Thursday, May 19, 2011

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (May 19)

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 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.

** VICTORIA DAY WEEKEND
A higher number of people can be expected in the backcountry and on the waters this weekend due to the weather forecast and Canada’s Victoria Day Holiday. Visitors to the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness should be aware that trailhead parking lots and interior campsites will often fill to capacity on Victoria Day weekend. Please plan accordingly and seek backcountry recreation opportunities in other areas of the park.

** HIGH WATERS – FLOODING
Due to additional rains this past week, most waters remain well above normal. Caution should be used when crossing streams without foot bridges. Trails and campsites adjacent to waters may be flooded. Some low-lying waterfront properties remain submerged by high waters. Many boat launches in the region remain 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. Consult the latest streamgage data and use extreme caution.

** LAKE CHAMPLAIN REMAINS ABOVE FLOOD STAGE
During the recent flooding Lake Champlain reached the highest level ever recorded on the USGS gauge at Burlington; the lake remains above flood stage. The Ausable Point Campground is closed, as is the campground access road. Many Valcour Island campsites and access points are flooded. Due to the high waters, floating docks have not been installed and bathrooms are closed at Peru Dock, Port Douglas, Willsboro Bay and other boat launches. The pump station is closed at the Peru Dock Boat Launch. Launching and retrieving boats will be difficult, especially for boaters not familiar with the location of ramps, walkways, docks, posts, etc. that are now underwater.

** BITING INSECTS
It is “Bug Season” in the Adirondacks so Black Flies, Mosquitos, Deer Flies and/or Midges will be present. To minimize the nuisance wear light colored clothing, pack a head net and use an insect repellent.

**BLOWDOWN
Saturated soils have resulted in additional trees being toppled on and over tails and campsites. Blowdown may be present, especially on lesser used side trails.

** ROAD CLOSURES
Many secondary roads and backcountry roads remain closed due to flooding and/or mud season. Gates on roads designated for motor vehicle traffic will be reopened when conditions warrant.

** WET AND MUDDY CONDITIONS
This is a good time to stay off wet trails. While snow is still present above 3,500 feet, lower and mid-elevation trails are wet and muddy. Be prepared by wearing waterproof footwear and gaiters, and remember to walk through – not around – mud and water on trails.

** SNOW AT ELEVATION
A foot or more of snow is present in elevations from 3500 feet to tree line. Snow may be found below 3500 feet on north and east facing slopes. Wear proper clothing and footwear (NO running shoes or shorts) and expect it to take much longer to traverse trails with snow.

** ADIRONDACK PADDLEFEST IN OLD FORGE
Adirondack Paddlefest 2011 will be held in Old Forge from Friday to Sunday, May 20-22. Now in its 13th year, Paddlefest is the largest on-water Paddlesports Show and Sale in the US. Thousands of paddlers will be in Old Forge to test paddle hundreds of different models of canoes, kayaks and whitewater boats. Paddling industry representatives and experts from companies such as Current Designs, Dagger, Ocean Kayak, Oxbow SUP, Wave Sport, Delta and Pyranha will be on hand to answer questions. Waterfront venues will be offering presentations, including Choosing the Perfect Kayak Paddle and Easier Paddling for All Skill Levels. There will also be classes on Tandem Canoe Paddling, Basic Kayak Strokes and a Kayaking clinic for kids. Other events will include live music, a concert on Saturday night, plus an art show. Admission is free for kids 12 and under, $5 for adults (per day) with a $20 test paddle fee that will be applied to admission fees and any boat purchases.

** AUSABLE RIVER TWO-FLY CHALLENGE
Now in it’s 12th year Now in its 10th year, Ausable River Two-Fly Challenge tournament brings together fly fisherman from across the United States, who want to test their skills on the acclaimed river, while at the same time promote the 35-mile long river as a fishery and raise money to protect it. Rules for the catch and release tournament are simple. Anglers are allowed to bring two barb-less hook flies, of any combination or patterns and once the flies are lost or unusable – you’re out. The tournament starts noon on Friday, May 20th and runs through Saturday evening. More information, including times and costs, is available online.

** 19th ANNUAL HORICON MILL POND CHILDREN”S FISHING DERBY
The town of Horicon will host Barney Barnhardt children’s fishing derby at Mill Pond on Route 8 in Brant Lake (which includes a new handicapped accessible fishing pier) Warren County fish hatchery will stock the pond with several hundred rainbow trout. The derby is open to all kids 15 and under. Last year, nearly 250 kids took part; Fishing is banned in the pond after it is stocked until the derby.

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.

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

** Central Adirondacks LOWER Elevation Weather

Friday: Intermittent showers and thunderstorms, mostly cloudy, high near 65.
Friday Night: Chance of showers and thunderstorms, mostly cloudy, low around 49.
Saturday: Chance of showers and thunderstorms, partly sunny, high near 68.
Saturday Night: Chance of showers and thunderstorms, mostly cloudy, low around 45.
Sunday: Partly sunny, with a high near 66.

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]

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.

** Warmwater Sportfishing Open
The fishing season for many popular warmwater sportfish species, including walleye, northern pike, pickerel, tiger muskellunge, and catch and release fishing for black bass (largemouth and smallmouth bass) is open in many waters across the state. Muskellunge fishing season and the regular (harvest) season for black bass open on the 3rd Saturday in June (June 18). Spring also provides outstanding fishing opportunities for yellow perch, sunfish and crappie. A complete listing of 2011 warmwater fishing hotspots recommended by DEC biologists can be found online.

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

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

** Lake Champlain Anglers
Warmwater anglers on Lake Champlain are requested to report any catches of sauger to Emily Zollweg at the DEC Region 5 office in Warrensburg at (518) 623-1264. The status of sauger, a close relative of the walleye, has been unknown in the lake for a quite some time, until a single sauger was caught in a DEC survey last spring. Sauger can be distinguished from walleye by the three to four saddle-shaped dark brown blotches on their sides, the distinct black spots on the first dorsal (back) fin and the lack of a white tip on the lower lobe of the tail fin.

Trout Season Opened April 1st
Trout (brook, rainbow, brown and hybrids, and splake) and landlocked Salmon season opened April 1st, but the season is still suffering from high and cold waters. 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 Opened 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

** West Canada Lakes Wilderness: The bridge over West Canada Creek on the Northville-Placid Trail has been washed away.

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 – Cold Temperatures: Water levels are very high, especially on the Raquette River, 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 Warning Above.

HIGH PEAKS

** Busy Victoria Day Weekend: A higher number of people can be expected in the backcountry and on the waters this weekend due to the weather forecast and Canada’s Victoria Day Holiday.

** No Fires in Eastern High Peaks: Fires of any kind are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks

** Snow at Elevation: A foot or more of snow is present in elevations above 3500 feet and at lower elevations on north and east facing slopes. Wear proper clothing and footwear (NO running shoes or shorts) and expect it to take much longer to traverse trails with snow.

** Porter Mountain / The Garden: Both the lower (old) and the upper (new) bridges on the Porter Mountain Trail from The Garden are unusable. The lower bridge is completely gone and the new bridge is severely damaged.

** Dix Mountain Wilderness / Elk Lake Road: Elk Lake Road is closed at the Clearn Pond gate for mud season. This adds 2 miles of hiking, plan trips accordingly.

East River Trail: The first bridge on the East River Trail has been washed away, high waters make crossing risky.

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

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.

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.

** Lake Arnold Trail: A section of the Lake Arnold Trail, just north of the Feldspar Lean-to is impassable due to mud and water.

** Algonquin Mountain: Significant amount of blowdown is present in the higher elevation of all trails on the mountain.

** Connery Pond – Whiteface Landing: Connery Pond Road is unaccessible by motor vehicle due to washouts. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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: While 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 remains impassable to horses and wagons.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ADIRONDACKS

** Wakley Dam: The Wakely Dam Area is closed due to significant damage from flooding.

** Moose River Plains Wild Forest: The Moose River Plains Road System remains 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.

** West Canada Lakes Wilderness: The bridge over West Canada Creek on the Northville-Placid Trail has been washed away.

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.

EASTERN / SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

** Lake Champlain: During the recent flooding Lake Champlain reached the highest level ever recorded on the USGS gauge at Burlington; the lake remains above flood stage. The Ausable Point Campground is closed, as is the campground access road. Many Valcour Island campsites and access points are flooded. Due to the high waters, floating docks have not been installed and bathrooms are closed at Peru Dock, Port Douglas, Willsboro Bay and other boat launches. The pump station is closed at the Peru Dock Boat Launch. Launching and retrieving boats will be difficult, especially for boaters not familiar with the location of ramps, walkways, docks, posts, etc. that are now underwater.

** Western Lake George Wild Forest / Hudson River Recreation Area: In the Hudson Recreation Area, the two designated campsites at Scofield Flats and the two designated campsites at Pikes Beach were damaged by flooding and unusable at this time. The water access paths at Darlings Ford and the Gay Pond Road intersection were damaged by flooding but can be used with caution.

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.

** Lake George Wild Forest: Gates on the following roads are closed for mud season: Gay Pond Road, Prospect Mountain, Lily Pond Road, and Jabe Pond Road. The following ADA-accessible roads have been closed for mud season: Scofield Flats, Pikes Beach, Darlings Ford, and the Huckleberry Mountain and Palmer Pond access routes. The Bear Slides ADA-accessible route is open. The gates on the Dacy Clearing and Shelving Rock trails are closed.

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.

NORTHERN-NORTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

** Madawaska Flow/Quebec Brook Primitive Area: The Madawaska Flow Road is closed to public motor vehicle access due to a washout in the road.

** Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands (former Champion Lands): The Pinnacle Trail is open for public access, however, the gate is closed and motor vehicle access is prohibited for mud season.

** Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: Connery Pond Road is unaccessible by motor vehicle due to washouts. 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.

** 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.

Whitney Wilderness/Lake Lila: The gate to the Lake Lila Road remains closed for mud season. Public motorized access to the road is prohibited until the gate is reopened. Non-motorized access is allowed on the road, however, 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.

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. 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.

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.

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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 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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Submit your contributions to Almanack Editor Melissa Hart at [email protected]




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