Thursday, February 5, 2015

Outdoor Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Feb 5)

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

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SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

BEST DAYS: Saturday; Sunday’s snow showers could limit visibility.

SUN AND MOON: Sunrise Saturday will be at 7:15 am; sunset at 5:04 pm. Moon rise Saturday afternoon will be at 2:45 pm, and moon set at 5:21 am Sunday. Saturday’s moon will be Waxing Gibbous with 90% of the Moon’s visible disk illuminated. There will be a Full Moon on Tuesday, February 3, 2015 at 6:09 pm.

WINTER CONDITIONS: There will be a wind chill advisory issued for the Adirondacks for tonight, with low temperatures reaching -20s and blustery winds.  For the weekend, conditions around the region are excellent for all winter activities, but expect to encounter winds and snow showers (up to 3 or 4 inches accumulation).  There are icy areas on the most popular routes and exposed areas. Wind chill values on summits this weekend will be well-below zero. The weather will be especially unsettled on beginning late Saturday, Sunday and into Monday and additional snow is forecast, ranging from 3 to 5 inches in the northern Adirondacks to 5 to 8 in the southeastern Adirondacks by the end of Monday. Snowshoes will be needed, and carry traction devices; ice axes may be necessary on and near High Peaks summits, and some summits are windblown bare and icy. 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.

TRAILS IN EXCELLENT CONDITION: Trails are in excellent condition, although some well-traveled areas may be icy just below fresh snow and steeper sections will require traction devices and ice axes if you are headed to summits. Ski and snowshoe trails are much improved and continued light snow showers this weekend will keep them fresh. Visitors to the Eastern High Peaks are required to use snowshoes or skis when snow depths exceed 8 inches. Snowshoes or skis prevent “post holing” which can ruin trails and result in injuries.

WINDS: Expect summit winds to gust to 25-45 mph this weekend, elsewhere expect winds 5 to 10 mph.

SNOW COVER REPORT: Snow depths at lower elevations range from about a foot at the periphery of the Adirondack Park to two feet in the interior. There is two to three feet of snow above about 3,000 feet and up to five feet at higher elevations; although some summits remain windblown bare. There is just over three feet of snow at Lake Colden. Snowshoes or skis will be necessary, and carrying traction is recommended, along with ice axes for higher elevations.

BLOWDOWN: Expect to encounter blowdown from the Thursday night/ Friday morning storm and high winds, and blustery winds on Saturday.

ICE REPORT: Smaller rivers and streams are frozen. There is one to two feet of ice on some lakes including Great Sacanadaga Lake, Schroon and Lake George, and most of Lake Champlain has iced-over. Use caution on ice on the larger lakes which have less ice over areas of current, and around inlets, outlets and near bubblers and moving water. Always check the thickness of ice frequently when traversing frozen waters. Beware of unseen obstacles (especially near shorelines) and pressure ridges.

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: After the snow event on Sunday-Monday, continued cold and partly cloudy, with a chance of a storm moving through on Thursday with minimal accumulation. Next Saturday is forecast to be in the teens and sunny.

BACKCOUNTRY SKIING REPORT: Backcountry ski conditions are very good and all trails are skiable, but there are still a few isolated steeps with some obstacles under light snow, so use caution on steeper downhills. The Jackrabbit Trail has a 12 to 16 inch base and is skiable its entire length and good skiing is being reported top to bottom at Wright Peak and Marcy. All other popular routes around the region are in very good shape. Additional details on conditions can be found here.

SLIDE SKIING WARNING: New snow and recent snow events have left layered snow that should not be skied without taking proper avalanche assessments and using proper safety gear – if you are unsure, don’t go.

DOWNHILL SKI REPORT: Downhill ski conditions are outstanding and this weekend will offer some of the best skiing of the year so far. All downhill ski resorts will be open this weekend, including Big Tupper and Hickory. Smaller Mountains will have about 75%-80%of their terrain open; Gore and Whiteface have nearly all terrain open (more than 95%) (aside from the steepest double-diamond terrain, but including all the glades). 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 this weekend, and outstanding ski conditions are being reported. Most facilities around the region will have a 10 to 12-inch base on groomed trails, although there will be a 6 to 8 inch base at Paul Smith’s, Tupper Lake, and at Dewey in Saranac Lake.

SNOWMOBILE TRAILS REPORT: Trails are open and in good to very good condition around the region, although expect trails to be busy this weekend so ride with care. Due to an ongoing issue regarding access across the trail, the snowmobile trail connecting Morrey Road (Town of Caroga) to Stewarts Landing (Town of Stratford) in the Ferris Lake Wild Fores is closed until the issue can be resolved. 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.

RIVERS AND STREAMS FROZEN, NORMAL: Most rivers and streams are frozen. Larger rivers are running about normal or just below normal for this time of year. Be advised that when checking local streamgages on the USGS website for details about the waters where you intend to recreate before heading out, they are mostly affected by ice.

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

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: There is three feet of snow at Lake Colden and Colden and Avalanche lakes are crossable, but avoid inlets and outlets, especially at the outlet to Avalanche Lake.

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

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: 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: Due to an ongoing issue regarding access across the trail, the snowmobile trail connecting Morrey Road (Town of Caroga) to Stewarts Landing (Town of Stratford) in the Ferris Lake Wild Fores is closed until the issue can be resolved.

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

New Upper Hudson River Cross-Country Trail: DEC has opened a new cross-country trail along the Goodnow and Hudson rivers in Newcomb. The 4.2-mile loop begins on Goodnow Flow Road just before the Goodnow River where there is a parking lot for three or four cars. The new loop trail follows old logging roads and ATV trails and is recommended for intermediate and advanced beginner skiers (skiing the route counterclockwise is easier). Phil Brown recently skied the new trail. Vehicles that park on nearby lands posted by the Goodnow Flow Association are trespassing and may be towed. You can read about his trip here.

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 snowshoeing. Two more open house ski weekends at Great Camp Santanoni will be held February 14-16 and March 14-15. Over these weekends, visitors can arrive at their leisure and enjoy a self-guided trip from the Gate Lodge, past the Farm and on to the Main Lodge. On the far side of the Lodge is the Artist’s Studio, where cross-country skiers and snowshoers will be able to warm up before the return trip. Staff will be on hand to answer questions, discuss the ongoing restoration and offer impromptu tours of the Main Lodge. Suggested hours of visitation at the Main Lodge are 10 am- 3 pm each day. Great Camp Santanoni is located off Route 28N in Newcomb. The round-trip ski is 9.8 miles on a gently sloping carriage road. There is no fee and reservations are not required. More information can be found here.

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.

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 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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