The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional Forest Ranger incident reports which form a stern reminder that wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Be aware of the latest weather conditions and carry adequate gear and supplies.
SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND
SEARCH FOR MISSING MAN IN HIGH PEAKS
DEC Forest Rangers and others are currently searching for a 22 year old male in the High Peaks Wilderness. Wesley ‘Wes’ Wamsganz has been missing since Saturday, November 20, and is believed to be somewhere in the High Peaks Wilderness. He is 6’3″ 180 lbs, has buzz cut short blond hair, and blue eyes. He is believed to wearing a Black Bob Marley zip up hoodie, jeans or tan Carhart pants, basketball sneakers and a yellow, red and green striped brimmed beanie. You may encounter search efforts while hiking in the High Peaks. Please do your best not to interfere with the search effort and follow the instructions of searchers. If you encounter Mr. Wamsganz please notify DEC Forest Rangers at (518-897-1300). If you can’t call, seek out a forest ranger, interior caretaker, other searcher or stop at the ADK’s High Peaks Information Center.
Fire Danger: LOW
Central Adirondacks Lower Elevation Weather
Friday: Rain, chance of snow; high near 37. Gusty winds, summits obscured by clouds.
Friday Night: Chance of snow showers. Cloudy, low around 18.
Saturday: Snow showers. Cloudy, with a high near 28. Summits obscured by clouds.
Saturday Night: Cloudy, with a low around 15.
Sunday: Cloudy, with a high near 30.
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]
Snow and Ice, Colder Weather
Night-time and morning temperatures below freezing can be expected, especially at higher elevations. Snows may be found in higher elevations and summits are a mix of snow and ice. Carry instep crampons or stabilicers and wear when them when conditions warrant.
Wet & Muddy Conditions
Some lower and mid-elevation trails are still wet and muddy. Be prepared by wearing waterproof footwear and gaiters, and remember to walk through – not around – mud and water on trails.
Recent heavy winds have caused blowdown throughout the Adirondacks. Trees, limbs, and branches may be found over and in trails, especially lesser used side trails.
Some Rivers Running Above Normal
Most waters in the region are still running above normal for this time of year. Low water crossings may not be accessible and paddlers should consult local stream gauges. Well above normal flow is being reported for the Beaver River. The Indian, Hudson, Sacandaga, AuSable, and Bouquet rivers are still running above normal as well. Paddlers and others should use care and consult the latest streamgages data.
Motorists Alert: Whitetail Deer
The peak period for deer-vehicle collisions is October through December, with the highest incidences occurring in November. This corresponds with the peak of the annual deer breeding cycle when deer are more active and less cautious in their movements. Approximately 65,000 deer-vehicle collisions occur throughout NYS each year and two-thirds of the annual collisions occur during this three month period. Most of the collisions occur between 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Motorists are advised that the best way to avoid a collision with a deer is to reduce speed and be alert for their presence on or near the highway.
Motorists Alert: Moose
There are upwards of 800 Moose in the Adirondack region, up from 500 in 2007. Motorists should be alert for moose on the roadways at this time of year especially at dawn and dusk, which are times of poor visibility when Moose are most active. Much larger than deer, moose-car collisions can be very dangerous. Last year ten accidents involving moose were reported. DEC is working to identify areas where moose are present and post warning signs.
Fall hunting seasons for small game, waterfowl and big game are underway. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment while hiking on trails. Recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists with the legal right to hunt on Forest Preserve lands. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare. Hikers may want to wear bright colors as an extra precaution.
Furbearer Trapping Seasons
Starting this multiple furbearer hunting and trapping seasons are now open including bobcat, weasel, mink, muskrat, fisher, martin, opossum, raccoon, fox, and skunk. This would be a good time to keep pets leased and on the trails. A reminder that body gripping traps set on land can no longer use bait or lure after December 11, 2010.
Ice Fishing Tip-Ups Can Now Be Used
Tip-ups may be operated on waters of New York State starting November 15, 2010 and continuing through April 30, 2010. General ice fishing regulations can be found in the in the 2010-11 Fishing Regulations Guide.
Fewer Fish Stocking Expected
Conservation Fund Advisory Board chairman Jason Kemper, told the state Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee last week that there will be fewer fish stocked throughout New York state next spring due to cuts to the DEC’s budget. Kemper said that for the first time since the 1970s, eggs were not taken from Raquette Lake this year. This is expected to result in 115,000 fewer lake trout being stocked throughout the Adirondacks. Also impacted will be egg takes at the Adirondack fish hatchery in Lake Clear, which stocks landlocked salmon, and that will result in 700,000 fewer Atlantic salmon being stocked throughout the state.
Historical Note: 1950 Blowdown
The Adirondacks is prone to powerful windstorms, isolated tornadoes, and occasional hurricanes, and microbursts. The second most destructive of these in modern Adirondack history (next to the 1998 Ice Storm) occurred 60 years ago. The Big Blowdown of 1950 brought heavy rains and winds in excess of 100 mph. In a single day – November 25th – more than 800,000 acres of timber was heavily damaged. The storm 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. You can read more here.
GENERAL ADIRONDACK CONDITIONS
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.
Whiteface Mountain Opens Friday, Nov. 26
Whiteface will open for its 53rd ski and ride season on Friday, Nov. 26, at 8:30 a.m. Snow guns have been making snow since Thursday, Nov. 18, in preparation for opening day. The Cloudsplitter Gondola will carry intermediate and above level skiers and riders to the summit of Little Whiteface to access Excelsior, Upper Valley, and the Summit Express. Skiers and riders will then load the Little Whiteface chair to return to the summit of Little Whiteface. At the conclusion of their day, they will then download on the Cloudsplitter Gondola. The Lower Valley, Fox and Mixing Bowl trails are expected to open for the season Saturday for top to bottom skiing and riding.
Gore Mountain Opens Saturday, Nov. 27
Gore Mountain is expected to open Saturday, November 27 at 8:30 am. Terrain will include approximately 2 miles for intermediates and experts, with a route combining Ruby Run, Sunway, Quicksilver, 3B, & Jamboree. Snowmakers are hard at work on Topridge as well.
DEC Campgrounds Are Now Closed
All DEC campgrounds in the Adirondacks are closed until next season.
Motorized Equipment in Wilderness, Primitive and Canoe Areas
The use of motorized equipment in lands classified as wilderness, primitive or canoe is prohibited. Public use of small personal electronic or mechanical devices such as cameras, radios or GPS receivers are not affected by this regulation.
Storage of Personal Belongings on State Land
Placing structures or personal property on state land without authorization from DEC is prohibited. Exceptions include: properly placed and labeled geocaches; legally placed and tagged traps, tree stands and blinds. The full regulation regarding the use of motorized equipment on state lands may be found online; the regulation regarding the structures and storage of personal property is also online.
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 begun ticketing violators of this firewood ban. More details and frequently asked questions at the DEC website.
The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear resistant canisters; the use of bear-resistant canisters is encouraged throughout the Adirondacks.
Personal Flotation Devices Required
Paddlers, hunters and other users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.
Changes to Game Harvest Reporting
A new regulation effective November 17 extends the game harvest reporting deadline from 48 hours to 7 days. Successful hunters of deer, bear, and turkey are required to report their harvest through DEC’s online reporting system (http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/8316.html) or by calling 1-866-GAME-RPT (1-866-426-3778). The change will allow hunters who hunt in remote areas more time to report their harvest, a crucial step in the management process that provides data on when and where an animal was taken and estimates for the number of animals harvested each year throughout the State.
Newly Opened Roads
A number of roads closed this spring, when budget cutbacks restricted DEC’s ability to repair, maintain and patrol them, have reopened in time for big game hunting season. All roads typically open in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest are now open. Lily Pond Road in Horicon, Gay Pond Road in Warrensburg, and Dacy Clearing Road (on the east side of Lake George) have reopened. Jabe Pond Road in Hague, Buttermilk Road Extension in Warrensburg, Scofield Flats Road, Pikes Beach Access Road and the Bear Slides Access Road in Luzerne all remain temporarily closed.
Cave And Mine Closings
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. DEC has closed all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easements to protect the bat population including Norton Peak Cave in Chateuagay Woodlands Easement Lands and also Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain. Please respect cave and mine closures.
Waterfowl Consumption Advisory
With waterfowl hunting seasons open, hunters are reminded that wild ducks and geese may contain chemicals (PCBs and some pesticides) at levels that may be harmful to health. A Department of Health (DOH) advisory states that: “Mergansers are the most heavily contaminated waterfowl species and should not be eaten. Eat no more than two meals per month of other wild waterfowl; you should skin them and remove all fat before cooking and discard stuffing after cooking. Wood ducks and Canada geese are less contaminated than other wild waterfowl species, and diving ducks are more contaminated than dabbler ducks.” DOH’s complete advisories for sport fish and game can be found online.
Low Impact Campfires
Reduce the impact on natural areas by utilizing lightweight stoves, fire pans, mound fires or other low impact campfire techniques. Use only dead or small downed wood that can be broken by hand and keep fires small. Leave hatchets, axes and saws at home. Never leave a fire unattended, don’t burn garbage, and restore the appearance of your fire site; do not move fire rings. Campfires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness [LINK].
Practice ‘Leave No Trace’ Principles
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. For more information is available online.
ADIRONDACK LOCAL BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS
** indicates new or revised items.
NORTHVILLE PLACID TRAIL
The Northville Placid Trail (NPT) is the Adirondack Park’s only designated long distance hiking trail. The 133 mile NPT was laid out by the Adirondack Mountain Club in 1922 and 1923, and is now maintained by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Up to date NPT trail condition information can be found online.
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 flooded 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 washed out. Wading the creek is the only option. The water in Mud Creek will vary from ankle deep to knee deep.
Lake Durant to Long Lake: About a half mile north of the Lake Durant trailhead at Route 28/30 the trail crosses several flooded boardwalks. Use extreme caution as the boardwalk is not visible and may shift. Expect to get your boots wet and use a stick or hiking pole to feel your way along to avoid falling off the boardwalk.
Lake Durant to Long Lake: About 4 miles north of the Tirrell Pond the trail is flooded by beaver activity. The reroute to the east is now also flooded in spots.
Duck Hole to Averyville Rd. and Lake Placid: Beaver activity has flooded the trail about 3 miles south of the Averyville trailhead and will require a sturdy bushwhack.
ADIRONDACK CANOE ROUTE / NORTHERN FOREST CANOE TRAIL
High Waters: Water levels remain higher than normal. Check the current USGS streamflow data for selected waters. Paddlers, hunters and other users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.
Personal Flotation Devices Required: Users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.
Eighth Lake Takeout: Northern Forest Canoe Trail volunteers rehabilitated the takeout at the north end of Eighth Lake. The 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail celebrates its tenth year this summer. Winding its way from Maine through New Hampshire, Quebec, Vermont, and into New York ending at Old Forge.
** Jackrabbit Ski Trail: Improvements have been made to the Jackrabbit Trail, a 24-mile cross-country ski trail that runs between Saranac Lake and Keene. There has been a reroute of the popular six mile section between McKenzie Pond Road outside Saranac Lake to Whiteface Inn Road outside Lake Placid. The rerouted trail avoids some hilly terrain at the start of this section and also avoids the ball field, and some private property. Trailhead parking is expected to be expanded in this area later this year.
Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands: The Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands, including the Elk Lake-Marcy Trail into the High Peaks Wilderness and the Dix-Hunter Pass Trail into the Dix Mountain Wilderness, is closed to all public access through the big game hunting season.
The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed and will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season.
Lake Arnold Trail: A section of the Lake Arnold Trail just north of the Feldspar Lean-to may be impassable due to mud and water resulting from past beaver activity. Hikers may want to seek an alternate route during and after wet weather.
Bushnell Falls: The high water bridge at Bushnell Falls has been removed, the low water crossing may not be accessible during high water.
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.
Opalescent River Bridges Washed Out: The Opalescent River Bridge on the East River / Hanging Spears Falls trail has been washed out. The crossing will be impassable during high water.
Big Slide Ladder: The ladder up the final pitch of Big Slide has been removed.
Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail: Much of the blowdown on the Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail between the Calkins Brook lean-tos and Shattuck Clearing has been removed. The trail is open for hikers but remains impassable to horses and wagons. DEC crews continue to work to open the trail.
Mt. Adams Fire Tower: The cab of the Mt. Adams Fire Tower was heavily damaged by windstorms. The fire tower is closed to public access until DEC can make repairs to the structure.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ADIRONDACKS
Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement: Camping is limited to designated campsites, 8 campsites have been designated at this time.
Forest Ranger Greg George: Ranger George has retired after 33 years of service. If you had contacted Ranger George in the past for camping permits, backcountry conditions or for any other purpose, you should now contact Forest Ranger Bruce Lomnitzer at 518-648-5246. For matters regarding Tirrell Pond contact Forest Ranger Jay Scott at 315-354-4611.
Ferris Lake Wild Forest / West Lake Boat Launch (Fulton County): The boat launch was impacted by August rains and floods. DEC staff have made repairs to the roadway, parking lot and ramps, however, be aware that the waters off the boat launch are more shallow than before.
Shaker Mountain Wild Forest: The lean-to on the south shore of Chase Lake has been removed, and a new one is now been built on the lake’s north shore (See photos). A new trail spur leading off the old trail and approaching the new lean-to from the west has been marked. The site of the old lean-to is now a designated tent site.
Chimney Mountain / Eagle Cave: Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain will be closed to the public from Nov 1 till March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. It is being closed to recreational spelunking to avoid disturbance of hibernating bats. DEC is closing all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easments to protect the bat population.
Wilcox Lake Forest: Trails to Wilcox Lake and Tenant Falls beginning at the end of the Hope Falls Road, cross private property. While DEC does have a trail easement for the East Stony Creek Trail to Wilcox Lake, there is no formal agreement with the landowner for access to the Tenant Falls Trail. DEC is working on a resolution to this matter. In the meanwhile, hikers and day uses must respect the private driveway at the trailhead and not block it. Also respect the landowner’s privacy – stay on the trail, do not enter the private property.
Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: Flooding is affecting the Pine Orchard Trail and Murphy Lake Trail. Bridges at Mill Creek, approximately 3 miles from the trailhead on Dorr Road has no decking, only stringers, the bridges over Mill Brook, north of Pine Orchard, is not decked, and the Dayton Creek bridge is out on the trail from Brownell Camp (at the end of Hope Falls Road) to Wilcox Lake.
Hudson Gorge Primitive Area: Water levels remain higher than normal. Check the current USGS streamflow data for selected waters. Paddlers, hunters and other users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.
Lake George Wild Forest / Hudson River Recreation Area: Funding reductions have required that several gates and roads remain closed to motor vehicle traffic. These include Jabe Pond Road, Buttermilk Road Extension and Scofield Flats Road.
Lake George Wild Forest: Equestrians should be aware that there is significant blowdown on horse trails. While hikers may be able to get through the trails, it may be impossible or at least much harder for horses to get through. Lack of resources, resulting from the state’s budget shortfall, preclude DEC from clearing trails of blowdown at this time.
Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands (former Champion Lands): All All lands, including the trail to The Pinnacle, are closed to all public recreational access until December 31st. Access corridors have been designated to allow hunters to reach forest preserve lands through the conservation easement lands. Contact Senior Forest Rob Daley for information on access corridors at 518-897-1291.
St. Regis Canoe Area: The carry between Long Pond and Nellie Pond has been flooded by beavers about half way between the ponds. A short paddle will be required. DEC and Student Conservation Association crews will be working through mid-October to move 8 campsites, closed 23 campsites and created 21 new campsites [online map]. This week they are rebuilding a lean-to on Fish Pond. Please respect closure signs.
Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: Beaver activity has caused the flooding of the Stony Pond Road approximately one mile from the trailhead. Use caution if you choose to cross this area.
** Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: There have been important developments; see new information here. Paddlers may want to avoid paddling through private land until the matter is resolved. Although DEC has sided with paddlers in the dispute over the public’s right to canoe through private land on Shingle Shanty Brook and two adjacent waterways and has sent adjacent landowners a letter asking them to remove the cables, no-trespassing signs, and cameras put in place to deter the public from using the canoe route, the landowners have recently sued Phil Brown, editor of Adirondack Explorer, for trespass. DEC has warned them that failure to comply would require them to refer the matter to the state attorney general for legal action. “The Department has concluded that Mud Pond, Mud Pond Outlet and Shingle Shanty Brook are subject to a public right of navigation, and that members of the public are therefore legally entitled to travel on those waters,” the letter dated September 24th said.
Chazy Highlands Wild Forest: The newly acquired Forest Preserve lands on the Standish and Chazy Lake Roads in the Lyon Mountain area, and on the Smith and Carter Roads in the Ellenburg Mountain area, are open for public use. State boundary lines are not yet marked, contact the DEC Region 5 Natural Resources office (518-891-1291) to obtain a property map. Be aware of your location at all times, do not trespass.
Norton Peak Cave / Chateuagay Woodlands Conservation Easement Lands: Norton Peak Cave will be closed to the public from Nov 1 till March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. It is being closed to recreational spelunking to avoid disturbance of hibernating bats. DEC is closing all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easments to protect the bat population.
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 new DEC Trails Supporter Patch is now 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.