Thursday, May 12, 2016

Outdoor Conditions in the Adirondacks (May 12)

CompassThis weekly report of outdoor recreation conditions in the Adirondacks is issued each Thursday afternoon and can be heard at North Country Public Radio on Friday mornings.

Sunrise Saturday in Lake Placid will be at 5:30 am; sunset at 8:16 pm, providing 14 hours and 46 minutes of sunlight. The Moon will rise at 1:21 pm Saturday and set at 2:41 am, Sunday morning. There will be a First Quarter Moon on Friday and Saturday’s Moon will be Waxing Gibbous, 60% illuminated. The next full moon will be next Saturday, May 21st. Throughout May, Mars will reach its brightest in a decade. Learn more about the night sky here.

SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

EARLY SPRING TRAIL CONDITIONS: Expect early spring conditions at higher elevations of the Adirondacks, where snow and ice are still present and DEC is asking hikers to avoid areas over 2,500 feet; elsewhere trails are less wet and muddy. Trails are icy at higher elevations where snow was compacted through the winter. Snow remains at the highest elevations, especially on north facing slopes and in wooded areas. There is little to no snow above tree line. Wearing gaiters and carrying traction devices are recommended.

WEATHER THIS WEEKEND: Always check the latest weather, but you can expect a wet weekend with showers heaviest Friday afternoon / night and the possibility of an isolated thunderstorm. After a little sun Saturday morning, Saturday and Sunday are expected to become cloudy and colder with increasing chances of showers throughout the weekend, especially Sunday which could also see some mixed precipitation at colder locations and in the higher elevations by Monday morning. Highs Friday and Saturday will be in the 60s to low 70s with gusting winds to 25 mph, higher on summits, on Friday. Sunday’s highs will be 10-15 degrees cooler, with some temps reaching only to near 40, more numerous showers, and possibly snow showers on summits. Nighttime lows throughout the weekend will be in the upper 30s and 40s (near 20s-30s Sunday night). Expect winds Saturday and Sunday to be 10 to 15 mph. A cool and dry week looks to be in store through next weekend.

BE PREPARED!: Always carry proper safety equipment – including plenty of food, water, extra clothing, a flashlight, and a map and compass – inform someone of your itinerary, and be prepared to spend an unplanned night in below freezing temperatures. On waters, wear a pfd and use cold water protection when in smaller crafts. Just before entering the backcountry or launching check the latest weather forecasts for the Adirondack region at Burlington and Albany and the High Elevation, Recreation, or Lake Champlain forecasts.

AVOID HIGHER ELEVATION TRAILS: Because most damage to trails and sensitive alpine vegetation occurs at this time of year, practice good stewardship by postponing travel on higher elevation trails until they have dried and hardened. DEC is asking hikers to avoid trails above 2,500 feet, especially on trails in the Dix, Giant, and High Peaks Wilderness Areas. A full list of trails to avoid and options for hiking elsewhere can be found here. When hiking, walk on durable surfaces and do not walk around snow, ice, mud, or water as doing so erodes trails and damages vegetation along the trails. On summits, stay on trails and avoid trampling rare alpine plants and keep pets leashed. Damaging soft trails makes more work for trail volunteers – avoid hiking, biking, and driving on soft trails.

BUG SEASON HAS BEGUN:  “Bug Season” has begun in the Adirondacks  Now until the end of summer Black Flies, Mosquitoes, Deer Flies and/or Midges (No-see-ums) will be present and most active in the evening. Avoid their impacts by wear light-colored loose fitting clothing, with long sleeves and long pants; pack a head-net to wear when insects are thick.

FIRE DANGER: This is a time of year when wildfires are more common. There have been several large wildfires in the Adirondacks in recent weeks, but wet weather has kept the fire danger LOW. Use caution with fires this weekend. The ban on open burning remains in effect through Sunday, May 15th.

WATER AT MOSTLY NORMAL LEVELS: Rivers and streams around the region are at, or just below springtime normals, but can be expected to rise throughout the weekend, possibly dramatically during periods of heavy rain and especially where there remains snow on the ground along higher elevation waters. The following stream gage readings were observed on Thursday afternoon – expect these to rise. Before heading out check the streamgages on the USGS website for waters where you intend to recreate.

Moose River at McKeever – 2.84 feet
Raquette River at Piercefield – 6.13 feet
Ausable River at AuSable Forks – 2.29 feet
Hudson River at North Creek – 3.47 feet
Schroon River at Riverbank (County Route 11) – 3.63 feet
Lake Champlain at Whitehall – 96.71 feet

WATER TEMPERATURES: Waters remain mostly in the 50s and cold water protection is recommended. The following temperatures were recorded on Thursday afternoon:

Ausable River (West Branch) – lower 50s
Arbutus Lake in Newcomb – about 50 degrees
Hudson River at Tahawus – about 52 degrees
Mirror Lake (at the public dock, Lake Placid) – about 57 degrees
Indian Lake (North End) – about 54 degrees
Lake Champlain – about 45 degrees (average)
Lake George (Warner Bay) – 53 degrees

OPEN BOAT LAUNCHES: DEC has installed docks at all boat launches throughout the Adirondacks that are not located at DEC campgrounds. Contact DEC Operations at one of the following offices for information regarding boat launches at DEC Adirondack Campgrounds: Ray Brook, 518-897-1310; Warrensburg, 518-8974-1200; and Northville, 518-863-4545.

RAFTING SEASON HAS BEGUN: The whitewater rafting season has begun. The season is expected to continue through mid-October.

PFDs REQUIRED: Water temperatures remain mostly in the lower 50s and cold water protection is advised. A person falling into the water could quickly lose the ability to keep their head above water.

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 carefully before entering the backcountry and always carry a map and compass – and know how to use them.

SEASONAL ROADS: Most seasonal access roads have opened, see the notices below for specifics. The Towns and DEC reopen roads once any needed maintenance is completed and the roads are dry enough to safely handle motor vehicle traffic. Motor vehicle use during the spring mud season damages roads and results in road opening delays.

DEC CAMPGROUNDS OPENING: Wilmington Notch and Fish Creek campgrounds are no open, and all other DEC campgrounds in the Adirondacks will open Friday, May 20. See the notice about Caroga Lake campground below.

SOME ROCK CLIMBING ROUTES NOW OPEN: Effective Friday, May 13, 2016, rock climbing routes remain closed to protect nesting peregrine falcons all routes on Moss Cliff and Labor Day Wall in the Wilmington Notch; in Chapel Pond Pass, routes on the Upper Washbowl Cliffs are now open, although the Lower Washbowl Cliffs remain closed; on Crane Mountain, routes within the Amphitheater on the Black Arches Wall (from #86 “Project” to #97 “Gun Show”) remain closed, while all other climbing routes on Crane Mountain are now open; Shelving Rock Mountain east of Lake George, all routes on the Main Wall are now open to climbing, but all routes on the Big Wall and Jackass Buttress are now closed, including all routes from #52 “Enduro Man” to #66 “Winds of Change”, and the approach trail that accesses these routes (please use the lower approach trail that ascends the talus below the Main Wall); and all routes on the Main Face of Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain remain closed, except the routes between and including “Opposition” and “Womb with a View”. Efforts are still underway to determine the nest locations at Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain and Moss Cliff. Additional updates will be sent out as they become available. Climbers on other cliffs or routes should report any aggressive or agitated peregrine falcon behavior to the DEC Wildlife Office 518-897-1291 or Info.R5@dec.ny.gov

CLIMATE: The first half of April was colder than normal by 4 to 8 degrees, but overall April turned out to be mostly normal with regards to temperature and precipitation. Record high temperatures were set on March 9, as well as earliest recorded 70 degree temperatures. The high of 81 in Albany was the earliest 80 degree day on record and broke the old record of 68, set in 2000 – it was 40 degrees above the normal March 9 high. Glens Falls reached 77 degrees, breaking the 2002 record of 64, it was the earliest 70 degree day on record. Bolton Landing hit 75 and Newcomb’s high temperature on March 9th was 63. Mirror Lake iced over 12 days later than the previous record and experienced the second earliest ice out on record (the earliest was March 23, 2012) for a total of just 83 days of ice, 57 days shorter than average and 13 days shorter than the previous record (set in 2012). It was the warmest winter (Dec, Jan, Feb) in the lower-48 states on record. February 2016 was the warmest month ever recorded globally, and was 3 to 5 degrees warmer than average in the Adirondacks. Although there was higher than average precipitation in the Adirondacks during February 2016, most of that precipitation fell as rain. As a result, the U.S. Drought Monitor is no longer reporting the Adirondacks as Abnormally Dry. This winter was the warmest on record, following what have now been the hottest December, January and February on record globally. Locally, February snowfall was 9 to 16 inches below normal in the Western Adirondacks, and 3 to 6 inches below average in the High Peaks and Eastern Adirondacks. Gore Mountain received just 37 inches of snow for the season (there was more than 120 inches last year); in the 1982/1983 season, just 32 inches fell at Gore. There has been two to three feet less snowfall than normal in the Adirondacks. Rich Lake in Newcomb experienced the latest ice-in date on record when it finally iced over on January 4th. 2015 was the warmest year ever recorded; 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average and 10 of 12 months set records; 15 of the top 16 warmest years on record have happened since 1999.

AVOID HIBERNATING BATS: Outdoor adventurers should suspend exploration of cave and mine sites that serve as homes for hibernating bats. Anyone entering a northern long-eared bat hibernation site from October 1 through April 30, the typical period of hibernation for bats, may be subject to prosecution. Learn the rules about exploring caves and mines and protecting fragile bat populations here.

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 for overnight use elsewhere in the Adirondacks.

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 rare plants, and out of 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: Large groups have significantly more impact on the trails, natural resources and other users. DEC regulation restricts group size in the High Peaks Wilderness to no more than 15 hikers (day users) or 8 campers (overnight users) and encourages this practice to be followed in other areas. Outside the High Peaks Wilderness, DEC regulation requires a temporary permit be issued to authorize organized events of more than twenty people; camping at the same location for more than three nights; or camping in groups of more than 10 people.

VOLUNTEER FOR TRAIL WORK: No matter what your sport, if you’re a trail user consider contributing your efforts to one of the many organizations dedicated to maintaining the region’s network of thousands of miles of trails.

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, Newcomb

** Snow and Ice: Snow is present at higher elevations, up to the tree line, and at lower elevations on north facing slopes and wooded areas. Snow pack off trail is soft and hikers may encounter soft spots on the trails.

** Stay Below 2,500: DEC is urging hikers to practice good stewardship and postpone hikes on trails above 2,500 feet until higher elevation trails have dried and hardened, particularly high elevation trails in the Dix, Giant, and High Peaks Wilderness Areas. See above for more.

** Bear Canisters Required: 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. DEC encourages the use of bear-resistant canisters throughout the Adirondacks.

** Wilmington Notch Campground: DEC’s Wilmington Notch Campground is now open.

** Elk Lake Trails To Dix And Marcy: The Clear Pond Gate on Elk Lake Road is open. The trailheads may be accessed by motor vehicles.

** Lake Placid / Wilmington Area Mountain Bike Trails: Trails are open at the Hardy Road mountain biking trail system in Wilmington, in the Lower Flume, the Lussi and Loggers trails, and Mount Pisgah. Lake Placid’s Craig Wood and the Poor Man’s Downhill trails remain closed due to mud, as are the trails at Dewey Mountain. Do not ride on closed trails or through areas that are wet and muddy. Current trail conditions for BETA managed trails can be found here.

** Climbing Routes: Effective Friday, May 13, 2016, rock climbing routes remain closed to protect nesting peregrine falcons all routes on Moss Cliff and Labor Day Wall in the Wilmington Notch; in Chapel Pond Pass, routes on the Upper Washbowl Cliffs are now open, although the Lower Washbowl Cliffs remain closed. Climbers on other cliffs or routes should report any aggressive or agitated peregrine falcon behavior to the DEC Wildlife Office 518-897-1291 or Info.R5@dec.ny.gov

** Connery Pond Road: Connery Pond Road is open to public motor vehicle use.

** Whiteface Landing Trail: The Whiteface Landing Trail has been rerouted to avoid private camps on Connery Pond. The new trail route starts at the small parking area just before the private gate. Please respect the private property and stay on the trail.

** Whiteface Landing Trail: Construction is occurring on the State Route 86 Bridge over the West Branch Ausable River about three miles northeast of Lake Placid. Construction is expected to continue unit November 1st. Parking near the bridge will be restricted. Hikers accessing Whiteface Landing are discouraged from using the parking areas near the bridge. Paddlers using that section of the river are advised to find an alternate takeout. Paddlers are discouraged from paddling under the bridge during the construction period. Entering the construction site or staging area are not allowed. Anyone parking near the bridge should use caution when pulling out of the parking area. Pedestrians crossing the road should use the marked crosswalk.

** South Meadow Lane / Marcy truck Trail: The barriers near the entrance of South Meadow Lane at the Loj Road remains closed until the end of the spring mud season. Vehicles may park at the barriers to access to the Mt. VanHovenberg Trail, the Marcy Truck Trail and the Klondike Trail. Do not block the gap in the barrier, it is used by emergency vehicles.

** Coreys Road: The Coreys Road is now open to public motor vehicle traffic. Logging operations continue in the area, be cautious of logging trucks.

Northville-Placid Trail – Ouluska Pass: The log bridge over Ouluska Pass Brook on the Northville -Placid Trail (about 1/10 of a mile south of Ouluska Lean-to) has been washed out.

** Essex Chain: Cornell Road, Deer Pond Road, Chain Lakes Road North, and Drakes Mill Road are all open to public motor vehicle use. Chain Lakes Road South is open to public motor vehicle use to the parking area and gate at the Old Outer Gooley Club. The road and trails beyond the gate which access the Cedar River, several ponds and five designated tent sites, are open to hiking, biking and horseback riding. Camp Six Road remains closed to public motor vehicle use until the 2016 hunting season. The road and the four designated tent sites along the road are open to hikers.

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

** Ferris Lake Wild Forest: The Town of Arietta has opened the Powley-Piseco Road to motor vehicle usage.

** Blue Mountain Wild Forest/Township 19 & Township 20 Tract Conservation Easement Lands: O’Neill Flow Road and Barker Pond Road are open to public motor vehicle use. The roads, particularly Barker Pond Road, are rough, only 4-wheel drive high clearance vehicles should use the road. Minerva Club Road remains closed to public motor vehicle use.

Boreas Ponds: New York State has acquired the Boreas Ponds Tract from the Nature Conservancy. The gate at Gulf Brook Road is closed and expected to remain closed, at least until the end of mud season. While DEC develops an interim recreation plan, access to the tract will be limited to foot traffic only beyond the closed gate. Motor vehicles, bikes and horses are prohibited. Additionally, the public is prohibited from trespassing in and around the lodge on Boreas Pond and the leased hunting camps. You can learn more about the purchase of Boreas Ponds here.

** Crane Mountain: Effective Friday, May 13, 2016, rock climbing routes on Crane Mountain, within the Amphitheater on the Black Arches Wall (from #86 “Project” to #97 “Gun Show”) remain closed, while all other climbing routes on Crane Mountain are now open. Climbers on other cliffs or routes should report any aggressive or agitated peregrine falcon behavior to the DEC Wildlife Office 518-897-1291 or Info.R5@dec.ny.gov

** Oak Mountain Bike Trails Opening: Oak Mountain Bike Park is opening May 14th. Details can be found here.

** Moose River Plains: The Town of Indian Lake has opened the Cedar River Road to public motor vehicle traffic to the Cedar Flow Gate, the road is in good shape. The rest of the Moose River Plains Road Network remains closed to motor vehicle traffic. DEC will reopen the roads once any needed maintenance is completed and the roads are dry enough to safely handle public motor vehicle traffic. Motor vehicle use during the spring mud season will damage roads and result in road opening delays.

** Perkins Clearing / Speculator Tree Farm Easement: Speculator Tree Farm Road Network is open to public motor vehicle traffic and the Town of Lake Pleasant has opened the Perkins Clearing Road to public motor vehicle traffic. Jessup River Road and Military Road are now open to motor vehicle traffic until after the spring mud season.

** Silver Lake Wilderness: The Town of Wells has reopened the West River Road.

** Hinckley Reservoir: Hinckley Reservoir will open to the public on May 28 and will close on September 5.

** Fourth Lake Picnic Area: Fourth Lake Picnic Area will open to the public on May 20 and will close on September 5.

** Sunset Bay Marina, Great Sacandaga Lake: Sunset Bay Marina on Great Sacandaga Lake will open to the public on May 27 and will close on October 1.

** Essex Chain: Cornell Road, Deer Pond Road, Chain Lakes Road North, and Drakes Mill Road are all open to public motor vehicle use. Chain Lakes Road South is open to public motor vehicle use to the parking area and gate at the Old Outer Gooley Club. The road and trails beyond the gate which access the Cedar River, several ponds and five designated tent sites, are open to hiking, biking and horseback riding. Camp Six Road remains closed to public motor vehicle use until the 2016 hunting season. The road and the four designated tent sites along the road are open to hikers.

** Shaker Mountain Wild Forest / Northville-Placid Trail: Water levels are low on West Stony Creek. Hikers of this section of the Northville-Placid Trail may cross the river by rock hopping. Rains forecast for this weekend will likely make the crossing more difficult.

** Caroga Lake Campground: 51 of 161 campsites at the Caroga Lake Campground have been closed in order to replace a wastewater system. Campers with reservations to these campsites will be given a full refund and offered an opportunity to reserve another available campsite at Caroga Lake Campground or reserve a campsite at another nearby DEC campground. Nore information can be found here.

EASTERN-SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS
Sacandaga, Lake George, Champlain, Washington Co

** Loon Lake (Chestertown): The Loon Lake Park District Boat Launch will open May 15th and operate through October 10th from 7 am to 7 pm. Boat inspections are required.

Ausable Chasm Rec Center Bike Trails: The Mountain Bike trails at the AuSable Chasm Recreation Center in Keeseville are open and in good shape. The campground has not opened yet, so there is no fee.

** Poke-O-Moonshine: Effective Friday, May 13, 2016, all rock climbing routes remain closed on the Main Face of Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain, except the those between and including “Opposition” and “Womb with a View”. Climbers on other cliffs or routes should report any aggressive or agitated peregrine falcon behavior to the DEC Wildlife Office 518-897-1291 or Info.R5@dec.ny.gov

** Pharaoh Lake Wilderness: Replacement of the Berrymill Pond Lean-to is complete. The lean-to is now available for use.

** Lake George Wild Forest (Western): Lily Pond, and Jabe Pond Roads are now open to public motor vehicle use. Gay Pond Road and Palmer Pond Road remain closed due to wet and rough conditions.

** Shelving Rock Area: Shelving Rock Road is open to motor vehicle traffic (Dacy Clearing Road remains closed for mud season). Effective Friday, May 13, 2016, all routes on the Main Wall of Shelving Rock Mountain are now open to climbing, but all routes on the Big Wall and Jackass Buttress are now closed, including all routes from #52 “Enduro Man” to #66 “Winds of Change”, and the approach trail that accesses these routes (please use the lower approach trail that ascends the talus below the Main Wall). Climbers on other cliffs or routes should report any aggressive or agitated peregrine falcon behavior to the DEC Wildlife Office 518-897-1291 or Info.R5@dec.ny.gov

** Lake George Beach – Battlefield Park: Lake George Beach and the Battlefield Picnic Area will open to the public weekends only beginning May 28. Lake George Beach and the Battlefield Picnic Area will be open seven days a week beginning on June 18 and will close on September 5.

** Lake George Village Boat Launch: The boat launching ramp at Lake George Beach will be operational year round with parking for vehicles with trailers limited to 26 parking spots. Access is free of charge beginning after Labor Day until the Friday before Memorial Day. From Memorial Day Weekend until Labor Day users will be required to pay a day-use fee.

** Prospect Mountain Highway: Prospect Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway will open May 28 and remain open through October 16.

** Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: The Wilcox Lake Lean-to (the one with the notable lean) has been replaced by volunteers from Lean2Rescue. Hope Falls Road and Pumpkin Hollow Road are open to public motor vehicle use. The new lean-to is located 0.5 mile north of the former leaning lean-to.

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

** Mount Pisgah: Mountain bike trails at Mount Pisgah are mostly dry and open, with the exception of the Mount Pisgah Flow Trail. The flow trail was reported firm and dry this week, and a new trail – the IPW – is currently under construction. urrent trail conditions for trails at Mount Pisgah can be found here.

** Dewey Mountain: The Dewey Mountain trails are currently closed to mountain biking due to soft conditions. Do not ride on closed trails or through areas that are wet and muddy. Current trail conditions for mountain bike trails at Dewey Mountain can be found here.

** Fish Creek Campground: Fish Creek campground is now open.

** Lake Lila Road – William C. Whitney Wilderness: The Lake Lila Road is open to public motor vehicle traffic. The public must stay on the road and not trespass on adjacent lands DEC’s Whitney Headquarters has shut down for the season. Callers will not be able to leave voice mail messages at the Forest Ranger office number (624-6686).

** D & H Road: The D&H Road is open to public motor vehicle use.

** Kushaqua Tract Conservation Easement Lands: The Mountain Pond Road remains closed to public motor vehicle traffic due to wet and muddy conditions. The road system is open to hikers and bikers.

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Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hiking Safety webpage and Adirondack Trail Information webpage for more information about where you intend to travel. Check the Adirondack Almanack Outdoor Conditions Reports each Thursday afternoon. A map of the Adirondack Park can be found here.

The NYS 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 help maintain and enhance non-motorized trails throughout New York State.

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