Friday, July 24, 2020

Outdoor Conditions (7/24): Pack it in, pack it out

Included here are notices reported in the past week. Please check the Adirondack Backcountry Information webpages for comprehensive and up-to-date information on seasonal road statuses, rock climbing closures, specific trail conditions, and other pertinent information.

Trash in the Backcountry: DEC is receiving increased reports of visitors leaving trash behind after trips to State lands, waters, and facilities in the Adirondacks. Outdoor adventurers are reminded to follow the principles of Leave No Trace, and keep New York’s environment clean by properly disposing of waste.

Travel: Check 511NY for road closures and travel conditions. If you plan on hiking in the High Peaks, use 511NY to check the status of parking lots along the busy Route 73 corridor. Have back-up plans in place and, if the parking lot at your desired destination is full, move on to your back-up plan. Status of parking lots is being updated throughout the day on weekend days by patrolling DEC Forest Rangers and Forest ranger assistants.

Weather: Check the National Weather Service or NY Mesonow for current conditions and forecasts for the locations where you plan to recreate.

Warm Weather: Take precautions to prevent heat distress and dehydration. Carry plenty of water; stay in the shade as much as possible; drink and rest often. Eat high protein, high nutrient foods, and make sure you are replacing salt output from sweat.

Thunderstorms: Thunderstorms can pop up even if they are not forecast. Watch for darkening skies, increased winds, lightning flashes, and the rumble of thunder. Avoid summits and other open areas during thunderstorms. As soon as you are first aware of an approaching thunderstorm, move to lower elevations and seek shelter (when boating or paddling get to shore). If caught outside in a thunderstorm, find a low spot away from tall trees, seek an area of shorter trees and crouch down away from tree trunks. Make yourself as short as possible by sitting on your pack or sleeping pad with your knees flexed and hugging your knees to keep your feet together to minimize the ground effect of a near-by lightning strike.

Fire Danger: Low. Check the DEC Fire Danger Map for updated conditions. Be careful with campfires.

Water Conditions: Water levels in most streams and rivers are below the seasonal average range or low. Check the USGS Current Water Data for New York for stream flow of selected waters.

Nuisance Bears: Due to dry conditions, nuisance bear activity is high in the frontcountry and the backcountry. Please take steps to prevent attracting bears in the backcountry. The use of bear resistant canisters by overnight campers is required in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness and recommended throughout the Adirondacks.

Biting Insects: Black flies, mosquitoes, deer flies, biting gnats (no-see-ums) and ticks are present. Wear light-colored, 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 head net to wear when insects are plentiful and use an insect repellant – follow label directions. Additional tips for tick prevention.

Clean, Drain, and Dry – Prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and have your boat and trailer inspected and cleaned at one of the many boat inspection and wash stations across the Adirondacks, including the Adirondack Welcome Center’s boat wash, located between Exits 17 and 18 on the Northway, before entering the Adirondacks.

Seasonal Access Roads: Seasonal access roads are dirt and gravel which can be rough. Four-wheel drive SUVs, pick-up trucks, and other high clearance vehicles are recommended for driving on these roads. Roads may be narrow – use caution, drive slowly, and watch for oncoming vehicles.


Hiking

Hiker wearing mask

Before you hit the trail, check out DEC’s Hike Smart NY page to learn about safety, best practices, and preparedness. While recreating in the Adirondacks, please follow the Hiker Responsibility Code and avoid busy trailheads. Discover trails less traveled and visit when trails may not be as busy.

Be Prepared. Trails are a mixture of dry and mud following recent storms and rain. Wear waterproof shoes, and walk through mud – not around it – to protect trail edges. Temperatures will be lower on high summits, and many exposed summits will be windy. Pack extra layers of clothing. Check the National Weather Service Northern Adirondacks and Southern Adirondacks Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits. If conditions become unfavorable, turn around. You can always complete your hike another day.

Use Caution. Many Adirondack trails encounter water crossings and not all of them have bridges. Use caution at crossings and on trails along fast flowing brooks and rivers.

Hiking with Dogs: DEC warns against bringing dogs hiking in the summer, especially in warm to hot temperatures and on bright sunny days. Dogs hiking in warm temperatures are at risk of experiencing heat exhaustion and death. If your dog collapses, quickly move to create shade for the dog, cool their feet and stomach, and give them time to rest and rehydrate. If you do bring your dog hiking, bring lots of water for them, give them frequent opportunities to rest and hydrate, monitor them closely, and turn around if they start to show signs of distress.


Rock Climbers

All rock climbing routes are open. DEC thanks climbers and the rock climbing community for staying off closed routes and allowing many pairs of peregrine falcons to successfully fledge their young.


Fishing

Help protect heat-stressed trout and salmon during summer months. During the hot days of summer, it is important to remember that trout and salmon experience serious physical stress whenever water temperatures climb above 70° Fahrenheit.

Anglers can help protect New York’s trout population by taking the following precautions:

  • Avoid catch and release fishing for heat-stressed trout. Trout already weakened by heat stress are at risk of death no matter how carefully they are handled.
  • Don’t disturb trout where they have gathered in unusually high numbers. It is likely these fish are recovering from heat stress in a pocket of cold water.
  • Fish early. Stream temperatures are at their coolest in the early morning.
  • Be prepared with a backup plan. Have an alternate fishing plan ready in case water temperatures are too high at the intended destination. Consider fishing a water body that is less prone to heat stress or fishing for a more heat-tolerant species like smallmouth bass.

Recent Notices

Lake George Wild Forest: Prospect Mountain Trail is now closed due to construction on the summit. The summit area, above the parking lot, has been closed to the public, and signs at the trail informed hikers the summit area was not open. However, many hikers entered the construction zone, so DEC has closed the trail. The summit of the mountain and the trail will remain closed until late August while 500 feet of mortared stone border wall that is crumbling along summit lookout areas is removed and replaced with individual cut stone blocks. Due to the grades, the moving of the stone blocks is difficult and dangerous, especially with heavy equipment. The road and the path from the parking lot are blocked.

High Peaks Wilderness: There has been an increase in nuisance black bear activity resulting in several incidents of campers losing food to the bears. Avoid losing your food and gear to a hungry bear by following these tips:

  • Store all food, trash, toiletries, and anything else with a scent in bear resistant canisters at least 100 feet from your tent, lean-to, or sleeping area.
  • Immediately secure the lid on your bear canister after adding or removing items.
  • Cook & eat at least two hours before dark in an open area. Never cook or eat in a tent, lean-to, or sleeping area.
  • If you see a bear, group up, raise and wave your arms, speak in a loud voice, make loud noises by banging pots or clapping, and warn others that there is a bear nearby.
  • Carry bear spray, keep it readily accessible on your person at all times, and know how to use it.
  • Report food and gear loss and close encounters to DEC.
  • Learn more about properly handling bear encounters.

DEC Campgrounds: DEC is currently not accepting walk-in camping at our campgrounds.

Backcountry Camping: As of July 2, DEC has resumed issuing backcountry/primitive camping permits for groups of 10 or more people who wish to camp for more than three nights at one location.

COVID-19 Travel Restrictions: Pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order 205, visitors coming from travel restricted states will not be issued camping permits and will not be allowed to stay on state lands until they have completed a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Quarantining on state land is not permitted.

DEC Boat Launches: Boaters should continue to social distance on the water and on shore and avoid crowded sites or wear a face mask.

Fire Towers: Only one household group should be in the fire tower cab at a time. Groups should social distance on the summit while waiting to climb to the cab, sanitize hands before and after being on the fire tower, and wear masks.

Trailhead Registers: Trailhead registers provide vital information, so please continue to sign in and out. Please socially distance at trailhead registers and sanitize your hands before and after signing in or out.

Limit Parking: Please avoid visiting crowded areas. For visitor safety and the safety of others, do not park on roadsides, and only park in designated parking areas. If parking lots are full, please choose a different area to visit, or return another time or day when parking is available. If you’re headed to the High Peaks, check 511NY for parking lot statuses along the Route 73 corridor.

Hike within the Limits of Your Physical Abilities and Experience
Adirondack lands and forests are patrolled by Forest Rangers and Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) and other staff. These officers and staff respond to, and assist, local agencies with search and rescue missions, wildfire suppression, and more. Following this guidance will prevent unnecessary burdens on, and dangers to, state resources and frontline emergency first responders during the ongoing COVID-19 response.

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NYS DEC

Information attributed to NYSDEC is taken from press releases and news announcements from New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation.




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