Thursday, May 5, 2011

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (May 5)

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.

** HIGH WATERS – FLOODING
The worst is now over in the central Adirondacks but areas downstream of the the region’s major rivers are still experiencing significant flooding. Most waters are well above normal and a significant number of closed roads, impassable river, stream and brook crossings, and flooded trails and campsites plague the backcountry. Docks, boat launches, and low-lying waterfront property across the region’s lakes and reservoirs are submerged by high waters. Lake Champlain is currently at the highest level ever recorded on the USGS gauge at Burlington. 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. DEC is recommending that paddlers and boaters consider staying off larger rivers such as the Raquette, Saranac, Hudson, and Schroon. Paddlers consult the latest streamgage data and use extreme caution. A complete report of the Adirondack Floods of 2011 can be found here.

**EXPECT BLOWDOWN
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
Many secondary roads and backcountry roads remain closed due to flooding. DEC has closed most roadways for 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 3,000 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.

** SNOWSHOES STILL REQUIRED
The use of snowshoes is required in the Eastern High Peaks where ever snow depths exceed 8 inches, as is currently the case on some trails above Lake Colden. Using snowshoes prevents “post-holing”, avoids injuries, and eases travel through snow.

** HUDSON RIVER WHITEWATER DERBY
The Hudson River Whitewater Derby will run May 7-8 2011. The event includes novice slalom, giant slalom, and other races from North River to Rapairus.

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 currently in the state’s historically high fire risk period from mid-March until mid-May.

** Central Adirondacks LOWER Elevation Weather

Friday: Chance of rain and snow showers; partly sunny, high near 59.
Friday Night: Slight chance of showers; mostly cloudy, low around 38.
Saturday: Chance of showers; mostly cloudy, high near 61.
Saturday Night: Chance of showers; mostly cloudy, low around 33.
Sunday: Mostly cloudy, with a high near 55.

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 gone outside the High Peaks where there is still snow cover above 3,000 feet. Conditions still require snowshoes above Lake Colden on some trails.

** Backcountry Ski Report
Snow cover is no longer suitable for backcountry skiing.

** 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 Opens Saturday
The first Saturday in May marks the beginning of 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) 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, valued for their tasty flesh. 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

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, 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.

HIGH PEAKS

** 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.

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

** Snow at Elevation: Snow is present in elevations above 3000 feet, and snowshoes may be warranted in elevations above 3500 feet.

** Corey’s Road Closed: Corey’s Road is closed at Stony Creek Ponds, there is no access to the trailheads for the Western High Peaks. The unpaved section of Corey’s Road, the main entrance to the Western High Peaks Wilderness, is closed for mud season.

** Day Glow South Camping: Campsites in the Day Glow South camping area below the Lake Colden Dam, including the McMartin and Opalescent lean-tos, are once again available for use, though the area may be wet and muddy.

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.

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.

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: 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.

** Ampersand Mountain Trail: There is heavy blowdown on the Ampersand Mountain Trail as far as the old caretakers cabin – approximately 1.7 miles in.

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 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.

EASTERN / SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

** Western Lake George Wild Forest / Hudson River Recreation Area: The two designated campsites at Scofield Flats and the two designated campsites at Pikes Beach are flooded by 2-4 feet of water.

** Lake Champlain Islands: Lake Champlain is at record levels. Access points, campsites and trails on Valcour and other islands may be flooded.

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. DEC is recommending staying off the Hudson River at this time.

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

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. 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.

——————–
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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