Friday, January 12, 2024

Outdoor Conditions (1/12): Warning signs of hypothermia

outdoor conditions logoThe following are only the most recent notices pertaining to public lands in the Adirondacks. Please check the Adirondack Backcountry webpages for a full list of notices, including seasonal road statuses, rock climbing closures, specific trail conditions, and other pertinent information.


  • Seasonal Road Closures: Additional seasonal closures are now posted. See DEC’s Adirondack Backcountry Information page for specific road conditions and information.
  • The bridge across Little Woodhull Creek on the Stone Dam Trail is out. (1/9)
  • Big Otter Lake Road has washed out and is impassable ¼ mile from the Partridgeville Road. The road is temporarily blocked at this location. (1/10)


  • AuSable Point Gate Closure: As of 1/2, the interior gate to the campsites at AuSable Point is locked. Flooding has covered the loops and vehicle traffic has been restricted to prevent further road damage. Use of the Day Use beach area parking lot has not been restricted and foot traffic is welcome beyond the closed vehicle gate.
    Know Before You Go graphic

    Know Before You go (as of 1/11):

    Fire Danger: Due to current and expected weather patterns, the fire rating map forecast has concluded for the 2023 season. Unless conditions change, forecasting will resume in spring 2024.

    Temperatures: These are forecast temperatures for base elevations throughout the region.

    Weekend temperatures in the region are expected to produce highs in the upper 30s and lows in the low teens. Snowfall with accumulations of 5-8 inches is expected Friday night, turning into a mix of rain and snow as temperatures warm up Saturday morning. It will continue snowing all the way through Sunday, which will be consistently below freezing all day. Be prepared for heavy snow this weekend!

    Check the National Weather Service’s Mountain Point Forecast for more accurate forecasts at elevation on or near your intended route.

    Reminder: These forecasts are for low elevations. Anticipate losing 5 degrees Fahrenheit for every 1,000 feet of elevation gain. Snow and ice have accumulated throughout the High Peaks, and will likely remain throughout the weekend.

    Even with sunny skies, inclement weather is always a possibility and can change very quickly. Remember – hypothermia is always a risk in wet conditions, even when it feels warm outside. Be prepared with extra dry layers and keep an eye on the weather.

    Conditions: Trails are very wet and frozen. As of 1/11, the heavy precipitation we’ve been getting this week has caused extra slick conditions even at lower elevations as temperatures drop and it all turns to ice. Snow and ice are present throughout much of the High Peaks Wilderness and surrounding areas, and will likely dramatically increase with the heavy snow forecast for this weekend. These conditions on steep slopes can be unstable and slippery. Hikers should bring microspikes or crampons when heading into the backcountry or above tree line.

    Sunrise/Sunset: Sunrise = 7:28 a.m.; Sunset = 4:39 p.m. With shorter days this time of year, it’s crucial to pick a timeline and stick to it. Pack at least one headlamp (two headlamps recommended) even if you expect to finish your activity before sunset. Phone batteries drain quickly and are discouraged.

    Mount Colden Trapdike: The trapdike is considered a technical climb and not a hike. Climbers should be prepared with helmets, ropes, and climbing gear to ascend this route. Hikers looking to summit Mount Colden should do so via the hiking routes. Attempting to climb the trapdike unprepared can result in a rescue operation, serious injury, or death.

    Backcountry Food Storage: NYSDEC requires the use of bear-resistant canisters by overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. Even though canisters are not required right now, Adirondack wildlife is active year-round. Therefore, appropriate storage and management of food is always encouraged by NYSDEC for your safety in the Adirondack backcountry. Bear canisters are used to store all food, food garbage, toiletries, and other items with a scent and can help protect your food from all wildlife. Canisters should be stored a minimum of 100ft from tents, lean-tos and cooking sites and kept closed whenever they are not being accessed. Learn more about bear canisters and avoiding human-bear conflicts.

    General Notices:

    Visit the main Adirondack Backcountry page for more trip-planning resources.

    Check the Weather: Check the forecast for your destination and pack and plan accordingly. Check the National Weather Service Northern Adirondacks and Southern Adirondacks Mountain Point Forecasts for select summit forecasts. Check both daytime and nighttime temperatures and remember that temperatures will drop as you gain elevation.

    Watch for Moose: Motorist should be aware that moose are rutting at this time of year. Moose will be wandering around looking for mates and walking into roads without paying attention to vehicles. Take precautions to avoid colliding with moose.

    No Overnight Camping at Trailheads: Overnight camping is not permitted at trailheads or other roadside locations where a camping disc is not present. This includes individuals sleeping in cars, vans, and campers. Campers should seek out designated roadside campsites marked with a “Camp Here” disc or open campgrounds. When camping, always carry out what you carry in and dispose of trash properly. Use designated bathroom facilities, pack out human and pet waste, or dig a cat hole.

    Travel: Plan on arriving at your destination early and have several back-up plans in place in case parking at your desired location is full. Check recent notices for road closure announcements.

    Water Crossings: Water levels are highly above average for this time of year in the Adirondack region, especially in the Southern Adirondacks and Southern NY in general. Expect water levels to rise with new rainfall. Check the USGS Current Water Data for New York for stream flow of selected waters. Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs aka lifejackets) are strongly recommended.

    Snowmobiles: Visitors are advised to plan ahead and check local club, county, and State webpages and resources, including the NYSSA Snowmobile web map, for up-to-date snowmobile trail information.

    Trailhead Parking: Remember, many Adirondack trailhead parking areas are not maintained or plowed in winter. Please be prepared to encounter unplowed, snowy and icy conditions at parking areas, and anticipate possible snow accumulation around your vehicle.

Safety and Education – Signs of Hypothermia:

A couple weeks ago, when some parts of the Adirondacks were first hit with flooding, we talked about channeling your inner onion and wearing adequate layers to stay warm and dry. With the storms and intense weather continuing, we are going to delve a little deeper. Layering correctly can help prevent hypothermia, but how do you know if it’s already kicking in?

Here are some initial warning signs of hypothermia to be aware of:

  • Severe shivering (which actually stops as the hypothermia worsens!)
  • Slurred speech
  • Weak pulse
  • Clumsiness
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion or memory loss

If you suspect that you or someone you encounter are experiencing these symptoms, call for help. Since this is not always possible and it could take a while for help to reach you, also know what to do until help arrives or symptoms improve:

  • Find or set up shelter (the main idea is to block the wind/precipitation).
  • Remove wet clothing and replace with dry layers.
  • Stay moving with light movement such as walking rather than strenuous movement that will cause you to sweat.

Whether you’re going for a snowshoe, ski, or out on the ice, 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.

10 Hiking Essentials Graphic

Leave No Trace – Prepare and Beware:

The first principle of Leave No Trace is “Plan Ahead and Prepare” for a reason. If you prioritize this step, it helps all the others fall into place.

As you may recall from last week’s bulletin, we were not at the time expecting to be so impacted by the storm that ended up hitting us last weekend. That’s why it’s crucial to continually check the forecast, which can change even just while you’re out on the trail!

Prepare for the anticipated conditions, but also beware that they could change at any moment; so prepare for what to do in that instance as well.

Follow the Seven Principles of Leave No TraceTM to maintain minimal impact on the environment and the natural resources of the Adirondacks.

Plan Ahead and Prepare Text

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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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