Thursday, January 16, 2014

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Jan 16)

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

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** indicates active, new or revised items.

** WINTER CONDITIONS: The recent spate of warmer weather has ended. Expect daytime highs in the teens through the upcoming holiday weekend with nighttime lows in the low teens and single digits. Light snow and snow showers are forecast through the next five days. Wear a waterproof outer shell and bring winter gear, extra layers of clothing and a winter hat and gloves. Always check the weather forecast before entering the backcountry.

** ICY AND SNOWY TRAIL CONDITIONS: Trails, parking lots, and other access points are very icy everywhere. Traction devices should be worn on all hikes. Crampons should be carried for use on icy areas especially in steep terrain, summits and other open areas. Plenty of snow present above 3,500 feet as the rain this past week fell as snow above that elevation and snowshoes or skis will be needed above about 3,500 feet.

** SNOWSHOES OR SKIS AT HIGHER ELEVATIONS: Expect to use skis or snowshoes above about 3,500 feet. Ski conditions are poor in the lower elevations but fair above 3,500 feet. Snowshoes or skis are required in the High Peaks, and encouraged elsewhere, wherever snow depths are 8 inches or more. The use of snowshoes or skis eases travel through snow, avoids injury and prevents “post-holing”, which ruins the trails for others and makes them dangerous to traverse.

** PREVENT HYPOTHERMIA: Hypothermia is a threat even when air temperatures are in the 40s, especially in wet weather.Dress properly and add or remove layers to regulate your body temperature. Carry plenty of food and water. Eat, drink and rest often. Being tired, hungry or dehydrated makes you more susceptible to hypothermia.

** SNOW COVER REPORT: There remains plenty of snow above about 3,500 feet where this week’s rains fell as snow. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports 16 inches at the stake this morning, with 3 inches of fresh snow overnight. Lower elevations in the central and southern Adirondacks have about 4 to 6 inches, with 2 to 4 inches of snow on the ground at the periphery of the the park elsewhere.

** LONG RANGE SNOW FORECAST: Although hopes for snow this weekend have petered out, positive PNA pattern is being set up that should allow very cold weather to drop into our area eliminating the chance of more thaws, and reducing the chances of rain while increasing the chances of snow. This situation should last at least through the end of the month as a series of clipper systems moves through, some bringing a small amount of snowfall, a few possibly more.

** BLOWDOWN: Recent storms and high winds have left blowdown on trails, especially secondary, lesser used trails.

** KNOW THE LATEST WEATHER: Adirondack weather can change dramatically in a short time. Check the weather before entering the woods and be aware of weather conditions at all times. 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: The fire danger in the Adirondack region is LOW. Campfires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness at all times. It is illegal to leave a fire unattended until it is fully extinguished. Use extreme care at this time of year with open fires.

** RIVERS AND STREAMS WELL ABOVE NORMAL: Rain and melting snow has risen the levels of rivers and stream to well above normal for this time of year. The threat of flooding from ice jams, however, has generally passed. Rivers and stream crossings may be impassible.

** ICE ON WATERS: Conditions early this week included some areas with as much as 10 inches of water on top. Although cold weather has returned, expect to encounter layered ice, and some water and slush during the day. The warm weather and rising waters has compromised the integrity of ice along shorelines. Ice over moving water has melted completely or is very thin. Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake are frozen but use extreme caution around inlets and outlets. Flowed Lands and river crossings to the south are open water or have rotten ice, crossings are treacherous. Always check the depth of ice before and during crossing and avoid inlets, outlets and ice on or near running water. Ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. Always use extreme caution on ice over water.

** DOWNHILL SKI REPORT: Most of the region’s downhill resorts will be open this weekend. Whiteface is reporting about 50% of their terrain open and Gore about 60%. McCauley and Oak Mountain will be open this weekend, but Big Tupper and Hickory remain closed; Mount Pisgah will probably be open, but you should call ahead to be sure.

** CROSS COUNTRY SKI REPORT: Garnet Hill and Lapland Lake both survived this week’s warm-up, but Garnet Hill has closed all but the trails on the west side of the lodge no other cross country ski areas can be recommended.

** BACKCOUNTRY SKI REPORT: Backcountry skiing is possible in the High Peaks, but only above about 3,500 feet, and conditions are only fair. Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake are frozen but use extreme caution around inlets and outlets. Flowed Lands and river crossings to the south are open water or have rotten ice, crossings are treacherous. No backcountry skiing can be recommended elsewhere, except in Newcomb which picked up a few inches today, and where Camp Santanoni is hosting its first winter weekend and the Adirondack Interpretive Center is having having a new year celebration. If Cranberry Lake and the Inlet – Old Forge corridor gets a few inches in one of these clipper storms, those areas will be ski-able again.

** SNOWMOBILE REPORT: Although there is an icy base left on on some trails, no riding can be recommended at this time. Some low-lying areas remain flooded, bare spots abound, and the groomers are parked for lack of snow. Do not ride on closed trails. On February 16, historian and Adirondack Almanack founder and editor John Warren will present a talk at the Adirondack Museum tracing the history of snow machines in the Adirondacks from the early 1900s through the development of the personal sled.


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

** indicates new or revised items for this week.

Including, Wilmington, Keene, Western High Peaks

** Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake are frozen but use extreme caution around inlets and outlets.

** Flowed Lands and River Crossings: Flowed Lands and river crossings to the south are open water or have rotten ice, crossings are treacherous.

Ausable Lakes: The public easement agreement for the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (Ausable Club) only allows for hiking, snowshoeing or skiing on the designated trails and roads. Traversing the Lower or Upper Ausable Lakes is prohibited.

Johns Brook Valley Campsite Closed: The designated campsite on Big Slide Mountain Brook in the Johns Brook Valley near the intersection with the Phelps Trail has been permanently closed due to site degradation. Other designated campsites are located across from the Howard Lean-to and just past Johns Brook Lodge. Signs on the hiking trail direct hikers to these sites.

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

** No New reports this week.

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

Former Finch Lands – Essex Chain Lakes Tract: The Town of Newcomb is plowing Goodnow Flow Road. The public can park in the designated plowed area along the Goodnow Flow Road just before the Chain Lakes Road entrance – this is the road used in the summer to access the Hudson River at the Polaris or Iron Bridge. The public can access the Essex Chain Lakes Tract to ski, snowshoe or otherwise traverse the roadways and the lands. Interim winter public access will be limited this year as no plowed parking areas have been designated on the Essex Tract itself. The plowed parking area on the Goodnow Flow Road is used by the Gooley and Polaris Club members to park vehicles and snowmobile trailers – it is likely to be crowded on weekends. The Deer Pond and Chain Lakes Road gates have been closed and locked. The roads beyond are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. Members of the Gooley and Polaris Clubs will be able to use snowmobiles on the roadways to get to and from their camps.

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

** No New reports this week.


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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