Thursday, September 1, 2011

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (September 1)

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.

** EXTENSIVE DAMAGE IN THE EASTERN ADIRONDACKS
The remnants of Hurricane Irene brought disastrous flash floods and epic damage to local infrastructure, homes, businesses, roads, bridges, and trails. Damage is widespread across the and the Eastern Adirondacks, especially along the Ausable and Bouquet Rivers, into the Keene Valley, and the High Peaks. State Route 73 is closed between Route 9 and Keene Valley and in the Hamlet of Keene. There are a number of other roads closed, particularly in Essex County. Trails in the Eastern High Peaks, Giant Mountain and Dix Mountain wilderness areas have been closed through the Labor Day weekend and beyond due to dangerous conditions and extensive damage to trails and interior infrastructure in those areas. Additional areas to avoid until there is a clearer picture of conditions include the Jay Mountain Wilderness, Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area, and the Sentinel Range. One trail up Hurricane Mountain is open; Almanack contributor Phil Brown has offered some local alternatives. The Central, Western and Northern Adirondacks were minimally impacted (see below for details on those areas). Full coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Irene is available here.

** DANGEROUS BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS
Dangerous conditions exist and back country travel is difficult, and in some places impossible, throughout much of the Eastern Adirondacks. Hikers and campers should expect to encounter flooding, damaged or washed out bridges, dams, boardwalks and ladders, trails buried by landslides or heavily eroded (1-3 feet deep in some places) and blowdown. There are dozens of new landslides and the extremely dangerous threat of additional slides continues. Plan accordingly and be prepared to turn back when conditions warrant.

** MOST CAMPGROUNDS OPEN
All state campgrounds in the Adirondacks have reopened except Little Sand Point in Piseco (due to blowdown). A list of phone numbers for all campgrounds and their associated Regional Offices can be found online.

** MANY WATERS RUNNING WELL ABOVE NORMAL
Many of the region’s rivers are running well above normal and some scattered localized flooding remains. Exceptions include rivers south of the Oswegatchie in the western part of the Adirondacks, including the Beaver, Black, Independence and Moose rivers, and West Canada Creek which all remain at normal or below normal levels. Storms will quickly raise the level of rivers so watch the weather and consult the latest streamgage data.

** MAJOR ROAD CLOSURES
State Route 73 between Route 9 and Keene Valley and in the Hamlet of Keene. There are a number of other roads closed in the Adirondacks. Use 511NY to learn of the current road closures. Be aware that many secondary roads, particularly in Essex County, may be closed as well. Essex County is also maintaining a list of road closures.

** ADDITIONAL BACKCOUNTRY ROAD CLOSURES
Moose River Plains: The main Moose River Plains Road between Inlet and Indian Lake (the Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road) has been reopened, as has the Otter Brook. Indian River Road is open to the Brooktrout Lake Trailhead. However, Rock Dam Road and Indian River Road beyond the Brooktrout Lake Trailhead remains closed at this time. The Haskell-West River Road along the West Canada Creek from Route 8 into the Black River Wild Forest is closed. Old Farm Road near Thirteenth Lake is open to the snowplow turn-around. Parking there will ad about a quarter-mile walk to the trailhead. In the Eastern Lake George Wild Forest The Dacy Clearing Parking Area and Dacy Clearing Road remain closed due to washouts; Work continues to reopen the road and parking area in the near future. In the Hudson River Recreation Area Gay Pond Road, River Road and Buttermilk Road remain heavily rutted. It is recommended that only high clearance vehicles use the roads at this time. The Wolf Lake Landing Road from McKeever on Route 28 east toward Woodhull Lake is passable only with high clearance vehicles. There is no time table for the needed bridge and road repair work on Haskell-West River Road. The Jessup River Road in the Perkins Clearing Conservation Easement Lands north of the Village of Speculator, Hamilton County, which was recently reopened, has been closed again for two bridge replacements. The Jessup and Miami River bridge projects began Wednesday, August 3rd. The road will remain closed from Sled Harbor to the Spruce Lake Trailhead through September 6th. Access to the Pillsbury Mountain Trailhead will remain open to the public during this project.

** EXPECT BLOWDOWN
Hurricane Irene contributed considerable blowdown. Trees may be toppled on and over tails and campsites. Expect blowdown in the Western High Peaks Wilderness and in the Sentinel and Seward Ranges. A hiker had to be rescued this summer from Mount Emmons in the Seward Range after losing his way while negotiating blowdown [LINK].

BITING INSECTS
It is “Bug Season” in the Adirondacks. Now until the end of summer Mosquitoes, Deer Flies and/or Midges (No-see-ums) will be present. To minimize the nuisance wear light colored clothing, pack a head net and use an insect repellent.

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.

** DRAFT PUBLIC RIGHT OF NAVIGATION AND FISHING POLICY
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) has prepared the draft Program Policy: “OGC-9: Public Right of Navigation and Fishing”. This draft program policy is intended to address staff’s need for guidance regarding the public rights of navigation and fishing. As such, this document will serve as General Counsel Policy with respect to Office of Public Protection officers, including both Environmental Conservation Officers and Forest Rangers, to carry out their enforcement responsibilities. The draft Program Policy can be found online. Written comments on the draft Program Policy will be accepted until September 20th. Written comments should be addressed to Kenneth Hamm at the below-mentioned address. In addition, comments may be submitted via e-mail to: krhamm@gw.dec.state.ny.us.

HUNTING AND TRAPPING LICENSES NOW ON SALE
Hunting and trapping licenses are now on sale for the 2011-12 license year (the new license year begins October 1). Find out how to purchase a sporting license on the DEC website. Information about the 2011 Sporting Seasons is also available online. Some small-game seasons begin in early September before last year’s license period ends. Early bear season begins September 17. The bow season for deer begins September 27.

NEW YORK FOREST PHOTO CONTEST
In recognition of the importance of forests to the health and well being of society, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced a contest to celebrate New York’s forests. The contest is designed to increase awareness of and appreciation for all types of forests, urban and rural, large and small, public and privately owned, across the state. In the 19th century conservationists recognized the importance of nature as a refuge from the noise and bustle of city life. Modern technology has disconnected many people from the outdoors. Virtual pastimes now rival natural, outdoor activities. Taking and sharing pictures is one of the most popular activities in this country. Through this contest, New Yorkers are encouraged to reconnect with the natural world. Photos must be taken in New York State. Photos will be accepted through November 1, 2011. A maximum of three photos may be submitted by a photographer, each with a submission form found on the DEC website, via e-mail or on a CD via regular mail. You can read about the details here.

BECOMING AN OUTDOORSWOMAN PROGRAM
There are several opportunities left through DEC’s Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) program. On September 17, you can hike with a licensed guide to the summit of an Adirondack high peak. These and other Beyond BOW events are open to all, and are not limited to women. For information on cost and registration, and to view additional upcoming events, visit the Beyond BOW Workshops Schedule on the DEC website. Details of each event are also available online (PDF).

2011 YEAR OF THE TURTLE
Because nearly half of all turtle species are identified as threatened with extinction around the world, Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC) along with other Conservation groups have designated 2011 as the Year of the Turtle. Despite their long evolutionary history, turtles are now in danger of disappearing due to a variety of threats including habitat loss, exploitation, pet trade, hunting for use in traditional medicine, by-catch, invasive species, disease, and climate change. The 2011 Year of the Turtle is an opportunity to raise awareness of these threats and to increase conservation actions to help reduce problems turtles face. To get more details and identify ways to help in conservation efforts, visit the PARC Year of the Turtle website.

CAVE AND MINE CLOSURES
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. An order closing all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easements to protect the bat population expired on March 31. DEC is reconsidering whether continuing the closing to protect the bat population is warranted. At this time it’s best to stay out of caves that may contain bats.

BE AWARE OF INVASIVE SPECIES
Boaters on Adirondack waterways will be a lot more likely to be questioned about whether they are transporting invasive species at local boat launches this year. Watershed stewards will stationed throughout the region to inspect boats, canoes, kayaks and other craft entering and exiting the water for invasive species, remove suspicious specimens, and educate boaters about the threats of invasive species and how to prevent their spread. Aquatic invasive species are a growing threat in the Adirondacks, making such inspections increasingly important to combating their spread. At least 80 waters in the Adirondack Park have one or more aquatic invasive species, but more than 220 waters recently surveyed remain free of invasives. The inspections are currently voluntary, but more than a half dozen local municipalities have passed or are considering aquatic invasive species transport laws.

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.

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.

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.

** Fire Danger: LOW to MODERATE

Be sure campfires are out by drowning them with water. Stir to make sure all embers, coals, and sticks are wet. Stir the remains, add more water, and stir again. If you do not have water, use dirt not duff. Do not bury coals as they can smolder and break out into a fire at a later time.

** Central Adirondacks LOWER Elevation Weather

Friday: Mostly sunny, high near 77.
Friday Night: Slight chance of showers and thunderstorms; partly cloudy, low around 63.
Saturday: Chance of showers and thunderstorms; cloudy, high near 80.
Saturday Night: Chance of showers and thunderstorms; cloudy, low around 57.
Sunday: Showers likely, possibly a thunderstorm; cloudy, high near 77.
Sunday Night: Rain likely; cloudy, with a low around 57.
Labor Day: Rain likely; cloudy, with a high near 70.

The National Weather Service provides a weather forecast for elevations above 3000 feet and spot forecasts for the summits of a handful of the highest peaks in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. [LINK]

LOCAL ADIRONDACK CONDITIONS

NORTHVILLE PLACID TRAIL

** See Tom Wemmet’s report on the Northville-Placid Trail Conditions.

** Northville Placid Trail Information / Volunteers: The Northville-Placid Trail Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club maintains a website of resources and information about the trail. ADK is seeking volunteers to help with blowdown removal using crosscut saws, hand saws and axes. Anyone interested in future work events should contact Brendan Wiltse, Trails Committee Chair, NPTrail Chapter of ADK, at wiltseb@gmail.com or 518-429-0049.

** The condition of lean-tos (include the Ouluska Pass, Seward, Cold River #3 and #4) along the Cold River dowstream from Duck Hole (which has dewatered) is unknown at this time. They all lie within a few feet of the River and may have been damaged or destroyed by floodwaters. Also unknown is the status of two suspension bridges, one over the Cold River and one over Moose Creek.

Chubb River Crossing: The “Flume” bridge, over the Chubb River on the Northville-Placid Trail north of Wanika Falls, located 5.9 miles south of the Averyville Rd., Lake Placid Trailhead, has been replaced by the Adirondack Mountain Club Professional Trail Crew.

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 this fall and be completed in summer, 2012.

Upper Benson to Whitehouse: About 1.8 miles north of the Silver Lake lean-to and just south of the Canary Pond tent camping area, the trail is may be flooded at certain times of the year and after heavy rains and may require wading through water and mud.

West Canada Lakes to Wakely Dam: The bridge over Mud Creek, northeast of Mud Lake, has been replaced by the Adirondack Mountain Club Professional Trail Crew after being washed out this spring. The Wakely Dam Camping area remains closed.

Lake Durant to Long Lake: About 4 miles north of the Tirrell Pond lean-to, a bridge is out that crosses Peek-a-Boo Creek in the middle of a former lumber camp clearing. The Creek is 4 to 5 feet deep and 6 feet across. It may be possible to cross on the remains of the bridge in low water situations. The alternative is a reroute to the east that also may be flooded in spots.

Duck Hole to Averyville Rd. and Lake Placid: Beaver activity may flooded the trail about 3 miles south of the Averyville trailhead at certain times of the year and may require a sturdy bushwhack.

ADIRONDACK CANOE ROUTE / NORTHERN FOREST CANOE TRAIL

** Waters are running well above normal levels (see high water warning above). Paddlers should be on the lookout for trees, limbs and other debris that have been washed into the waters.

** Carries are being assessed, expect eroded trails, blowdown, and flooding.

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

** Eastern High Peaks Closed: The eastern Zone of the High Peaks Wilderness, the Giant Mountain Wilderness, and the Dix Mountain Wilderness has been closed by the NYS Department of Conservation (DEC). DEC fully intends to enforce this closure. Over the next several weeks DEC will be evaluating the conditions of all trails in the closed areas, prioritize work to rehabilitate trails and determine what trails may be reopened for public use. Consider visiting other, less impacted areas Northern, Western, and Southern sections of the Adirondack Park.

** Giant Mountain Wilderness Closed: The Giant Mountain Wilderness has been closed by the NYS Department of Conservation (DEC). DEC fully intends to enforce this closure. Over the next several weeks DEC will be evaluating the conditions of all trails in the closed areas, prioritize work to rehabilitate trails and determine what trails may be reopened for public use. Consider visiting other, less impacted areas Northern, Western, and Southern sections of the Adirondack Park.

** Dix Mountain Wilderness Closed: The Dix Mountain Wilderness has been closed by the NYS Department of Conservation (DEC). DEC fully intends to enforce this closure. Over the next several weeks DEC will be evaluating the conditions of all trails in the closed areas, prioritize work to rehabilitate trails and determine what trails may be reopened for public use. Consider visiting other, less impacted areas Northern, Western, and Southern sections of the Adirondack Park.

** Adirondack Mountain Club Facilities Closed: The Adirondack Mountain Club’s Adirondack Loj and John’s Brook Lodge will be closed Labor Day Weekend. The access road to Adirondak Loj is closed.

** Route 73 Closure: State Route 73 is blocked/washed out northeast of St. Huberts and the road is closed.

** Marcy Dam Truck Trail: The Marcy Dam Truck Trail has four major washouts.

** Klondike Trail: The first bridge on the western end of the Klondike Notch Trail was washed away.

** Van Hovenbrerg Trail: The Van Hoevenberg (Mt. Marcy) trail has washouts 1 to 3 feet deep. Between Marcy Dam and the Phelps Trail there are numerous washouts, including a 200-yard section that will need to be rerouted.

** Marcy Dam / Avalanche Pass Trail: Marcy Brook jumped its banks along the Avalanche Pass Trail from Marcy Dam causing widespread damage to foot trail. There is approximately 18 inches of mud in Avalanche Pass.

** Lake Colden: The Calamity Trail from Lake Colden impassible south of McMartin Lean-to due to large amount of blowdown.

** Calamity Brook Trail: The suspension bridge over Opalescent on the Calamity Brook Trail is missing railings. There is a large amount of blowdown on the trail.

** Avalanche Lake: The “Hitch-up Matilda’s” along the shore of Avalanche Lake are missing significant decking and are not passable.

** Orebed Trail: A slide on the Orebed Trail above the ladders took out approximately 1/2 mile of trail, it is not known whether the ladders were impacted.

** Indian Pass Trail from Upper Works: All bridges encountered on the Indian Pass trail from Upper Works were destroyed.

** Duck Hole: 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.

** Western high Peaks: The Western High Peaks off Coreys Road was not hit too badly. The trail to the Raquette Falls is clear of major obstacles. All bridges are intact on the Blueberry Trail from the Seward Trailhead to Ward Brook Lean-to; blowdown was minimal and has been cleared. Blueberry and Ward Brook Lean-tos are in good shape. Hikers coming off of Seymour Mountain stated trail is good but muddy. Hikers who have done Seward, Donaldson, or Emmons Mountains report good conditions as well.

Newcomb Lake-Moose Pond: A bridge on the Newcomb Lake to Moose Pond Trail has been flooded by beaver activity. The bridge is intact, but surrounded by water.

Caulkins Creek Truck Trail/Horse Trail: While the blowdown has been cleared from the Caulkins Creek Truck Trail from Corey’s Road to Shattuck Clearing, bridge crossings between Corey’s Road and Shattuck Clearing may be unsafe for horse traffic – use caution.

** Sentinel Range Wilderness: The Copperas and Owen Pond Trails are passable though there is some erosion to the trails and scattered minor blowdown. All other trails, including Pitchoff Mountain, are passable. The Owen Pond Trailhed located on Route 86 between Lake Placid and Wilmington has been relocated approximately 0.2 miles north (towards Wilmington) of its former location.

** Hurricane Mountain Wilderness: The footbridge at the Big Crow Trailhead is demolished and there are many trees down; and the seasonal use road accessing the trailhead is severely eroded and unusable.

** McKenzie Mountain Wilderness: The Connery Pond Roadway suffered some minor erosion, but it is passable. Connery Pond Truck Trail is in good shape with minor erosion and minor scattered blowdown. A large tree fell at Whiteface Landing and is blocking the trail; it destroyed the trail register. 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.

** Wilmington Wild Forest: The area sustained moderate damage from the storm, though there is significant blowdown on all trails. All trails open and in good shape in the Hardy Road Trail system. In the Flume Trail System, the River Trail impassable for first 0.25 mile due to washouts and debris on trail. All other trails are in useable condition although blowdown will slow travel. Volunteers are working on clearing trails. Wilmington Trail to the summit of Whiteface Mountian has significant erosion in the first .25 mile but is passable. The bridge at the Wilmington Reservoir has been undermined and is not safe for use.

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

** Moose River Plains: The Moose River Plains received minor damage as a result of Hurricane Irene. The Cellar Brook culvert, on the main road through the Moose River Plains, failed but is passable by high clearance vehicle, it is expected to be repaired or replaced before Labor Day Weekend.

Moose River Plains Roads: The main Moose River Plains Road between Inlet and Indian Lake (the Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road) has been reopened, as has the Otter Brook. Indian River Road is open to the Brooktrout Lake Trailhead. However, Rock Dam Road and Indian River Road beyond the Brooktrout Lake Trailhead remains closed at this time.

Wakely Dam: The campsites near Wakely Dam are now open for public use.

Jessup River Road Closed: The Jessup River Road in the Perkins Clearing Conservation Easement Lands north of the Village of Speculator, Hamilton County, which was recently reopened, has been closed again for two bridge replacements. The Jessup and Miami River bridge projects began Wednesday, August 3rd. The road will remain closed from Sled Harbor to the Spruce Lake Trailhead through September 6th. Access to the Pillsbury Mountain Trailhead will remain open to the public during this project.

Black River Wild Forest – West Canada Creek: Haskell-West River Road is closed along the West Canada Creek from Route 8 into the Black River Wild Forest. There is no time table for the needed bridge and road repair work on Haskell-West River Road; DEC Region 6 is currently awaiting construction funds and the work is not expected to be completed this year.

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 this fall and be completed in summer, 2012.

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

** Western Lake George Wild Forest: There are several road washouts in the Hudson River Recreation Area. Campsites 1 to 5 in the Hudson River Recreation Area are open with no damage. Although not yet assessed, trails are expected to contain significant blowdown and other campsites may have broken trunks or limbs hanging over them. River Road in the Hudson River Recreation Area is under water just south of the intersection with Gay Pond Road. There are minor washouts on Jabe Pond Road and Buttermilk Road has many washouts.

** Pharaoh Lake Wilderness: Mill Brook is flooded 100 yards up Beaver Brook Road; water is 2 feet over the road and old parking lot. The Mill Brook Bridge on the Pharaoh Road Trail is out and currently floating downstream from far abutment. The crossing on beaver debris at bridge site is 3 feet deep and the Mill Brook Bog Bridging has shifted more than 4 feet and is floating in spots. The bridge is out over Pharaoh Lake Brook halfway in to lake. Beaver dam upstream from bridge is breached and dewatering the pond behind it. DO NOT attempt to cross the stream as the water volume is too high. The Putnam Pond Campground Access Road is washed out. This road provides vehicle access trailheads for Berrymill Pond, Grizzle Ocean, and Rock Pond. The bridge at Pharaoh Lake Outlet is intact. All bridges on the Spectacle Pond Trail are intact and the trail is passable.

** Siamese Ponds Wilderness: Trailheads and access sites along State Rt. 8 (including Kibby Pond, Cod Pond, 11th Mt., Bartman, and Siamese Ponds Trailheads) are all accessible. Thirteenth Lake Area Trailhead accessible from Thirteenth Lake Road. The Garnet Lake Area Trailhead is accessible from the Johnsburg end (north end) of Garnet Lake Road. The bridge over Chatiemac Brook on the Second Pond Trail as is the bridge over William Blake Pond Outlet on the Halfway Brook/William Blake Pond Trail. DEC will be replacing both bridges with natural log bridges. The southern end of the East Branch Sacandaga Trail was brushed out this spring from Eleventh Mountain to Cross Brook. Beavers have a built a dam directly above the foot bridge over Cisco Creek, both ends of the bridge may be flooded at times. The Puffer Pond – Kings Flow Trail (Upper Trail) to Puffer Pond is blocked by beaver ponds. A temporary reroute has been marked to the north and upstream of the beaver dam. Hikers can also take the King Flows East Trail to the Puffer Pond Brook (Outlet) Trail to reach Puffer Pond.

** Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest: The trail to the fire tower on Vanderwhacker Mountain is cleared and opened.

** Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: 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. The lean-tos and both bridges are in good shape. 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. West Stoney Creek Road is open to Baldwin Spring and the bridge at Baldwin Springs is intact. Harrisburg Road is open for motor vehicles to the Arrow Trail, however there are trees on powerlines. 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.

** 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 Road is washed out and inaccessible.

** Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: There are no longer washouts on the Dacy Clearing Road, but there are blowdown trees in the road between the Hogtown Parking Lot and Dacy Clearing. There are a few blowdown trees on the trail between Dacy Clearing and Bumps Pond. There are a few blowdown trees on the trail to Sleeping Beauty Mountain. Most trailheads along the main roads in Washington County are accessible. The Shelving Rock Road/Inman Pond area has minor road washouts. Several trees are suspended in power lines along Shelving Rock Road in the one mile stretch starting 2 miles north of the Hogtown Road intersection to the northern bridge over Shelving Rock Brook. Pike Brook Road is closed but Black Mountain Trailhead is still accessible from County Rt. 6; the trailhead parking lot is clear of trees.

** Buck Mountain – Pilot Knob: The trail between Buck Mountian and Pilot Knob is in good condition with minor blowdown.

** Hudson River Gorge Primitive Area: Water levels are higher than usual. Be careful of trees, limbs and other debris that have been washed into the waters.

Hudson River Recreation Area: Gay Pond Road, River Road and Buttermilk Road in the Hudson River Recreation Area remain heavily rutted. It is recommended that only high clearance vehicles use the roads at this time.

Hammond Pond Wild Forest: The Lindsey Brook Trail is closed due to flooding by beaver activity.

** Hoffman Notch Wilderness: The Severance Mountain Trail on Route 9N is in good condition with only a few blowdowns. The South end of the Notch Trail (near Loch Muller Road) has significant blowdown. Both Loch Muller Road and Potash Hill Road have been cleared of blowdown and are passable. Some stream crossings do not have bridges and may be difficult to cross in high water conditions.

Pharaoh Lake Wilderness: 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 northside of the lake has been moved up hill from the lake. Follow the Blue Trail Markers.

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

** Lake Champlain Islands: South End Trail, North End Perimeter Trail, and Lighthouse Trail on Valcour Island are impassable due to flooding. Campsites 7, 8 & 22 are unusable and are now closed. Poke-O-Moonshine day use area has significant damage from blowdown. The docks at the Peru Dock Boat Launch were damaged but are still usable, the pump station remains closed.

** Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: The Barnes Pond Public Use Area campsites are closed to public use until the blowdown can be cleared from the access road and a complete assessment of the road and campsites can be completed.

** Split Rock Mountain Wild Forest: Access to the Split Rock area can be difficult for people unfamiliar with area roads due to the numerous closings. Trails are open and usable with some blowdown.

** Taylor Pond Wild Forest: Access to Catamount Mountain is not possible; a road is washed out 1 mile from trailhead.

** Poke-O-Moonshine: The hiking trails to the summit of Pok-o-Moonshine Mountain (the ranger trail from camp ground and Jeep Trail) are both open and usable. There is quite a lot of blowdown on the Ranger Trail but it is passable. The Jeep Trail has less blow down but the bridge approach, while usable, is muddy. The Poke-O-Moonshine Fire Tower is closed for the season.

** 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. Thanks to the Adirondack Mountain Club Professional Trail crew there is now a completely new trail from the trailhead to the summit. Hikers should use the new trail and avoid the old trail which is not maintained and is in poor condition due to erosion. Trailhead signs and a trail register box have been installed at the parking area for the Lyon Mountain Trail. Also a sign identifying the entrance road to the trailhead parking area has been installed on the Chazy Lake Road. They were installed by the Town of Dannemora Highway Department.

Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: The gate on the Lake Clear Girl Scout Camp Road 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.

** St. Regis Canoe Area: Damage from the storm was limited to some minor blowdown on most carries and trails. There is significant amount of blowdow across the Fish Pond Truck Trail; it is passable on foot but not by horses or horse drawn wagons. 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/Lake Lila: The Lake Lila Road is open but rough in some areas – use caution. Do not block the gate at the Lake Lila Parking Area. A Whitney Wilderness webpage has been updated with information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.

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, September 1, 2011

Phil Brown: DEC on Adirondack Closures, Alternatives

Before Tropical Storm Irene hit, the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) closed campgrounds in the Adirondacks and urged people to stay out of the wilderness. In so doing, the department no doubt disappointed hikers and campers as well as the businesses that cater to them, but a spokesman contends that it was the right call. “Based on the damage we’re seeing, we’re confident we saved lives by doing that,” David Winchell said.

Winchell also defended the closure of the eastern High Peaks, Dix Mountain Wilderness, and Giant Mountain Wilderness—perhaps the most popular hiking regions in Adirondack Park. He said the trails are unsafe for hiking.

Many trails have been deeply eroded, and some have been partially buried by landslides. Raging floodwaters washed away bridges, boardwalks, and ladders. There also is a lot of blowdown.

The good news is that the damage appears to have been concentrated in the three Wilderness Areas. “There’s still plenty of opportunities for hiking.” Winchell said.

Just about any place in the central or western Adirondacks probably is safe, Winchell said, but he cautioned that hikers should be prepared to encounter some blowdown and wet sections of trail. He said hikers may experience more difficulties in the eastern Adirondacks, such as in the Lake George Wild Forest and Pharaoh Lake Wilderness, but those regions remain open.

Even Forest Preserve tracts near the closed Wilderness Areas seem to have weathered the storm well, Winchell said. As a matter of fact, I hiked seven miles to Duck Hole in the western High Peaks yesterday and encountered only occasional blowdown, easily skirted or stepped over. I went there to take photos of Duck Hole, which is now largely muck, thanks to a breach in its dam. If you want to see the desolation of Duck Hole, you can start, as I did, at the Upper Works trailhead in Newcomb.

But given the closure of the three Wilderness Areas, many people may be wondering where they can hike near Lake Placid or Keene regions. Here are ten suggestions:

Haystack Mountain: 3.3-mile hike, with 1,240 feet of ascent. Start on Route 86 between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake.

Scarface Mountain: 3.2 miles, 1,480 feet of ascent. Start on Ray Brook Road in Ray Brook.

McKenzie Mountain: 3.6 miles, 1,940 feet of ascent. Start on Whiteface Inn Road in Lake Placid.

Whiteface Landing/Whiteface Mountain: 3.0 miles to landing, 7.4 to Whiteface summit, with 3,232 feet of ascent. Start on Route 86 east of Lake Placid.

Copperas Pond: 0.5 miles. Start on Route 86 east of Lake Placid.

Hurricane Mountain: 2.6 miles, 2,000 feet of ascent. Start on Route 9N between Keene and Elizabethtown. (The road to Crow Clearing, the start of another Hurricane trail, is washed out.)

Pitchoff Mountain: 1.6 miles to Balanced Rock or 5.2 miles for one-way traverse of Pitchoff summits, with 1,400 feet of ascent to main summit. Both trailheads on Route 73 between Keene and Lake Placid.

Baker Mountain: 0.9 miles, 900 feet of ascent. Start next to Moody Pond in village of Saranac Lake.

McKenzie Pond: 2.0 miles. Start on McKenzie Pond Road between Saranac Lake and Ray Brook.

Ampersand Mountain: 2.7 miles, 1,775 feet of ascent. Start on Route 3 west of Saranac Lake.

Photo: A closed trailhead in Keene. Courtesy Phil Brown.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine and author of the Explorer’s Outakes blog.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Conditions Report From The Northville-Placid Trail

What follows is a guest post by Tom Wemmet Chair of the Northville-Placid Trail (NPT) Chapter of Adirondack Mountain Club and the webmaster for www.nptrail.org which features the latest trail conditions, hike planning help, and more. The Almanack asked Tom to tell us what he knows about conditions on the Northville-Placid Trail following this week’s storm.

Well, hurricane Irene certainly left her mark on the Adirondacks as roads, bridges and trails have been washed away and closed in many areas of the Eastern High Peaks. Irene also left her mark on the Northville-Placid Trail as part of the Duck Hole Dam breached with the result that Duck Hole Pond is dewatering. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Duck Hole Dam Breech: What Comes Next?

The massive breach in the dam at Duck Hole, which has led to the demise of the picturesque body of water in the western High Peak wilderness, is initially tragic information to anyone that has spent time at this majestic location. Yet, the healing forces of nature are already at work transforming the muddy plain that now covers a good portion of the site into a meadow in a process known as succession.

Open settings are at a premium in the mature woodlands of the Adirondacks, and any site that contains both rich soil and a healthy amount of moisture will never last more than a single growing season before it is overtaken by vegetation. As a general rule, the herbaceous plants, such as grasses, sedges, weeds, wildflowers, ferns and rushes are the first to colonize such a favorable location. Seeds from these plants are able to travel many miles by a variety of methods which allows them to quickly take advantage of any spot that becomes favorable for growth. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dozens of New Landslides Reported in the High Peaks

Dozens of new landslides have been reported in the High Peaks following heavy rains and winds from the remnants of Hurricane Irene which reached the Eastern Adirondacks as a Tropical Storm on Sunday.

Regular Alamanack contributor and Adirondack Explorer editor Phil Brown snapped a photo of a new slide on Wright Peak, near Angel Slide. Formally two adjoining scars, Angel Slide is a well-known destination for expert backcountry skiers named in honor of Toma Vracarich who was killed in an avalanche there in 2000. The slide now includes a third route, longer than the rest.



NYS Department of Environmental Conservation District (DEC) Forester Kris Alberga flew over the High Peaks on Monday afternoon, August 28, 2011, and reported additional new slides on the Basin, Haystack, Upper and Lower Wolf Jaw, in the Dix Range and on Giant Mountain. “I lost track after a while,” he said in a widely circulated e-mail. DEC later reported that Skylight, Basin, Armstrong, Macomb, and Cascade also have new or expanded slides.

Mount Colden appears to have been heavily affected by new slides to the North and at the Trap Dyke. “The Trap Dike on Colden is dramatically different,” Drew Haas of Jay reported in an e-mail to the Almanack after an overflight Wednesday afternoon, “it has truly been gutted.” There was a massive avalanche at the Colden Trap Dyke this past winter.

Haas is a frequent backcountry slide skier and author of The Adirondack Slide Guide. He confirmed that there are dozens of new slides varying in width and length, some several miles long. “[There are] some very long new slides on The Wolfjaws and Saddleback in the Johns Brook drainage,” Haas noted. He said he didn’t see the Seward or Santanoni Ranges, but his pilot told him there was “nothing significant over that way.”

Published in 2006, the Adirondack Slide Guide includes aerial photos of more than 70 Adirondack landslide areas. When I asked Haas if he now had plans to update the guide he said: “No current plans but this could be a tipping point with all this new terrain – we’ll see.”

Haas has published new pictures from his flight today on his blog Adirondack Backcountry Skiing. The Adirondack Slide Guide is available as a digital download for $10.

Photos: Above, Saddleback Mountain slides in 2006 and today; Middle, the new slide on Wright Peak from Marcy Dam (Phil Brown photo); Below, Lower Wolfjaw, Upper Wolfjaw, Armstrong, Gothics and Saddleback in a photo taken today. Photos courtesy Drew Haas.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

DEC Warns About Conditions in the Adirondacks

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued a warning Wednesday afternoon that unsafe conditions will remain in much of the backcountry of the Adirondacks through Labor Day Weekend and beyond following the devastating impacts of the remnants of Hurricane Irene. The most seriously affected areas include of some most popular areas in the Eastern Adirondacks. Several trail areas are closed or inaccessible due to Hurricane Irene storm damage include flooding, bridge wash outs, trail wash outs and blow down of trees and other debris.

Citing the extent of the damage and ensuring public safety, DEC has closed the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness, Giant Mountain Wilderness and Dix Mountain Wilderness through Labor Day Weekend and beyond. Areas in the Western Adirondacks are reported in fairly good condition though some flooding and blowdown can be expected. Most DEC campgrounds in the Adirondacks are expected to be open for Labor Day Weekend with many available sites.



According to long-time Adirondack guide and outdoors writer Joe Hackett this is the first time since the Great Ice Storm of ’98 that the DEC has closed large areas of Forest Preserve lands due to a natural disaster. In 1995 some areas of of DEC Regions 5 and 6 were closed after a major blowdown in 1995, Hackett said. Some sixty years ago The Big Blowdown of 1950 caused a complete shutdown of the roads and trails across large swaths of the park, a historic suspension of the State Constitution, a temporary glut in the spruce market, and a political impact that continues to this day.

Many eastern High Peaks mountain areas have been impacted by landslides. Mt. Colden, Trap Dike, Wright Peak, Skylight, Basin, Armstrong, Upper and Lower Wolf Jaws, Dix, Macomb, Giant and Cascade Mountains and many existing slides widened and/or lengthened. The threat of additional slides exists on these and other mountains remains in effect. Adirondack Almanack will have a report on the new slides this evening.

Although a full assessment of the recreational infrastructure in all areas of the Adirondacks has not been completed, DEC has confirmed the following:

* The footbridge over Marcy Dam has washed away and the flush boards have been damaged;

* Marcy Dam Truck Trail has 4 major washouts;

* The first bridge on the western end of the Klondike Notch Trail washed downstream to South Meadows Trail;

* Washouts on the Van Hoevenberg (Mt. Marcy) trail are 1 to 3 ft deep;

* Along the Avalanche Pass Trail from Marcy Dam, Marcy Brook jumped its banks and caused widespread damage to the trail;

* One side of the Duck Hole Dam has washed away and the pond has dewatered;

* Calamity Trail from Lake Colden is impassible south of McMartin Lean-to.

Lesser amounts of damage can be found on Adirondack Forest Preserve lands south and north of these areas. However, hikers and campers should expect to encounter flooding, bridge wash outs, trail wash outs and blow down when entering the backcountry. Plan accordingly and be prepared to turn back when conditions warrant. Updated information on trail closures and trail conditions in the Eastern Adirondacks can be found at the DEC website and at Adirondack Almanack‘s weekly Conditions Report which will be updated Thursday afternoon:

Over the next several weeks DEC is expecting to evaluate the conditions of all trails in the closed areas, prioritize work to rehabilitate trails and determine what trails may be reopened for public use.

Many DEC Campgrounds in the Adirondacks and the Catskills experienced significant damage from the storm including flooded areas, road destruction, and loss of electric and water service. Despite progress in restoring services, a number of campgrounds may be closed or have limited availability of campsites over Labor Day Weekend.

The following temporary Adirondack campground closures are in effect: Little Sand Point, Poplar Point, Point Comfort, Lake Durant, Ausable Point, Paradox Lake, and Putnam Pond. All other campgrounds are open and operating. A complete, updated list of closed campgrounds can be found on the DEC website.

The public should be aware that many state and local roads may be inaccessible to travel and access to campground areas could be limited. Those planning to visit the Adirondacks this weekend should call ahead or check for road closure information at the Department of Transportation’s webpage.

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.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: The Waterhole, Saranac Lake

We entered the Waterhole on a hot summer afternoon, finding relief from the heat in the cool, dim interior. Cave-like, the bar’s stone and mortar walls revealing its age, terra cotta tile floors sturdy and worn. The pine bar with its copper top suggested a practical sense of simplicity and function as well as longevity.

The bartender cautiously greeted us, having gently reminded a patron to watch his language. We weren’t sure if that was for our benefit or if the Waterhole has a “no swearing” policy. The beer menu was adequate though not impressive, but the prices were pretty reasonable. Our round of three beers and a vodka and grapefruit came to just $14. The Waterhole is strictly a bar, but you can get chips or peanuts if you need to munch.



The Waterhole will not appeal to everyone. If you like and feel comfortable in a “biker bar”, you should feel at home here. Pam used to be a biker, riding her own Harley Sportster, but even she was a little uncomfortable here. She didn’t take any notes, and seemed to be ready to move on before giving it a chance.

After playing pool, we ventured outside and never came back in. Bench seating, covered by an upstairs porch, seems to be the fair-weather place to be at the Waterhole. When we arrived, there were more people outside than in, wilting in the heat. The people were friendly, if not a bit curious. We met a woman named Janet who happened to know Kim’s husband, and eventually realized she knew Pam’s husband as well. Janet’s companion lives in the Saranac Lake area and was extremely helpful in advising other places to visit, though he had never been to Grizle-T’s across the street.

Self-proclaimed Godfather of the Saranac Lake Music scene, the Waterhole opened in 1970. Built in the late 1800’s as a livery and stables with living quarters above, the building has undergone a few transformations since then. In the mid 1980’s, the upstairs was renovated to accommodate an open and spacious music lounge, bringing in bands from near and far. In contrast to the downstairs interior, upstairs at the Waterhole is bright and open with exposed beams in the cathedral ceiling and a blue and white tile floor. Roots rock, bluegrass, blues and rock bands regularly take the stage for enthusiastic audiences. In 2011, in conjunction with celebrating its 40th anniversary, the Waterhole hosted live music on each of the 10 nights of Saranac Lake’s winter carnival. Thursdays are Party on the Patio days featuring live music outside, stone walls creating the backdrop.

Located at 43 Main Street in Saranac Lake, the Waterhole is open every day from noon to 3 a.m. According to the patrons we met, the Waterhole is a fun place to be and open to newcomers. Locals, hippies, bikers, college students and visitors all feel at home and find it one of the best places around for live music.

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, August 31, 2011

Adirondack History Heroes: Ages 15 and 4

Heroes are defined in many ways—strong, brave, quick to act, selfless—and for the most part, we expect those traits to be found among the ranks of mature, responsible adults. But in 1927, in a span of less than thirty days, the North Country played host to two acts of heroism. Added together, the age of this remarkable pair of courageous children comes to just 19.

One incident involved a pair of teenage boys from Jay, New York, who were the victims of an accident at about 10 o’clock one morning. As they rode together on a wagon loaded with firewood, drawn by a single horse, something spooked the animal.

The horse panicked, broke free of the wagon, and ran off. The boys and the load of wood were hurled violently to the ground. The left leg of 16-year-old Francis Chabbott was badly broken, while 15-year-old Asa Darrah’s right leg suffered the same fate. Darrah remained alert after the fall, but Chabbot was knocked unconscious.

The spill occurred about a mile and a half from the Chabbott farm, and Asa, in agonizing pain himself, feared his friend would die. No one was within sight or hearing distance of the accident scene, and rather than wait for help to arrive, Asa began crawling.

It’s hard to appreciate the grit, determination, and physical pain he must have endured, but young Darrah refused to quit. Three hours later—bruised, beaten, and exhausted—he reached the farmhouse and alerted the family. While Mr. Chabbott rushed to tend to his stricken son, a doctor was summoned from Ausable Forks to tend to both boys’ injuries. They survived, but suffered intensely, and for his efforts, Darrah was justly lauded as a hero.

The other incident occurred in the town of Martinsburg in Lewis County on the farm of Harold and Viola Hills. Viola was nearly nine months pregnant, about to deliver their third child. When mom went to town one day to shop for necessities, Katherine, 4, and Kenneth, 2, stayed with their father.

In order to still perform the day’s work, Harold took the children with him to the fields. It was a dicey proposition, attempting farm chores while watching his two young offspring. It wasn’t long before little Kenneth wandered off and found his way into nearby Whetstone Creek.

The water was still high from spring flooding, and as the two-year-old was drawn into the water, he cried out for help. The father was oblivious to what had happened, but his four-year-old daughter responded like a true hero.

With no regard for her own survival, and not knowing the depth or power of the stream, she entered the water and waded to where Kenneth was drowning. Katherine then plucked him from the water, but the footing on the riverbed was shaky at best, and the weight of her brother made it too dangerous to attempt walking back to shore.

Realizing her predicament, she held the baby above the water and screamed for help. This alerted Mr. Hills, who managed to reach the children before Katherine’s strength gave out. A catastrophe was avoided due to the quick thinking and bravery of a tiny child.

Though child heroes are uncommon, these two North Country youths performed their feats just 29 days apart. Asa Darrah’s story, with elements of grit, friendship, and character, was lauded in the press. And it’s a pretty safe bet that Harold Hills was properly chastised by Viola for his careless brand of child care.

Lawrence Gooley has authored nine books and many articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. He took over in 2010 and began expanding the company’s publishing services. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Irene Leaves Widespread Damage in the Adirondacks

Following a spring of historic flooding and two minor earthquakes, the Adirondacks has been slammed by the remains of Hurricane Irene leaving behind a changed landscape, isolated communities, disastrous flooding and epic damage to local infrastructure, homes, businesses, roads, bridges, and trails.

Damage from the remnants of Hurricane Irene is widespread across the Eastern Adirondacks from Moriah, which suffered extensive damage during the spring flooding that had still not been repaired, to the entire Keene Valley and into the Lake Placid region. Trails in the Eastern High Peaks, Giant Mountain and Dix Mountain wilderness areas have been closed through the Labor Day weekend. The bridge over Marcy Dam has been washed away and the Duck Hole Dam breached.

Every town in Essex County suffered damage officials say, but Upper Jay, Jay, AuSable Forks, and all hamlets in the town of Keene have been devastated by flooding of the AuSable, which rose to a record 12 feet over flood stage. Essex County Highway Department Tony Lavigne told the Press Republican that “the flooding is way worse than this past spring and much more widespread.” Mountain Health Center in Keene suffered heavy damage and has been closed. In Upper Jay, the historic remains of Arto Monaco’s Land of Make Believe are gone. Flood waters also raged through Lake George Village and closed dozens of roads in Warren, Washington, and Saratoga counties. [Lake George Photos via Lake George Mirror].

Tom Woodman, who reported on the situation in Keene for the Almanack, wrote that “The hamlet of Keene is an astonishing and deeply saddening sight. The fire station has been torn in half by rampaging waters of a tributary of the East Branch of the Ausable. Buildings that house the dreams of merchants and restaurateurs, who have brought new life to Keene, are battered, blanketed in mud, and perched on craters scoured out by the flood waters.” North Country Public Radio‘s Martha Foley posted photos of the devastation in Keene.

Route 73 has been washed out and undermined in several places, closing the main artery into the High Peaks and Lake Placid from the east. Carol Breen, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation told Woodman that Route 73 should reopen before winter. Route 9N between Keene and Upper Jay is expected to be reopened in a few days.

Although criticized at the time by many for being premature and unnecessary, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation warned recreationists to stay out of the backcountry and closed its campgrounds and other facilities across the Adirondacks on Saturday. That closure was fortuitous, as damage in some areas has stranded campers and has closed the Giant, Dix, and Eastern High Peaks wilderness areas. More than a dozen DEC campgrounds and day-use areas remain closed. These closures are expected to continue through the upcoming Labor Day weekend.

The historic dam at Duck Hole has been washed away, closing off only recently acquired access by canoe or guideboat into the High Peaks via Henderson Lake and Preston Ponds. Phil Brown has posted DEC photos of Duck Hole draining.

DEC District Forester Kris Alberga, who was among the first to see the widespread destruction in the backcountry during a flyover of the High Peaks Monday afternoon, reported that the bridge over Marcy Dam has been washed away and the dam is leaking seriously. “There are numerous washouts on the Marcy Dam Truck Trail,” Alberga said in a e-mail forwarded to the Almanack, “Marcy Brook between Marcy Dam and Avalanche Camps jumped its banks, carved a new channel and wiped out much of the trail. The Van Hovenberg trail above Marcy Dam is eroded 1-3 ft deep in many places. The handrails on the suspension bridge on the Calamity Pond trail are gone and the trail is not passable.” Phil Brown reported today that the level of Marcy Dam pond has dropped, revealing mud flats. The trails along Lake Colden are reported to be underwater and the trail to Avalanche Pass made impassable.

The bridge on the Adirondack Loj Road south of South Meadows Road has been washed out, cutting off the Loj and stranding some 31 visitors and Adirondack Mountain Club staff there. The access to the Garden Trailhead at Interbrook Road is no longer passable beyond the bridge over Johns Brook.

Phil Brown traveled to Marcy Dam Monday afternoon and snapped a photo of a new slide on Wright Peak, near Angel Slide. Other new slides reported include those on Mount Colden (including at the Trap Dike), Basin, Haystack, Upper and Lower Wolfjaw, in the Dixes, and on Giant Mountain.

Although reports have not been received from the Santanoni and Seward ranges, it appears that the Western and South-Central Adirondacks have not been seriously impacted. Backcountry users in those and other areas of the Adirondack Park should, however, expect blowdown and eroded trails, washed-out bridges and new landslides.

At a press conference held in front of the destroyed Keene Volunteer Fire Department, NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that DEC and the Adirondack Park Agency will suspend special permitting requirements to aid in a speedy rebuild.

Photo: Duck Hole Pond is draining after the dam went out. Photo courtesy NYS DEC.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tom Woodman: My Hometown is Hurting

What follows is a special report by Tom Woodman, publisher of Adirondack Explorer, who resides in Keene.

I live in the Town of Keene just outside the hamlet and so I had an idea of how damaging Irene was. Starting with our rain gauge, which measured 11 inches of rainfall from the storm and including seeing the shower of pine branches brought down on our house by the winds, it was clear we were in the middle of something bad.

But it wasn’t until I grabbed a camera and started surveying the area on Tuesday morning that I understood what we had experienced.



The hamlet of Keene is an astonishing and deeply saddening sight. The fire station has been torn in half by rampaging waters of a tributary of the East Branch of the Ausable. Buildings that house the dreams of merchants and restaurateurs, who have brought new life to Keene, are battered, blanketed in mud, and perched on craters scoured out by the flood waters.

I headed east on Route 73, which has been closed to traffic, to see what damage I could reach and how bad it is. In Keene Valley, shops had piles of merchandise outside for drying and cleaning. Before I got to the road-closing near the Ausable Club, I parked near the entrance to and headed out on foot to explorer St. Huberts, a small community tucked on the banks of the East Branch. It’s badly hurt. A bridge that carried the one road over the river is collapsed into the waters. Upstream the river has cut under a house, leaving an addition and part of a garage hanging in air. The roadway is buried in mud a foot or more deep and trees and utility poles lean at sharp angles.

From the west, Route 73 is closed at the entrance to the Ausable Club. Parking there, I again set out on foot. Within sight of that entrance are two washouts at least four feet deep and chewed most of the way across the two-lane highway. One has Roaring Brook tumbling through it, the river having changed its course during the flood so that it now flows where the highway is supposed to be.

Several other washouts eat into the highway between the Ausable Club and the overlook for Roaring Brook Falls. A couple cut deeply into at least half the width of the road. Others are slides at the edge of the highway. Guard rails dangle over these, the ground that had held them, resting fifty feet or more below them in the river’s valley.

I’m not qualified to estimate how long it will be before this road, the major entry to the High Peaks Region from the south, will reopen. But it seems months away at best.

Carol Breen, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, assured us this afternoon that despite the heavy damage Route 73 will reopen before winter. That’s good news for Keene Valley, Lake Placid, and the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area. Breen said DOT expects to reopen Route 9N, which connects Keene and Upper Jay, in a few days.

For news on the storm’s damage to the backcountry, check out these posts on the Outtakes blog on the Adirondack Explorer website (the most recent is listed first):

Bad news for the backcountry

After Irene, where can you hike?

DEC closes High Peaks trails

Marcy Dam bridge washed away

Photo of damaged Keene coffee shop by Tom Woodman.

Tom Woodman is the publisher of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Diane Chase: Hurricane Irene High Peaks Closures

It is difficult to believe that a week ago my husband led two different groups over Marcy Dam bridge to climb into the Adirondack High Peaks backcountry. I joined him on a day hike up Marcy and lingered on the bridge to admire the view of Mt. Colden. Now the iconic bridge has been washed away by residual flooding from Hurricane Irene.

With this backlash from Hurricane Irene Adirondack campgrounds are closed and extensive damage continues to be assessed throughout the High Peaks, Catskills and lower regions of the Adirondack Park.



DEC Region 5 Citizen Participation Specialist David Winchell says, “We closed down the trail systems for the Eastern High Peaks, Giant, and Dix Mountain Wilderness regions and continue to evaluate other areas. We want people to understand that by willingly entering the forest preserve hikers may encounter massive blow-down, washed out foot bridges, and landslides.”

Winchell states that the first bridge on the Klondike trail is gone, the Duck Hole Dam has been breached and the trails along the shoreline at Lake Colden are under water. He admits that at this time the number of new slides are too numerous to count. He does list new slides at Wright, Colden-north, Trap Dike, Haystack, Wolfjaws, Dixes and Giant.

“When hikers encounter a bad situation we encourage people to turn around and not press on over treacherous terrain, says Witchell. “We don’t want to be searching for additional people. Our focus is on helping the communities and existing stranded hikers and backcountry campers.”

According to Winchell, the Western and Central Adirondacks have not been as severely impacted by ramifications of Hurricane Irene. Trail closure and campground information will be updated and posted on the DEC trail website.

Marcy Dam bridge has been a landing point for many backcountry hikers as well as a day hike destination for those just wanting an easy 2.4 mile walk from the Adirondack Loj. Phil Brown of The Adirondack Explorer, filed an extensive High Peaks area damage report, places to hike and pictures of the missing bridge.

Remember the first rule of thumb when venturing into the backcountry is safety. There is so much damage around the towns of Jay, Keene, Keene Valley and AuSable that emergency personnel is needed to pursue the necessary clean-up to aid those communities while the DEC continues to do what is necessary to be able to open Adirondack trails for all.

For those wishing to enjoy a family-friendly wilderness experience there are many smaller hikes not part of the Eastern Adirondack High Peaks that are open.

Photo of Marcy Dam bridge used with permission of Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities

Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities including short hikes, swimming holes, historic sites, events, activities and trivia. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Climbing the Nippletop Slide

From the Elk Pass Lycopodium Ponds herdpath to bottom of Nippletop Slide slide is, but for a few short sections, extremely easy to follow. This .75-mile section took us 40 minutes while enjoying the beautiful scenery of this miniature canyon. Starting out and walking around a good size beaver pond it was mostly flat, but turned steep starting from the outlet. In places the numerous and large mossy boulders reminded us of Indian Pass. Walking in the drainage itself never appeared to us a better option; we were able to stay on the same East bank side all the way. Actually it was never enticing, only pretty to look a every step of the way.
» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Skating Legends: A Tribute to the Protopopovs

Lake Placid is a mecca for elite athletes, and often hosts athletes from different countries and sports. Two of these are Olympic legends, and train tirelessly from June until early November in the Olympic Center.

I am referring to the legendary Protopopovs. Oleg and Ludmila Protopopov are the 1964 and 1968 Olympic champions in Pairs Skating for Russia, and call Lake Placid their home.

This year, the Skating Club of Lake Placid is hosting a show in their honor. “A Tribute to the Protopopovs” will take place on Saturday, September 3rd in the 1980 arena. Joining local skaters of all ages and levels will be special guests, such as Dick Button. Himself a Lake Placid figure skating icon (Button trained in Lake Placid with Gus Lussi in the 30s and 40s), Button will be on hand to help celebrate the achievements of the husband and wife pairs team.

Oleg and Ludmila Protopopov’s rise to figure skating prominence was not effortless. The Soviet Skating Association discounted them as “too old” for serious training, even though they were only in their teens. Not to be limited by the Association, the Protopopovs trained independently, often skating outdoors in sub-zero temperatures. Their dedication paid off when they won the 1964 and 1968 Olympic title in Pairs skating, as well as four World Championship titles from 1965-1968.

After the Olympics, they were routinely rejected by the Soviet Skating Associations because of their derivative style. The Leningrad Ice Ballet did not want to give them a job, because they were too athletic, and the skating federation did not want them because they were too artistic. They turned professional, and started touring professionally throughout the United States. The Soviet Skating Federation’s continued ill treatment, however, was constant. For example, they skated in a show at Madison Square Garden for the fee of 10,000 dollars, but all they were allowed to keep was 53 dollars. In 1979, they defected from the Soviet Union and became citizens of Switzerland; this change of citizenship permitted them to tour with the Ice Capades.

The love of their sport is evident, and now in their 70s, the Protopopovs continue training every day. Nothing is able to stop them from participating in their sport; not even a stroke. Oleg Protopopov suffered from a stroke in 2009, but a few weeks after the event started skating again. He is still skating, and has regained his skills. Residents of Lake Placid, it is not uncommon to see the Protopopovs walking or riding their bikes through town, or training on one of the 3 ice surfaces. After November, the Protopopovs travel to Switzerland and Hawaii, skating in Switzerland and surfing in Hawaii. No matter what, the Protopopovs always strive to keep healthy and fit.

The show will be a display of all ages and abilities. Admission is $10.00 for Adults (13-64), $8.00 for Youth (7-12) and Seniors (65+). Children age 6 and under are free. All proceeds benefit the Skating Club of Lake Placid. For more information, visit the Facebook event page.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Meet Wolves and Hawks at Habitat Awareness Day

On Sunday, September 4, the public is invited to the fourth annual Adirondack Habitat Awareness Day at the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge & Rehabilitation Center, in Wilmington.

Visitors can meet timber wolves, coyote, fox, bobcat, and opossum up close, along with owls, hawks, osprey and falcons. Naturalists will show how wildlife interact with each other and with the natural environment. The event starts at 11 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. There is no admission charge, although donations are welcome.

Steve and Wendy Hall own and operate the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge & Rehabilitation Center under state and federal permits for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education. They are able to help injured creatures with the help of community donations. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Dave Gibson: Stubborn Facts About Lows Lake

Facts are stubborn things. So are traditions, and patterns of use. These all lay at the heart of the recent Lows Lake court decision in Albany County Supreme Court which upheld a Wilderness classification for Lows Lake and the Bog River Flow.

Verplanck Colvin, the great Adirondack explorer and surveyor, came to what is now Lows Lake in the late 1890s, just before inventor A.A. Low dammed the Bog River in two places as part of extensive industrial enterprises that lasted less than 15 years. Colvin’s survey of 1898-1899 was his last (published by the Adirondack Research Center of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks in 1989).
» Continue Reading.


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