Thursday, April 4, 2013

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Apr 4)


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

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SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

** indicates new or revised items.

** EARLY SPRING CONDITIONS: Some colder weather this week reduced the amount of snow melt and slowed the spring-time thaw, but the weather has turned warmer now with daytime temperatures in the 40s and 50s. That will noticeably accelerate the arrival of spring, despite nighttime temperatures that will hover near freezing through the weekend. Remember that temperatures in the higher elevations will be colder as spring conditions arrive later. Wind chills on summits Saturday morning are forecast to be in the single digits above zero. Snow and ice remains at middle and higher elevations, though is mostly spotty in warmer locations and lower elevations. Remember that conditions can change suddenly with weather and accidents happen so be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods and always carry a flashlight, first aid kit, food, water, extra clothing, and map and compass and know how to use them.

** SNOW COVER AND TRAIL CONDITIONS: Overall snow cover and snow depths continue to decrease in the middle elevations and lower elevations. Open areas with southern exposure have thin to no snow in the lower elevations. Trails may be icy or crusty in the morning and soft in the afternoon. Slush may be present in low areas and near water. Higher elevations still have plenty of snow. Skis or snowshoes are still necessary in the higher elevations. Most lower elevations at the periphery of the Adirondack Park have less than 5 inches on average of patchy snow cover. Mid-elevations have about 6-8 inches of snow, with about a foot and a half throughout most of the High Peaks. There is about three feet of snow at the Lake Colden interior cabin.

** SNOWSHOES OR SKIS: Wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches the use of snowshoes or skis is required in the High Peaks and strongly encouraged throughout the Adirondacks. The use of snowshoes prevents falls, avoids injuries and eases travel on snow. “Post-holing” takes much more energy, ruins trails and endangers other users.

** WATERS WILL BE RISING: Trout season began this week with the region’s rivers and streams running at or below normal levels for this time of year, however waters will rise with warmer temperatures this weekend. Snow and ice bridges have been washed from most drainages and rising waters means not all low water crossings will be available this weekend, especially in the afternoons when waters are expected to be higher.

** NO ICE SHOULD BE CONSIDERED COMPLETELY SAFE: Most lakes and ponds are covered with water and slush. Several people and various vehicles have gone through ice over the last week. Longer days and recent warmer weather have caused ice conditions to deteriorate, and ice along shorelines to recede. Check ice depth frequently when crossing and avoid inlets, outlets, and shorelines.

** DOWNHILL SKIING REPORT: Skiing and snowboarding continues on spring conditions at Gore and Whiteface, which are reporting about 75% of their terrain open. Titus Mountain has closed for the season; McCauley Mountain closed this past week, but will be making a decision today about whether they’ll be open for one more weekend, so call ahead there. Skiing and boarding at all other downhill areas has ended for the season.

** CROSS-COUNTRY SKI REPORT: With the exception of Garnet Hill and Lapland Lake, cross country skiing has ended for the season. This will likely be the last weekend of cross country skiing.

** BACKCOUNTRY SKI REPORT: Approaches to backcountry ski areas have deteriorated and backcountry skiing can no longer be generally recommended, although a few die-hards will no doubt be out beyond Marcy Dam where conditions remain skiiable. Current backcountry ski conditions are reported by Tony Goodwin of the Adirondack Ski Touring Council online here.

** SNOWMOBILING REPORT: The snowmobiling season has ended. Gates to the Moose River plains have been closed for mud season.

** CLIMBING ROUTES CLOSED: Ice climbing will come to end this weekend, and DEC has closed all climbing routes on Moss Cliff in the Wilmington Notch, at the Upper and Lower Washbowl cliffs in the Chapel Pond area, and most routes on the Main Face of Pok-O-Moonshine to allow for the nesting of Peregrine Falcons. Once DEC has confirmed that peregrine falcon pairs have established a nest site at these locations, climbing routes that don’t interfere with the nesting activity will be reopened.

** PADDLING CONDITIONS: Ice is still present on lakes and ponds but many of the rivers are opening up and some hardy paddlers are beginning to get out on the waters. Ice remains along shorelines and in backwaters. Water levels are rising and water temperatures are cold. Paddling is not encouraged at this time. Paddlers should be patient and wait for better conditions. Those that are not patient should at least be cautious. Don’t paddle alone, wear clothing that will keep you warm and dry and always wear a personal floatation device (PFD).

** LIFE JACKETS (PFDs) REQUIRED: State law requires life jackets be worn by anyone on a boat less than 21 feet in length between November 1st and May 1st. Cold water temperatures can cause hyperventilation, hypothermia and weakening of limbs all which could lead to drowning if a person is not wearing a Personal Floatation Device.

** 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: LOW in the Central Adirondacks; Moderate in the Champlain Valley and into Warren County.

GENERAL BACKCOUNTRY 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.

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. 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.

CAVES AND MINES: Last year, DEC 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. Give bats an opportunity to recover and voluntarily avoid Adirondack caves.

KEEP DOGS LEASHED: Dog owners are reminded that dogs must be leashed in the Eastern High Peaks when on trails, at primitive tent sites, at lean-to sites, everywhere above 4,000 feet, or at other areas where the public congregates. It is recommended dogs be kept leased in most areas for the safety of your dog, the protection of wildlife and as a courtesy to fellow hikers.

ADIRONDACK CONDITIONS BY REGION

NORTHVILLE PLACID TRAIL

Northville-PLacid Trail Conditions are provided in part by the Adirondack Mountain Club’s NPT Chapter. You can learn more about the trail, get specific conditions, and volunteer to help maintain this historic trail here.

Benson Road: The ADK Professional Trail Crew will be building a new section of the Northville-Placid Trail during the summer of 2013 to take avoid three miles of road walking on Benson Road.

Blowdown Near Seward Lean-To: The Northville-Placid Trail contains a large area of blowdown near the Seward Lean-to. A detour around the blowdown has been marked with pink flagging.

Silver Lake Wilderness / Mud Lake Lean-to: A combined crew of ADK and lean2rescue volunteers recently temporarily fixed the Mud Lake lean-to making it usable until spring when a new roof is put on it. It was rebuilt sufficiently to place a tarp (an old McDonalds billboard) on top to get through the winter season. New roofing materials were transported part way into the woods and hidden waiting for a crew to transport to the lean-to for a spring re-roofing job. This was a complete volunteer effort. The Mud Lake lean-to is now open for use.

Blowdown Report: Users will encounter blowdowns on the trail in several known areas including West Canada Creek to Sucker Brook Trail; South approach to the height of land north of Tirrell Pond and Salmon Pond Road; and just south of the Seward lean-to. The rest of the trail may have a few blowdowns but in general is clear.

West Canada Lake Wilderness: The project to move Spruce Lake lean-to #2 is complete and the lean-to is available for use. A 30-foot long two-stringer footbridge along the Northville-Lake Placid Trail south of Spruce Lake lean-to #1 has been repaired. In addition two 10-foot long bog bridges were constructed on the trail in that general area. All of the work was done by the Student Conservation Association’s Adirondack Program.

West Canada Creek: The bridge over West Canada Creek on the Northville-Placid Trail was washed away in the spring of 2011. The 45 foot span bridge was replaced the end of July, 2012 by the ADK Professional Trail Crew, under contract with the DEC. Both approaches to the South Lake outlet bridge had bog bridging installed in July by a Student Conservation Association trail crew.

Lake Durant to Long Lake: About 4 miles north of the Tirrell Pond lean-to, the bridge that crosses Chick-a-dee Creek in the middle of a former lumber camp clearing has been replaced by a Student Conservation Association trail crew.

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

** Adirondak Loj Closure: The Adirondak Loj will be closed April 1st through May 2nd for renovations to the front desk and kitchen. Phone lines will still be open for reservations. The Wilderness Campground and cabins will remain open, but meals will not be available at the Loj during the closure.

** Adirondack Loj to Marcy Dam: Snow on the Adirondack Loj to Marcy Dam Trail and the first part of the Algonquin Trail are thin – snowshoes or skis are not necessary on that trail, but will be necessary elsewhere.

Western High Peaks / Cory’s Road: The Corey’s Road Gate is closed for the spring mud season. It will reopen when the road has dried out and is suitable for motor vehicle traffic.

Mount Marshall: Many of the herd paths found on Mount Marshall and some of the other trail-less peaks meander around the slopes of the mountain without reaching the peak. Those climbing these peaks should navigate with a map and compass rather than follow the paths created by others.

Trails Changes After Hurricane Irene in 2011. The vast majority of trails have reopened and crossings have been repaired, however some trails have been rerouted, and others are no longer being maintained by DEC. Adirondack Explorer editor Phil Brown has reviewed the lasting changes following Irene here.

South Meadow Road: The Town of North Elba has blocked the South Meadow Road for the winter. Cars may park in the area near the roads end at the intersection with the Loj Road.

Elk Lake Trails: The two trails that cross the Elk Lake Lodge Lands – Elk Lake Trail to the southern High Peaks Wilderness and Hunter Pass Trail to the southern Dix Mountain Wilderness have reopened for public use. The gate at Clear Pond will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season, adding two miles to a round trip hike.

Bradley Pond Trail: The first bridge on the Bradley Pond Trail is damaged and unsafe to use. The stream can be forded at that location. The second bridge, which crosses Santanoni Brook, is tilting. It can be used with caution.

Hudson River – East River Trail: The bridge over the Hudson River on the East River Trail is out, use the nearby flagged ford (low water crossing). An ice bridge does not form at the ford, so crossing the river at this point will always entail wading through the water. Crossing when water levels are high or when water temperatures are cold can be risky.

Whiteface Landing: Snowshoers accessing Whiteface Landing are encouraged to park at the 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.

Jay Mountain Road: A bridge on the Carlott Road, one of the roads to access the Jay Mountain Road from the southeast, remains closed.

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, however signs at both ends make the alternative route clear.

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.

Johns Brook Valley: The Southside Trail from the Garden Trailhead to John’s Brook Outpost was closed by a landslide in 2011 will no longer be maintained DEC.

Cold Brook Trail: DEC is no longer maintaining the Cold Brook Trail between Lake Colden and Indian Pass.

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.

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

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

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

** Moose River Plains: The Limekiln Lake and Cedar River gates are shut and the Moose River Plains road system is closed to snowmobiles and motor vehicles at this time. Once mud season has ended and the roads are suitable, those roads designated for motor vehicle access will be reopened.

Mason Lake, Perkins Clearing Road – Jessup River Wild Forest: DEC has completed a number of changes to the campsites around Mason Lake and along the Perkins Clearing Road pursuant to the actions described in the Jessup River Wild Forest Unit Management Plan. See the Mason Lake Designated Campsites Map [PDF] for more details.

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 and is gated at the first bridge (which needs replacing). DEC says “it continues to be a high priority to fix those bridges and reopen the road. Funding is the issue. We hope to fix that first bridge and reopen the road to the next bridge. Time schedule is not set.”

Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands: A new web page has been developed for the Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands which includes information about the unit and its recreational opportunities. A new 5 car parking area has been constructed at the Spruce Lake Trailhead on conservation easement lands. The new location does not add any additional mileage to a hike into Spruce Lake.

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.

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

** Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: Gates in the Shelving Rock and Pilot knob areas are closed for mud season, as is the Dacy Clearing Road. They will reopen when the road has dried and is suitable for motor vehicle traffic.

Cat and Thomas Mountain, Bolton Landing: Two sections of the yellow trail to Cat Mountain have been re-routed and a third has been closed to avoid heavily eroded areas. New routes are blazed. The Lake George Land Conservancy is asking that users stay on the marked trails and follow the signage. A recent LGLC staff visit confirms that the trail work has significantly helped the water issues on the trail. Additional work will be done on the trail to Thomas Mountain to reduce erosion there.

Tongue Mountain: On the Tongue Mountain Range, signs at trail intersection of the Summit (red) Trail and Lake (blue) Trail coming from the Clay Meadow Trailhead have been replaced. Hikers are advised to carry maps as the signs at this location are often stolen.

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.

Hoffman Notch Wilderness: There is no bridge over East Branch Trout Brook on the Big Pond Trail.

Pharaoh Lake Wilderness: 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: Blowdown has been cleared from the Puffer Pond Trail between Chimney Mountain and Puffer Pond. A reroute has been constructed around the original beaver flooded trail segment of the West Puffer Pond Trail which travels around the south side of Chimney Mountain and continues past the John Pond Crossover Trail. The trails from the Old Farm Trailhead to Hour Pond Cut-off Trail and back to the Thirteenth Lake Trailhead has been cleared of blowdown.

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

Piercefield – Tupper Lake: Those bushwhacking in the woods in the town of Piercefield in St. Lawrence County and the town of Tupper Lake in Franklin County are asked to look for and report signs of Colin Gillis, 18, of Tupper Lake, who was last seen on March 10, 2012, walking on State Route 3 between the communities of Tupper Lake and Piercefield. [See A Photo And More Information]

Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: The gate for the Moose Pond Waterway Access Site in the town of St. Armand, Essex County, is now closed until after spring mud season.

Road to Madawaska Flow / Quebec Brook Closed: The logging road from Route 458 in the town of Duane into the Santa Clara Easement Lands and the Madawaska Flow / Quebec Brook has been closed to the public, the Adirondack Explorer has learned. The waterways were acquired by the state in 1998, but the beginning of the road crosses non-easement lands. According to DEC, private landowner Winston Towers closed the road but did not give a reason other than that the land will soon be put on the market. “DEC is actively seeking a solution to this issue and seeks to reestablish public access to Madawaska Pond in the near future,” Winchell told Phil Brown. “DEC has a public access right of way in another location, but there is no road; it would have had to been built.” Madawaska flow’s only remaining access is a bushwhack from Blue Mountain Road and crossing privately owned railroad bed. It’s possible to paddle, with carries around rapids, to Madawaska Flow via Quebec Brook from Blue Mountain Road.

Split Rock Mountain Wild Forest: A new webpage has been developed for the Split Rock Mountain Wild Forest with information about the unit and its recreational opportunities. The trailhead parking lot is located on the east side of Clark Road about 0.6 miles from Route 9/Lake Shore Road.

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: The town roads are open as Fishhole Pond access road. All other gates and roads are closed to public motor vehicle access at this time except those open to people with a Motorized Access Permit for People With Disabilities (MAPPWD) as identified on the Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands webpage. Accessible campsites #1-3 on the Barnes Pond Road are available to for use and the privy on campsite #2 has been repaired.

St. Regis Canoe Area: Summer storms caused significant blowdown on the St. Regis Mountain Trail and the Fish Pond Truck Trail. 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.

Taylor Pond Wild Forest – Poke-O-Moonshine: The Poke-O-Moonshine Fire Tower is closed for the season. A steward from the Friends of the Poke-O-Moonshine Fire Tower is expected to return next summer.

Whitney Wilderness: The gate for Lake Lila Road has been closed for the winter. It will be reopened after the spring mud season. Hikers, snowshoers and skiers may still use the road but are prohibited from trespassing on the adjacent private lands.

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General warnings and announcements drawn from DEC, NWS, NOAA, USGS, and other sources. Additional detailed Adirondack Park camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation information 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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