Thursday, May 16, 2013

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (May 16)


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.

** LATE SPRING CONDITIONS: Warm and dry weather is returning to the region in time for this weekend. Day time temperatures will be in the 60s and 70s at lower elevations, and 50s and 60s at higher elevations. Nighttime temperatures in the 30s and 40s continue, with some near freezing temperatures at the highest elevations.  Snow and ice remain above about about 3,500 feet Рbut elsewhere the dry spring continues (despite occasional rains) and the fire danger remains elevated. Remember that conditions can change suddenly with weather and unintended accidents happen so always 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.

** AVOID TRAILS ABOVE 3,000 FEET: DEC is still advising hikers to avoid trails above 3,000 feet to protect the trails and surrounding vegetation, which are very vulnerable at this time of year. Melting snow saturates thin soils found on the steep slopes of the mountains and much of the vegetation growing in high elevations is surviving on the edge of existence. Hikers can cause severe erosion of trails and significant damage to vegetation. Steep, wet and muddy trails are also very slippery. Hikers are asked to hike in lower elevation areas until the trails have dried up. A list of trails to avoid is located here.

** SNOW AND ICE ON SUMMITS: Lower and middle elevations trails are clear of snow and drier, but elevations above about 3,500 feet still have some snow and ice.

** VICTORIA DAY WEEKEND CROWDS: This is a Canadian holiday weekend. Trailhead parking lots and interior campsites reach capacity in the region, especially in the Eastern High Peaks. Plan accordingly and seek backcountry recreation opportunities in other areas of the Adirondack Forest Preserve to avoid crowds.

** INCREASED BEAR ACTIVITY: Bears are becoming active in the backcountry. The use of bear-resistant canisters to store all food, toiletries and waste is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness and encouraged throughout the Adirondacks.

** BITING INSECTS: Now until the end of summer Black Flies, Mosquitoes, Deer Flies and/or Midges (No-see-ums) will be present. Follow these steps to minimize the nuisance of biting insects: Wear light colored clothing; Wear long sleeve shirts and long pants, and tuck shirts into pants; Button or rubber band sleeves at the wrist; Tuck the bottom of pant legs into your socks; Pack a headnet to wear when insects are thick; and Use an insect repellant with DEET, follow label directions

** WATERS RUNNING WELL BELOW NORMAL: Although waters are running at spring levels with snow-melt in the High Peaks, rivers and streams are below or well below normal for this time of year elsewhere, one of the effects of our continued dry spring.

** LOCAL WATER TEMPERATURES: The temperature off the dock at Mirror Lake is in the lower 60s. The Ausable River is in the upper 50s; Lake Champlain water temperature remains in the lower 50s; and the temperature at Warner Bay on Lake George is about 59 degrees.

** OLD MILITARY ROAD DETOUR: Road construction continues on Old Military Road which connects Route 73 and Route 86. A detour through the village of Lake Placid is required. Construction is expected to be completed by Memorial Day Weekend.

ROUTE 73 ROAD CONSTRUCTION POSTPONED: Construction has been postponed on Route 73 in Cascade Pass. Trailhead parking areas for Cascade Mountain, Porter Mountain and the western trailhead to Pitchoff Mountain remain open.

 

** SOME SEASONAL ROADS REOPENING: DEC has begun reopening  gates on some roads typically closed during mud season. Roads reopen when conditions dry out. See a complete list of road closures below, sorted by region.

** SOME CLIMBING ROUTES REOPEN, OTHERS CLOSE: DEC has closed all climbing routes on Moss Cliff in the Wilmington Notch, at the Lower Washbowl cliffs in the Chapel Pond area, routes on the Main Face of Pok-O-Moonshine between and including Shark Week and Lichenstorm, and routes on the Main Wall of Shelving Rock between Snake Charmer and Wake and Bake. DEC has reopened Upper Washbowl cliffs to climbing. If you observe a peregrine falcon exhibiting defensive or distressed behavior while climbing, please descend immediately and report your observations to the DEC Region 5 Wildlife Office at 518-897-1291.

** PADDLING CONDITIONS: Water levels are running lower for this time of year; water temperatures are in the upper 40s and lower 50s. Paddlers should use caution, and be on the lookout for debris carried by spring freshets. Don’t paddle alone, wear clothing that will keep you warm and dry and always wear a personal floatation device (PFD).

** 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
The fire danger rating is MODERATE and this is a dangerous time of year for wildfires. The northeastern corner of the Adirondack Park in particular is still categorized as abnormally dry by the US Drought Monitor. Until the green growth of spring comes conditions can quickly dry out, even with occasional rain, conditions can quickly dry out. The state’s temporary burn ban remains in effect through this weekend until May 14. Campfires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness at all times. Numerous wildfires have reported around the Adirondack region in recent weeks including near Saranac Lake, and in Clinton and Washington counties. It is illegal to leave a fire unattended until it is fully extinguished.

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.

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.

RECENT CHANGES IN THE ADIRONDACK BACKCOUNTRY

These are recent changes (within the last two weeks) to outdoor recreation roads, trails and facilities around the Adirondacks.

** indicates new or revised items this week.

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

** Snow and Ice on Summits: Snow and ice remains at elevations above about 3,500.

** Muddy Trails Advisory: Hikers are advised to avoid trails above 3,000 feet to protect the trails and surrounding vegetation which are very vulnerable at this time of year. Melting snow saturates thin soils found on the steep slopes of the mountains and much of the vegetation growing in high elevations is surviving on the edge of existence. Hikers can cause severe erosion of trails and significant damage to vegetation. Steep, wet and muddy trails are also very slipper. Hikers are asked to hike in lower elevation areas until the trails have dried up.

** Expect Victoria Day Weekend Crowds: This is a Canadian holiday weekend. Trailhead parking lots and interior campsites reach capacity in the region, especially in the Eastern High Peaks. Plan accordingly and seek backcountry recreation opportunities in other areas of the Adirondack Forest Preserve to avoid crowds.

** Clear Pond Gate: The gate at Clear Pond on the Elk Lake Road has reopened, providing motor vehicle access to the Elk Lake-Mt. Marcy and Dix Mtn.-Hunter Pass trailheads.

** South Meadow Road: South Meadow Road has reopened.

** Connery Pond – Whiteface Landing: The Connery Pond Gate for access to Conery Pond and the Whiteface Landing Trail is open and motor vehicle access is allowed. 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.

Route 73 – Cascade Pass Construction Postponed: Construction has been postponed on Route 73 in Cascade Pass. Ttrailhead parking areas for Cascade Mountain, Porter Mountain and the western trailhead to Pitchoff Mountain remain open.

Old Military Road Detour Postponed: Road construction continues on Old Military Road which connects Route 73 and Route 86. A detour through the village of Lake Placid is required. Construction is expected to be completed by Memorial Day Weekend.

Western High Peaks – Corey’s Road: The Corey’s Road Gate is open and the road is open to motor vehicle traffic.

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

** Adirondack Canoe Route (Central Portion): Water levels are running below normal for this time of year; water temperatures are in the upper 40s and lower 50s. Paddlers should use caution, and be on the lookout for debris carried by spring freshets. Don’t paddle alone, wear clothing that will keep you warm and dry and always wear a personal floatation device (PFD).

** Jessup River Wild Forest: Road access to the Pillsbury Mountain Trailhead parking areas has reopened.

** Perkins Clearing – Speculator Tree Farm Easement: All Town, Village and DEC roads designated for motor vehicle use are now open including the town of Lake Pleasant’s Perkins Clearing Road and the Village of Speculator’s Elm Lake Road. Road access to the Cisco Brook, Pillsbury Mountain and Spruce Lake trailhead parking areas is now available.

** Moose River Plains: The Cedar River Road is now open to the Cedar River Flow. The Limekiln Lake and Cedar River Gates remain shut and the Moose River Plains road system remains closed to motor vehicles. DEC plans to open the gates by Thursday May, 23. However the Otter Brook Gate will remain closed; it’s expected to be open the Otter Brook Gate by Thursday, May 30.

** Cedar River, Indian Lake: 3.1 miles of the Cedar River south of the Cedar River Road near Indian Lake is now open to the public following state land purchases from the Nature Conservancy. The Cedar River contains brook trout, brown trout and smallmouth bass. DEC stocks brook trout in the river. DEC plans to construct parking areas and access trails in the near future. Once completed two other sections of this stretch of the river will be open for public fishing.

** Fishing Brook, Long Lake: Four miles of shoreline along Fishing Brook in the Town of Long Lake in Hamilton County north of Route 28N is now open to the public following state land purchases from the Nature Conservancy. Fishing Brook is located between the communities of Long Lake in Hamilton County and Newcomb in Essex County. It contains brook trout. DEC plans to construct parking areas and a boat launch for small trailered-boats on 60-acre County Line Flow and a parking area and boat launch for car top boats on 47-acre Fishing Brook Bog. The two waters, which are located at each end of this stretch of Fishing Brook, will be open for the public to fish by boat.

** Sacandaga West Easement Lands: DEC has begun developing a Recreation Management Plan for the Sacandaga West Conservation Easement Lands. A public meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 22, at the Mayfield High School Auditorium in Mayfield, NY, at 6:30 pm to obtain suggestions for recreational opportunities on the lands. More information is available here.

** Otter Creek Horse Trails: The water has been turned on at the Assembly Area for the Otter Creek Horse Trails located just outside Lowville on both the Independence River Wild Forest Unit of the Adirondack Forest Preserve and on the Independence River and Otter Creek State Forests on the western border of the Adirondack Park in Lewis County. A group of volunteers are working to distribute new maps of the area. The water is shut off the day after Columbus Day. More information is available here.

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

** The Branch and Palmer Pond, North Hudson: A 1.6-mile stretch of The Branch immediately upstream of Palmer Pond and 0.7 miles of the pond’s shore is now open to the public following state land purchases from the Nature Conservancy. These two waters are located in the Town of North Hudson, Essex County south of the Blue Ridge Road (aka Boreas Road). Both waters contain brook trout which DEC stocks annually. Additionally, brown trout are present and stocked in Palmer Pond. Anglers can now fish the entire 1.4 miles of Palmer Pond’s shoreline, except on the dam itself, as the public fishing rights on the pond’s shore adjoin to forest preserve lands that abut the remainder of the pond. A small parking area is located near the dam at the eastern end of Palmer Pond. Pull off sites along the Blue Ridge Road are located at the western end of the pond and along The Branch. DEC plans to improve the parking area near the dam, construct an access site for launching small car-top boats and install a fishing pier on Palmer Pond. Once completed, the public will be able to fish the 28-acre pond by boat.

** English Brook, Lake George: English Brook is located along Somerville Road the Town of Warrensburg, Warren County. A 0.4 mile section of the brook which contains brook trout is now open to the public following state land purchases from the Nature Conservancy. DEC stocks this water which is west of Route 9 between the communities of Warrensburg and Lake George.

** Mineville Iron Ore Man Challenge: The second Mineville Iron Ore Man Challenge event is a hike up the Cheney Mountain Trail Saturday, June 1. Registration will be 8:45 a.m. at the trail head on Pelfershire Road, 1.4 miles east of Route 22/9N. Registration is $5. The hike will begin at 9 a.m. The first 80 people will receive a 2013 hiking patch. The Cheney Mountain Trail opened in the fall of 2011 and has become a popular hiking trail. It’s estimated that more than 1,500 people have used the trail since it opened. The trail is about two miles round-trip with a moderately-easy climb to the summit. Champlain Area Trails volunteers constructed the Cheney Mountain Trail on town property that was once site of a landfill.

Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: The gate at the Hogtown Parking Lot is open and the Shelving Rock Road to Dacy Clearing is open to motor vehicle traffic. Vehicles with low clearance should use caution as the road is in rough shape in a few spots.

The Dacy Clearing Road remains closed for mud season at this time, it will reopen when the road has dried and is suitable for motor vehicle traffic.

Pilot Knob: The gate to the Pilot Knob area remains closed for mud season. It will reopen when the road has dried and is suitable for motor vehicle traffic.

Black Mountain: The gate at the Black Mountain Trailhead in the town of Dresden on the road to the Minogue Camp is closed for mud season. The gate will be reopened when the road is sufficiently dry to prevent damage from motor vehicle use.

Mount Tom State Forest: Notch Lane Road in Mount Tom State Forest in town of White Creek, Washington County is gated closed for mud season. The gate will be reopened when the road is sufficiently dry to prevent damage from motor vehicle use.

Gay Pond Road: Gay Pond Road in the Town of Warrensburg portion of the Hudson River Special Management Ares is closed for mud season, it will reopen when the road has dried and is suitable for motor vehicle traffic.

Hudson River Recreation Area: All roads in the Hudson River Special Management Area are wet, muddy and in poor condition. Motor vehicles are discouraged from traveling on any of these roads during mud season. Motor vehicles may become stuck. Tire ruts from motor vehicle traffic will cause the road to be unsuitable for safe motor vehicle passage for a longer period of time.

Horicon: The gates and access roads to Lilly Pond and Long Pond in the Town of Horicon are closed for mud season. The roads and gates will reopen when the roads have dried and are suitable for motor vehicle traffic.

Palmer Pond: The gate and access road to Palmer Pond in the Town of Chester are closed for mud season. The road and gate will reopen when the road has dried and are suitable for motor vehicle traffic.

Siamese Ponds Wilderness: There is no road access to the Cisco Brook Trailhead parking area until the end of mud season when these roads will open. T

Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest: All gates are now closed in the Newcomb area on the Newcomb to Blue Mountain Snowmobile Trail to include the Green County Line Gate.

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

** Adirondack Canoe Route (Northern Portion): Water levels are running lower for this time of year; water temperatures are in the upper 40s and lower 50s. Paddlers should use caution, and be on the lookout for debris carried by spring freshets. Don’t paddle alone, wear clothing that will keep you warm and dry and always wear a personal floatation device (PFD).

** DeBar Mountain Wild Forest: The Hatch Brook Gate is open. Motor vehicles can access the Debar Meadow (Old Game Farm) Road.

Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: The Moose Pond Road and the gate for the Moose Pond Waterway Access Site in the town of St. Armand, Essex County, are closed for mud season. The road will and gate will reopen when the road is in suitable condition for motor vehicle traffic. The St. Germain Gate for the Lake Clear Girl Scout Camp Road is open. The gate to Little Clear Pond and Little Green Pond is open.

** Chazy Highlands Complex: DEC is preparing a management plan for nearly 60,000 acres of Forest Preserve and other state-managed lands in the Chazy Highlands Complex. Public input is sought. More information can be found here. A public meeting will be held on Thursday, May 23, at the Saranac Central School in Saranac, NY, at 6:30 pm to obtain suggestions for recreational opportunities on the lands within the complex.

Chazy Highlands Wild Forest: The gate on Red Road on Terry Mountain is closed for mud season, the gate and road will reopen when the road has dried and is suitable to motor vehicle traffic.

** Climbing: All rock climbing routes on the Moss Cliff in the Wilmington Notch and at the Main Face at Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain are closed between and including Shark Week (#106) and Lichenstorm (#167) as described on Adirondack Rock – A Rock Climber’s Guide. The rock climbing routes are closed to allow Peregrine Falcons to establish nesting sites. 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.

Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands: Public access to the Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands, including Madawaska Flow, from Route 458 is unavailable at this time. DEC continues to work to reopen public access to this area.

** Lake Lila Road: The gate for Lake Lila Road is open and the road is open to motor vehicle traffic. Do not block the gate at the Lake Lila Trailhead parking areas.

** Split Rock Mountain Wild Forest: The gate at the Lewis Clearing Trailhead remains closed.

——————–
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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