Thursday, July 14, 2011

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (July 14)

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.

** MUDDY AND WET TRAILS
Trails in exposed areas are drying out but trails in deep woods, near water and in lows spots may still contain mud and water on trails. All trails may be wet and muddy following heavy rain events. Hikers should be prepared for mud and water on trails by wearing waterproof footwear and remembering to walk through – not around – mud and water to prevent eroding and widening the trail.

** WATERS AT NORMAL LEVELS
All rivers in the region are running at or below normal for this time of year with the Sacandaga and beaver rivers running notably low. Occassional storms can quickly raise the level of rivers so consult the latest streamgage data.

** INVASIVE SPECIES AWARENESS WEEK
Advocates of combating invasive species in the Adirondacks are hoping local residents and visitors will become familiar with invasive species during the 6th annual Adirondack Invasive Species Awareness Week which continues through Sunday (July 16). Look for events highlighting the threat of invasive plants and animals, ways to prevent their spread and management options. Interpretive walks and paddles, identification support, invasive species talks, workshops for all ages and more are planned throughout the Adirondacks [calendar of events. Invasive species are a growing threat in the Adirondacks, making their early detection increasingly important to combating their spread. Adirondack Almanack regularly covers the issue of invasive species in the Adirondacks [link].

ROAD CLOSURES
A number of secondary roads and backcountry roads remain closed including some in the Lake George and Moose River Plains Wild Forests. 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. Other closed roads include The Jessup River Road in Hamilton County; 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; and Lily Pond Road near Brant Lake. The Wolf Lake Landing Road from McKeever on Route 28 east toward Woodhull Lake is passable only with high clearance vehicles. There is no time table for the needed bridge and road repair work on Haskell-West River Road; DEC Region 6 is currently awaiting construction funds.

EXPECT BLOWDOWN
Trees may be toppled on and over tails and campsites, especially in lesser used areas and side trails. Expect blowdown in the Western High Peaks Wilderness and in the Sentinel and Seward Ranges. A hiker had to be rescued this summer from Mount Emmons in the Seward Range after losing his way while negotiating blowdown [LINK].

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 have begun ticketing violators of this firewood ban. More details and frequently asked questions at the DEC website.

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
Due to active peregrine falcon nesting rock climbing routes remain closed at the Labor Day Wall in Wilmington Notch and at the Lower Washbowl. Routes at Willsboro Bay Cliff and on the Nose of Pok-o-Moonshine Mountain have reopened. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.

CAVE AND MINE CLOSURES
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.

BE AWARE OF INVASIVE SPECIES
Boaters on Adirondack waterways will be a lot more likely to be questioned about whether they are transporting invasive species at local boat launches this year. Watershed stewards will stationed throughout the region to inspect boats, canoes, kayaks and other craft entering and exiting the water for invasive species, remove suspicious specimens, and educate boaters about the threats of invasive species and how to prevent their spread. Aquatic invasive species are a growing threat in the Adirondacks, making such inspections increasingly important to combating their spread. At least 80 waters in the Adirondack Park have one or more aquatic invasive species, but more than 220 waters recently surveyed remain free of invasives. The inspections are currently voluntary, but more than a half dozen local municipalities have passed or are considering aquatic invasive species transport laws.

PRACTICE ‘LEAVE NO TRACE’
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.

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.

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 79.
Friday Night: Clear, low around 47.
Saturday: Sunny, high near 82.
Saturday Night: Mostly clear, low around 55.
Sunday: Sunny, high near 83.

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 ADIRONDACK CONDITIONS

NORTHVILLE PLACID TRAIL

** Due to deterioration and damage of the “Flume” bridge, the last stringer on the bridge crossing over the Chubb River on the Northville-Placid Trail north of Wanika Falls is very dangerous. For safety, hikers may want to wade the river to cross at this point. The bridge will be replaced this summer.

West Canada Creek: The bridge over West Canada Creek on the Northville-Placid Trail was washed away this spring. The 45 foot span bridge had replaced one that was lost in 2001. Crossing West Canada Creek now requires very careful crossing that may be intimidating to some hikers. Bridge replacement is expected to begin this fall and be completed in summer, 2012.

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. The Wakely Dam Camping area is closed.

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

** Waters have returned to normal.

HIGH PEAKS – LAKE PLACID REGION
Wilmington, Keene, Western High Peaks,

** Duck Hole Dam: The bridge over the dam has been removed due to its deteriorating condition. A low water crossing (ford) has been marked below the dam near the lean-to site. This crossing will not be possible during periods of high water.

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

Bear Resistant Canister 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.

** New Beaver Brook Mountain Bike Trails – Wilmington Wild Forest: A 3.5-mile system of multi-use trails has been opened for mountain biking and hiking on the Beaver Brook Tract off the Hardy Road in the Town of Wilmington. More information and a map is now available online.

Little Porter Mountain: The bridge has been replaced over Slide Brook on the Little Porter Mountain Trail.

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.

** Johns Brook Valley: The Deer Brook Lean-to has been relocated 100 yards up the brook from its former location. A sign at the former location directs campers to the new location. The Bear Brook Lean-to has been removed and will not be replaced.

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. 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.

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

Lake Arnold Trail: A section of the Lake Arnold Trail, just north of the Feldspar Lean-to is nearly impassable due to mud and water. Hikers may want to seek an alternate route during and after heavy rains or during prolonged wet weather.

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

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

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.

Newcomb Lake-Moose Pond: A bridge on the Newcomb Lake to Moose Pond Trail has been flooded by beaver activity. The bridge is intact, but surrounded by water.

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.

Caulkins Creek Truck Trail/Horse Trail: While the blowdown has been cleared from the Caulkins Creek Truck Trail from Corey’s Road to Shattuck Clearing, bridge crossings between Corey’s Road and Shattuck Clearing may be unsafe for horse traffic – use caution.

SOUTHWEST-CENTRAL ADIRONDACKS
West Canada Lakes, Fulton Chain, Long Lake, Speculator, Indian Lake

** New Bob Marshall Wild Lands Complex Map: Local and state officials have announced a cooperative effort among 24 villages and hamlets in the western Adirondacks to promote the half million acre Bob Marshall Wild Lands Complex. “The Bob”, as it is also known, is a mix of public and private land larger than the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and almost as large as Yosemite. The Bob includes more than 100,000 acres of Old Growth forests; More than 1,400 lakes and ponds; hundreds of miles of flat and white-water paddling including portions of the Moose, Independence and Oswagacthie rivers; More than 400 miles of hiking trails; and blocks of private land, including remote interior communities like Big Moose, Conifer, Stillwater and Beaver River. The Bob encompasses a number of preexisting management ares, including the Five Ponds, Pepperbox, William C. Whitney, Round Lake, Pigeon Lake and Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness areas together with the Aldrich Pond, Watson’s East Triangle, Fulton Chain, Sargent Ponds, Independence River and Cranberry Lake Wild Forest areas. The Bob is named after Robert Marshall, who first proposed special protection for the area in the 1930s. The only travel corridor that bisects the entire Bob is the former Adirondack Railroad line that stretches from Remsen (north of Utica) to Lake Placid. More information can be found online.

Moose River Plains Wild Forest: The main Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road) remains closed at the Cedar River Headquarters end. The Limekiln Lake road at the western end near Inlet is open 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.

Wakley Dam Area Closed: Wakley Dam is being refurbished and significant damage from flooding to the Cedar River Road and the camping area has forced the closure of the Wakely Dam Area. It’s believed the project will be completed in September. The Wakely Dam camping area at the eastern end of the main road of the Moose River Plains Road is currently closed. Workers are at the dam during the week and block the trail with equipment during non-work hours and on weekends.

Black River Wild Forest – West Canada Creek: Haskell-West River Road is closed along the West Canada Creek from Route 8 into the Black River Wild Forest. There is no time table for the needed bridge and road repair work on Haskell-West River Road; DEC Region 6 is currently awaiting construction funds.

West Canada Creek: The bridge over West Canada Creek on the Northville-Placid Trail was washed away this spring. The 45 foot span bridge had replaced one that was lost in 2001. Crossing West Canada Creek now requires very careful crossing that may be intimidating to some hikers. Bridge replacement is expected to begin this fall and be completed in summer, 2012.

Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement: The Jessup River Road remains closed due to washouts and soft spots, preventing motor vehicle access to the Spruce Lake trailhead.

** Independence River Wild Forest: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced its plans to amend the Independence River Wild Forest Unit Management Plan (UMP). The Independence River Wild Forest includes over 79,000 acres in Lewis and Herkimer counties. The draft amendment proposes the rerouting of several trails or trail segments to reduce environmental impacts and the designation of several old roads as new snowmobile trails. Additionally, the amendment will classify all snowmobile trails as Class I, Secondary Trails or Class II, Community Connector Trails, as defined in Adirondack Park Snowmobile Management Guidance [pdf]. A public meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 19, 2011, from 6:30-9 p.m. at the Lowville DEC sub-office located at 7327 State Route 812. The public will have an opportunity to offer comments regarding the draft amendment. Comments will be received until August 3, 2011. The proposed amendment can be found by visiting the DEC website and navigate to the UMP webpage.

EASTERN-SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS
The Hudson, Schroon, Lake George, Champlain, Sacandaga, Washington Co

** The Ausable Point Day Campground Reopens: More than 90 of the 123 campsites at the Ausable Point Campground on Lake Champlain will be open Friday July 15th. The Ausable Point Day Use Area with its large beach and picnic pavilion opened last week. The campground, the day use area and the access road were underwater for almost two months during the historic flooding of Lake Champlain. The waters and wave action caused extensive erosion and other damage. The area was inaccessible during this period. Once the water levels receded below flood stage, DEC staff began clean up and repair of flood damage on the road, the campground, beach and other facilities. Many of the campsites have been previously reserved for this weekend. It’s recommended that campers call ahead at 518-561-7080 to learn the availability of campsites.

** Lake Champlain Bass Tournament Dispersal Study
Growing interest of Lake Champlain’s bass fishery has led to a new study that will analyze bass dispersal after release during tournaments held in Plattsburgh. Scientists from the Lake Champlain Research Institute at SUNY Plattsburgh are tagging bass during 2011 and 2012 tournaments with external plastic tags and internal radio transmitters. Researchers will be tracking tagged bass in the lake to assess fish movement patterns. Anglers who recover tagged fish are encouraged to send an e-mail to the address on the tag, and indicate the date, tag number, and approximate location of recovery (i.e., Main Lake, Missisquoi Bay, Northeast Arm, etc.). Please release any tagged fish back to the lake if possible. Questions about the study may be directed to Mark Malchoff at SUNY Plattsburgh ([email protected]; 518-564-3037).

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 as is the bridge over William Blake Pond Outlet on the Halfway Brook/William Blake Pond Trail. DEC will be replacing both bridges with natural log bridges. The southern end of the East Branch Sacandaga Trail was brushed out this spring from Eleventh Mountain to Cross Brook. Beavers have a built a dam directly above the foot bridge over Cisco Creek, both ends of the bridge may be flooded at times. The Puffer Pond – Kings Flow Trail (Upper Trail) to Puffer Pond is blocked by beaver ponds. A temporary reroute has been marked to the north and upstream of the beaver dam. Hikers can also take the King Flows East Trail to the Puffer Pond Brook (Outlet) Trail to reach Puffer Pond.

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: The bridge over a small stream just north of Fish Ponds on the Bartman Trail is out. The bridge over Georgia Creek on the Cotter Brook Trail is under water due to beaver activity as is the Pine Orchard Trail .5 mile south of Pine Orchard. The Dayton Creek bridge is out on the trail from Brownell Camp (at the end of Hope Falls Road) to Wilcox Lake. During low water conditions crossing can be made by rock hopping. The Murphy Lake Trail is brushy and difficult to follow along the east shore of the lake from the lean-to to the outlet and is also flooded at the north end of Murphy Lake.

Tongue Mountain: In the Tongue Mountain Range, signs and markers for the Fifth Peak lean-to at the junction of the Blue Trail and Yellow Trail were replaced in May. Several large trees down on the Tongue Mountain Trail have been removed from the trail.

Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: The Dacy Clearing Parking Area and Dacy Clearing Road remain closed due to washouts. Work continues to reopen the road and parking area in the near future.

** Western Lake George Wild Forest: All ADA accessible roads are now open for motor vehicle access to people with a Motorized Access Permit for People With Disabilities (MAPPWD). Permit holders must remember to check the allowable vehicle type and call the Warrenburg office (518-623-1209) for the current combination and conditions. Recently opened MAPPWD roads include: Scofield Flats, Pikes Beach, Darlings Ford, Huckleberry Mountain Route, and the Palmer Pond Access Route.

** Hudson Recreation Area: The two designated accessible campsites at Scofield Flats and the two designated campsites at Pikes Beach are open for camping. People with a Motorized Access Permit for People With Disabilities (MAPPWD) may access these campsites with motor vehicles. Call the Warrenburg office (518-623-1209) for the current combination and conditions. See the Hudson River Special Management Area webpage for more information and maps on the facilities, including ADA accessible facilities, in this area.

** Hudson River Recreation Area: River Road and Buttermilk Road, town roads in the Hudson River Recreation Area, remain muddy and rutted. It is recommended that only high clearance vehicles use the roads at this time.

** Hudson River Recreation Area: Gay Pond Road in the Hudson River Recreation Area is open, but the road is still in rough condition. 4-wheel drive and other high clearance vehicles are recommended.

** Western Lake George Wild Forest: Gates on Lily Pond Road remain closed but are expected to open soon.

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.

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.

NORTHERN-NORTHWESTERN ADIRONDACKS
Santa Clara, Tupper and Saranac Lakes, St. Regis, Lake Lila

** Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: A new accessible fishing/waterway access sites has been constructed on Fishhole Pond. The facility is compliant with the American Disabilities Act and provides outdoor recreational opportunities for people of all ages and abilities. The features that provide accessibility for people with disabilities include: universally accessible parking area designed to accommodate up to five vehicles; ADA compliant access ramp; and universally accessible platform designed for getting in and out of boats, canoes and kayaks. Contact the Region 5 Lands & Forests Office (518-897-1291) for more information and directions to these facilities.

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.

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

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. This summer DEC and the Student Conservation Association 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 was 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. Maps depicting the current location of campsites are available online [Map 1 – Long Pond Region (PDF) and Map 2 – St Regis Pond Region (PDF)].

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.

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.

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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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