If you’re planning to hike in the High Peaks region this winter, you may have heard that snowshoes are required to be worn once snow depths reach eight inches. But why is that, and what does it mean for you?
Snow can get very deep in the High Peaks Wilderness. Currently, there is close to three feet of snow at base elevations and five to six feet on summits. When snow gets this deep, staying on the surface is vital to your safety and the safety of others.
Snowshoes redistribute weight and help hikers float on the surface of deep snow. This prevents the deep holes, known as postholes, created by bare boots. Note that carrying snowshoes with you is not sufficient – they must be worn to prevent falls and postholing.
It might seem like snowshoes are unnecessary when trails become packed down from repeated travel, but that is not the case. Snow alongside the hardpacked trails will still be soft. Imagine stepping off to the side to let another group pass and falling feet down into the snow. Such falls can lead to injury and leave dangerous traps along the trail. Even on hardpacked trails bare boots can still create holes and divots in the snow that might cause others – especially skiers – to fall.
There are some instances when you might have to switch your snowshoes for other traction devices. When you encounter thick, steep ice, swap out your snowshoes for crampons. As soon as you are past the ice, put your snowshoes back on.
It takes practice to be able to walk in snowshoes comfortably. Practice at home, in familiar locations, and on short walks before attempting a big hike. Using trekking poles can help with balance.
The Barkeater Trails Alliance (BETA) invites ski enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels to participate in the first-ever Jackrabbit Rally to celebrate ski touring, the 35th anniversary of the popular Jackrabbit Trail and founding of the Adirondack Ski Touring Council, which now operates as BETA. Founded in 1986, the Jackrabbit Ski Trail traverses a variety of terrain through Keene, Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Paul Smiths for a total of 42 miles.
DEC is conducting a survey to elicit public feedback on the overnight gate closure program for Lake George at Mossy Point and Roger’s Rock boat launches. The information gathered will inform a more permanent program for future boating seasons and support the state’s ongoing efforts to protect Lake George from invasive pests.
We encourage boaters that have used either access sites to take a brief survey. The survey and comment period will remain open until March 12, 2021. Comments may also be submitted by email to [email protected].
Recent NYS DEC Forest Ranger actions:Lewey Lake
Public Service: On Feb. 14, Forest Rangers Temple and Thompson were on snowmobile patrol in the Jessup River Wild Forest. While on patrol crossing Lewey Lake, the Rangers observed two abandoned snowmobiles that appeared to be broken down and stuck on the ice. The Rangers took the information from the snowmobile’s registration stickers and did a cursory search of the area looking for any signs of the snowmobile operators. With no signs of anyone in distress and the snowmobiles frozen in the surface slush of the lake, the Rangers continued their patrol and attempted to locate the operators through other means. On Feb. 15, Forest Rangers Thompson and Nally again patrolled the area and observed three individuals in a UTV attempting to recover the snowmobiles. The Rangers interviewed the group and learned that one of the snowmobiles broke down and was being towed out by the second when it began to have mechanical issues causing both sleds to get stuck. Prior to the Rangers’ arrival, the group attempted to remove the snowmobiles without proper equipment and got their UTV stuck in the surface slush, as well. Rangers proceeded to Moffitt Beach campground to gather equipment and returned, freeing all three machines from the slush. The Rangers then escorted the group off the ice. Due to one of the snowmobiles not being registered, the operator was issued a summons returnable to the Lake Pleasant Court. » Continue Reading.
Backcountry downhill skiers, snowboarders, and others who may traverse slides or steep, open terrain in the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks should be aware of and prepared for avalanche conditions, advises the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
Avalanche danger increases during and immediately after major snowfalls and during thaws. The High Peaks have received approximately five to six feet of snow, with the majority accumulating over the last two weeks. Due to high winds, snow depths are deeper on leeward slopes or areas of snow deposits, such as gullies. As snow accumulates over time it develops distinct layers formed by rain and melt/freeze cycles. When new snow falls onto previous snowpack, it adds weight and downward pressure. Lower snow layers may be reactive to the added stresses of recent snows, creating conditions conducive to avalanches.
I had hoped to get back to Canada sometime in the last year. I wanted to bring my family to Montreal and to some natural areas in Quebec and Ontario — maybe even visit the Maritimes for the first time. We got our son his first passport in preparation.
Oh well. I know that our continent and world have suffered much worse than I have in the last year. Canada will be there for us some other summer. No biggie.
New York’s State parks, historic sites, campgrounds, and trails welcomed a record-setting 78 million visitors in 2020. The milestone marks nine years of steady visitor growth and represents an overall increase of 34 percent, or more than 20 million visitors since 2011.
This increase was driven by unprecedented growth during the spring and fall seasons, as New Yorkers turned to State Parks facilities for safe, healthy outdoor recreation during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to learn more.
Statewide Empire State Trail Completed
New Yorkers have a new way to explore all their state has to offer with completion of the 750-mile Empire State Trail, a year-round, multi-use recreational trail for cyclists, hikers, runners, cross-country skiers and snowshoers.
The trail runs from New York City through the Hudson and Champlain Valleys to Canada, and from Albany to Buffalo along the Erie Canal. Three-quarters of the trail is off-road. Projections call for 8.6 million people to use it each year.
Connecting 20 existing regional trails, the Empire State Trail was created by building more than 180 miles of new off-road trail and connecting 400 miles of previously disconnected, off-road trails. There are 45 gateways and trailheads along the trail, which includes signage, interpretive panels, bike racks and benches. Navigating the trail can be done through the trails web site empiretrail.ny.gov, which includes an online map and the ability to print itinerary sheets for specific trail segments. Learn more.
Champlain Area Trails (CATS) has been awarded two grants from the New York State Conservation Partnership Program (NYSCPP) totaling $63,225.
“We are thrilled to be awarded $28,500 to create a new website that will greatly improve our online presence,” said Emily Segada, CATS Operations & Communications Manager, “We’ve already reached out to designers and are working to have a much more interactive trails page among many other improvements.”
Winter recreation is fun and exciting. It can also be challenging and dangerous. Whether you’re going for a hike, a ski, snowmobiling or ice fishing, 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.
Food & Water Storage
Proper nutrition and hydration are key to a safe and successful hike, but winter’s cold can bring challenges. In extremely cold temperatures food and water can freeze in your pack. This makes it hard or even impossible to consume what you need to stay hydrated and energized. To avoid food and water freezing, try the following:
This spring, when New York State was in a lockdown due to the pandemic, it was unclear what that meant for the Adirondacks. Would the outdoor tourism industry thrive or falter? Would people still be hitting the trails? Would small businesses survive?
Ice fishing is a great way to experience the outdoors during the winter months, and the Adirondacks boast an excellent variety of ice fishing destinations. One of the most popular places is Lake Champlain.
Very few northern New Yorkers believe that cold weather is a reason to stay indoors. In fact, for most North Country families, winter is fun! For kids, it’s the season of snowballs, snow forts, snowmen, snow sculptures, snow angels, sledding, tobogganing, tubing, and ice skating. And for family activities, there’s snowmobiling, snowshoeing, snowboarding, downhill skiing, cross country skiing, winter hiking, winter camping, winter carnivals, dog sledding, and ice fishing.
Ice fishing is a great way to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. You can even bring the dogs. Think of it as a day at (or should I say on) the lake, a picnic, or a tailgate party. Just bring a grill or a camp stove, some food and your favorite beverages (hot and/or cold), lawn chairs, and a heater or portable fire pit. A tent is optional.
For over a year, Paul Smith’s College has been on a mission to include more competitive sports within its 14,000-acre campus in the Adirondacks while colleges all over the country drop their varsity sports programs. Their latest endeavor, on top of Nordic skiing, biathlon, hockey and trap shooting, is in the form of alpine skiing. The new program will begin during the 2021-2022 school year, bringing the school to a total of 27 varsity sports programs.
In the 1980’s and 90’s, Paul Smiths had a dominant alpine skiing program that saw the then two-year school program reach the national junior college championship of 1991. Paul Smith College’s skiing history dates as far back as 1952 when they hosted the US Olympic trials prior to the Winter Games in Oslo.
Whether you’re a snow sport enthusiast or new to winter recreation, there is something for everyone to enjoy outdoors this season. Don’t let the cold and snow keep you indoors until spring. Bundle up, prepare for the weather and conditions, and try one of these fun winter activities:
The Adirondack Almanack is a public forum dedicated to promoting and discussing current events, history, arts, nature and outdoor recreation and other topics of interest to the Adirondacks and its communities
We publish commentary and opinion pieces from voluntary contributors, as well as news updates and event notices from area organizations. Contributors include veteran local writers, historians, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the Adirondack region. The information, views and opinions expressed by these various authors are not necessarily those of the Adirondack Almanack or its publisher, the Adirondack Explorer.
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