Thursday, April 21, 2011

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (April 21)

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) and the stations of North Country Public Radio.

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

** indicates new or revised items.

** SPRING / WINTER CONDITIONS
Spring conditions and the Mud Season have arrived at elevations below 2,500 feet across the Adirondacks, but winter conditions still exist in the High Peaks where there is two feet of snow on the ground at Lake Colden and more at higher elevations. Trails in lower elevation may be hard and icy in the morning, but, as temperatures warm, muddy and wet later in the day. Likewise trails in the higher elevation are hard packed snow and ice early, but with softer snow conditions found in the afternoon and off the trails. Boots and gaiters are suitable up to 2500 feet, snowshoes and crampons should be carried and used whenever warranted in higher elevations. Expect temperatures below freezing at night at all elevations and below freezing during the day at high elevations. Higher elevations waters are opening-up. No ice on water surfaces should be assumed safe to traverse. Brooks and streams are running high and crossings without bridges may be impassable. Lower elevation waters are now open.

** HIGH WATERS
All waters in the region are running well above normal for this time of year and are near flood stage, there are scattered areas of flooding and closed roads. The Independence River is running at 98% of the flood stage. Crossings may not be possible where trails cross streams and brooks except on bridges. Waters levels will be higher in the afternoon as temperatures and snowmelt increase. Water crossings that are easily passable during the morning may not be passable in the afternoon. Paddlers and other boaters should be prepared for high waters that may contain logs, limbs and other debris. Reservoir and lake levels are above normal even for this time of year, docks and low-lying waterfront properties, may be flooded. High waters have pushed some rivers beyond their usual channels, onto farm fields, flood plains, and roads and properties. Use care and consult the latest streamgage data.

** SNOWSHOES OR SKIS
The use of snowshoe or skis is required in the Eastern High Peaks where ever snow depths exceed 8 inches, as is currently the case above Marcy Dam. Using snowshoes or skis prevents “post-holing”, avoids injuries, and eases travel through snow.

** THIN ICE SAFETY
Low elevation waters are now open, opening or have very thin ice. Ice on higher elevation waters is thinning. No ice on water surfaces should be assumed safe to traverse.

** WET AND MUDDY CONDITIONS
Lower and mid-elevation trails, those below 2,500 feet, are wet and muddy. Be prepared by wearing waterproof footwear and gaiters, and remember to walk through – not around – mud and water on trails.

** ROADS CLOSED FOR MUD SEASON
DEC has closed most roadways for mud season. Gates on roads designated for motor vehicle traffic will be reopened when conditions warrant.

** ANNIVERSARY OF APRIL 19-20, 1983 SNOWSTORM
Major snowstorms are rare in the second half of April, but they do happen. 28 years ago this week, a storm dumped 1-2 feet of heavy wet snow throughout the Adirondacks, central New York, the Catskills and down into the Poconos. Read more about the storm here.

BEAR CANISTERS NOW REQUIRED IN HIGH PEAKS
The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness, and recommended throughout the Adirondacks, between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters.

EXPECT BLOWDOWN
Recent storms and strong winds have caused blowdown – trees, limbs, and branches may be found on and over trails, especially lesser used trails which have not yet been cleared.

MIGRATING BIRDS
Thousands of birds are currently undertaking their seasonal journey along the Atlantic Flyway from their southern wintering grounds. Flocks of migratory waterfowl like geese, ducks and swans are among the first to arrive, as songbirds like the red-winged blackbird, Eastern bluebird, Eastern meadowlark and American robin take up residence and build their nests. Over the next few weeks, grab your binoculars to watch the spectacle of birds arriving this spring. Visit DEC’s Watchable Wildlife site to find a place near you for great bird and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Carry Extra Winter Gear
Snowshoes or skis can prevent injuries and eases travel in heavy snow. Ice crampons should be carried for use on icy trails and mountaintops and other exposed areas. Wear layers of wool and fleece (NOT COTTON!), a winter hat, gloves or mittens, wind/rain resistant outer wear, and winter boots. Carry a day pack complete with ice axe, plenty of food and water, extra clothing, map and compass, first-aid kit, flashlight/headlamp, sun glasses, sun-block protection, ensolite pads, a stove and extra fuel, and bivy sack or space blankets.

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
NOTE: We’re entering the state’s historically high fire risk period from mid-March until mid-May.

** Central Adirondacks LOWER Elevation Weather

Friday: Sunny, a high near 49.
Friday Night: Chance of snow showers, low around 26.
Saturday: Breezy, rain and snow, becoming all rain after 2pm. High near 47.
Saturday Night: Chance of rain and snow showers, mostly cloudy, low near 32.
Sunday: Chance of rain and snow showers, partly sunny, high near 49.

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 Cover
Snow is all but gone outside the High Peaks where there is still two feet of snow on the ground at Lake Colden and more in higher elevations. Conditions there still require snowshoes or skis above Marcy Dam and crampons on exposed areas such as summits.

** Downhill Ski Report
All downhill mountains are now closed for the season. The last day for Gore and Whiteface was April 17th. Whiteface had 138 days and 247 inches of natural snow and 12 days in the sides (their average is 200 inches). Gore had 134 days and 150 inches (the level of their long-term average; 30 inches over last year’s total). The Hudson Chair at eth North Creek Ski Bowl was open until the last weekend of March.

** Cross Country Ski Report
The region’s cross-country ski areas have all closed. There may still be some isolated skiing on the wooded section of the Jack Rabbit Trail above Whiteface Inn Lane, but the rest of the trail is no longer recommended for skiing.

** Backcountry Ski Report
Snow cover is no longer suitable for skiing below Marcy Dam, and above snow cover is starting to wane and get patchy, there remains about 10 inches to two feet and more at higher elevations. This will probably be the last weekend for skiing on on the upper reaches of Mount Marcy – anyone making the attempt should use extreme caution. Avalanche Lake should no longer be assumed safe for crossing. The bridge is out on the trail to Marcy, see below for details.

** Ice Climbing Report
The season has ended for ice climbing in the Adirondacks.

Rock Climbing Closures
All rock climbing routes on Upper and Lower Washbowl Cliffs in the Giant Mountain Wilderness, on Moss Cliff in the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness, and on the Main Face of Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain are closed, except for the routes between “Opposition” and “Womb with a View” at Pok-O-Moonshine, to allow for peregrine falcon nesting. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.

** Ice Fishing Report
Ice fishing is officially open, but recent warm weather have left very little solid ice at any elevation. Low elevation waters are now open, opening or have very thin ice. Ice on higher elevation waters is thinning. No ice on water surfaces should be assumed safe to traverse. Tip-ups may be used on waters through next Saturday, April 30, 2010. General ice fishing regulations can be found in the in the 2010-11 Fishing Regulations Guide.

** Snowmobile Trails Report
The snowmobiling season has now ended in the Adirondacks. More Adirondack snowmobiling resources can be found here.

Whitewater Rafting Season Has Begun
The whitewater rafting season has begun on the Moose, Black and Sacandaga rivers. The Hudson River Whitewater Derby will run May 7-8 2011. The event includes novice slalom, giant slalom, and more.

** Trout Season Opened April 1st
Trout (brook, rainbow, brown and hybrids, and splake) and landlocked Salmon season open April 1st, but has been off to a slow start with some snow and ice on the banks of local streams, and this weekend’s high and cold waters. Stocking was delayed in the Adirondacks but began this week in earnest. For catch and size limits view the freshwater fishing regulations online.

ADIRONDACK LOCAL BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS

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: Just north of the Mud Lake lean-to there has been significant blow-down in several areas across the trail that happened sometime in early December that requires several bushwhacks to get around.

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.

ADIRONDACK CANOE ROUTE / NORTHERN FOREST CANOE TRAIL

** High Waters – Cold Temperatures: Water levels are high and water temperatures are low. Paddlers and other boaters should be prepared for high waters that may contain logs, limbs and other debris.

** Personal Flotation Devices Required: Users of small boats are reminded that state law still requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) until May 1.

HIGH PEAKS

** Day Glow South Camping Area: Campsites in the Day Glow South camping area below the Lake Colden Dam, including the McMartin lean-to, are once again available for use.

** Opalescent Lean-to: The Opalescent Lean-to remains unusable due to the amount of snow and ice in and around it.

** Preston Pond Trail: The first bridge west of Henderson Lake on the trail to Preston Ponds and Duck Hole went out with an ice jam and is now impassible.

** John Brook Valley: The Bear Brook Lean-to has been removed and will not be replaced.

Bear Resistant Canister Now Required: The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness, and recommended throughout the Adirondacks, between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters.

Giant Mountain Wilderness: All rock climbing routes on Upper and Lower Washbowl Cliffs are closed to allow for peregrine falcon nesting. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.

McKenzie Mountain Wilderness: All rock climbing routes on Moss Cliff are closed to allow for peregrine falcon nesting. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.

** Snowshoes or Skis: The use of snowshoe or skis is required in the Eastern High Peaks when snows are at least 8 inches deep, as is the case above Marcy Dam. Using snowshoes or skis prevents “post-holing”, avoids injuries, and eases travel through snow.

** Johns Brook Valley: Lean2Rescue, in cooperation with DEC, will be undertaking several lean-to projects in the Johns Brook Valley over the course of the next several months. DEC will post notifications at the Garden trailhead prior to work being started. The Deer Brook lean-to is currently closed while it’s being moved.

Marcy Brook Bridge: The Marcy Brook Bridge, below the junction of the Avalanche Pass and Lake Arnold trails, was damaged by ice during the recent thaw. The bridge is still usable but one of the railings is bent making the path over the bridge narrow. Skiers may have some problems crossing.

Opalescent Cable Bridge: The cable bridge over the Opalescent River on the East River/Hanging Spear Falls trail has been washed out. The crossing will be impassable during high water periods.

Western High Peaks Wilderness: The unpaved section of Corey’s Road, the main entrance to the Western High Peaks Wilderness, is closed for mud season.

Western High Peaks Wilderness: Trails in the Western High Peaks Wilderness are cluttered with blowdown from a storm that occurred December 1st. DEC has cleared blow down along the Corey’s Road, and in most areas accessed from the that road, including the Seward Trail, although not along the Northville-Placid Trail.

** Sentinel Range Wilderness: The Copperas Pond/Owen Pond Loop Trail was impacted by serious winds resulting in significant blow down. While most of the blowdown has been cut out, some downed trees and limbs are still present.

Ampersand Mountain Trail: There is heavy blowdown on the Ampersand Mountain Trail as far as the old caretakers cabin – approximately 1.7 miles in. Finding the trail may be difficult after fresh snows. Skiing will be frustrating as there are so many trees down. Past the cabin site the trail is good but snowshoes and crampon are needed.

Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands: The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed and will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season. This adds 2 miles of hiking, plan trips accordingly.

Bushnell Falls: The high water bridge at Bushnell Falls has been removed, the low water crossing may not be accessible during high water.

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.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ADIRONDACKS

** Moose River Plains Wild Forest: The Moose River Plains Road System is closed for mud season. Gates have been closed at the Cedar River Headquarters and the Limekiln Lake. The road system will be reopened once they have dried out and all necessary maintenance and repairs have been completed.

** Ferris Lake Wild Forest: The West Lake Boat Launch was impacted by rains and floods last August. 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.

** Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement: Gates have been closed on all roads for the mud season. The roads will be reopened once they have dried out and all necessary maintenance and repairs have been completed.

Pigeon Lake Wilderness: DEC Forest Rangers and trail crew have been working to clear blowdown from trails. The following trails are cleared and ready for skiing and/or snowshoeing: Shallow Lake Trail (well-marked with some minor blow down), West Mountain Trail (well-marked, some blowdown remains on section east of the summit), and Sucker Brook Trail

EASTERN / SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

** Ausable Point Campground & Day Use Area: The entry road to the Ausable Point Campground and Day Use Area is closed until further notice due to flooding. DEC has placed barricades at the end of the road and will be patrolling the area to ensure the public is abiding by the closure. The road will be reopened once the waters have receded and it is determined the road can handle motorized traffic without further damage.

Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: The Town of Fort Ann has closed the Shelving Rock Road for mud season.

** Western Lake George Wild Forest: The following roads have been closed for spring mud season: the Bear Slides, Scofield Flats, Pikes Beach, Darlings Ford in the Hudson River Special Management Area, Palmer Pond Access Route, Gay Pond Road, Lily Pond Road, Palmer Pond Road, Jabe Pond Road.

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

** Hoffman Notch Wilderness: Some stream crossings do not have bridges and may be difficult to cross in high water conditions.

Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area: The DEC is holding a public meeting to discuss the proposed Unit Management Plan for the 38,500 acre Hoffman Notch Wilderness in the Towns of North Hudson, Minerva and Schroon Lake in Essex County. The plan includes an analysis of the features of the area and the ability of the land to accommodate public use. The meeting will start at 6:30 on April 26 at the Schroon Lake Town Hall. For directions and more details on the draft management plan, read the DEC press release.

Hudson River Recreation Area: Gates on the Buttermilk Road Extension in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area), in the Town of Warrensburg remain shut and the roads closed to motor vehicle traffic.

** Hudson Gorge Primitive Area: Water levels are high and water temperatures are low. Paddlers and other boaters should be prepared for high waters that may contain logs, limbs and other debris. 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.

NORTHERN ADIRONDACKS

Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands (former Champion Lands): All lands are open to all legal and allowable public recreation activities beginning January 1. The gate to the Pinnacle Trail remains closed until after the spring mud season.

Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: The gate to the Lake Lila Road is closed. Public motorized access to the road is prohibited until the gate is reopened after the spring mud season. Cross-country skiers, snowshoers and other non-motorized access is allowed on the road. Trespassing on lands adjacent to the road is prohibited.

NORTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

** Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: Gates have been closed on all snowmobile trails.

** William C. Whitney Wilderness/Lake Lila: Little Tupper Lake remains iced over.

Taylor Pond Wild Forest: All of the rock climbing routes on the Main Face of Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain are closed, except for the routes between “Opposition” and “Womb with a View”, to allow for peregrine falcon nesting. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.

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.

GENERAL ADIRONDACK NOTICES

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.

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.

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.

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. More information is available online.

——————–
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.

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