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.
** DEC DISCOURGING BACKCOUNTRY USE
As of 3:30 pm on 4/28 only the trailheads for the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness located along Route 73 south of Keene can be reached by motor vehicle. DEC is discouraging the public from entering the woods or accessing the waters of the Adirondacks due to significant number of closed roads, impassable river, stream and brook crossings, flooded trails and campsites, and the High Wind Warning that has been issued for Thursday afternoon and evening. Saturated soils could result in numerous trees being toppled and tails and campsites may be covered and blocked by fallen trees and other blowdown. The danger of landslides on mountain slopes is currently high.
** HIGH WATERS – FLOODING
This winter’s deep snow pack combined with heavy rains this week have left lakes and ponds brimming, and rivers and streams swollen with cold and fast water. All major rivers are above flood stage and major flooding is occurring and expected to continue through Friday. More than 75 roads around the region have been reported closed, including several major connecting routes. Several roads and bridges have collapsed, and major flooding has forced, or may soon force evacuations along the Hudson, Schroon, Ausable, Bouquet, Saranac, and Raquette Rivers, and along Mill Brook in Moriah, which has been hard hit. Docks, boat launches, and low-lying waterfront property across the region’s lakes and reservoirs are submerged by high waters. Lake Champlain set the highest level ever recorded on the USGS gage at almost two feet above flood stage. Most boat launches in the region are flooded, making it risky to launch and retrieve boats. Boaters and paddlers should be aware that waters are cold and swift and may contain logs, limbs and other debris. High waters also conceal navigation hazards such as boulders, rock shelves, docks and other structures that normally are easily seen and avoided. Paddlers consult the latest stream gage data and use extreme caution. A complete report of the Adirondack Floods of 2011 can be found here.
**HIGH WIND WARNING – EXPECT BLOWDOWN
The National Weather Service has issued a High Wind Warning until 8 pm Thursday, for Saint Lawrence and Franklin Counties. Winds are expected to be southwest 25 to 35 mph wurth gusts to 65 miles per hour. Saturated soils could result in numerous trees being toppled and tails and campsites may be covered and blocked by fallen trees and other blowdown. The danger of landslides on mountain slopes is currently high.
** ROAD CLOSURES
Numerous major highways and secondary roads have been closed due to flooding and washouts. Any bridge over a major stream or river, and any road running near open water currently has the possibility of closure. Roads that have been recently or are now closed include: Route 28 north of North Creek; Route 28N between Blue Mountain Lake and Long Lake; Route 30 at the bridge over Long Lake and at the bridge over the Cedar River north of Indian Lake; Route 86 in Wilmington Notch between Wilmington and Lake Placid; Route 73 at the bridge over the West Branch of the Ausable River near the ski jumps outside of Lake Placid; Route 73 at the bridge over the East Branch of the Ausable River in Keene; Route 9N between Keene and Upper Jay; Route 9 where it crosses the South Branch of the Boquet River and near Split Rock Falls between Elizabethtown and Exit 30 of the Northway; Thirteenth Lake Road in Johnsburg; Route 28N between Long Lake and Tupper Lake; Schroon River Road at Riverbank; Route 8 between Route 28 in Poland, Route 12 and Route 28 in Deerfield, and Route 10 in Piseco; Route 28 over West Canada Creek between Route 29 and Route 169 in Middleville; Route 5 between Route 5B and Route 233 in Kirkland; Route 922E (River St) between Route 49 and Route 69 in Whitestown and Marcy and the village of Whitesboro; and Route 315 between Route 12 and County Route 9 (Shanley Rd) in Sangerfield. DEC has closed most roadways for mud season. Gates on roads designated for motor vehicle traffic will be reopened when conditions warrant.
** THIN ICE SAFETY
No ice on water is safe.
** WET AND MUDDY CONDITIONS
DEC is discouraging the public from entering the woods or accessing the waters of the Adirondacks due to closed roads, impassable river, stream and brook crossings, flooded trails and campsites, and the High Wind Warning that has been issued for Thursday afternoon and evening. 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.
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.
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.
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: Chance morning rain and snow, then rain showers. High near 53.
Friday Night: Chance of rain and possibly snow showers, with a low around 30.
Saturday: Sunny, high near 57. North wind between 6 and 8 mph.
Saturday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 29.
Sunday: Chance of afternoon showers after 2pm. Mostly sunny, high near 67.
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 15 inches of slushy wet snow on the ground at Lake Colden and more in higher elevations. Conditions there still require snowshoes or skis above Marcy Dam.
** 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 15 inches to two feet and more at higher elevations. Avalanche Lake should no longer safe for crossing. The bridge is out on the trail to Marcy, see below for details. Phil Brown skied Mount Marcy last weekend and noted that the approximately four miles from the Summit to Phelps Brook still has plenty of snow. “I expect diehards will be able to ski this stretch for a few weeks more,” Brown reported, “but they’ll have to carry their skis 3.5 miles on the ascent and on the descent.”
** Rock Climbing Closures
All rock climbing routes on Moss Cliff in Wilmington Notch and the Upper and Lower Washbowl Cliffs at Chapel Pond remain closed to allow for peregrine falcon nesting. DEC has confirmed that peregrine falcons are nesting on the Nose on Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain and 54 climbing routes remain closed including Garter and Mogster (Routes #26 through #82 in Adirondack Rock) through the nesting season. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.
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.
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 the season is still suffering from high and cold waters. Trout stocking was suspended in Warren County because of cold waters and widespread flooding that has brought streams to record levels. We’ll need at least one dry week to get local waters back to fishable levels. With large lakes like Lake Champlain and Lake George at record levels, smaller lakes and ponds are your best bet. For catch and size limits view the freshwater fishing regulations online.
** Spring Turkey Season Opens May 1
DEC biologists expect the spring turkey harvest to be well below the state’s 10-year average of about 34,000 birds, and likely below last year take of 25,807. This is likely to be a third year of poor production in the Adirondacks. 2009 was one of the worst poult production years on record and as a result there will be fewer 2-year-olds, last year’s poor production means fewer yearlings (jakes). Because those birds make up most of the spring turkey harvest, it will likely be considerably lower than average.
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, major flooding is occurring on most rivers and streams and water temperatures are low. Paddlers and other boaters should be prepared for high waters that may contain logs, limbs and other debris. See High Waters – Flooding Warning Above.
** 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.
** Visits to High Peaks Di scourged: DEC is discouraging the public from entering the woods or accessing the waters of the Adirondacks due to significant number of closed roads, impassable river, stream and brook crossings, flooded trails and campsites, and the High Wind Warning that has been issued for Thursday afternoon and evening. Saturated soils could result in numerous trees being toppled and tails and campsites may be covered and blocked by fallen trees and other blowdown. The danger of landslides on mountain slopes is currently high.
** Limited Access: As of 3:30 pm on 4/28 only the trailheads for the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness located along Route 73 south of Keene can be reached my motor vehicle.
** Opalescent Lean-to: The Opalescent Lean-to is once again available for use.
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.
Johns 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
** Lake Champlain Fish Kill: Crews are cleaning up the thousands of dead fish that have washed up along the shoreline of Lake Champlain. Thousands of nonnative alevives that died during the winter have washed up near campgrounds and beaches preparing to open for the season. Officials in Moriah told the Press-Republican that workers, including inmate work crews, are hoping to reduce the possibility of a stench from the rotting fish researching public areas. The fish are being hauled to a local landfill.
** Shelving Rock Road: The Town of Fort Ann has reopened Shelving Rock Road.
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 Bear Slides ADA-accessible route is open.
Western Lake George Wild Forest: The following roads have been closed for spring mud season: 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.
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: See the High Waters – Flooding Warning Above. 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.
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.
** Taylor Pond Wild Forest: Peregrine falcon nesting has been confirmed on The Nose on the Main Face of Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain, rock climbing routes between and including Garter and Mogster (Routes #26 through #82 in Adirondack Rock) will remain closed through the nesting season. 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.