Friday, January 15, 2021

Outdoor Conditions (1/15): Dress for success

The following are the most recent notices pertaining to public lands in the Adirondacks. 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.

High Peaks Wilderness:

  • Colden Caretaker Report 01/13/21: Eleven inches of snow has accumulated at the Colden Caretaker cabin. Sixteen inches of snow has accumulated on summits. Snowshoes are needed, including to get to Avalanche Lake. The Marcy Dam truck trail is skiable with some thin sections. Snowpack on the Van Hoevenberg trail to Adirondack Loj is very thin but is skiable. Both Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden are frozen.

Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Easement:

  • Snowmobile trails on both tracts are now open.
  • Old Route 8 between Cave Hill Road and Robbs Creek Road in Perkins Clearing is currently a shared logging road and snowmobile trail. Snowmobilers must drive slowly, stay on the groomed trail, and use caution when driving near logging trucks and equipment.

Saranac Lakes Wild Forest:

  • The gates on Snowmobile Trail C7b have been opened. Snow cover is thin in spots – riders should use discretion.
  • Snowmobile Trail C7 is closed between Tupper Lake and Lake Clear.

Vanderwhacker Wild Forest: Snowmobile Trail C8A is open from the gate at Lake Harris through to Indian Lake. Snowpack is inconsistent and thin but rideable.

Last Week

Moose River Plains Complex: The entrance gates to the Moose River Plains on Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road are now open to snowmobile traffic only. Conditions remain poor due to minimal snow accumulation. The roads remain closed to public motor vehicles for the winter season.

General Notices

Visit the main Adirondack Backcountry Information page for more trip-planning resources, including travel information, weather resources, and seasonally-specific information about Adirondack recreation.

Winter Conditions: Check the forecast for your destination and pack and plan accordingly. Conditions will be more severe on summits with below freezing temperatures, snow, ice, and strong winds. Take wind chill into consideration when preparing for temperatures. Check the National Weather Service Northern Adirondacks and Southern Adirondacks Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits.

Snow Accumulation: The following provides current snowpack depths in inches as of 01/05/21 at a selection of Adirondack locations. Snow accumulation data is collected every other week. Additional data and interactive maps are available on the National Weather Service website.

  • Northwoods Club Road, Minerva, Essex County: 7.7 inches
  • Goodnow Flow Road, Newcomb, Essex County: 7.6 inches
  • Tahawus/Upper Works, Newcomb, Essex County: 7.8 inches
  • Blue Ridge Road, Newcomb, Essex County: 7.5 inches
  • Elk Lake Road, North Hudson, Essex County: 8.7 inches
  • Lake Colden, Essex County: 11.4 inches
  • Cedar River Road, Indian Lake, Hamilton County: 7.8 inches
  • Sagamore Road, Long Lake, Hamilton County: 7 inches
  • Haskell Road, Ohio, Herkimer County: 9.6 inches
  • North Lake Road, Ohio, Herkimer County: 9.7 inches

Ice Safety: A minimum of three to four inches of solid ice is the general rule for safety. Ice thickness, however, is not uniform on any body of water. Learn more about ice safety.

Snowmobiling: Some seasonal access roads will transition to snowmobile use once sufficient snowpack accumulates. Check local club, county, and state webpages and resources, including the NYSSA Snowmobile Webmap, for up-to-date snowmobile trail information.

Seasonal Access Roads: Many seasonal access roads have closed following the end of Northern Zone big game hunting season. Check the Adirondack Backcountry Information pages for updates on specific road closures. Some roads may remain open if conditions allow.

Debar Mountain Complex Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DGEIS) and Draft UMP Public Comment Opportunities: DEC and APA will be conducting two virtual public hearings on Tuesday, January 19, 2021. Due to restrictions related to COVID-19, these hearings will not be held in person. To participate, please select one of the hyperlinks below at the scheduled time:

  • From 1:30 p.m. – 4 p.m:
    • To receive a call back, provide your phone number when you join the event, or call the number 1-518-549-0500 and enter the access code: 179 267 0779
  • From 6 p.m. – 9 p.m:
    • To receive a call back, provide your phone number when you join the event, or call the number 1-518-549-0500 and enter the access code: 179 337 3417

Prevent the Spread of COVID-19: New cases of COVID-19 are on the rise throughout New York State, including in the Adirondacks. Help prevent the spread and keep yourself safe by continuing to Play Smart, Play Safe, Play Local.

Safety & Education

Winter recreation is fun and exciting. It can also be challenging and dangerous. Whether you’re going for a hike, a ski, snowmobiling, or ice fishing, Hike Smart NY can help you prepare with a list of 10 essentials, guidance on what to wear, and tips for planning your trip with safety and sustainability in mind.

Dress for Success: Wear Layers

On Monday, DEC Forest Rangers Mecus and LaPierre addressed winter hiking preparedness in a Facebook LIVE event. They provided great information on how to properly layer clothing to stay dry, warm, and safe during a winter hike. Check out the full video for a layering demonstration, a review of the 10 essentials, and what to pack in your emergency kit.

When hiking in the winter, preventing hypothermia is vital to your safety and success. Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature. Cool wet weather is as dangerous for hypothermia as extremely cold temperatures. To prevent conditions of hypothermia, stay dry, dress in layers, keep yourself hydrated, eat often, and manage your sweat.

Sweat is the enemy of winter hiking. As sweat dries it cools, creating ideal conditions for hypothermia. Add or remove layers as you hike to keep yourself warm while avoiding sweating. You may have to stop repeatedly on your hike to add, remove, or change into extra dry layers. Practice your layering system at home or in a familiar location to find what works best for you.

Prepare for the elements by bringing and wearing the following items:

  • Base layer tops and bottoms. These should be made of wool or moisture-wicking synthetic fabrics that keep your skin dry and help regulate your body temperature. Avoid cotton as it holds moisture. This layer should be form fitting.
  • Insulating layers. These may include additional wool or synthetic layers.
  • A waterproof/windproof jacket. Depending on the weather and your energy output, this might be a soft or hardshell jacket. Hoods are recommended.
  • A puffy jacket. This is a large insulating layer you can wear on top of everything else when you stop moving at the summit or when you take a break. Synthetic fillers are more effective than down when wet.
  • A hat. Bring and wear different weight hats depending on the weather and your heat output.
  • Gloves or mittens. Bring both light glove liners and warmer, waterproof gloves/mittens. Bring extra so you can change when they get wet. Everyone’s hands are different – gloves or mittens may work better for you.
  • Wear wool socks and pack extra. Taller socks will help keep your legs warm, which in turn can help keep your feet warmer.
  • Gaiters can also help keep your feet and legs warm and dry.
  • Goggles to cover your eyes and face in cold, windy weather.
  • A face mask or balaclava to cover any remaining exposed skin.
  • Waterproof, sturdy, and comfortable boots. You may want thicker boots if your feet get cold easily.
  • Traction Devices and Snowshoes. Bring and wear foot traction as appropriate. Snowshoes will help you float on the surface of the snow, and they are required to be worn in the High Peaks Wilderness when snow depths reach eight inches. Microspikes are good for flat, thin ice, while crampons are needed for thick ice and steep, icy terrain.

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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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