Thursday, January 30, 2014

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Jan 30)

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

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SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

** indicates active, new or revised items.

** MIXED WINTER CONDITIONS: Temperatures are expected to warm this weekend into the upper 20s and lower 30s during the day and nighttime temperatures in the teens and 20s. Expect a variety of mixed precipitation, depending on latitude and elevation. Accumulations of snow are forecast to be light. 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. Be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods.

** ICY AND SNOWY TRAIL CONDITIONS: Trails, parking lots, and other access points remain icy under light snow. Traction devices are recommended. Crampons should be carried for use on icy areas, especially in steep terrain, on summits and in other open areas. There is plenty of snow present in the higher elevations. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports 24 inches at the stake this morning. Lakes and other crossings have generally frozen solid from recent extreme cold, but always use caution around inlets, outlets and flowing waters.

** CURRENT SNOW COVER: Lower elevations around the Adirondack Park have about 6-8 inches of snow. There is a few inches more on the ground snow in the Southwestern Adirondacks, about 8-10 inches. In the High Peaks, the Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports 24 inches at the stake and more at higher elevations, but there is less snow on the ground to the north and north west of the High Peaks, about 4 to 6 inches. Backcountry skiing conditions are fair in the lower elevations and good in the higher elevations. Snowshoes are necessary in the higher elevations and required in the High Peaks Wilderness wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches.

** LONG RANGE FORECAST: The long range forecast is looking much brighter for winter sports enthusiasts with colder temperatures. A split flow pattern will produce a number of possibly large snow events over the next two weeks, depending on where the split occurs. Some forecasters are calling for the snowiest February in many years. Look for some snow around Wednesday.

** BLOWDOWN: Winter storms and recent 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 JUST ABOVE NORMAL: Rivers are running at or just above normal for this time of year. Streams are nearly all frozen, a warm-up Saturday and Sunday could raise the levels of rivers and streams.

** ICE ON WATERS: Ice is solid and growing. All lakes are iced over, some smaller lakes have as much as a foot of ice. 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 are open this weekend with a few inches of fresh snow over a very firm base. Whiteface and Gore are both reporting about 80% of their terrain open. McCauley and Oak Mountain will be open this weekend, with about 50% of their terrain open. Big Tupper remain closed; but Mount Pisgah will be open and Hickory Mountain in Warrensburg will reopen this weekend.

** CROSS COUNTRY SKI REPORT: All cross country areas are open, but expect a firmly packed somewhat thin base of 2 to 4-inches and limited trail selection in the Central Adirondacks, with a 4 to 6-inch base at Paul Smiths. Tupper Lake trails cannot be recommended. Lapland Lake has an 8 to 10-inch base (they picked up another foot of snow last weekend), and Garnet Hill near North Creek which has about a 4 to 6-inch base after snow this week. Cranberry Lake and the Inlet – Old Forge corridor are also ski-able.

** BACKCOUNTRY SKI REPORT: Backcountry skiing is possible in the High Peaks above Marcy Dam, but conditions are better at higher elevations and only fair below there. Everywhere, be sure to use caution and be aware of obstacles, thin cover, and fast downhills. Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake are frozen and the flowed Lands and river crossings are also frozen. The Jackrabbit Trail is skiable, but still fairly thin. The best bet remains the smoother terrain of the Peninsula section. Backcountry skiing remains fair elsewhere, although there is better cover on the roads and truck trails including Ausable Road, Hays Brook Truck, Burn Road near Little Tupper, and the Lake Lila Road. Marcy Dam Truck Trail has been skied, but is not recommended. The Fish Pond Truck Trail is skiable, although some blowdown remains. The best bet continues to be in Newcomb and the Essex Chain which received more snow this week. Cranberry Lake and the Inlet – Old Forge corridor are also ski-able. Fern Park in Inlet has been groomed.

** SNOWMOBILE REPORT: Trails remain generally thin, but rideable. Expect to encounter very icy turns, some very thin and bare spots, and uncovered obstacles. Warren County Trails can not recommended. The best bets are in the Perkins Clearing and Moose River Plains areas (although it’s thinner on the east side of the plains). Trails in the Town of Webb are in Fair to Good condition, and some additional snow has brought the groomers out in the Old Forge – Inlet Corridor and in the Lake Pleasant – Speculator area. The C8 Snowmobile Corridor in the towns of Duane and Franklin has reopened (see below). The Seventh Lake Mountain Multiple Use Trail is open for its whole length (DEC crews added ramps to the bridges that had been missing them). Cranberry Lake Lodge is closed for the 2013-2014 Winter season and no gas is available in and around the Cranberry Lake area. 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.

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 for this week.

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

** Snowshoes or Skis Required: Snowshoes or skis are required above Marcy Dam, and anywhere in the High Peaks Wilderness where 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.

** Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake are frozen, but use caution around inlets and outlets. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports 24 inches at the stake.

** Flowed Lands and River Crossings: Flowed Lands and river crossings are frozen.

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.

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

** The Seventh Lake Mountain Multiple Use Trail: The trail is now open for its whole length. DEC crews added ramps to the bridges that had been missing them.

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

Camp Santanoni: Two more Camp Santanoni Winter Weekends are scheduled this winter – February 15 to 17 and March 15 and 16. Skiers and snowshoers will be able access and learn about the historic buildings and warm up in the Artist Cabin with a fire and hot beverages. Find out more here.

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.

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

** Cranberry Lake: Cranberry Lake Lodge is closed for the 2013-2014 Winter season. The restaurant, tavern, and hotel lodging are closed, and there is no gas available on the premises. There is no access to Cranberry Lake from the Lodge property. At present, there is no gas available in and around the Cranberry Lake area.

** C8 Connector – Debar Wild Forest / Sable Highlands: The Debar Trail between Debar Meadows to Meacham Lake Campground Trail has reopened for snowmobile use. The C8 Snowmobile Corridor is now open throughout this area. DEC and Franklin Snowmobilers unclogged culverts and completed other work to make the trail safe for public use.

** DeBar Mountain Wild Forest/Kushuqua Conservation Easement Lands: DEC has released a draft Recreation Management Plan for the Kushuqua Conservation Easement Lands. A public meeting regarding the plan has been scheduled for February 5 at Paul Smiths College.

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

To have your news noticed here at the Almanack contact our Editor John Warren at adkalmanack@gmail.com.




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