have died from unknown causes and not those that were killed by a vehicle, the agency announced today.

Anyone who sees a white-tailed deer acting abnormally or who finds a dead deer that was not struck by a vehicle is asked to report the animal to the nearest DEC regional office or to an Environmental Conservation Officer or Forest Ranger. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Adirondack Council Calls for Reform, Realignment

The Adirondack Council has called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to realign and reform state agencies to better manage the Adirondack Park. The plan, which they have presented to the Governor, calls for administrative changes at the Adirondack Park Agency and Department of Environmental Conservation, funding for local government planning assistance, and more. What follows is a statement the Council released late yesterday:

The Adirondack Park’s largest environmental organization today called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Spending and Government Efficiency (SAGE) Commission to change the way state agencies serve the Park and its people in an effort to save money and better protect the Park’s natural resources. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: Cobble Hill Inn, Elizabethtown

It was good to be back on the road after the holidays, off to visit the Cobble Hill Inn in Elizabethtown. A sunny, mild afternoon, by January standards, and a picturesque drive along the way, brought us to Elizabethtown. The lack of snow cover painted a drab landscape in need of a whitewash, but mountains stood in the distance, their faces blushing pink in the setting sun in colorful contrast to the tired old houses and naked trees.

Cashin’s Cobble Hill Inn was easy to find as we headed north on Route 9 in Elizabethtown. Plenty of parking suggested they might host some parties throughout the year. We discovered soon that, yes, they do have parties, pig roasts and musical entertainment in the large yard in back during the milder seasons. A long deck along the side of the building held chairs, benches, a table and probably even more seating in the summer. A large awning, though closed up for the winter, provides shelter from rain and sun when venturing outside.

The bar was fairly full but we found a few seats at the end, optimal for observation. The first few minutes of entry into an unfamiliar bar require a lot of processing, especially when the bartender is quick and attentive.

We surveyed the large chalkboard drink menu hanging over the bar, listing liquors, beers and pricing. It was a unique display itemizing various liquor types and brands, with “call” liquors at $3.00 “all day every day”, brands up to $7.00 for single shots and boasting, “All prices include mixers”. Since many of Pam’s specialty drinks include multiple shots, she opted for a simple Captain Morgan and Coke at a modest $4.00.

Though drink prices hint that every hour is Happy Hour, the Cobble Hill Inn offers Happy Hour drink specials every day from 5 to 7 p.m. With 12 draft choices from commercial domestics to regional craft brews, and an emphasis on clean draft lines, the “signature” drinks at Cobble Hill Inn are on tap and range from $2.50 to $7.00.

While we sipped our beverages we observed the atmosphere, both visual and audial. The NY Giants curtains adorning all windows in cafe style, along with NY Yankees memorabilia throughout, suggested that the owners and patrons supported these NY teams. Trophies and photos highlight the accomplishments of the inn’s Monday night dart league. Photographs along the upper walls indicated years of community team support as well. Mixed in here and there, Irish memorabilia completed the picture of the Cashin family passions.

A sign by the door offering “Ride Home $5.00″ on Fridays and Saturdays conveyed a responsibility and a sense that the Cobble Hill Inn might be the place to go in Elizabethtown on the weekend. Most of the patrons appeared to know one another – hellos and goodbyes were exchanged when anyone came or went. Though we weren’t there for a long time, we even got goodbyes when we left.

The Cobble Hill Inn is a bar, restaurant and motel, owned by the Cashin family for the last 21 years, and by the bartender, Christina (Chrissy) Cashin, for the past six years. The motel has four efficiencies and a total of seven rooms and, like the bar and restaurant, is open seven days a week, 365 days a year. The bar is open from 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday, noon on Sunday and closes as late as 2 a.m. when business requires.

Gaming amusements include foosball and pool in a separate room and darts in the bar area. The bar seats ten and includes another four tables with seating for 16 more patrons. A few barstools along the wall could allow a little more seating at the bar. Wifi is available to read your favorite blog, check out photos on Cobble Hill Inn’s Facebook page, or to keep in touch with loved ones. You can watch the Giants or Yankees on one of the two TVs in the tavern area.

Chris, Chrissy’s partner, was just putting the finishing touches on the newly leveled and re-covered pool table in the adjoining room. An ancient phone booth stands in a corner. A few more dining tables and a cozy sitting area by the fireplace give the space a homey, recreation room feel. Noticing an old upright piano on a far wall, Kim asked Chris if anyone actually plays it. Himself a musician who plays the piano and upright bass, Chris elaborated on the occasional entertainment at the Cobble Hill Inn and upcoming events. The Valentine’s Day jazz wine dinner promises to be well attended, with a four or five course dinner paired with wine for each course.

The Cobble Hill Inn is a clean, friendly bar with attentive and gracious staff. Patrons were polite and friendly, obviously comfortable sharing their favorite pub. The owners are proud of the family business and show community support by hosting a toy drive and other fundraisers throughout the year. Any time of year, whether nearby for skiing, golfing, leaf peeping or motorcycling, you must drop in and make some new friends. The Cobble Hill Inn is the social life for the mostly local crowd. Maybe if you mention Happy Hour in the High Peaks, you’ll meet some of the same people we met that day in January.

Kim and Pam Ladd’s book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, is currently in the research stage. Together they visit pubs, bars and taverns with the goal of selecting the top 46 bars in the Adirondack Park. They regularly report their findings here at the Almanack and at their own blog, or follow them on Facebook, and ADK46barfly on Twitter.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dan Crane: Backpacking Through Middle Age

Facing middle-age is a traumatic prospect for many people, more so for those who enjoy exploring the Adirondack backcountry. During this period of life, the wear and tear of many decades begins to erode the physical abilities of youth. This physical erosion puts increasing demands on the body from backpacking, making enjoying the backcountry more arduous, but not impossible.

Backpacking, with its heavy lifting, long hikes over aggressive terrain and precarious stream crossings, is typically regarded as an activity of youth. There is no reason this must be the case though. With a little determination, some minor adaptations and a sizable portion of luck, it should be possible to continue exploring the backcountry throughout middle-age and beyond.

Many changes within the aging human body negatively impact the ability to backpack through the backcountry. Collagen fibers within muscles and tendons become less supple, cartilage in the joints wears down and becomes more brittle, and back issues, such as degenerating disc disease, are just a few of the changes brought on with age. Although it may be impossible to reverse these negative changes (for now), there are steps that can be taken to mitigate the effects.

Training is important for anyone engaging in strenuous exercise, and especially important for older hikers. Preparing the muscles for the arduous physical activity accompanying backcountry exploration is a necessity for exploring the backcountry, as much as map and compass skills, properly fitting hiking boots and prodigious amount of mosquito repellant.

Regular aerobic exercise (such as running, cycling or swimming), combined with weight training (especially those strengthening the core and legs), should be performed for months before lacing up the hiking boots. Although these activities prepare the muscles for physical activity, there is no substitute for getting on the trail and doing some day hiking. If coming off a long down period, start out slow with shorter distances and lower backpack loads, working up to farther distances and heavier loads over time.

Stretching before exercising is increasingly important as the years advance. Stretching prepares the less supple muscles and tendons for the rigorous activity required on the trail. It is especially important after spending hours riding in a car before reaching the trailhead. Concentrate the stretching effort on the legs but do not forget other important area such as the back, neck and arms.

Another important way to deal with the negative physical effects of middle-aged involves reducing the weight of the backpack. The weight of a backpack places an enormous amount of stress on the joints of the hips and legs. By reducing its weight it is possible to reduce the amount of stress placed on these joints so they stay healthier over the long haul. Plus, a lighter pack is a major advantage when trying to outrun a hungry bear.

We are living in an age of technological proliferation, and the backcountry products industry is not immune. Many of the improvements include a reduction in weight, due to stronger and more advanced materials. Anyone who owned a backpack from the 1980’s and 1990’s can attest to their impenetrable yet weighty materials, like carrying a tank on one’s back. Although these heavy materials prevented the occasional rip or tear, they put a lot of stress on the back and knees. Today, the trend is using more advanced materials to reduce the weight of equipment including clothes, sleeping bag, tents, and backpacks.

Despite the best effort to train, stretch extensively and reducing backpack weight, issues pertaining to middle-age can persist. Middle-age is accompanied with some inevitable slowdown, which can manifest itself in a slower speed on the trail, a reduction in the distances traveled per day or greater weakness in carrying heavier loads.

All the squatting, stooping and crawling associated with backpacking takes a serious toll on the back and joints of middle-aged backpackers. Crawling in and out of a tent or other shelter, cooking hunched over a small stove and squatting while answering natures call are just a few of these activities leading to back, neck or leg strains. And there is nothing worse than losing one’s balance due to a muscle cramp while squatting over a cat hole.

Sleeping on hard surfaces such as hard-packed ground found in heavily used areas and inside lean-tos becomes more difficult with age. Anyone waking after a restless night without the ability to stand up straight is familiar with this pain. Thankfully, this pain can be ameliorated with the addition of a couple different sleeping pads. Camping in areas rarely (or never) used by others may be helpful in providing a more comfortable sleeping experience due to thick layers of leaf litter and other detritus not highly compacted by many years of use.

In addition to the physical changes accompanying middle-age, there is the inevitable decrease in eyesight. This decrease in performance due to age is called presbyopia. Presbyopia is a perfectly normal loss of close focusing ability due to hardening of the lens inside the eyes and usually begins occurring around age 40. Just in time to accompany the other physical limitations brought on by middle age.

Presbyopia can be compensated for by initially holding reading material further away but over time requires wearing reading glasses.

Presbyopia affects backcountry enthusiasts mostly through the reading of topographical maps. The faint print on these maps, especially the elevation numbers, are often difficult for even youthful eyes in the best lighting, let alone those in middle-age. The print on many handheld GPS units often proves difficult to read as well.

Reading glasses are useful for compensating for the effect of presbyopia. Unfortunately, transporting reading glasses through the backcountry is often difficult due to their fragility. Folding reading glasses are useful in compensating for this fragility.

Middle-age is definitely a difficult time for backcountry enthusiasts with its many physical changes. If you are dreading the coming of middle-age or frustratingly dealing with its impact on the ability to enjoy the backcountry, take heart, there is some hope as backpacking during old age is going to be much more challenging.

Photos: Middle-aged trees at Sand Lake by Dan Crane.

Dan Crane blogs about his bushwhacking adventures at Bushwhacking Fool.


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