Friday, April 26, 2024

Outdoor Conditions (4/26): Mud season gates in Independence River Wild Forest, other areas to open today

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

  • Several Mud Season Gates Opening: As of 4/25, DEC plans to open all mud season gates in Independence River Wild Forest by this Friday, April 26. Other mud season gates in the area are opening around this time as well. Check Adirondack Backcountry for weekly updates on other gates in the region.
  • Grass River Wild Forest Access: There are several updates for this area.
    • Public motorized access to Allen Pond via the Allen Pond Road on the Tooley Pond Conservation Easement is open.
    • Access to the Forest Preserve River Corridor along the South Branch of the Grass River via the Spruce Mountain Road on the Tooley Pond Conservation Easement and via the Windfall Road or Buckhorn Road on the Cranberry Forest Conservation Easement is open.
    • Due to hazardous road conditions, public motorized access to Pleasant Lake via the Pleasant Lake Access Road on the Grass River Conservation Easement remains closed until improved.

  • Independence River Wild Forest Docks: All DEC docks in the Independence River Wild Forest have been installed for the season.
  • Register for I Love My Park Day, May 4, 2024: Gather your friends and family and join your community in helping to protect New York lands by registering for one of the Region 5 locations closest to you.
  • Now Hiring Summer Educators: The application period for summer Environmental Educators, described below in the Summer Employment Opportunities section, has opened. Check out the job posting to apply.

LAST WEEK

  • Snow Report (4/17): The following report describes conditions as of Wednesday, 4/17. Changing weather may affect conditions. There is less than 10cm (4in) of snow at the Lake Colden Stake. Conditions are wildly variable ranging from mud, ice, and multiple feet of rotten snow in the area around the lake. Avi Pass can be accessed without snowshoes. Snow levels vary at higher elevations and snowshoes are required where snow depths exceed 8 inches. Like last week, there will be a possibly dangerous increase in stream levels with the rainfall/snow melt combo.
  • AMR Parking Reservation System 2024: New bookings for 2024 began April 17. From May 1 through Oct. 31, reservations will be required to access the parking lot, trailheads, and trails located on the privately owned 7,000-acre AMR property in the town of Keene in the Adirondack High Peaks region.
  • Cobble Hill Trail Closure: Technical trail work has begun on Cobble Hill and the trail will be closed weekdays from April 15 through May 3. The crew will be using a highline to move large boulders, making it unsafe for hikers.

Know Before You Go (as of 4/25):

Fire Danger: Check the fire rating map for daily updates.

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

Weekend temperatures in the region are expected to produce lows in the lower-30s (still above freezing) and a high of 70, getting warmer each day from Friday to Sunday.

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: Expect trails to be variable with soft and muddy conditions at lower elevations, and unstable snowpack and snowmelt at higher elevations. Although temperatures will rise dramatically this weekend, it’s still winter conditions on some summits, so steep slopes may be dangerous and slippery due to the snow and ice present throughout the High Peaks Wilderness. Hikers should be prepared for these varying conditions by continuing to bring traction devices when heading into the backcountry or above tree line.

Sunrise/Sunset: Sunrise = 5:51 a.m.; Sunset = 7:54 p.m. 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.

Bear Canisters Required: NYSDEC requires the use of bear-resistant canisters by overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. NYSDEC encourages campers to use bear-resistant canisters throughout the Adirondack backcountry. Bear canisters should be used to store all food, food garbage, toiletries, and other items with a scent. 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.

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.

See video below for how to build a safe campfire:

YouTube video

Adirondack Rock Climbing Closures: DEC closes certain rock-climbing routes in the Adirondacks to protect nesting peregrine falcons. For a full list of closures, visit Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures. Once peregrine nest sites are determined, climbing routes that will not disturb nesting will be reopened. Routes that remain closed will reopen after the young have fledged. Thank you for your cooperation. For more information, please contact the Bureau of Wildlife at (518) 623-1250.

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 a little lower than 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.

Ticks: We do have ticks in the Adirondacks! Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily. Wear enclosed shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants. Check clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks while outdoors. Consider using insect repellent. Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails and walk in the center of trails. Avoid dense woods and bushy areas. Additional tips for tick prevention.

Summer Employment Opportunities:

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

nys dec promotional set up

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 has opened. See this job posting to apply.

Safety and Education – Don’t Bug Out:

Last week we discussed different products you can use to protect yourself from ticks, and the science behind how those products function. But knowledge of your surroundings and what to do if a tick does bite you is also key to protecting yourself!

Here are some tips to keep in mind if you’re doing any outdoor recreating, in addition to using a product like bug spray that is designed to repel/kill ticks:

Before you go:

  • Wear enclosed shoes, long pants and long-sleeves, and tuck in pant legs/shirt.
  • Opt for light-colored clothing with a tight weave so they’re easily visible.

During:

  • Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails.
  • Walk in the center of the trail.

After:

  • Do a full-body tick check at the end of the day/hike.
  • Bathe/shower as soon as you get indoors.

If you do get bitten:

  • Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible.
  • Pull steadily; don’t twist or yank the tick as this can tear the mouthparts from the body and leave them in your skin.
  • Be gentle; don’t squeeze or crush the tick as this may force infected fluids into your skin.
  • Dispose of the tick by submerging it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet.
  • Wash the wound site and your hands with soap and water, and apply rubbing alcohol or antiseptic.

Don’t bug out; just be prepared and on the lookout!

Whichever form of outdoor recreation you are embarking on, 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.

Leave No Trace – Bear Canisters:

As you may know, DEC requires the use of bear-resistant canisters by overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. Bear canisters store your food and other scented items in a secured container that effectively keeps bears out. This is important not only to keep your snacks safe, but also to keep you, other hikers, and the bears safe!

Black bear

When bears successfully secure human food once, they’re more likely to try to again. This can lead to them becoming unnaturally comfortable with humans, which can quickly lead to aggressive interactions. This is why you may have heard the saying, “A fed bear is a dead bear,” because once bears start relying on aggressive behavior towards humans in order to obtain food, they could put public safety at risk.

There are some misconceptions over which canisters are allowed in the area. DEC does not have a list of allowed brands of canisters; any hard-sided container of metal or plastic scientifically designed/tested and marketed to be bear-resistant meets the standard.

However, you may be familiar with the story of how one smart bear in the Adirondacks learned how to open a popular brand of bear canister. That specific canister brand is still allowed by DEC despite popular belief, although it’s not recommended.

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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