Thursday, July 4, 2013

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (July 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.

** JULY 4TH WEEKEND: This weekend July 4th holiday weekend expect trailhead parking lots and interior campsites reach capacity, especially in popular areas such as Lake George and the Eastern High Peaks. Visitors should plan accordingly and are advised to seek backcountry recreation opportunities in less used areas of the Adirondack Park.

** VERY HIGH WATER LEVELS: Waters are currently running VERY HIGH, even for this time of year. Recent and continuing rains mean areas that are normally dry or have little water at this time of year may have considerable amount of water. Currents in rivers and streams are fast and powerful. Be aware of these conditions and use cautions. Low water crossings may not be passable due to heavy water flows. Heavy afternoon and evening rains may cause low water crossings that were passable early in the day, may not be passable later. Swimmers and waders should avoid swift currents especially near waterfalls and rapids. Paddlers and boaters should be cautious as rocks, logs and other obstacles that typically are above the water may be just below the surface of the water. High waters may have washed floating objects into rivers, lake and ponds. Low water crossings may not be accessible and some water crossings may be difficult and intimidating to some hikers. Localized afternoon storms this weekend could quickly raise the level of rivers and streams even more – watch weather reports closely.

** SWIMMING DANGERS IN RIVERS AND STREAMS: This Fourth of July weekend use extreme caution at local swimming holes, and near raging rivers and streams. Fast moving rivers and streams can pose great dangers. Swimmers and waders should avoid swift currents, especially near waterfalls and rapids. Do not underestimate the force of moving water and strong currents. The high, fast water the Adirondacks is experiencing due to recent heavy rains was the cause of two deaths this week in treacherous currents. A Whitehall man was swept under while swimming with family in the Mettawee River in Granville on Saturday. Also, a Franklin County man, a father of three, went over Rockwell Falls in Lake Luzerne on an inflatable raft on Sunday. More information and additional safety advice can be found here.

** HIGH WATER PADDLING ADVISORY: Water levels are running HIGH, even for this time of year; water temperatures are generally in the lower 60s. Rivers and streams have fast, powerful currents, and high waters can also wash logs, docks and other floating objects into rivers and lakes, creating potential hazards. Don’t paddle alone or above your experience, and always wear a personal floatation device (PFD).

** WET AND MUDDY TRAIL CONDITIONS: DEC is no longer asking hikers to stay off trails above 3,000 feet, but trails around the region are wet and muddy after considerable recent rains, especially in low lying areas and near waterbodies. Water levels are well above normal for this time of year; low water crossings may not be passable and trails along waterways may be flooded. Wear appropriate footwear, stay on the trail, and hike through muddy areas to avoid widening the trails or creating herd paths.

** LOCAL WATER TEMPERATURES: The Mirror Lake water temperature is in the lower-70s; the Ausable River at Wilmington is in the mid-60s; Lake Champlain water temperature is about 65 degrees; and the temperature at Warner Bay on Lake George is about 73.

** LAKE CHAMPLAIN ALGAE BLOOMS: There are reports of blooms in the Ferrisburgh and Addison, VT areas of the main lake (opposite the Essex and Westport town line) and cyanobacteria have been confirmed at one of these locations. Anyone active on these areas of Lake Champlain should watch for and avoid algae blooms. Do not swim, bathe, or drink the water, or use it in cooking or washing, and do not allow pets in algae-contaminated water.

** LAKE SUNNYSIDE, WARREN COUNTY: A blue-green algae bloom has been confirmed in Lake Sunnyside, Warren County. Avoid all contact with algae blooms. Do not swim, bathe, or drink the water, or use it in cooking or washing, and do not allow pets in algae-contaminated water.

** 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]

** LIGHTENING SAFETY REMINDER: The possibility of encountering thunderstorms is raised at this time of year. There is NO safe place outside in a thunderstorm, follow local weather closely and avoid storms. Hundreds of people are killed or permanently injured each year by being struck by lightening. If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance so seek safe shelter immediately. If you are caught outdoors away from the safety of cars or buildings, then avoid open fields, hill-tops, and isolated trees, and stay away from water. You should never be above treeline or on water when there is lightning. – See more at: http://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2012/08/adirondack-fish-and-game-report-aug-16.html#sthash.53BQwaFL.dpuf

** FIRE DANGER LOW: 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.

** ROUTE 73 ROAD CONSTRUCTION: Road construction continues sporadically on Route 73 along the Cascade Lakes at least during the week. Flaggers are controlling alternating one- way traffic through the construction zone. The two easternmost parking areas for Cascade and Pitchoff Mountains remain closed. The other three are fully or partially open, however hikers are advised to seek other places to hike – especially on weekends.

IMPORTANT GENERAL NOTICES

END OF YEARLONG DRY SPELL: According to the US Drought Monitor, a yearlong dry spell has ended in the Adirondacks. The wet weather of recent weeks has ended a period of abnormally dry conditions that began in mid-June, 2012. Local soils are saturated and waters are currently well above normal for this time of year around the region; some low-lying areas are very wet and/or flooded.

SOME CLIMBING ROUTES REMAIN 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.

** LAKE GEORGE INVASIVES TRANSPORT LAW: Essex County enacted an invasive species transport law for Lake George on Monday. The law, which takes effect immediately, applies to the portion of the Lake George basin that lies within Essex County including the Mossy Point Boat Launch. A similar law passed in Warren County in 2011; Washington County lawmakers have twice rejected the passage of a similar law.

** LAKE GEORGE HIKE-A-THON: The Lake George Land Conservancy (LGLC) is celebrating 25 years with a Hike-a-Thon on Friday, July 5. Hikes varying in length and difficulty will be held at each of the LGLC’s eight parks and preserves. The Hike-a-Thon is free and open to the public. To register, call 518-644-9673 or e-mail the LGLC.  Participants will receive a t-shirt and an aerial photo of their group.

NEW STATE LANDS INPUT SOUGHT: The Adirondack Park Agency continues to hold hearings around the state to explain options and gather opinions for managing up to 46,400 acres of former Finch, Pruyn/Nature Conservancy and adjacent Forest Preserve lands in the Upper Hudson River region. All of the Almanack’s coverage of the new state lands, including the debates over wilderness and wild forest classifications, the maps, hearings, and more can be found here. Details and maps of the several proposed classification schemes can be found here.

GENERAL BACKCOUNTRY NOTICES

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.

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

** July 4th Weekend: This July 4th expect trailhead parking lots and interior campsites reach capacity on Friday evening and Saturday morning, especially in the Eastern high Peaks and Lake George region. Visitors should plan accordingly and are advised to seek backcountry recreation opportunities in other areas of the Adirondack Park.

** High Elevation Trails: Although the Muddy Trail Advisory is ended, all trails, including high elevation trails, are muddy. Stay on trails and bedrock surfaces – don’t trample sensitive vegetation on summits. Trails along water may be flooded. Wear waterproof footwear and gaiters and walk through – not around – mud and water to prevent eroding and widening the trail.

** Route 73 Road Construction: Road construction continues sporadically on Route 73 along the Cascade Lakes at least during the week. Flaggers are controlling alternating one- way traffic through the construction zone. The two easternmost parking areas for Cascade and Pitchoff Mountains remain closed. The other three are fully or partially open, however hikers are advised to seek other places to hike – especially on weekends.

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

Inlet and Raquette Lake Community Connector: The 12.8-mile Seventh Lake Mountain Multiple Use Trail connecting the communities of Inlet and Raquette Lake is open. The trail provides four seasons of recreational opportunities for the public to snowmobile, hike and bike. The southwestern end of the trail is at the Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road in the Town of Inlet and the northeastern end is at the Sagamore Road in the Town of Long Lake. A Trail Map is available online.

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

** July 4th Weekend: This July 4th expect trailhead parking lots and interior campsites reach capacity on Friday evening and Saturday morning, especially in the Lake George region and the Eastern high Peaks. Visitors should plan accordingly and are advised to seek backcountry recreation opportunities in other areas of the Adirondack Park.

** Santanoni Historic Preserve: Work to reconstruct the stone walls of a culvert on the Newcomb Lake Road will begin in early July and continue into the fall of 2013. This work should not impact movement along the Newcomb Lake Road significantly. As part of ongoing construction work steel plates have been placed on the surface of the Honeymoon Bridge located about 1.2 miles from the trailhead. This may create a slippery, unsafe surface for bikers and horses.

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

** Route 73 Road Construction: Road construction continues sporadically on Route 73 along the Cascade Lakes at least during the week. Flaggers are controlling alternating one- way traffic through the construction zone. The two easternmost parking areas for Cascade and Pitchoff Mountains remain closed. The other three are fully or partially open, however hikers are advised to seek other places to hike – especially on weekends.

——————–
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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Stories written under the Almanack's Editorial Staff byline are drawn from press releases and other notices.

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