Thursday, June 2, 2011

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (June 2)

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 also publishes a weekly Adirondack Hunting and Fishing Report.

SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

** indicates new or revised items.

** HIGH WATERS – FLOODING
Due to additional rains again this past week, many waters remain well above normal, notably the Raquette, Beaver, Hudson, Sacandaga, Bouquet, Ausable, Salmon and Saranac Rivers. Water levels are high and water temperatures are low, rivers and streams are running swiftly. Cold waters increase the risk of hypothermia and drowning if you should fall into the water. Caution should be used when crossing streams without foot bridges. Trails and campsites adjacent to waters may still be flooded. 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. The latest Lake Champlain Flood information can be found here.

** MUDDY AND WET TRAILS
Hikers should be prepared mud and water on trails by wearing waterproof footwear and gaiters, and remember to walk through – not around – mud and water to prevent eroding and widening the trail.

** LANDSLIDES CONTINUE
Last weekends heavy rains expanded a slide on Whiteface and exacrebated a slide on Little Porter Mountain in Keene Valley, that NYS geologists say is the state’s largest ever. Several weeks of heavy rain contributed to the Whiteface slide which is believed to have occurred during a storm Friday evening. The slide expanded the existing backcountry area’s Slide 3 so that it left tons of debris at the base of Slide 1, also known as Slide Out.

** ROAD CLOSURES
Many secondary roads and backcountry roads remain closed due to flooding and/or mud season including some in the Lake George and Moose River Plains Wild Forests (see below). Rock Dam Road, the Cedar River Gate and the Wakely Dam camping area at the eastern end of the main road of the Moose River Plains Road remain closed at this time; The Town of Lake Pleasant has opened the Perkins Clearing Road and the Old Military Road from Perkins Clearing to Sled Harbor is open, the public may access to the Pillsbury Mountain trailhead with motor vehicles; Haskell-West River Road along the West Canada Creek from Route 8 into the Black River Wild Forest; Old Farm Road near Thirteenth Lake, preventing motor vehicle access to the trailhead; Lily Pond Road near Brant Lake; Jabe Pond Road near Hague; Gay Pond Road in the Hudson River Recreation Area; Dacy Clearing Road. Elk Lake Road the unpaved section of Coreys Road have reopened as has Connery Pond Road between Lake Placid and Wilmington. Gates on roads designated for motor vehicle traffic will be reopened when conditions warrant.

** MOOSE RIVER PLAINS ROADS OPENED
The Moose River Plains road system in Hamilton County was partially opened last Friday. The Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road has been opened to motor vehicles from the Limekiln Lake gate at the western end near Inlet and to the Lost Ponds access road. Also the Otter Brook Road is passable to motor vehicles to the Icehouse Pond trailhead. Rock Dam Road, the Cedar River Gate and the Wakely Dam camping area at the eastern end of the main road remain closed at this time. The open section of the road provides access to 30 roadside campsites and numerous waters popular with anglers including Icehouse Pond, Helldiver Pond, Lost Ponds, Mitchell Ponds and Beaver Lake. The opening of the Moose River Plains roads is due to the hard work of the local highway department staff and the successful partnership between DEC, the Towns of Inlet and Indian Lake and Hamilton County.

** SNOW AT ELEVATION
A foot or more of snow is present in elevations from 4000 feet to tree line. Snow may be found below 4000 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.

** FLUME AND HARDY ROAD BIKE TRAIL SYSTEM
Mountain bikers are asked to avoid using all bike trail systems in the Wilmington area – including the Flume and Hardy Road Bike Trail Systems – to prevent rutting and damaging trails.

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.

** FIREWOOD BAN IN EFFECT
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 will ticket violators of this firewood ban. More details and frequently asked questions at the DEC website.

** BLOWDOWN
A number of high wind events and very windy days have occurred over the past week. 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.

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.

ROCK CLIMBING CLOSURES
All routes at Willsboro Bay Cliff have been closed due to active peregrine falcon nesting. Rock climbing routes have reopened on Moss Cliff in Wilmington Notch but the Labor Day Wall has been closed. At Chapel Pond the Upper Washbowl has reopened, but the Lower Washbowl remains closed as does 54 routes on the Nose of Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain between and including Garter and Mogster (Routes #26 through #82 in Adirondack Rock) through the nesting season. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.

INLET’S WOODS & WATER OUTDOOR EXPO
Inlet’s Woods and Waters Outdoor Expo will share information about outdoor recreational opportunities and products on Saturday and Sunday June 4th and 5th 2011. The event will be held on the Arrowhead Park Lakefront. The free public event is expected to be a multi-themed outdoor recreational event hosting booths containing products for power sports, paddling, mountain biking, hiking, camping, fishing, and more. Not for profit Organizations from the many fitness events, environmental organizations, and tourism councils throughout the Adirondack Park are expected to attend.

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: Sunny, high near 62. North wind with gusts as high as 25 mph.
Friday Night: Patchy frost, clear, low around 28. North winds gusting to 23 mph.
Saturday: Sunny, high near 68. South wind at 5 mph becoming west.
Saturday Night: Chance of showers, mostly cloudy, low around 46.
Sunday: Chance of showers, partly sunny, high near 69.

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]

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 and Oswegatchie rivers, 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

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 4000 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 has reopened.

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

Corey’s Road Open: The unpaved section of Corey’s Road, the main entrance to the Western High Peaks Wilderness, has reopened.

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.

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 Washbowl Cliffs have reopened. Peregrine falcons are nesting at the Lower Washbowl Cliffs and they remain closed. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.

McKenzie Mountain Wilderness: Peregrine Falcons are nesting on the Labor Day Wall. All rock climbing routes on Labor Day Wall are closed. Climbing routes on Moss Cliff are open. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.

McKenzie Mountain Wilderness: Connery Pond Road is open, but in rough condition. 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: 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.

Sentinel Range Wilderness: The Owen Pond Trailhed located on Route 86 between Lake Placid and Wilmington has been relocated approximately 0.2 miles north (towards Wilmington) of its former location.

** 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.

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.

** Wilmington Wild Forest: Mountain bikers are asked to avoid using all bike trail systems in the Wilmington area – including the Flume and Hardy Road Bike Trail Systems – to prevent rutting and damaging trails.

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 was opened late last Friday (see above for details).

West Canada Lakes Wilderness: The bridge over Mud Creek and West Canada Creek on the Northville-Placid Trail have been washed away.

Ferris Lake Wild Forest: The Powley-Piseco Road in the Ferris Lake Wild Forest has reopened.

Ferris Lake Wild Forest / West Lake: 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: The Town of Lake Pleasant has opened the Perkins Clearing Road and the Old Military Road from Perkins Clearing to Sled Harbor is open, the public may access to the Pillisbury Mountain trailhead with motor vehicles.

** Perkins Clearing / Speculator tree Farm Conservation Easement: The Jessup River Road remains closed due to washouts and soft spots.

EASTERN / SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

Pharaoh Lake Wilderness: Lean-to #6 was recently destroyed by fire. You can see video here. This is a stern reminder to properly extinguish fires and never leave a fire unattended.

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 are restricted to day use only 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. The Jabe Pond Road and River Road in the Hudson River Recreation Area are open, however the latter is muddy and rutted. It is recommended that only high clearance vehicles use the road at this time. Gates on the Buttermilk Road Extension in the Hudson River Recreation Area remain shut and the roads closed to motor vehicle traffic.

Lake George Wild Forest Road Closures: Gates on Gay Pond Road and Lily Pond Road remain closed for mud season. 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 Dacy Clearing Park Area is open, however, the Dacy Clearing Road remains closed due to washouts.

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.

Siamese Ponds Wilderness: There is a culvert out on Old Farm Road preventing motor vehicle access to the trailhead – park at the snowplow turnaround. The bridge over Chatiemac Brook on the Second Pond Trail is out. DEC will be replacing the bridge with a natural log bridge. A bridge over William Blake Pond Outlet on the Halfway Brook/William Blake Pond Trail is out. DEC will be replacing the bridge with a natural log bridge. The 11th Mtn/Siamese Ponds to Old Farm Road Trail has been brushed out in the area of the Sacandaga lean-to. The old trail will no longer be maintained and the marked trail will go to the bridge/lean-to intersection with the Siamese Ponds Trail.

NORTHERN-NORTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

Lake Champlain Islands: The Ausable Point Campground is closed, as is the campground access road. Many Valcour Island campsites, access points and portions of trails 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.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. The pump station is closed at the Peru Dock Boat Launch.

Madawaska Flow/Quebec Brook Primitive Area: The Madawaska Flow Road has reopened to public motor vehicle access.

Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands (former Champion Lands): The Pinnacle Road has reopened.

Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: Both the Upper and the Lower Locks on the Saranac Lakes Chain are open.

Connery Pond Road: Connery Pond Road is open, however 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.

Moose Pond Road: The Town of St. Armand has opened the Moose Pond Road, the waterway access site can now be accessed by motor vehicles.

Corey’s Road: The Town of Harrietstown has opened the Corey’s 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.

St. Regis Canoe Area: Significant work on campsites was conducted last year. 14 new campsites were created, 18 campsites were closed and rehabilitated, 5 campsites were relocated to better locations, 5 campsites were restored to reduce the size of the impacted area and to better define tent pads, and one lean-to was constructed. DEC is appreciative of the hard work done by crews from the Student Conservation Association’s (SCA) Adirondack Program. This summer DEC and SCA will continue work on this project, but the number of campsites involved will not be as significant. As described in the St. Regis Canoe Area Unit Management Plan this work is needed to bring the campsites into compliance with the quarter-mile separation distance required by the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan and to address negative impacts that have occurred through use of the campsites. A map of current campsites will be posted in the near future.

St. Regis Canoe Area: A section of the canoe carry about half way between Long Pond and Nellie Pond has been flooded by beavers. This will required a short paddle across the beaver pond.

** Whitney Wilderness/Lake Lila: The Lake Lila Road is open but rough in some areas – use caution. Do not block the gate at the Lake Lila Parking Area.

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 DEC Trails Supporter Patch is 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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Community news stories come from press releases and other notices from organizations, businesses, state agencies and other groups.

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


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