Thursday, May 2, 2013

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (May 2)


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

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The Outdoor Conditions Report also runs each Friday at Saratoga Wire.

SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

** indicates new or revised items.

** UV INDEX HIGH: The ultraviolet index is expected to be HIGH this weekend – consider wearing sunscreen.

** LATE SPRING CONDITIONS: The Adirondacks jumped this week from early spring to late spring and the warm and dry conditions the region is currently experiencing will continue into what looks to be an outstanding weekend weather-wise. However, expect colder nighttime temperatures into the 30s in sheltered areas and cooler valleys and at higher elevations. Snow and ice remain above about 3,800 feet – 3,000 feet on north-facing slopes – but elsewhere the dry spring continues and the fire danger is 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.

** SNOW AND ICE ON SUMMITS:Lower and middle elevations trails are clear of snow and drier than recent weeks, but elevations above 3,800 feet still have snow and ice that may make going difficult. Drainages and water crossing have no snow or ice. Because snow and ice remains at higher elevations in the High Peaks, it’s a good time to seek recreation opportunities in other areas.

** SNOWSHOES OR SKIS: Wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches (as they currently do on some summits) the use of snowshoes or skis is required in the High Peaks.

** MUD SEASON: Although it’s been a generally dry spring so far, expect access roads and trails in low-lying areas to be muddy. Because snow and ice remains at higher elevations, it’s still a good time to seek recreation opportunities at lower elevations, where trails are drier.

** WATERS RUNNING NORMALLY: Although waters are running at spring levels and snow-melt continues in the High Peaks, rivers and streams are below normal for this time of year in the Western Adirondacks, one of the effects of our continued dry spring.

** WATER TEMPERATURES: The Lake Champlain water temperature has risen to about 45 degrees; the temperature at Warner Bay on Lake George has risen into the mid 50s. Remember water temperatures are still cold enough at this time of year to pose a hazard of hypothermia.

** ROUTE 73 – CASCADE PASS CLOSURES: Road work begins Wednesday along Route 73 in Cascade Pass between Lake Placid and Keene. At the beginning of May, traffic will be restricted to one lane and occasionally closed for up to a half-hour at a time. The road is expected to be closed for one full weekend, probably May 11-12, from 6 am to 6 pm both days. A detours will take traffic along Routes 9N and 86, Springfield Road (County Road 83) and Fox Farm Road (County Road 63). The work is expected to be completed by Memorial Day weekend. There will be limited parking at the very popular Cascade Mountain trailhead and the parking areas at the western trailhead for Pitchoff Mountain, and Stagecoach Rock will be closed. Parking on the roadside is prohibited. The road will be completely closed on the weekend of May 11 & 12. Hikers should seek out other hiking opportunities during the month of May. Construction is expected to be completed by Memorial Day Weekend. Consider instead visiting the new trail on Jay Mountain, which was completed last year.

** OLD MILITARY ROAD DETOUR: Road construction is underway 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.

SEASONAL ROAD CLOSURES: DEC has shut the gates on roads typically closed during mud season. Roads reopen when conditions dry out, typically in mid May. See a complete list of road closures below, sorted by region.

CLIMBING ROUTES CLOSED: Ice climbing has come to an end, 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: Waters are clear of ice. Water levels are seasonally higher and water temperatures in the 40s. 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: HIGH
The fire danger rating is HIGH, 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 next weekend until May 14.

** RECENT WILDFIRES: Several small wildfires have reported around the Adirondack region in recent weeks including along a roadway in Saranac Lake, and an unattended campfire that burned out of control three weeks ago over nearly 20 acres of land in Washington County. 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 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 3,000 (above 3,800 on south facing slopes). High Peaks summit trails may still require snowshoes and/or traction devices.

** Route 73 – Cascade Pass Closures: Road work begins Wednesday along Route 73 in Cascade Pass between Lake Placid and Keene. At the beginning of May, traffic will be restricted to one lane and occasionally closed for up to a half-hour at a time. The road is expected to be closed for one full weekend, probably May 11-12, from 6 am to 6 pm both days. A detours will take traffic along Routes 9N and 86, Springfield Road (County Road 83) and Fox Farm Road (County Road 63). The work is expected to be completed by Memorial Day weekend. There will be limited parking at the very popular Cascade Mountain trailhead and the parking areas at the western trailhead for Pitchoff Mountain, and Stagecoach Rock will be closed. Parking on the roadside is prohibited. The road will be completely closed on the weekend of May 11 & 12. Hikers should seek out other hiking opportunities during the month of May. Construction is expected to be completed by Memorial Day Weekend. Consider instead visiting the new trail on Jay Mountain, which was completed last year.

** Old Military Road Detour: Road construction is underway 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.

** Garden Parking Lot: The town of Keene is staffing The Garden parking lot and a $7/day fee is being collected 7 days a week. The shuttle from the remote parking near Marcy Field is not yet running.

** Adirondak Loj Has Reopened: Adirondak Loj has reopened after renovations to the front desk and kitchen.

** Clear Pond Gate: The gate at Clear Pond on the Elk Lake Road will reopen on Friday, May 10, providing motor vehicle access to the Elk Lake-Mt. Marcy and Dix Mtn.-Hunter Pass trailheads.

** 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): Lakes and backwaters are ice free. Water levels are high and water temperatures are cold.

Jessup River Wild Forest: There is no road access to the Pillsbury Mountain Trailhead parking areas until the end of mud season when these roads will open. The average opening date is around May 15th.

Perkins Clearing / Speculator Tree Farm: All snowmobile trails are closed. Mud gates along designated public motor vehicle roads are closed until at least early May. Closed roads include: Robbs Creek, Fly Creek, Long Level, and East (or Elm Lake ) roads within the Speculator Tree Farm area. The Perkins Clearing, Mud, Old Military, and Jessup River roads within the Perkins Clearing area are also closed. There is no road access to the Cisco Brook, Pillsbury Mountain and Spruce Lake trailhead parking areas until the end of mud season when these roads will open. The average opening date is around May 15th.

West Canada Lakes Wilderness: There is no road access to the Spruce Lake Trailhead parking area until the end of mud season when these roads will open. The average opening date is around May 15th.

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.

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

** 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. The average opening date is around May 15th.

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): Lakes and backwaters no longer have ice. Water levels are higher and water temperatures are cold.

** 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 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 except “Opposition”, “A Womb with a View” and all the routes in between as described on pages 39-45 of 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.

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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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