Thursday, September 3, 2015

Outdoor Conditions in the Adirondacks (Sept 3)

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

Sunrise Saturday will be at 6:23 am; sunset at 7:25 pm. The Moon will rise on Saturday night at 12:12 am (Sunday morning) and set at 3:11 pm Sunday afternoon. There will be a Last Quarter Moon on at 5:54 am on Saturday.

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 are generally dry, waters low, and the threat of fire elevated. The weather is forecast to be clear, with dyer air moving in tonight from the East-Northeast that will make for a great weekend. Daytime temperatures should be in the upper 70s to lower 80s Friday, gradually warming to around the 90 degree mark on Monday as winds shift from the South-Southeast. Clear skies will allow for cooling that will bring nighttime lows into the mid-40s to mid-50s. Expect winds 0 to 5 mph and winds across higher terrain 5 to 10 mph.

FIRE DANGER HIGH: The fire danger is expected to be HIGH this weekend. Use extreme care with open fires this weekend across the region, but especially in the southern and eastern Adirondacks which the US Drought Monitor has reported is abnormally dry. It is illegal to leave an even smoldering fire unattended. Fires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks. Note: Participants in the Great Sacanadaga Lake Ring of Fire tradition should review the notice below from DEC.

EXPECT POPULAR AREAS TO FILL EARLY: It’s the Labor Day Holiday Weekend and excellent weather will mean that trailhead parking lots and interior campsites will fill to capacity early. Trails and waters will be crowded. Seek recreational opportunities in less popular areas, outside of the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness. Remember, lean-tos are shared resources which hold up to eight people.

LIGHTENING SAFETY REMINDER: The possibility of encountering thunderstorms is elevated at this time of year and the occasional thunderstorm could develop in the afternoons 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.

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. 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 WELL BELOW NORMAL: Waters are well below normal – even for this time of year – which could pose a danger to watercraft operating in shallow areas. The Hudson River is running about 2.56 feet on Thursday afternoon at the North Creek streamgage. The Lake Champlain gage at Whitehall is at 95.48 feet. Check local streamgages on the USGS website for waters where you intend to recreate.

BOATERS BEWARE: Water levels are 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 warmed a few degrees, and should warm more through the weekend. Most waters will be in the mid-70s to upper-70s this weekend. 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 70 degrees
Lake Champlain is about 74 degrees
Upper Hudson River near the High Peaks is about 72 degrees
Arbutus Lake in Newcomb is about 70 degrees
Warner Bay on Lake George remains about 77 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.

SOME DEC CAMPGROUNDS CLOSING SOON: Some DEC campgrounds will be closing September 7 (last night to camp September 6), including: Alger Island, Brown Tract Pond, Buck Pond, Caroga Lake, Crown Point, Forked Lake, Golden Beach, Limekiln Lake, Lincoln Pond, Long Island on Lake George, Meadowbrook, Narrows on Lake George, Paradox Lake, Point Comfort, Poplar Point, Rollins Pond, Sacandaga, Sharp Bridge, Taylor Pond, Tioga Point.

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: 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.

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 only just beginning to change in the High Peaks. Fall foliage conditions will be reported here each week from now 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

** Avoid Heavy Use Areas: It’s the Labor Day Holiday Weekend and excellent weather will mean that trailhead parking lots and interior campsites will fill to capacity early. Trails and waters will be crowded. Seek recreational opportunities in less popular areas, outside of the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness. Remember, lean-tos are shared resources which hold up to eight people.

** 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.

Raquette River Trail: The section of the Raquette River Trail in the western High Peaks between Hemlock Hill and Palmer Brook that had been washed out has been repaired and is usable by hikers and horses.

Lake Placid: Reports of a blue green algae bloom was confirmed in Lake Placid two weeks ago. Do not swim, bathe, or drink the water, or use it in cooking or washing, and do not allow pets in algae-contaminated water.

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 has begun charging for parking at The Garden Trailhead.

** Calamity Brook Trail: The High Water Bridge over Calamity Brook on the Calamity Brook Trail between the Upper Works and the Flowed Lands has been repaired by the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program and can be used by hikers

** Whiteface Mountain: Hikers climbing Whiteface Mountain should not depend on obtaining water at the summit. Be sure to carry enough water to reach the summit and return to the trailhead to stya comfortable and not suffer from dehydration.

** Lake Colden to Mt. Marcy: The suspension bridge over the Opalescent River on the trail from Lake Colden to Mt. Marcy has been repaired by the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program and can be used by hikers.

** Poor Man’s Downhill Mountain Bike Shuttle: The Poor Man’s Downhill shuttle bus for mountain bikers will be operating this Sunday, September 6 (between 1 pm and 4 pm) and also on 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.

** 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

Sargent Ponds Wild Forest: DEC staff recently completed constructing a new lean-to on the southeastern side of Big Island on Raquette Lake. The new lean-to replaces the dilapidated middle lean-to which was removed earlier this summer.

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: DEC has issued an advisory regarding this weekend’s Ring of Fire tradition on Sacandaga Lake. DEC Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) will be patrolling the area to monitor that fires are safe and adhere to applicable state regulations. The current dryness will likely result in a High Fire Danger. DEC asks participants in the Ring of Fire to follow these instructions to prevent nearby trees and other vegetation from catching fire: Be sure the fire is placed at least 10 feet away from any living or dead trees or other vegetation; Never leave the fire unattended; Pay close attention to the fire and sparks to ensure neither escapes and starts an unattended fire; Have buckets of water or hoses ready to douse any unattended fires; and Be sure the fire, including embers, is completely out. The use of traditional bonfires on the lake can be done lawfully, but in recent years there have been incidents where environmental laws were violated, specifically related to the types of fuel used for these fires. Permissible fuel types are limited to untreated (clean) wood that meets invasive species regulations (firewood may not be moved more than 50 miles from its source within NYS unless it has been treated and labeled by the producer). Prohibited materials include chemically treated wood or lumber, plastics and synthetic materials. The DEC patrols will check for violations and will also advise people of potential issues with individual bonfires.

** 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: Blue green algae blooms have been reported this week at on the Vermont side at Alburgh Dunes State Park, Pelots Point West, and the Holcomb boat launch; in St. Albans Bay at Melville Landing (Georgia, VT); in the Inland Sea at Dunham Bay and 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.

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 will be working to restore and rehabilitate the Lyon Mountain Fire Tower beginning after Labor Day. 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: The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is notifying boaters that the Lower Locks on the Saranac Lakes Chain are fully operational. 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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