Friday, February 9, 2024

Outdoor Conditions (2/9): Rising temps this weekend, signs of avalanche

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.

NEW THIS WEEK

  • Closed Snowmobile Trails: As of 2/8, snowmobile trails in certain areas of the Adirondacks have been CLOSED due to inadequate trail conditions. 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.

LAST WEEK

  • Snow Report (1/31): The following report describes conditions as of Wednesday, 1/31. Changing weather may affect conditions. There is 67cm (26in) of snow at the Colden Caretaker Cabin. Snow levels vary at higher elevations. Conditions now require snowshoes to be worn from Marcy Dam. The ski trail and passes remain in good condition. They now have a crust layer.

 

Know Before You Go as of 2/8:

Know Before You Go graphic

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

Weekend temperatures in the region are expected to produce highs in the upper-40s (yes, you read that right!) and lows in the upper-20s. Expect cloudy skies, with rain showers developing throughout Saturday (when the high is set to be 49°!).

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: With the temperatures expected to significantly rise this weekend, some snowpack may melt causing runoff or extra wet/muddy areas especially at lower elevations. At higher elevations, snow and ice are still here to stay for a long while throughout the High Peaks Wilderness and surrounding areas, which can make steep slopes unstable and slippery. Hikers should bring microspikes or crampons when heading into the backcountry or above tree line.

Sunrise/Sunset: Sunrise = 7:02 a.m.; Sunset = 5:16 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.

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: Motorists 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 a little above average 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 2/8, snowmobile trails in certain areas of the Adirondacks have been CLOSED due to inadequate trail conditions; 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 info.R5@dec.ny.gov.

nys dec promotional set up

Summer Camps Staff Needed!

Would you like to gain job and life skills while backpacking, camping, and canoeing?

We’re seeking nature loving staff for the Summer Camps Program. Summer Camps combine environmental education, hunter education, and outdoor recreation to create an adventurous experience for campers 11-13 years old or 14-17 years old. Working at a NYSDEC camp is a great opportunity to gain practical outdoor, naturalist, teaching, leadership, and many other transferrable skills while living in a beautiful setting. Working with youth is an incomparable experience that will stick with you for a lifetime.

There are four camps:

  • Camps Colby—Adirondacks;
  • Pack Forest—Adirondacks;
  • Camp DeBruce—Catskills; and
  • Camp Rushford—Western NY.

Learn more about camp and employment. To apply, please send a resume, cover letter, and unofficial transcript to campemploy@dec.ny.gov.

Safety and Education: Avalanche Conditions:

February is the topmost avalanche-prone month of the year, followed by March and January. Major snowstorms and periods of thaw are the 2 main factors when it comes to creating avalanche conditions. More than 80% of avalanches occur during or just after large snowstorms. We thankfully don’t have a major snowstorm headed our way this week, but with temperatures rising to nearly 50°, it’s always important to know about avalanches in case conditions unexpectedly change.

Before heading out to the backcountry, make sure you consider the forecast for the day and days prior. As previously mentioned, heavy snowfall and rapid rises in temperature are both major risk factors; but heavy rainfall and strong winds are as well.

If the weather isn’t worrisome and you decide to hit the trail, here are some warning signs of unstable snowpack that you can look out for while you’re out there:

  • Visual characteristics like shooting cracks in the snow.
  • Audible characteristics like a hollow “whumpf” sound when snowpack collapses beneath you.
  • Weak layers that are found by digging snow pits.

If you come across these warning signs, don’t hesitate to find a safer route or simply turn around!

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 – Snow-Covered Surfaces:

Although the risk of avalanches is an obvious downside to outdoor winter recreation, winter does have its benefits. Aside from just the fun opportunities and all-round beauty of the Adirondacks in the winter, the snow is also great for the second Leave No Trace Principle: Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces.

As long as there’s a thick enough snow cover (about 6-8 inches), the plant life underneath it tends to stay protected. This means you have many more options of where to responsibly set up camp. On that note, the snow also makes it easy to conveniently stamp out a campsite using your snowshoes or skis.

Just make sure to pitch camp away from steep slopes, avalanche paths, or cornices, which can increase avalanche danger!

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

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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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