Thursday, June 6, 2013

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (June 6)

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

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** indicates new or revised items.

** EARLY SUMMER CONDITIONS: Recent rains have keep waters higher and trail wet and in some places, quite muddy. 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.

** GENERAL TRAIL CONDITIONS: Following the arrival of some three feet of new snow over two weekends ago means that at elevations above about 3,000 feet trails continue to be sloppy (some snow, and mud) and susceptible to damage and so should be avoided. Most trails around the region remain wet after considerable recent rains, expect to encounter some muddy areas, especially in low lying areas and near waterbodies. Water levels are high; low water crossings will not be passable and trails along waters may be flooded. Wear appropriate footwear, stay on the trail, and hike through muddy areas to avoid widening the trails or creating herd paths.

** AVOID TRAILS ABOVE 3,000 FEET: Three feet of snow fell in the highest elevations of the High Peaks two weekends ago. While nearly all that snow has melted muddy conditions remain above 3,000 feet. Hikers should continue to avoid trails above 3,000 feet to protect the trails and surrounding vegetation, which remain very vulnerable. 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.

** WATERS RUNNING ABOVE NORMAL: Waters are currently running above normal levels for this time of year, and are particularly high in the northern Adirondacks. Low water crossing may not be accessible. Localized storms this weekend could quickly raise the level of rivers and streams even more – watch weather reports closely.

** LOCAL WATER TEMPERATURES: Water temperatures warmed considerably around the region this week. The temperature off the dock at Mirror Lake is in the mid-60s. The Ausable River at Wilmington has risen into the lower 60s; Lake Champlain water temperature has risen to the upper-50s; and the temperature at Warner Bay on Lake George has risen into mid 60s.

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

MOST SEASONAL ROADS NOW OPEN: DEC has opened gates on most roads typically closed during mud season. The few roads that remain closed awaiting seasonal repairs are noted below.

** 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: Campfires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness at all times. Numerous wildfires burned around the Adirondack region this spring. It is illegal to leave a fire unattended until it is fully extinguished. Use care with open fires.

SOME CLIMBING ROUTES CLOSED: 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 from Snake Charmer to Infinity Crack. 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. Closed climbing routes will reopen once the young falcons have fledged which is typically by August 1.

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.

NEW STATE LANDS HEARINGS SET: The Adirondack Park Agency plans to hold eight hearings around the state to explain options for managing 21,200 acres of former Finch, Pruyn lands and up 24,200 acres of adjacent Forest Preserve. The agency also will gather input from the public on the management and use of the lands. The hearings will begin on June 12 in Ray Brook. More information about the hearings can be found here. All the Almanack‘s coverage of the new state lands can be found here.

** FREE FISHING DAYS: During the last full weekend in June (June 29-30 this year), anyone may fish the fresh waters of New York State without a fishing license. This is the perfect opportunity to try fishing for the first time or take a friend or relative fishing. New York State includes more than 7,500 lakes and ponds and 50,000 miles of rivers and streams.


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.

DON’T DISTURB WILDLIFE: The DEC reminds New Yorkers to keep their distance and not to disturb newborn fawns or other young wildlife as many animals are in the peak season for giving birth. It is not unusual to see a young animal that appears abandoned. Finding a fawn deer lying by itself is also fairly common. Many people assume that young wildlife found alone are helpless and need assistance for their survival, however, in nearly all cases this is a mistake and typically human interaction does more damage than good. Those that see a fawn or other newborn wildlife should enjoy their encounter but keep it brief, maintain some distance and do not attempt to touch the animal.


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.

Including, Wilmington, Keene, Western High Peaks

** Muddy Trails Advisory: Three feet of snow two weekends ago only worsened conditions and 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.

** Route 73 Road Construction: Road construction on Route 73 along the Cascade Lakes has begun. There will be alternating one way traffic through the construction zone through Monday, June 24. Also the two easternmost parking areas for Cascade and Pitchoff Mountains will be closed during the construction. The other three will remain fully or partially open, however hikers are advised to seek other places to hike during this period, especially on the weekends.

West Canada Lakes, Fulton Chain, Long Lake, Speculator, Indian Lake

Perkins Clearing – Speculator Tree Farm Easement: The Old Military Road from Sled Harbor to the Pillsbury Mountain Trailhead is passable only by high clearance SUVs and Trucks. All other vehicles should park at Sled Harbor and hike from there. DEC Operations staff have removed blowdown and raked the Jessup River Road and part of the the Old Military Road.

Moose River Plains: The Moose River Plains road system is now open, including the Otter Brook Gate.

The Hudson, Schroon, Lake George, Champlain, Sacandaga, Washington Co

Buttermilk Road: Buttermilk Road Extension is washed out and remains closed to all motor vehicle traffic.

Tongue Mountain Range: Trails on the Tongue Mountain Range are wet and muddy after heavy rains. Rattlesnakes are coming out of their dens now and are on the move. If you leave them alone they will leave you alone. On Tongue Mountain, the mileage from the Red/Blue Trail Intersection near Clay Meadow Trailhead to the 5th Peak Lean-to is 2.6 miles, not 5.2 as indicated on the sign.

Lake George Wild Forest (Eastern): The Shelving Rock Road to Dacy Clearing is open to motor vehicle traffic, however, vehicles with low clearance should use caution as the road is in rough shape in a few spots.

Santa Clara, Tupper and Saranac Lakes, St. Regis, Lake Lila

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.

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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