Thursday, December 25, 2014

Outdoor Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Dec 25)

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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

 

 

BEST DAY: Sunday should have a few more inches of snow.

SUN AND MOON: Sunrise Saturday will be at 7:31 am; sunset at 4:23 pm. Saturday’s moon will be waxing crescent with 38% illuminated; there will be a First Quarter Moon on Sunday. Moon rise will be at 11:04 am Saturday, and moon set at 11:25 pm.

SHORTER DAYS: The sun sets around 4:20 pm. Plan trips accordingly and carry a flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries. After Sunday’s Winter Solstice, days will slowly begin to lengthen.

WINTER CONDITIONS: Temperatures well into the 40s and rain have diminished the snow-pack and risen the levels of rivers and streams. Some light dusting of snow is expected (up to a couple inches at most) at elevations above 1,000 feet; that may fall as light rain below 1,000 feet. Expect trails to have up to a few inches of light snow, but underneath could be a combination of ice, snow, and water, and possibly some mud in lower elevation well-traveled areas. Nighttime freezing temperatures will make trails icy in places, so wear traction devices and bring snowshoes if you are headed to higher elevations. Daytime highs this weekend will be in the mid to upper 30s, and near freezing on summits. Nighttime temperatures will be in the 20s. Always check the weather forecast before entering the backcountry. Never travel alone, carry proper safety equipment, inform someone of your itinerary, and be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods.

RIVERS AND STREAMS RUNNING HIGH: Rivers and streams are running high around the region and low water crossings may not be passable this weekend. The Hudson River streamgage at North Creek has risen three feet to 6.25 feet Thursday afternoon and rising. The Lake Champlain gage at Whitehall is 95.73 feet and rising. The Mettawee River near Granville in Washington County just outside the park is about a foot over flood stage. Check local streamgages on the USGS website for details about the waters where you intend to recreate before heading out.

WINDS: This weekend expect winds 5-10 mph, higher on and near summits.

SNOWSHOES OR SKIS MAY BE NEEDED, CARRY CRAMPONS: Visitors to the Eastern High Peaks are required to use snowshoes or cross-country skis for their safety and the safety of other backcountry users when snow depths exceed 8 inches. Snowshoes or skis ease travel on snow and prevent “post holing”, which can ruin trails and cause sudden falls resulting in injuries. Ice crampons should be carried for use on icy mountaintops and other exposed areas.

SNOW COVER REPORT: All elevations lost considerable snowpack this week. Expect to encounter 4 to 8 inches around most of the region, with up to a foot in the high peaks and more than two feet above about 3,000 feet. Elevations over 1,000 feet are expected to pick up a a dusting to a few inches of new snow by Sunday morning. There is about 15 inches of snow at Lake Colden. Use extreme caution around stream crossings.

EXPECT BLOWDOWN: Recent storms have contributed to blowdown. Expect to encounter blowdown, especially on lesser used trails.

ICE REPORT: Ice has taken a hit with the warm temperatures and rain and lake ice is covered with slush and water. Rain and warm temperatures have opened-up ice on rivers and brooks. Colder nights near zero and in the single digits and teens next week should refreeze area lakes and provide for some nice ice fishing opportunities beginning early next week. Ice thickness varies by region and larger lakes have not iced over yet, including Great Sacanadaga Lake and Schroon Lake. For now, no ice should be considered safe without first testing its thickness. Use extreme caution around the inlets, outlets and along the shoreline which are slushy at this time. Always use caution when traveling on ice.

KNOW THE LATEST WEATHER: Be aware of weather conditions at all times by checking Adirondack region forecasts at Burlington and Albany, and the High Elevation, Recreation, or Lake Champlain forecasts.

LONG RANGE FORECAST: Colder weather is expected to move in on Monday and remain through the New Year. Expect temperatures in the teens and 20s through the week, although no substantial precipitation is expected. Colder nights near zero and in the single digits and teens next week should refreeze area lakes and provide for some nice ice fishing opportunities by mid-week. Next Saturday is currently forecast to be near freezing with a chance of snow or freezing rain.

BACKCOUNTRY SKIING REPORT: Backcountry skiers sticking to smoother terrain will have the best skiing this weekend, but expect conditions to be icy, especially in the mornings. Ski safely, as some obstacles remain uncovered. Trails have not lost their base, and some light snow in the forecast should freshen trails – Sunday will be the best day for backcountry skiing. Mount Marcy and Avalanche Pass have been skied, but Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden are slush and water covered. The Jack Rabbit trail has kept its base and should be skiable, though toward Paul Smith’s should be avoided and the Tupper Lake trails can not be recommended.

DOWNHILL SKI REPORT: All downhill ski resorts should be open this weekend, with the exception of Hickory near Warrensburg, but expect limited terrain and call ahead at smaller mountains to be sure, many are operating with only a handful of trails. Gore and Whiteface will have about 50% of their terrain open. Find out more about all the new facilities in the Adirondacks in Jeff Farbaniec’s Adirondack Ski Season Preview, 2014-2015.

CROSS-COUNTRY FACILITIES: All cross-country ski areas will be open with a two to five inch base. Some new snow will help, but Paul Smiths and Tupper Lake trails can not be recommended. The best bets this weekend will be Granet Hill and Lapland Lake which had a much better base before the rain started.

SNOWMOBILE TRAILS REPORT: Stay off lakes! DEC gates to designated snowmobile trails are open, but most club trails remain closed. Snowmobilers should check on local trail conditions before heading out. Warren County trails remain closed, but the South Western Adirondack trails are open, but with only a 3 to 5 inch base and therefore are in fair to poor condition and cannot be recommended. Village trails are mostly gone. If you do head out, use caution and be aware of water holes. Please respect land owners and hunters by not riding on closed trails. There will be no parking at the Million Dollar Beach Lot this winter. Parking is available at the lot on the Transfer Station Road in Lake George, and behind the old Lake Luzerne Highway Garage on Town Shed Road in Luzerene. The northern section of the Perkins Clearing Road will be closed to snowmobiles from Pole Brook/Hardwood Hill to Mason Lake to allow for logging operations. Crews from the Town of Lake Pleasant Highway Department and local snowmobile clubs with DEC oversight have worked to upgrade a secondary snowmobile trail to serve as reroute of the main snowmobile trail this winter.

SEASONAL ACCESS ROADS: Gates on seasonal access roads traditionally closed for winter have been shut. Roads will reopen after the spring mud season. Motor vehicles should not be driving on seasonal access roads that serve as snowmobile trails in the winter.

FIRE DANGER LOW: The fire danger 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.

PFDs REQUIRED: State law requires life jackets be worn by anyone on all boats less than 21 feet in length through May 1st.

KEEP DOGS LEASHED: Dog owners are reminded that dogs must be leashed in the Eastern Zone of the 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 leashed 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 recently revised items for this week.

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

** Avalanche Lake Outlet: The bridge on Avalanche Lake Outlet is washed away. During low water rock hopping will be necessary to cross, during high waters crossing will require getting wet.

** Elk Lake Trails and Clear Pond Gate: The two trails that pass through the Elk Lake property to Panther Gorge in the High Peaks Wilderness and the southern approaches to Dix Mountain in the Dix Mountain Wilderness are open for public use. The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed and will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season. This will add four miles to round trip – plan accordingly.

** Avalanche Pass Slide: The Avalanche Pass Slide is closed to public recreation of any type through the winter.

** Lake Colden – Avalanche Lake: People have been traveling on Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake, but the ice is now covered with water and slush. Use caution around the inlets, outlets and along the shoreline which are slushy at this time. Always use caution when traveling on ice. Check the thickness and remember ice that holds snow may not bear the weight of a person.

Connery Pond Road: The Connery Pond Road and its gate have been closed until the end of the spring mud season. Skiers and snowshoers may still use the road to access trails to Connery Pond and Whiteface Landing on Lake Placid.

Meadow Lane Closed: Meadow Lane (South Meadows Road) near Adirondac Loj has been closed. The trailheads for the South Meadows/Marcy Dam truck trail, Mt. Van Hoevenberg, and Klondike Notch remain open, but the closure adds just under a mile. The road will remain closed through the spring mud season.

Corey’s Road: The Corey’s Road gate will close for spring mud season (around March 1 to May 15). The caretaker may not always have the road plowed. Cars must not block the road.

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

** Sargent Ponds Wild Forest: The footbridge on the Castle Rock Trail has been replaced by DEC staff.

Moose River Plains Wild Forest: All roads are closed to motor vehicle traffic. The Town of Indian Lake does not plow beyond the end of the paved portion of the Cedar River Road. Snowmobilers and cross country skiers can park in that area and access the eastern Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road) from there. All designated snowmobile trails are open.

Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands: All Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands roads are closed to motor vehicle traffic. Designated snowmobile trails are open and will be groomed by this weekend. The northern section of the Perkins Clearing Road will be closed to snowmobiles from Pole Brook/Hardwood Hill to Mason Lake to allow for logging operations. Crews from the Town of Lake Pleasant Highway Department and local snowmobile clubs with DEC oversight have worked to upgrade a secondary snowmobile trail to serve as reroute of the main snowmobile trail this winter. All designated snowmobile trails on the Speculator Tree Farm are open without any reroutes.

Blue Mountain Wild Forest/Township 19 Tract Conservation Easement Lands: The O’Neill Flow Road and its gate and the Barker Pond Road are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season.

Ferris Lake Wild Forest: All gates on designated snowmobile trails on state land are open. Beavers have caused flooding problems on some trails: The Fall Stream Trail from Piseco towards the Big Brook trail has one bridge flooded out. The Hurrell Vly Trail in Morehouse has a bridge flooded out.

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

Warren County Snowmobile Trails: There will be no parking at the Million Dollar Beach Lot this winter. Parking is available at the lot on the Transfer Station Road in Lake George, and behind the old Lake Luzerne Highway Garage on Town Shed Road in Luzerene.

** Essex Chain Lakes Complex: The Shadow Dam Gate which provides access to the Deer Pond Parking Area is closed and the road beyond is closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. The Chain Lakes Road North Gate which provides access to the Iron Bridge/Hudson River Parking Area is closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. The gate on the Chain Lakes Road in the southern portion of the complex near the Outer Gooley Club has also been closed. The Town of Indian Lake plows the road to the raft put-in site. The roads beyond will be closed to motor vehicle traffic until after the spring mud season.

** Santanoni Historic Area: Newcomb Road, the road to access the Farm Complex and the Main Camp is open for cross-country skiing and and snowhoeing.

** Western Lake George Wild Forest: Jabe Pond Road is closed to motor vehicle traffic until after the spring mud season. Buttermilk Road Extension is washed out and remains closed to all motor vehicle traffic.

** Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: Shelving Rock Road is open. There is significant blowdown on Dacy Clearing Road. Forest Rangers continue to work on clearing the road of fallen trees and limbs

Thirteenth Lake Road: The bridge on Thirteenth Lake Road (County Route 78) just past the intersection with Beach Road has been repaired and the road is open – that improves access to the Old Farm Clearing Trailhead and the Balm of Gilead Mountain Trailhead.

Black Mountain: The Black Mountain Trailhead gate off Pike Brook Road remains closed, but only adds 15 minutes to hike up Black Mountain or other destinations.

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

Saranac Lake Chain Locks Closed: The Lower Locks on the Saranac Lakes Chain have been shut down. The locks are made inoperable every winter to avoid unsafe situations for users and to prevent damage to the locks. DEC does not officially close the Upper Locks on the Saranac Lakes Chain. They are manually operated and become inoperable when ice forms. Unlike the Lower Locks, there is no hydraulic equipment that can be damaged. The Lower Locks will be reopened after the ice goes out in the spring.

Upper Saranac Lake Boat Launch Closed: DEC is undertaking a major upgrade to the Upper Saranac Lake Boat Launch that has closed the boat-launch until next spring.

Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: The Connery Pond Road and its gate are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. Snowshoers and skier may use the road to access trails to Connery Pond, Lake Placid and Whiteface Landing. The Lake Clear Girl Scout Camp Road (aka the St. Germain Pond Road) and its gate are closed until the end of the spring mud season.

** Kushaqua Tract Easement Lands: The Mountain Pond Road is closed to motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season.

William C. Whitney Wilderness: The Lake Lila Road and its gate are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. Snowshoers and skier may use the road but must not trespass on adjacent private lands.

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: Barnes Pond Road and its gate are closed to public motor vehicle traffice until the beginning of the 2015 hunting season. The D&H Road and its gate are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season.

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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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