Thursday, September 17, 2015

Outdoor Conditions in the Adirondacks (Sept 17)

CompassThis weekly report of outdoor recreation conditions in the Adirondacks is issued each Thursday afternoon.

Sunrise Saturday will be at 6:39 am; sunset at 6:59 pm. The Moon will rise on Saturday at 12:34 pm and set at 10:35 pm. The moon will be Waxing Crescent on Saturday with 33% of the visible disk illuminated.

SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

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.

CONDITIONS OVERVIEW: Trails remain generally dry, waters very low, and the threat of fire elevated. Forecasts are calling for a dry and sunny weekend, with only a slim chance of some light rain along the western slopes of the Adirondack late Saturday. Expect dense morning fog throughout the weekend. Daytime highs in the mid-80s on Friday slowly will give way to progressively cooler temperatures until Sunday when the daytime high will not reach out of the 60s (40s or 50s on summits). Nighttime low temperatures will be in the upper 40s to near 50, cooling into the upper 30s in the mountains by Sunday night. Expect winds 5 to 10 mph and winds across higher terrain 20 to 30 mph on Saturday afternoon. Warm and dry air is expected to through all of next week.

FIRE DANGER HIGH: The fire danger is currently HIGH. Use extreme care with open fires this weekend across the region. The US Drought Monitor has reported the entire Adirondack region is abnormally dry. It is illegal to leave an even smoldering fire unattended. Fires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks.

AVOID DEHYDRATION: DEC Forest Rangers and other field staff have recently had to assist numerous people suffering from varying degrees of dehydration. Dizziness, confusion, weakness, cramping and nausea are signs of dehydration. Be sure to carry plenty of water (don’t rely on small streams which may be dry). It is better to drink moderate amounts of water often than large amounts of water occasionally. Rest and drink water often – especially in warm weather – to avoid dehydration.

RIVERS AND STREAMS ARE LOW: Waters are mostly just below normal but will be falling throughout this week as there is no rain in sight. The could pose a danger to watercraft operating in shallow areas. On Thursday afternoon, the Raquette River at Piercefield was a bit below average at 3.18 feet. The Hudson River is running about 2.96 feet on Thursday afternoon (about normal for this time of year) at the North Creek streamgage; the Lake Champlain gage at Whitehall is at 95.50 feet. Check local streamgages on the USGS website for waters where you intend to recreate.

BOATERS BEWARE: Water levels will be very low, even for this time of year. Rocks, logs and other obstacles normally covered by water may now be exposed or just below the water surface. Use caution and stay observant when boating or paddling, especially in shallow areas.

WATER TEMPERATURES: Water temperatures remain mostly in the mid to upper-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 unexpected 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:

Ausable River is about 62 degrees
Lake Champlain is about 72 degrees
Upper Hudson River near the High Peaks is about 67 degrees
Arbutus Lake in Newcomb is about 66 degrees
Great Sacanadaga Lake is about 74 degrees
Warner Bay on Lake George is about 73 degrees

BLUE GREEN ALGAE WARNINGS: Blue green algae blooms have been reported recently in Lake Champlain, at Friends Lake, Warren County, and at Lake Placid; a suspected but unconfirmed bloom was reported in Schroon Lake (see local details below). 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.

DEC CAMPGROUND CLOSING DATES: The following DEC campgrounds remain open until October 12th: Ausable Point, Cranberry Lake, Eighth Lake, the Lake George Narrows, the Indian Lake Islands, Lake Durant, Lake Eaton, Lake George Battleground, Lewey Lake, Meacham Lake, Moffitt Beach, Nick’s Lake, Northampton Beach, Putnam Pond, Rogers Rock, Saranac Lake Islands, and Wilmington Notch. Fish Creek campground will close October 25th.

HUNTING SEASON: Early bear hunting season opens on Saturday in the Adirondacks, ruffed grouse hunting season opens Sunday, squirrel hunting and goose hunting seasons are already open. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or other hunting implements while hiking on trails. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare but hikers may want to wear bright colors as an extra precaution.

FIRE TOWER WORK UNDERWAY: DEC has also transported materials to three mountains and will be working on three fire towers over the next several weeks – St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower, Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower and Lyon Mountain Fire Tower.

BITING INSECTS: Mosquitos, Deer Flies and No-see-ums (biting gnats) are still present but in much lower numbers. Follow these steps to minimize the nuisance of biting insects: wear light-colored loosing-fitting clothing, long sleeve shirts, and long pants.

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.

LEAVE NO TRACE – CARRY IN – CARRY OUT: Learn and practice the seven Leave No Trace principles. Carry out what you have carried in. Do not leave gear, food, or other unwanted or unneeded items at lean-tos and campsites. Do not litter.

GROUP SIZE RESTRICTIONS: DEC regulation limits organized events of more than twenty people, camping in the same spot for more than three days, or in groups of more than ten people, unless authorized under a temporary revocable permit.

FALL FOLIAGE REPORT: Leaves are just beginning to change in the High Peaks and at other areas where trees are more stressed. Expect about 10 to 15% pf leaf change around the area by the end of the weekend. 20 to 25% in the High Peaks. Fall foliage conditions will be reported here each week until the end of the foliage season.

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

** Ward Brook Truck Trail: The Ward Brook Truck Trail is flooded due to beaver activity just north of the junction with the Northville-Placid Trail. There is no reroute around the water. Hikers will need to walk through shin to knee deep waters.

** Marcy Dam Removal: Work will begin shortly on the first stage of removal of Marcy Dam which will include the removal of the splash boards, top rocks for the first tier, first tier crib pieces and the vertical side boards from the walls of the dam downstream of the spillway. Work will take place during the week. Hikers are asked to avoid the work zone while work is underway and to stay away from equipment and riggings used in the removal process.

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 every weekend and holiday through October 18th. The Town of Keene is charging for parking at The Garden Trailhead.

** Poor Man’s Downhill Mountain Bike Shuttle: The Poor Man’s Downhill (PMD) shuttle bus for mountain bikers will be operating for the last time Sunday, September 20th (between 1 pm and 4 pm); a BETA Rider Appreciation party will begin at 2:30 featuring food, live music, and a bonfire. The PMD 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.

** Hurricane Mountain Wilderness: Materials for the restoration of the Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower have been transported to the summit of the mountain. DEC, Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program members and volunteers from the Friends of Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower will be working over the next several weeks to restore and rehabilitate the fire tower.

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

** O’Neill Flow Road Access Extended: The portion of the O’Neill Flow Road open to public motor vehicles has been extended to the gate at Dun Brook – do not drive past the gate (a map is available online). Four wheel drive trucks, SUVs and other high axle vehicles are recommended. Expect to encounter logging trucks on the road. Drive slowly, be observant and cautious. Logging trucks do not have the ability to slow down quickly. Access and parking are only available on the south side of the road – the right side as you drive in. Please respect private property on the north side and do not trespass. Non-motorized uses (hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking, biking, etc.) are allowed on the lands south of the road only.

** Township 20 Tract Easement Lands: The Minerva Club Road off State Route 28N on the Township 20 Tract is open to the gate at Sixmile Brook – do not drive past the gate. The lands to the west of the road are open to non-motorized public access and abut forest preserve lands. Do not cross Sixmile Brook and trespass on private property.

** Lake Durant Campground / West Canada Lakes Wilderness: The Sucker Brook Trail which connects the Northville-Placid Trail and the DEC Lake Durant Campground is closed until further notice. Blowdown, wet stretches of trail, and beaver activity make the trail impassable and difficult to follow. DEC is developing plans to restore the trail corridor and allow safe passage for hikers. The Colvin Brook Lean-to at the western end of the trail remains open but can only be accessed from the Northville-Placid Trail.

Essex Chain: The public should not travel on the Goodnow Flow Road beyond the intersection with the Chain Lakes Road North. The Goodnow Flow Road becomes a private road shortly after the DEC sign for “Essex Chain Lakes and Hudson River Access” sign at the intersection with the Chain Lakes Road North. Motorists, bicyclists and others should turn left at the sign on to the Chain Lakes Road North.

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.

Hudson Gorge Wilderness – Ross Pond Trail: The Ross Pond/Whortleberry Pond/Big Bad Luck Pond Trail has dried considerably, most of the standing water is gone but expect to encounter wet and muddy areas on the trail. Wear proper footwear and walk through – not around – mud and water to avoid further eroding the trail. The trail to OK Slip Falls Trail is in good shape.

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.

EASTERN-SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS
Lake George, Champlain, Washington Co

** Great Sacandaga Lake: Great Sacandaga Lake is losing about a foot each week and is the lowest it’s been in recent memory. There is a lot of beach showing. Sand Island is very large, and the sand bar near Northampton is out of the water. Stay in the channels.

Friends Lake Algae Bloom: A confirmed blue green algae bloom was reported several weeks ago in Friends Lake, Warren County. Do not swim, bathe, or drink algae contaminated water, or use it in cooking or washing, and do not allow pets in algae-contaminated water.

** Lake Champlain Algae Blooms: Suspected blue-green algae blooms were reported this week near Rouses Point and the Port Henry Public Beach. Blue green algae blooms have been reported this week around St. Albans Bay; in the Inland Sea near Stephenson Fish and Wildlife access in North Hero; and widespread in Missisquoi Bay. Do not swim, bathe, or drink algae contaminated water, or use it in cooking or washing, and do not allow pets in algae-contaminated water. Blooms can move quickly with currents and winds and may be found in other locations.

Schroon Lake: Reports of suspicious algae blooms were reported on Schroon Lake several weeks ago. Although those these have not been confirmed to be the toxic, it’s best to avoid algae blooms.

** Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: There has been an increase number of sightings of timber rattlesnakes on the eastern side of Lake George by hikers and other recreationist. Be alert, pay attention to the trail ahead of you and areas adjacent to the trail. Rattlesnakes do not always rattle just because you are close. If you spot a rattlesnake keep away or move slowly away. The snake will likely want to move away from you don’t block its escape. Do not harass or harm the snake – it is unsafe and illegal to do so.

Lake George Wild Forest (Western): Buttermilk Road Extension is washed out and remains closed to all motor vehicle traffic.

Shelving Rock Trails: 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.

Lyon Mountain: Crews from the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program are working to restore and rehabilitate the Lyon Mountain Fire Tower. The fire tower will be closed at times while they are working. Materials for the work have been transported to the summit of the mountain.

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

** Saranac Lakes Lower Locks: DEC staff are present from 10 am to 8 pm to electronically operate the locks. Outside of these hours the locks are manually operable to the boating public.

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.

Taylor Pond Wild Forest: Crews are working on improvements to the Ranger Trail on Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain for the next several weeks. That is the “old” Poke-O-Moonshine trail. Hikers may encounter work operations, especially during the week. Please be respectful of the crew’s work and cooperate with directions given regarding safe passage through the work area.

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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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