Friday, March 29, 2024

Outdoor Conditions (3/29): Region 5 DEC Campgrounds Remain Closed for Camping

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

  • Snow Report (3/27): The following report describes conditions as of Wednesday, 3/27. Changing weather may affect conditions. There is 55cm (22in) of snow at the Colden Caretaker Cabin. Snow levels vary at higher elevations. The lakes are still in as of Tuesday the 26. Snowshoes are required at Avalanche Camps, and wherever else snow depths exceed 8 inches.
  • Campgrounds Remain Closed for Camping: Region 5 DEC Campgrounds are currently closed for all camping and overnight use. This means there are no restrooms, potable water, or other facilities at this time, including on April 8. Additionally, there is tree cutting and other hazardous work going on at many of the campgrounds, so Fish Creek and others are likely to be gated for the safety of the public.

  • Over-the-Snow Travel Only at Newcomb Lake Road to Great Camp Santanoni: Snowshoe/ski travel only as of now. Conditions remain variable with snow, ice, and possible mud. Be aware of potential washouts due to spring runoff. Be prepared to adapt or have a backup plan.

LAST WEEK

  • Snow Report (3/20): The following report describes conditions as of Wednesday, 3/20. Changing weather may affect conditions. There is 62cm (24in) of snow at the Colden Caretaker Cabin, with more snow coming down. Snowshoes are required to hike peaks, at Lake Colden and to get to Avalanche Lake, and wherever else snow depths exceed 8 inches. The pass ski trail still has a decent base, although drainages are likely open.
  • Road Closures at Multiple Conservation Easement Tracts: Mud season has arrived and mud locks throughout Kushaqua, Santa Clara, and Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Tracts are on. In instances where an open gate is encountered, that does not indicate that the road is open to public motorized use. To protect the integrity of the road system, all roads are closed to motorized use for mud season regardless of gate status.
  • Newcomb Lake Road Variable Conditions: Newcomb Lake Road to Great Camp Santanoni, like many other roads in the area, is variable with both snow and muddy conditions. Be aware of potential washouts due to spring runoff. Be prepared to adapt or have a backup plan.

Planning an Adirondack eclipse viewing?

Here are some special considerations for Northern NY viewing:

  • Stick with front country locations. April weather and conditions are messy, wildly variable, and consistently unsafe in the Adirondack backcountry. Mud season can make trails difficult to navigate, potential for flooding can strand hikers and make stream crossings impassable, sun and warm temperatures at lower elevations can quickly turn into extreme cold and snow at higher elevations, and conditions are ripe for hypothermia.
  • View from lower elevation. Making the risky trek to fire towers should be avoided, due to the aforementioned dangers of backcountry viewing, combined with their limited capacities and slippery conditions during this time of the year.
  • Stay on land. Waterbodies in April are not ideal either as any that still appear to be safely frozen are likely not. Even if there’s no ice, cold water boating poses its own safety risks, emphasizing the importance of personal flotation devices (PFDs). State regulations regarding PFDs can be found at Law Enforcement FAQs or, for a more in-depth explanation, on the NYS Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation website at Boating PFD Laws of New York (PDF).
  • Do your research and be over-prepared. Visit Adirondack Backcountry Conditions for up-to-date information on closures and conditions.
  • Check out these awesome options for top-tier viewing locations! Visit 2024 Solar Eclipse Events in New York | Observatory and Museums to discover an abundance of special events being hosted throughout the Adirondacks that will help make your viewing experience unforgettable! With over a dozen options of local viewing events (and more not listed), you will be able to celebrate this once in a lifetime occasion safely and in style, with entertainment and amenities aplenty. Also check out NYS Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation for more awesome options of eclipse viewing events in the North Country!

For more public safety information and viewing guidance, check out these tips from DEC Commissioner Seggos and I Love New York’s eclipse website. DEC will also be posting eclipse information on Facebook leading up to April 8.

DEC NYS graphic for solar eclipse

 

Know Before You Go (as of 3/28):

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 mid-40s (throughout the days) and lows in the mid-20s (throughout the nights). The weather will be similar Friday-Sunday, each around the same temperatures and cloudy.

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 higher temperatures this week/weekend melting much of the snow from last weekend’s snowstorm, expect runoff, mud, and unstable snowpack. Steep slopes may be dangerous and slippery due to the snow and ice still present throughout the High Peaks Wilderness. Hikers should be prepared for these varying conditions by continuing to bring microspikes or crampons when heading into the backcountry or above tree line.

Sunrise/Sunset: Sunrise = 6:38 a.m.; Sunset = 7:20 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.

Statewide Burn Ban: DEC’s annual statewide ban prohibiting residential brush burning began March 16 and runs through May 14, to help protect communities/wildland during heightened conditions for wildfires. This only refers to BRUSH burning, so backyard fire pits and backcountry campfires less than 3ft in height and 4ft in diameter are still allowed as usual with regular fire safety rules. Check out a short video about how to build a safe campfire on DEC’s YouTube channel.

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.

Seasonal Road Closures: See DEC’s Adirondack Backcountry Information page for specific road conditions and information.

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 mostly 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.

Ranger rescues:

Accidents in the backcountry aren’t always preventable, but this time of year is particularly dangerous as the variable conditions not only increase the hiker’s risk of personal injury but can also increase the time it takes for responders to reach them.

One recent ranger rescue began when Ray Brook Dispatch received a call at around 10pm last weekend from someone reporting that their loved one was overdue from hiking Mount Marcy/Gray/Skylight.

Rangers attempted to retrace the subject’s itinerary through the night. Being dark out and also amidst a snowstorm, clues to the hiker’s location were scarce, so 15 more Rangers were sent out in the morning. Approximately 10 hours after dispatch received the call, a set of faded boot prints was located. Small clues are often all that rangers have to rely on to locate someone. The subject was found a couple hours later, then was met by Lake Placid EMS at 3:25 p.m. who took him in for treatment of hypothermia and frostbite.

The hiker followed the recommended practice of informing a loved one of their hiking plans. This may have saved his life, allowing rangers to reach him before hypothermia and frostbite progressed further. In addition to sharing your outing plans with a trusted person, hikers should always have appropriate gear on their person and extra layers in their packs, along with food and the other 10 essentials. Avoiding high elevations when recommended is also critical. Currently, DEC is recommending to avoid high-elevation trails until they reharden later in the season, because mud-season always brings variable conditions.

Be prepared by using the tips on Hike Smart NY.

Forest Ranger graphic

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.

Environmental Educator station set-up.

Summer Camps Staff Needed!

Now in its 77th year, DEC operates four residential camps for children and hires 60 seasonal employees to provide week-long adventures in conservation education for children ages 11-17.

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.

Available positions:

  • Directors;
  • Assistant Directors;
  • Health Directors (NYS certified EMT, Paramedic, LPN, RN, PA or MD);
  • Waterfront Directors;
  • Counselors;
  • Cooks; and
  • Camp Aides 1 and 2.

Learn more about camp and employmentincluding available position details and required qualifications, on DEC’s website. To apply, please send a resume, cover letter, and unofficial transcript to campemploy@dec.ny.gov.

Safety and Education – April Avalanches:

Although April is approaching just after this weekend, we’re still far from in the clear when it comes to avalanche danger in the Adirondacks. The main factors that increase avalanche risk when combined are heavy snow and a period of thaw. Avalanches caused by thaw occur most often in April.

As temperatures warm up this month, outdoor lovers may feel the urge to get out and hike again. However, the thaw leads to all kinds of undesirable conditions, like runoff, mud, trails that are more prone to erosion, fragile trail vegetation that is more prone to damage, and of course, even major dangers like avalanches.

With that being said, be prepared with all the proper gear, layers, and avalanche safety equipment (such as an avalanche beacon) throughout the month of April. And remember, one of the main components of preparedness is using resources like checking the forecast/checking DEC recommendations, etc., to decide whether to hike in the first place. And remember, the forecast is just a prediction, not a promise.

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 – Spring Ephemerals:

Even though it’s not the best time for intense hikes due to the wet and vulnerable condition of the trails, early spring boasts plenty of other sustainable outdoor recreation activities. As mentioned last week, birdwatching is a great option now that birds are migrating back. But if you’re not interested in birding, how about looking for a species slightly more still and less likely to fly away… wildflowers?

Small spring ephemerals like trout lilies are one of the first signs of spring in the Adirondacks. They are perfectly symbolic of the return of spring, as their bright yellow flowers provide sunshiny bursts of life wherever they bloom.

Aside from being visually delighting, trout lilies also serve as food for Adirondack wildlife including deer, black bear, and chipmunks. Trout lilies are actually a major part of the diet of the Eastern Chipmunk (pictured below, probably looking for some trout lily to snack on!).

Typically, their first leaves are seen starting as early as mid-April in the Adirondacks. So keep an eye, and a nose out for trout lilies and other wildflowers to start gracing the forest floor!

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

Chipmunk

Photo by David Denk.

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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.




One Response

  1. robert getman says:

    Spring ice-out conditions should be added to help out us anglers. Thanks.

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