Thursday, March 22, 2012

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Mar 22)

This weekly Adirondack conditions report is issued on Thursday afternoons, year round.

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.

** SPRING CONDITIONS COOLER WEATHER
Muddy trails and high waters are present in lower elevations. Soft snow and ice are present in the higher elevations. Cooler temperatures and rain and snow showers are forecast over the weekend for the central Adirondacks and higher elevations elsewhere. There is more than a foot of snow at the Lake Colden Interior Cabin; Carry snowshoes and traction devices and use as warranted. Lake ice, and snow and ice bridges at water crossings have melted. The levels of streams in the central Adirondacks has risen and low water crossings may not be passable; use caution crossing streams and stay off what remains of ice on water. Backcountry users should continue to be prepared for cold weather by wearing a waterproof outer shell, and appropriate layered clothing.

** OPEN BURNING BAN IN EFFECT; FIRE RISK ELEVATED TO MODERATE
The National Weather Service has issued a Fire Weather Watch for the State of Vermont for Friday, March 23. Conditions in New York will allow wild fires to start easily and spread quickly due to the unusually warm temperatures, clear skies, low humidity, breezy winds, lack of snow and large amounts of dead, dry vegetation. Be sure campfires are out by drowning them with water. Stir to make sure all embers, coals, and sticks are wet. Stir the remains, add more water, and stir again. If you do not have water, use dirt not duff. Do not bury coals as they can smolder and break out into fire later. All residential brush burning is prohibited through May 14. DEC Region 5 Environmental Conservation Officers have already issued more than a dozen tickets and warnings to people burning brush since the ban went into effect.

** EXPECT MUD AND WATER
Low to mid elevation trails are muddy and wet. Hikers should be prepared for these conditions by wearing waterproof footwear and gaiters, and remember to walk through – not around – mud and water on trails. Now is a good time to choose lower elevation drier trails over adding to the damage caused by hiking on wet and muddy trails.

** SNOW DEPTH REPORT
There is no snow at lower and mid elevations but snow depths increase as trail elevation increases to a foot or more at higher elevation and in the woods at mid elevations.

** ICE IS OUT
Ice is generally out, though not completely gone. Do nor travel on ice.

** DOWNHILL SKI REPORT
This may be the last weekend for downhill skiing. Gore closed this week for the season leaving only Whiteface, which is expected to close on Sunday (although they may try to open next weekend; it looks unlikely at this time). About 10-15% of Whiteface’s terrain is expected to be open this weekend.

** CROSS-COUNTRY, BACK-COUNTRY SKIING OVER
The cross-country and back-country skiing season has ended.

** ICE CLIMBING SEASON HAS ENDED
The ice climbing season has ended and with the warm temperatures, rock climbing has begun. A fixed rope was placed in the lower reaches of the Trap Dike this winter. It was frozen and covered in snow and ice. As it is unknown how many ice axes and crampon spikes may have pierced the rope over the winter is must be considered unsafe and should not be used. DEC will remove the rope as soon as it is reasonable to do so.

** ALL SNOWMOBILE TRAILS NOW CLOSED
All snowmobile trails throughout the Adirondacks have been closed for the season.

** WATERS RUNNING WELL ABOVE NORMAL
The levels of streams throughout the region is above normal or well above normal. Low water crossings may not be passable; use caution crossing streams and stay off ice on water. Waters that drain the central Adirondacks are running well above normal including the Hudson, Raquette, Ausable and Saranac rivers. Consult the latest streamgage data if you our venturing onto the region’s waters.

LOW SNOW PACK MAY AFFECT PADDLING, RAFTING, FISHING
This has been fourth-warmest winter on record for lower 48 states and below normal snowpack is being reported by climatologists across the region. Reduced snowpack could mean lower levels for rivers and streams this spring, a situation that could reduce the threat of floods, but hamper paddlers and rafters looking for big rapids this spring. The Hudson, Sacandaga, and Schroon rivers could be notably affected. Unless there are torrential spring rains, the Hudson River may not reach the level required for class five rapids as this rafting season begins. On the Ausable, low water two years ago and extreme flooding last year, combined with lower water levels this spring could adversely affect the upcoming trout season which begins April 1. The timing of spring stocking could also be affected as fisheries professional rush to stock before water levels fall.

GENERAL BACKCOUNTRY NOTICES

** 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. The National Weather Service (NWS) at Burlington and Albany cover the Adirondack region. NWS Burlington provides a weather forecast for elevations above 3,000 feet and spot forecasts for the summits of a handful of the highest peaks in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. [LINK]

** Fire Danger: MODERATE
Be sure campfires are out by drowning them with water. Stir to make sure all embers, coals, and sticks are wet. Stir the remains, add more water, and stir again. If you do not have water, use dirt not duff. Do not bury coals as they can smolder and break out into fire later.

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.

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

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.

CAVE AND MINE CLOSURES
DEC has closed the Eagle Cave between October 15 and April 30 to protect hibernating bats. 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.

HUNTING AND TRAPPING SEASONS OPEN
Some small game hunting and trapping seasons remain open. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters and trappers on trails. Recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare. Hikers may want to wear bright colors as an extra precaution and now would be a good time to keep pets leashed and on the trail. Adirondack Almanack issues weekly Adirondack Fish and Game Reports each Thursday evening for those practicing these traditional sports.

ADIRONDACK CONDITIONS BY REGION

NORTHVILLE PLACID TRAIL

Blowdown Report: Blowdown has now been removed from the NPTrail with the exception of West Canada Creek north to Sucker Brook Trail and from Tarbell Rd. trailhead north to Shattuck Clearing. Those areas still have some major blowdowns but are passable. The rest of the trail may have a few blowdowns but in general is clear.

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 and may be impossible this weekend. Bridge replacement is expected now expected begin this spring and be completed by fall of 2012.

Lake Durant to Long Lake: About 4 miles north of the Tirrell Pond lean-to, a bridge is out that crosses Chick-a-dee Creek in the middle of a former lumber camp clearing. It may be possible to cross on the remains of the bridge in low water situations.

ADIRONDACK CANOE ROUTE / NORTHERN FOREST CANOE TRAIL

** Ice is out on much of the waters along the route. Water levels are high and water temperatures are very cold.

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

Hurricane Irene Damage to Trails: Backcountry users may encounter missing bridges, eroded trails and blow down when entering the backcountry in the Eastern High Peaks area. Pay close attention as many trails have been rerouted to avoid heavily damaged sections and low water crossings have been created near the location of many of the missing bridges. Caution: Eroded drainages can be mistaken for trails. Users should be able to navigate by map and compass. Plan accordingly and be prepared to turn back when conditions warrant. DEC updated closed trail map can be found online [pdf]. Full coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Irene is available here.

DEC Closed Trails Map: DEC updated closed trail map is available online [pdf]. The trails depicted on the map remain closed until they can be evaluated this spring.

** Snow, Mud and Ice: There is no snow in the lower elevations, most trails are muddy and icy. There is still a foot or more snow in the woods at middle elevations and at higher elevations with more than a foot of snow reported at the Lake Colden Interior Cabin. However the snow is expected to continue to quickly melt. Many summits remain icy.

** Stream Crossings: Warm temperatures and rains have melted snow and ice bridges at crossings and raised water levels in streams. Low water crossings may not be passable. Use caution when crossing streams.

South Meadow Road: The South Meadow Road is closed to motor vehicles at this time. Vehicles may be parked at the end of the road by the barriers, but do not block entryways as emergency equipment may need to access the road.

** Approaching Marcy Dam: The footbridge over Marcy Dam was washed away during Hurricane Irene. Due to high water levels the low water crossing below the dam may not be passable. Use the Marcy Dam Truck Trail from South Meadows Trailhead to access the trails on the east side of Marcy Brook.

** Avalanche Pass: The trail between Marcy Dam and Avalanche Pass is extremely muddy. Beware of ice falling from the cliffs above the Knee Knocker section of Avalanche Pass.

** Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake: These lakes are not safe to cross. Use the trails on the shores of the lakes.

** Colden Trap Dyke: A fixed rope was placed in the lower reaches of the Trap Dike this winter. It was frozen and covered in snow and ice. As it is unknown how many ice axes and crampon spikes may have pierced the rope over the winter is must be considered unsafe and should not be used. DEC will remove the rope as soon as it is reasonable to do so.

** Jay Mountain Road: The Jay Mountain Road between Jay Mountain Wilderness and the Hurricane Mountain Wilderness is impassable to motor vehicles during mud season.

Cascade Lakes Day Use Area: DOT has place barriers at the end of the entrance to the Cascade Lakes Day Use Area along Route 73 through the spring mud season. Vehicles should not park in this area as it is a traffic hazard and the dangerous to occupants exiting and entering the vehicles. Use one of the parking areas to the east or west of that area.

Connery Pond Road: Connery Pond Road is closed for mud season, it will reopen when the road dries and firms up.

Corey’s Road: Logging operations will occur throughout the winter at Ampersand Park which is located at the very end of Corey’s Road, the popular entrance to the Western High Peaks Wilderness. Visitors should use caution and be aware of logging trucks. Corey’s Road will remain open for hikers to access forest preserve lands, including the Seward Trailhead. The road will be open to the Raquette Falls parking lot, the gate there will be closed for safety reasons. Vehicles should park at designated parking areas and well off the road to avoid blocking the road. Vehicles blocking the road will be towed.

Deer Brook Flume – Snow Mountain: The low water route through the Deer Brook Flume on the Deer Brook Trail to Snow Mountain remains impassable due to severe erosion.

Duck Hole: The Roaring Brook Bridge near Duck Hole is out. One side of the Duck Hole Dam has washed away and the pond has dewatered. The bridge over the dam had been previously 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. Note: This affects the Bradley Pond Trail and not the Northville Placid Trail.

Adirondack Mountain Reserve Closed Trails: The first (northernmost) cross over trail between the East River Trail and the West River Trail in the Adirondack Mountain Reserve remains closed. This affects access to the W.A. White Trail to Lower Wolf Jaw. The alternative is to approach via the Deer Brook trailhead (although not through Deer Brook Flume, see note below). The bridge will be rebuilt next spring a few yards downstream. The other four cross over trails and bridges are open and can be used to travel between the East River and West River Trails.

Johns Brook Valley: The Southside Trail from the Garden Trailhead to John’s Brook Outpost remains closed due to landslides. The opening of this trail will be evaluated this spring. Due to the significant erosion caused by Ore Bed Brook the Ore Bed Brook Trail from John’s Brook Valley to the Range Trail (between Saddleback and Gothics) is open but may not be recognizable. Pay close attention to trail markers and watch for reroutes.

Cold Brook Trail: The Cold Brook Pass Trail between Lake Colden and Indian Pass remains closed. The opening of this trail will be evaluated this spring.

Dix Mountain Wilderness- Clear Pond: The Clear Pond Gate is closed. Hikers must park in the area near the gate and hike or ski one mile to the trailhead.

Elk Lake-Marcy Trail: The bridge is out in Marcy Swamp on the Elk Lake-Marcy Trail. Also there is light blowdown between Marcy Swamp and Panther Gorge Lean-to.

Klondike Trail: The bridge near South Meadow Road on the Klondike Trail is out. The Mr. Van Trail and the Marcy Truck Trail will need to be used as a detour to reach South Meadow Road. The Mr. Van Trail is clear of blowdown between the lean-to and the Klondike Notch Trail, however there are a number of bridges out.

Feldspar Lean-to and Lake Arnold Trail: There is heavy blowdown on the trail between Feldspar Lean-to and Lake Arnold.

Indian Pass: The Indian Pass Trail is clear of blowdown to the Wall Face Bridge, but the Wall Face Bridge is out and the Henderson Bridge is damaged. All bridges encountered on the Indian Pass Trail from Upper Works are gone, the trail has been rerouted to low water crossing in many locations.

Calkins Creek Horse Trail: The Calkins Creek Horse Trail has two bridges out, making it impassable for horse drawn wagons and difficult for horses.

Dix Mountain Wilderness: The Carry Trail from Adirondack Mountain Reserve to the Colvin Range Trail contains some blowdown. The Colvin Range Trail from the summit Blake Peak south to Pinnacle and beyond remains closed.

Giant Mountain Wilderness: Beaver activity has flooded the North Trail to Giant Mountain from 9N just past the lean-to.

** McKenzie Mountain Wilderness: Blowdown remains the McKenzie Mountain Trail above the intersection with the Jack Rabbit trail. The Connery Pond Truck Trail has been closed for mud season.

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

Black River Wild Forest: The Haskell-West River Road along the West Canada Creek from Route 8 into the Black River Wild Forest is closed with no current timetable for reopening (though it is likely to reopen next year).

Eagle Cave in Jessup River Wild Forest: DEC has closed the Eagle Cave between October 15 and April 30 to protect hibernating bats.

** Jessup River Wild Forest: Gates and roads are closed for mud season. Hikers can still travel past gates and on muddy roads. The roads will be reopened for motor vehicle use as soon as they have dried and firmed up.

** Gates are closed at both the Cedar Lakes and Limekiln Lake entrances for mud season. The road system will reopen for motor vehicle traffic when the are dry and firm enough to do so.

** Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands: Gates and roads are closed for mud season. Hikers can still travel past gates and on muddy roads. The roads will be reopened for motor vehicle use as soon as they have dried and firmed up.

Sargent Ponds Wild Forest: The Outlet Bay Lean-to on Raquette Lake is damaged and in poor condition from a tree fallen on its roof.

Silver Lake Wilderness: There is heavy blowdown on the Northville Placid Trail between Benson and Silver Lake.

West Canada Lakes: Two through hikers on the Northvillle Placid Trail report plenty of blowdown north of Spruce Lake and also from Stephens Pond to Lake Durant.

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 next spring.

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

** Santanoni Historic Preserve: The Newcomb Lake Road is muddy, foot travel is acceptable but horseback travel is discouraged.

Hoffman Notch Wilderness: The bridge over Hoffman Notch Brook on north end of Hoffman Notch Trail has been washed out. A section of Big Pond Trail approximately .5 miles in length near East Branch Trout Brook has not been cleared of blow down yet and will provide obstacle for hikers/skiers. There is no bridge over East Branch Trout Brook on the Big Pond Trail.

Western Lake George Wild Forest: Gates have been locked on Pikes Beach Road, Schofield Flats Road, Darlings Ford, Bear Slide Access Route, Gay Pond Road, Buttermilk Road Extension for mud season. The roads will be reopened for motor vehicle use once they have dried and firmed up.

Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: The gate to Dacy Clearing Road and the Black Mountain gate on Pike Brook Road have been closed and the roads are closed for mud season. The gates and roads will be reopened when the road has dried and firmed up.

** Shelving Rock Road: The Town of Fort Ann has closed the Shelving Rock Road to motor vehicle traffic for mud season. Barriers have been placed on the road before the Hogtown Parking Lot.

Crane Mountain: The Crane Mountain Trail Head is accessible from the south by car and truck by way of Ski Hi Road via Putnam Cross Road. The south end of Ski Hi Road is washed out but Putnam Cross Road bypasses the washout. The north access by way of Crane Mountain Road is washed out and not accessible with any vehicle.

Hammond Pond Wild Forest: A bridge over Crowfoot Brook on the Crowfoot Trail is out. The bridge over the Berrymill Brook on the Hammond Pond Trail is out. The Lindsey Brook Trail remains closed due to flooding by beaver activity.

Hudson River Recreation Area: A few roads in the Hudson River Recreation area are open but have significant washouts and should only be accessed by 4-wheel drive and other high clearance vehicles, these include: River Road; Buttermilk Road north of the Town line; and Gay Pond Road before Campsite #13. The following roads or sections of roads remain closed to motor vehicles due to damage caused by Hurrican Irene, they are passable on foot: Buttermilk Road Extension north of the Gay Pond Road; Gay Pond Road past Campsite #13; and the access road to Darlings Ford Waterway Access Site.

Pharaoh Lake Wilderness: The trails along the northern and western sides of Pharaoh Lake (the two trails between the Lake and Glidden Marsh) have extensive blowdown in the sections along the lake. The Springhill Pond Trail has extensive, large-sized blowdown along the entire length from parking area on West Hague Road to Pharaoh Lake. The Goose Pond Trail is in fair condition. The Grizzle Ocean Trail is clear to southern end of Putnam Pond. The Blue Hill Trail has larger sized blowdown (greater than 2 feet diameter)and some minor trail washout from streams jumping banks. The trail is very wet with flooding in some areas deeper than the top of hiking boots. The Sucker Brook Horse Trail contains extensive blowdown and is need of brushing out. The bridge over Wolf Pond Outlet on the East Shore Pharaoh Lake Trail was replaced. There is a short reroute between the bridge and the intersection for the Swing Trail. The Glidden Marsh-Pharaoh Lake Trail on the north side of the lake has been moved up hill from the lake. Follow the Blue Trail Markers.

Siamese Ponds Wilderness – Eagle Cave: DEC has closed the Eagle Cave until April 30 to protect hibernating bats.

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: The Spur Trail between West Stony Creek Road and Baldwin Springs has extensive blowdown. There is substantial blowdown on the Stony Creek Trail to Wilcox Lake beyond that to the east Stony Creek bridge; blowdown continues up the trail to Wilcox Lake. Mud Pond Road has been cleared of trees to the Mud Pond Trail Head, due to washouts it is recommended that it be used by trucks only. There are multiple trees down on the Pumpkin Hollow Road at the Wilcox Lake Trailhead preventing access to the Wilcox Lake Trail, the Murphy Lake Trail and the Pine Orchard Trail. 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.

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

Lewis Preserve WMA: The Brandy Brook has jumped its bank creating a braided stream channel across the main foot trail adjacent to the existing foot bridge. Users should use caution while attempting to cross this new stream channel as it may be deep and swift moving.

Kings Bay WMA: A section of the access road to the parking area off Point Au Fer Road has washed out. The damaged road is still passable but very narrow. The washed out section is marked with an orange barrel at each end.

Chazy Lake Boat Launch: The Chazy Lake Boat Launch is essentially unusable due to the water level draw down by the Town of Dannemora. The concrete ramp ends several yards from the water’s edge.

Lyon Mountain – Chazy Highlands Wild Forest: The re-route of the top section of the Lyon Mountain Trail is complete and the trail is clearly signed and marked. Hikers should use the new trail and avoid the old trail which is not maintained and is in poor condition due to erosion.

** Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: All gates and roads are closed to public motor vehicle access at this time due to mud season. The roads will reopen when they have dried and firmed up.

** Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: Gates on the D&H railroad bed and at Lake Clear Beach are closed for the winter season. Gates on Little Clear Pond Road, Lake Clear Camp Road (the road access to St. Germain Pond) and Connery Pond Road are closed for the mud season. The roads will be reopened to motor vehicle traffic when they dry out and firm up. 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.

** St. Regis Canoe Area: Ice on lakes and pond is out or very thin – do not travel on ice. 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. Significant work on campsites in the Canoe Area was recently completed. A new webpage has been created to provide information including maps and recreational opportunities.

** Whitney Wilderness: The Lake Lila Road remains closed to public vehicle traffic for the mud season. Hikers may still use the road to access Lake Lila, Mt. Fredrica and other areas of state land. The land on either side of the road is private, trespass on these lands is prohibited.

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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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 editor@adirondackalmanack.com.




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