Friday, January 19, 2024

Outdoor Conditions (1/19): Knowing the signs of frostbite

outdoor conditions graphicThe 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.


  • Snow Report (1/18): The following report describes conditions as of Thursday, 1/18. Changing weather may affect conditions. There is 89 cm (35in) of snow at the Colden Caretaker Cabin. Snow levels vary at higher elevations. Conditions now require snowshoes to be worn where snow depths exceed 8 inches, which as of 1/17 was beyond Marcy Dam. Microspikes/crampons are needed. The lakes are in.
  • Open Snowmobile Trails: As of 1/18, most snowmobile trails are now open; but 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.


  • 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)

Know Before You Go (as of 1/18):

Fire Danger: Due to current and expected weather patterns, the fire rating map forecast has concluded for the 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 mid-teens and lows in the single digit negatives. Although it will be colder, it should be quite a bit drier than recent weekends.

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: The heavy snow from last week and colder temperatures from this week have helped with the recovery of some trails affected by recent flooding. Although colder, the drier weather forecast this weekend will make for more standard winter trail conditions. Snow and ice are present throughout much of the High Peaks Wilderness and surrounding areas. 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 = 7:24 a.m.; Sunset = 4:48 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 above average (but getting closer to average week by week) for this time of year in the Adirondack region. 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: As of 1/18, most snowmobile trails are now open; but 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. As always, snowmobile access is dependent on conditions and can change quickly.

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.

Summer Employment Opportunities:

Would you like to work in New York State’s beautiful High Peaks Region of the Adirondack Forest Preserve this summer?

Environmental Educators Needed!

Join our Region 5 Outreach Team and become an integral part of the High Peaks Information Station Program this summer. Educators will spend the summer educating on safe and sustainable recreation in the High Peaks. Your role as an educator is vital in protecting the Adirondack’s natural resources while enhancing the safety, experience, and wellbeing of our communities and visitors. Positions are based out of the Region 5 headquarters in Ray Brook, NY but educators will spend much of their time at their designated information station. The application period will open in April but you can send your resume anytime to

Safety and Education – Frostbite vs. Hypothermia:

We’ve been talking a lot about preventing hypothermia lately, but don’t forget about another cold-related injury: frostbite. It can be prevented through similar measures, such as wearing warm layers and staying dry. However, its effects on your body are very different. Whereas hypothermia is more about your core temperature and yields more full-body/mental symptoms, frostbite is all about the extremities and you can see it or feel it exclusively on them (soreness, pins and needles, numbness, changing skin color, thicker skin texture, etc.).

Here’s some key things to keep in mind about frostbite that might surprise you:

  • Do not rub or massage frostbitten areas. Even though you may intuitively want to rub your hands together to create warmth, this can cause tissue damage if they’re frostbitten.
  • Do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes. Again, this may seem counterintuitive, since walking around is a helpful way to warm up and a good safety measure with hypothermia, but try to avoid it if frostbite is the main concern.
    • If you must walk to get to safety, DO IT, but don’t thaw frostbitten feet until you’re in a place you can remain still, as thawed tissue is more easily injured than frozen tissue.
  • Do not put HOT water on frostbitten areas. Putting warm water on the affected areas is a great way to warm them up, but make sure it’s not hot as you could unknowingly burn yourself due to your skin being numb. If you don’t have warm water, you can try to rewarm the affected area with body heat from an unaffected area, like putting your fingers in your armpit (just don’t rub!).

Knowing these simple tips can help ease your mind and save your extremities, so you can explore the winter wonderland of the Adirondacks with confidence (and a healthy amount of caution).

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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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