ENTER THE BACKCOUNTRY PREPARED: Always carry proper safety equipment – including plenty of food, water, extra clothing, and a map and compass – inform someone of your itinerary, and be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods. Just before entering the backcountry check the latest weather forecasts for Adirondack region at Burlington and Albany, and the High Elevation, Recreation, or Lake Champlain forecasts.
SUN AND MOON: Sunrise Saturday will be at 5:36 am; sunset at 8:29 pm. Moon rise Saturday will be at 2:59 am and Moon set at 1:19 am, Sunday morning. On Saturday night the Moon will be Waxing Gibbous with 65% of it visible surface illuminated. There will be a First Quarter Moon on Friday, July 24, 2015 at 12:04 am.
CONDITIONS OVERVIEW: Trails have generally dried, except for typically wet low-lying areas, and waters have returned to normal levels for this time of year. Expect busy trails and parking and camping areas associated with July and August in the Adirondacks. Forecasts are calling for the possibility of some showers and/or thunderstorms Friday afternoon and evening, and on Saturday night into Sunday, depending on the timing of a front that will move across the region. Overall a partly cloudy weekend with occasional storms, nighttime temperatures in the 50s and daytime temperatures warming to the upper 70s and lower 80s, and the possibility of afternoon thunderstorms. Except during stormy periods, expect winds 5 to 10 mph throughout the weekend; higher on summits.
LIGHTENING SAFETY REMINDER: The possibility of encountering thunderstorms is elevated at this time of year and storms may develop each afternoon this weekend. 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 and should 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.
RIVERS AND STREAMS RUNNING NORMALLY: Waters have returned to normal levels for this time of year. The Hudson River is running about 3.24 feet on Thursday afternoon at the North Creek streamgage. The Lake Champlain gage at Whitehall is at 97.46 feet. Check local streamgages on the USGS website for waters where you intend to recreate.
WATER TEMPERATURES: Most water temperatures warmed a few degrees this week into the upper-60s, with some warmer, more shallow waters now in the mid-70s. A properly worn life jacket will likely keep a person’s head above water and support their body should swimming ability fail or they become unconscious due to cold water immersion. The Coast Guard estimates that 80% of all boating deaths might have been prevented had a life jacket been worn.
The following water temperatures were reported on Thursday:
Lake Champlain is about 68 degrees
Hudson River in Newcomb is about 68 degrees
Arbutus Lake in Newcomb is about 64 degrees
AuSable River in Wilmington is about 65 degrees
Warner Bay on Lake George is about 76 degrees
BLUE GREEN ALGAE WARNINGS: The first reports of blue green algae blooms occurred last week with blooms reported in Lake Placid. Low alert conditions have been reported in Lake Champlain from Pelots Point on North Hero, and the Deep Bay of Point Au Roche State Park in New York. On Monday, Melville Landing, on outer St. Albans Bay, reported high alert conditions. 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. There may be other waterbodies with blue-green algae blooms that have not been reported.
BITING INSECTS: Follow these steps to minimize the nuisance of biting insects: wear light-colored loosing-fitting clothing, long sleeve shirts, and long pants; tuck shirts into pants, button or rubber band sleeves at the wrist, and tuck the bottom of pant legs into your socks; pack a headnet to wear when insects are thick.
USE BEAR-RESISTANT CANISTERS: The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters. The use of bear-resistant canisters is recommended throughout the Adirondacks.
DO NOT RELY ON TECHNOLOGY: Do not depend on electronic technology in the backcountry. Cell phone coverage is spotty at best and often non-existent. GPS signal can be poor under heavy tree cover. Batteries expire quickly in cold temperatures. Plan and prepare before entering the backcountry and always carry a map and compass for navigation or at least as a backup – and know how to use them.
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.
GROUP SIZE RESTRICTIONS: DEC regulation (190.8(cc)) prohibits organized events of more than twenty people unless authorized under a temporary revocable permit.
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
High Peaks Parking: The overflow parking area at Marcy Field is open. The shuttle will be running between the parking area and the Garden Trailhead from 7 am to 7 pm each day this weekend this weekend and every weekend & holiday through October 18th. The Town of Keene has begun charging for parking at The Garden Trailhead.
** Lake Placid Ironman: The Lake Placid Ironman will take place this weekend expect heavy traffic and significant delays in and around the village. Routes 9N, 73 and 86 and the communities of Lake Placid, Wilmington, Keene, Jay, Upper Jay and AuSable Forks will be part of the bike course and/or the marathon course. Seek alternate routes or be prepared for long delays.
** Calamity Brook Trail: The High Water Bridge over Calamity Brook on the Calamity Brook Trail between the Upper Works and the Flowed Lands is unusable due to a broken cable.
** Lake Colden to Mt. Marcy: The suspension bridge over the Opalescent River on the trail from Lake Colden to Mt. Marcy is closed. It is unusable because one cable broke. Currently, and under most conditions, the river can be easily forded at that location. Caution should be used immediately after heavy rains and other times of high water.
** Avalanche Lake: The bridge over the Avalanche Lake Outlet has been replaced.
Poor Man’s Downhill Mountain Bike Shuttle: The Poor Man’s Downhill shuttle bus for mountain bikers will be operating on the following Sundays (between 1 pm and 4 pm): August 9, August 23, September 6 and September 20. The shuttle will take mountain bikers from the downhill trailhead off Route 86 of the to the uphill trailhead off Route 431. The Poor Man’s Downhill is a multi-use trail on the northeast side of Whiteface Mountain. The trail begins just below the toll booth for the Whiteface Mountain Veteran’s Memorial Highway and ends 1,150 feet lower and nearly 3 miles away in the hamlet of Wilmington. Riders can meet the shuttle at LeepOff Cycles, 5549 Route 86.
** Lake Arnold/Feldspar Lean-to Trail: The trail between Lake Arnold and Feldspar Lean-to is very wet and muddy but passable. The trail has dried up enough that the bog bridging is usable – immediately after heavy rains flooding may occur that makes the bridging difficult to use. Expect to get your feet wet and muddy when traversing some portions of the trail where bog bridging is not present. Use Avalanche Pass/Lake Colden Trail or Mt. Colden Trail to travel between Lake Arnold and Feldspar Lean-to if you want to avoid this trail.
Opalescent River – Uphill Lean-To: A 10-foot section of trail near Uphill Lean-to along the Opalescent River above Lake Colden was washed out during heavy rains last weekend. Hikers can get around it by going through the trees but should use caution when doing so.
Route 73 Bridge Work: The bridge carrying Route 73 over the East Branch of the Ausable River in Keene (the Post Office Bridge) has been reduced to one alternating lane through November. The rehabilitation of this bridge will include replacement of its superstructure, including the beams and concrete deck. The concrete approaches will also be replaced. Work will be done in two stages. During construction, traffic will be controlled by temporary traffic signals at either end of the bridge. The bridge will be open to two travel lanes in late July to accommodate the annual Ironman Triathlon Race.
Climbing Routes Reopened: All routes at the Upper and Lower Washbowl Cliffs in the Chapel Pond Area and all routes at Moss Cliff in the Wilmington Notch have reopened.
Newcomb, Long Lake, Indian Lake, Fulton Chain, Speculator, West Canada Lakes
New Mountain Biking In Essex Chain Complex: DEC has opened nearly 20 miles of dirt roads in the Essex Chain Lakes Area to mountain bikers. The roads provide access to Deer Pond, Jackson Pond, Pine Lake, and take you past Third and Fourth lakes. Also accessible via mountain bike is the Cedar River at the location of a proposed bridge, and the Polaris Bridge (the Iron Bridge) over the Hudson River (though no biking is allowed across the river). The routes offer two loops, one a 2.5 mile ride around Deer Pond and the other about a 15 mile ride utilizing Essex Chain Road North through the middle of the Essex Chain of Lakes, Deer Pond, Cornell, Woody’s, and Goodnow Flow roads. More information, including a map, can be found here.
Essex Chain Lakes Complex: The bridge replacement on the Cornell Road is complete and the road, which accesses the Deer Pond Parking Area, is open to motor vehicle traffic. Chain Lakes Road South is open to the Old Gooley Club Parking Area. Chain Lakes Road North and Drakes Mill Road are open to the the Hudson River/Polaris Bridge Parking Area.
Hudson Gorge Wilderness – Ross Pond Trail: The Ross Pond/Whortleberry Pond/Big Bad Luck Pond Trail is extremely wet and muddy after the intersection with the OK Slip Falls Trail. Wear proper footwear – gaiters are suggested.
Moose River Plains Wild Forest: The Rock Dam Road remains closed due to flooding and there are large puddles of water on Otter Brook Road; high clearance vehicles are recommended.
O’Neill Flow Road/Blue Mountain Wild Forest/Township 19 Tract Conservation Easement Lands: The O’Neill Flow Road is open to the Barker Pond Road and Barker Pond Road is open and motor vehicles may access the Barker Pond Parking Area. Use caution a the road remains soft and muddy where it had been flooded over the past few weeks. The lands south of the O’Neill Flow Road are open for public use, lands north of the road are closed to public trespass. Expect to encounter trucks and other logging equipment on the O’Neill Flow Road this summer and fall.
** Crane Mountain: All climbing routes on Crane Mountian have reopened.
** Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands: DEC crews are making improvements to the portion of the Old Military Road leading to the Pillsbury Mountain Trailhead. Expect to encounter and yield to heavy equipment Monday through Friday until July 24. Heavy equipment and work crews will not be present on the weekends.
Northville-Placid Trail – Jessup River Road: A bridge on the Jessup River Road, approximately 0.5 mile before the Spruce Lake Trailhead, is damaged and closed to motor vehicle traffic. Hikers seeking to access the Northville-Placid Trail and Spruce Lake can park along the road before the bridge provided they don’t block traffic and walk across the bridge using caution. This will add approximately one mile for a round trip. This section of the Jessup River Road is soft.
West Canada Lakes Wilderness: Volunteers have removed blowdown from the Northville-Placid Trail.
** Sargent Ponds Wild Forest: Work crews from the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program have completed work on lean-tos on Raquette Lake as follows: The eastern lean-to on Big Island was roofed and stained; The northern lean-to at Lonesome Bay was recently roofed and stained; and The middle lean-to on Big Island was removed in preparation for constructing a new lean-to in the Summer of 2016.
Lake George, Champlain, Washington Co
** Lake Champlain Algea Blooms: Low alert conditions have been reported from Pelots Point on North Hero, and the Deep Bay of Point Au Roche State Park in NY. On Monday, Melville Landing, on outer St. Albans Bay, reported high alert conditions. Everyone in these areas should watch for changing conditions and avoid accumulating algae.
Lake George Wild Forest (Western): Gay Pond, Jabe Pond, and Lily Pond roads are open to motor vehicles. Be cautious the roads are rough. The use of four wheel drive trucks, SUVs or other high axle vehicles is recommended. Buttermilk Road Extension is washed out and remains closed to all motor vehicle traffic.
Shelving Rock Trails: A storm this winter that dumped heavy wet snow in northern Washington and Warren Counties left extensive damage to parts of the Lake George Wild Forest, including the Shelving Rock Area / Dacy Clearing area. Expect to encounter considerable blowdown, missing signs and trail markers, and indistinguishable trails. DEC is working to restore the trails, but it will take some time. Suggested trails which are cleared and in good shape in that area include those at Buck, Sleeping Beauty, and Shelving Rock mountains. Heavy blowdown is present above 1,200 feet on Erebus Mountain Trail, Fishbrook Pond to Lake George Trail and other lesser used trails in the area.
** Shelving Rock Climbing Routes Remain Closed: Climbing routes on the Main Wall (left of Wake and Bake Buttress) from the Snakecharmer Corner to Infinity Crack in the Shelving Rock area remain closed to climbers due to the presence of peregrine falcons for at least another week.
Santa Clara, Tupper and Saranac Lakes, St. Regis, Lake Lila
** Saranac Lakes Lower Locks: the Lower Locks on the Saranac Lakes Chain are inoperable and will remain closed through the weekend. Teams of engineers from the NYS Canal Corporation and engineering firms specializing in operation of locks will be examining the locks on Friday and early next week to determine the problems and identify the repairs needed to make the locks operable once again.
** Poke-O-Moonshine Climbing Routes Reopened: All rock climbing routes on Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain have reopened.
Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: Barnes Pond Road and its gate are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the beginning of the 2015 hunting season.
St. Regis Canoe Area: Campers on Little Green Pond no longer are required to get a permit from the Adirondack Fish Hatchery. Regular state land camping regulations now apply – a permit is only required if campers will be camping four or more nights. This permit can be obtained from the local forest ranger.
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.