Thursday, October 21, 2010

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Oct. 21)

This announcement is for general use – local conditions may vary and are subject to change.

Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Conditions Report Friday mornings on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1) and the stations of North Country Public Radio.

The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional Forest Ranger incident reports which form a stern reminder that wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Be aware of the latest weather conditions and carry adequate gear and supplies.

SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

Newly Opened Roads
A number of roads closed this spring, when budget cutbacks restricted DEC’s ability to repair, maintain and patrol them, have reopened in time for big game hunting season. All roads typically open in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest are now open. Lily Pond Road in Horicon has already reopened. Gay Pond Road in Warrensburg will be open by this weekend. Details on the openings can be found below. Jabe Pond Road in Hague, Buttermilk Road Extension in Warrensburg, Dacy Clearing Road in Fort Ann, Scofield Flats Road, Pikes Beach Access Road and the Bear Slides Access Road in Luzerne all remain temporarily closed.

Cold Wet Weather
National Weather Service is predicting snow showers mixed with rain Friday night and Saturday morning – snow showers only in the higher elevations and summits. Night-time and morning temperatures below freezing can be expected, especially in higher elevations. Pack extra non-cotton clothes, including a hat and gloves or mittens. Take off and put on layers of clothing to regulate body heat.

Snow Above 3000 Feet
Snow can be found on trails and summits over 3000 feet. Although there is a foot or more of snow on the ground in some locations, lesser amounts will be found on trails. Due to below freezing temperatures at night trails will be crusty in the morning. Snowshoes or skis are not required at this time but instep crampons are recommended as summits and other open areas are icy.

High Waters
Water levels continue to be high. Some waters may contain logs, limbs and other debris. Check the current USGS streamflow data for selected waters.

Special Blowdown Notice
Recent storms and high winds have resulted in a good deal of blowdown. Limbs, branches and trees may be found on and across trails, especially on lesser used side trails. Strong winds are expected Friday and Saturday.

Most DEC Campgrounds Are Now Closed
Now that Columbus Day has passed the only DEC campground open in the Adirondacks is the Fish Creek Campground, all the others are closed until next season. The Fish Creek Campground will close October 31st.

Do Not Feed Bears
In mid September a bear broke into a home in Inlet and had to be euthanized by DEC Forest Rangers. In late August a forest ranger shot and killed a bear that was harassing campers at the Eight Lake State Campground near Inlet. Bears fed by humans (intentionally or incidentally) grow to not fear people. For this reason, two bears have now been killed this year; eight problem bears were killed in the Adirondacks last summer. The Inlet and Old Forge corridor has traditionally had problems with bears.

Central Adirondacks Lower Elevation Weather
Friday: Slight chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, breezy; high near 37.
Friday Night: Slight chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, breezy, low around 25.
Saturday: Slight chance of snow and rain. Partly sunny; high near 48.
Saturday Night: Chance of rain and snow showers. Mostly cloudy; low around 32.
Sunday: Chance of rain and snow showers. Cloudy; high near 52.

The National Weather Service provides a weather forecast for elevations above 3000 feet and spot forecasts for the summits of a handful of the highest peaks in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. [LINK]

Snow Above 3000 Feet
Snow can be found on trails and summits over 3000 feet. Although there is a foot or more of snow on the ground in some locations, lesser amounts will be found on trails. Due to below freezing temperatures at night trails will be crusty in the morning. Snowshoes or skis are not required at this time but instep crampons are recommended as summits and other open areas are icy.

Colder Weather
Colder temperatures have arrived in the mountains. Night-time and morning temperatures in the 20s or colder are likely, especially at higher elevations. Pack extra non-cotton clothes, including a hat and gloves.

Darkness Arriving Earlier
Autumn has arrived and daylight hours have decreased. Know when sunset occurs and plan accordingly. Always pack or carry a flashlight with fresh batteries.

GENERAL ADIRONDACK CONDITIONS

Fire Danger: LOW

Accidents Happen, Be Prepared
Wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Hikers and campers should check up-to-date forecasts before entering the backcountry as conditions at higher elevations will likely be more severe. All users should bring flashlight, first aid kit, map and compass, extra food, plenty of water and clothing. Be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods and always inform others of your itinerary.

Waterfowl Consumption Advisory
With waterfowl hunting seasons open, hunters are reminded that wild ducks and geese may contain chemicals (PCBs and some pesticides) at levels that may be harmful to health. A Department of Health (DOH) advisory states that: “Mergansers are the most heavily contaminated waterfowl species and should not be eaten. Eat no more than two meals per month of other wild waterfowl; you should skin them and remove all fat before cooking and discard stuffing after cooking. Wood ducks and Canada geese are less contaminated than other wild waterfowl species, and diving ducks are more contaminated than dabbler ducks.” DOH’s complete advisories for sport fish and game can be found online.

Motorists Alert: Moose
There are upwards of 800 Moose in the Adirondack region, up from 500 in 2007. Motorists should be alert for moose on the roadways at this time of year especially at dawn and dusk, which are times of poor visibility when Moose are most active. Much larger than deer, moose-car collisions can be very dangerous. Last year ten accidents involving moose were reported. DEC is working to identify areas where moose are present and post warning signs.

Hunting Seasons
Fall hunting seasons for small game, waterfowl and big game have begun or will begin shortly. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment while hiking on trails. Recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists with the legal right to hunt on Forest Preserve lands. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare. Hikers may want to wear bright colors as an extra precaution.

Motorized Equipment in Wilderness, Primitive and Canoe Areas
The use of motorized equipment in lands classified as wilderness, primitive or canoe is prohibited. Public use of small personal electronic or mechanical devices such as cameras, radios or GPS receivers are not affected this regulation.

Storage of Personal Belongings on State Land
Placing structures or personal property on state land without authorization from DEC is prohibited. Exceptions include: properly placed and labeled geocaches; legally placed and tagged traps, tree stands and blinds. The full regulation regarding the use of motorized equipment on state lands may be found online; the regulation regarding the structures and storage of personal property is also online.

Firewood Ban
Due to the possibility of spreading invasive species that could devastate northern New York forests (such as Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Wooly Adeljid and Asian Longhorn Beetle), DEC prohibits moving untreated firewood more than 50 miles from its source. Forest Rangers have begun ticketing violators of this firewood ban. More details and frequently asked questions at the DEC website.

Bear-Resistant Canisters
The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear resistant canisters; the use of bear-resistant canisters is encouraged throughout the Adirondacks.

Low Impact Campfires
Reduce the impact on natural areas by utilizing lightweight stoves, fire pans, mound fires or other low impact campfire techniques. Use only dead or small downed wood that can be broken by hand and keep fires small. Leave hatchets, axes and saws at home. Never leave a fire unattended, don’t burn garbage, and restore the appearance of your fire site; do not move fire rings. Campfires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness [LINK].

ADIRONDACK LOCAL BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS

** indicates new or revised items.

NORTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

Chazy Highlands Wild Forest: The newly acquired Forest Preserve lands on the Standish and Chazy Lake Roads in the Lyon Mountain area, and on the Smith and Carter Roads in the Ellenburg Mountain area, are open for public use. State boundary lines are not yet marked, contact the DEC Region 5 Natural Resources office (518-891-1291) to obtain a property map. Be aware of your location at all times, do not trespass.

HIGH PEAKS

** Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands: The Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands, including the Elk Lake-Marcy Trail into the High Peaks Wilderness and the Dix-Hunter Pass Trail into the Dix Mountain Wilderness, is closed to all public access through the big game hunting season.

** The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed and will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season.

Lake Arnold Trail: A section of the Lake Arnold Trail just north of the Feldspar Lean-to may be impassable due to mud and water resulting from past beaver activity. Hikers may want to seek an alternate route during and after wet weather.

Bushnell Falls: The high water bridge at Bushnell Falls has been removed, the low water crossing may not be accessible during high water.

Upper Works to Duck Hole: All the foot bridges on the trail between Upper Works and the Duck Hole have been replaced and the trail has been cleared.

Moose Pond Horse Trail: The bridges on the Moose Pond Horse Trail have been replaced, horse drawn wagons can access the trail to Ermine Brook.

Newcomb Lake – Moose Pond: A bridge on the Newcomb Lake to Moose Pond Trail has been flooded by beaver activity. The bridge is intact, but surrounded by water.

Northville-Placid Trail: Crews have constructed and marked a reroute of the Northville-Placid Trail around an area flooded by beaver activity between Plumley Point and Shattuck Clearing.

Opalescent River Bridges Washed Out: The Opalescent River Bridge on the East River / Hanging Spears Falls trail has been washed out. The crossing will be impassable during high water.

Big Slide Ladder: The ladder up the final pitch of Big Slide has been removed.

Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail: Much of the blowdown on the Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail between the Calkins Brook lean-tos and Shattuck Clearing has been removed. The trail is open for hikers but remains impassable to horses and wagons. DEC crews continue to work to open the trail.

Mt. Adams Fire Tower: The cab of the Mt. Adams Fire Tower was heavily damaged by windstorms. The fire tower is closed to public access until DEC can make repairs to the structure.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ADIRONDACKS

Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement: Camping is limited to designated campsites, 8 campsites have been designated at this time.

** Adirondack Canoe Route: Water levels remain higher than normal due to recent rains. Waters may contain logs, limbs and other debris. Check the current USGS streamflow data for selected waters.

Adirondack Canoe Route: Northern Forest Canoe Trail volunteers rehabilitated the takeout at the north end of Eighth Lake. The 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail celebrates its tenth year this summer. Winding its way from Maine through New Hampshire, Quebec, Vermont, and into New York ending at Old Forge.

Forest Ranger Greg George: Ranger George has retired after 33 years of service. If you had contacted Ranger George in the past for camping permits, backcountry conditions or for any other purpose, you should now contact Forest Ranger Bruce Lomnitzer at 518-648-5246. For matters regarding Tirrell Pond contact Forest Ranger Jay Scott at 315-354-4611.

Ferris Lake Wild Forest / West Lake Boat Launch (Fulton County): The boat launch was impacted by August rains and floods. DEC staff have made repairs to the roadway, parking lot and ramps, however, be aware that the waters off the boat launch are more shallow than before.

** Moose River Plains Wild Forest: The Otter Brook Road, to the Otter Brook Gate, and the Indian Lake Road have been reopened with the assistance of the Town of Inlet, the Town of Indian Lake and Hamilton County highway departments. Previously, with their assistance, the Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road), Rock Dam Road and Otter Brook Road up to the Otter Brook Bridge, had been opened. Currently all roads that had typically been open to motor vehicle traffic in the Moose River Plains are open again.

West Canada Lakes Wilderness / N-P Trail: The bridge over Mud Creek, on the Northville-Placid Trail northeast of Mud Lake, has been washed out.

Shaker Mountain Wild Forest: The lean-to on the south shore of Chase Lake has been removed, and a new one is now been built on the lake’s north shore (See photos). A new trail spur leading off the old trail and approaching the new lean-to from the west has been marked. The site of the old lean-to is now a designated tent site.

Chimney Mountain / Eagle Cave: DEC is investigating the presence of white-nose syndrome in bats in Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain. Until further notice Eagle Cave is closed to all public access.

Wilcox Lake Forest: Trails to Wilcox Lake and Tenant Falls beginning at the end of the Hope Falls Road, cross private property. While DEC does have a trail easement for the East Stony Creek Trail to Wilcox Lake, there is no formal agreement with the landowner for access to the Tenant Falls Trail. DEC is working on a resolution to this matter. In the meanwhile, hikers and day uses must respect the private driveway at the trailhead and not block it. Also respect the landowner’s privacy – stay on the trail, do not enter the private property.

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: Flooding is affecting the Pine Orchard Trail and Murphy Lake Trail. Bridges at Mill Creek, approximately 3 miles from the trailhead on Dorr Road has no decking, only stringers, the bridges over Mill Brook, north of Pine Orchard, is not decked, and the Dayton Creek bridge is out on the trail from Brownell Camp (at the end of Hope Falls Road) to Wilcox Lake.

EASTERN ADIRONDACKS

** Hudson Gorge Primitive Area: Water levels continue to be high. Some waters may contain logs, limbs and other debris. Check the current USGS streamflow data for selected waters.

Gore Mountain: The Schaeffer Trail to the summit of Gore Mountain, has undergone a significant reroute. The new trailhead is located at the parking lot for Grunblatt Memorial Beach in North Creek. From there the trail leads southwest and then north, looping around the North Creek reservoir before continuing southwest to the summit.

** Lake George Wild Forest (West Side): The Lily Pond Road in the Lake George Wild Forest in the Town of Horicon, Warren County has been reopened. The Town of Horicon Highway Department provided assistance with grading and fill material and the Town will continue to provide assistance with garbage removal, cleanup and inspection for the remainder of the year

** Lake George Wild Forest (West Side): The Gay Pond Road in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area) in the Lake George Wild Forest in the Town of Warrensburg, Warren County will be open by this weekend [10/23-24]. The South Warren Snowmobile Club covered the cost of several new culverts to replace ones that had failed and been crushed under the road. DEC staff is undertaking the work to replace the culverts and to provide fill and grade the road, with completion expected by this weekend.

Lake George Wild Forest / Hudson River Recreation Area: Funding reductions have required that several gates and roads remain closed to motor vehicle traffic. These include Dacy Clearing Road, Jabe Pond Road, Buttermilk Road Extension and Scofield Flats Road.

Lake George Wild Forest: Equestrians should be aware that there is significant blowdown on horse trails. While hikers may be able to get through the trails, it may be impossible or at least much harder for horses to get through. Lack of resources, resulting from the state’s budget shortfall, preclude DEC from clearing trails of blowdown at this time.

NORTHERN ADIRONDACKS

** Adirondack Canoe Route: Adirondack Canoe Route: Water levels remain higher than normal due to recent rains. Waters may contain logs, limbs and other debris. Check the current USGS streamflow data for selected waters.

** Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands (former Champion Lands): All easement lands are closed to public hunting as of September 1 and will be closed to all public access during the big game hunting season, which begins October 23. Access corridors have been designated to allow hunters to reach forest preserve lands through the conservation easement lands. Contact Senior Forest Rob Daley for information on access corridors at 518-897-1291. The gate to The Pinnacle has been locked. The public may still walk the road and the trail until this Saturday, October 23, after which it will be closed for the big game hunting season.

** Raquette River Boat Launch: DEC will be removing the floating dock at the Raquette River Boat Launch on Route 3, also known as “The Crusher”, within the next week.

St. Regis Canoe Area: The carry between Long Pond and Nellie Pond has been flooded by beavers about half way between the ponds. A short paddle will be required. DEC and Student Conservation Association crews will be working through mid-October to move 8 campsites, closed 23 campsites and created 21 new campsites [online map]. This week they are rebuilding a lean-to on Fish Pond. Please respect closure signs.

Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: Beaver activity has caused the flooding of the Stony Pond Road approximately one mile from the trailhead. Use caution if you choose to cross this area.

** Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: The DEC has sided with paddlers in the dispute over the public’s right to canoe through private land on Shingle Shanty Brook and two adjacent waterways and has sent adjacent landowners a letter asking them to remove the cables, no-trespassing signs, and cameras put in place to deter the public from using the canoe route. If they fail to comply, the department warns, the matter could be referred to the state attorney general for legal action. “The Department has concluded that Mud Pond, Mud Pond Outlet and Shingle Shanty Brook are subject to a public right of navigation, and that members of the public are therefore legally entitled to travel on those waters,” the letter dated September 24th said.

——————–
Forecast provided by the National Weather Service; warnings and announcements drawn from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and other sources. Detailed Adirondack Park camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation and trail conditions can be found at DEC’s webpages. A DEC map of the Adirondack Park can also be found online [pdf].

The new DEC Trails Supporter Patch is now available for $5 at all outlets where sporting licenses are sold, on-line and via telephone at 1-866-933-2257. Patch proceeds will help maintain and enhance non-motorized trails throughout New York State.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pepperbox Wilderness: A Bushwhacker’s Paradise

Those looking for an area with outstanding bushwhacking potential in the Adirondacks would be well rewarded by checking out the Pepperbox Wilderness Area, located in the northwestern Adirondack Park just northwest of Stillwater Reservoir.

At only 22,560 acres, the Pepperbox is one of the smallest of the Adirondack’s designated Wilderness Areas. It is bordered roughly by the West Branch of the Oswegatchie River to the north, the Herkimer County border on the west, the Beaver River to the south and Raven Lake Road to the east. What it lacks in size, it more than makes up with in its remoteness, containing mostly forested rolling hills and extensive wetland complexes. The few state trails here are all located in the northern portion. The Pepperbox is named after one of its many scattered unproductive water bodies, which total about 270 acres. The remoteness, lack of marked trails and limited use makes the Pepperbox a bushwhacker’s paradise.

The Pepperbox’s western half is characterized by extensive beaver meadows and small beaver ponds while its eastern half contains larger water bodies such as Sunshine Pond and the Moshier Ponds. The central part contains extensive unbroken forest with Moshier Creek roughly bisecting the wilderness down the middle. The northern portion, with its two miles of trails and in-holding access roads, is a more recent addition to the wilderness area and can be considered its “civilized” part. The bushwhacking opportunities here are less due to these trails and roads and therefore this part of the Pepperbox is given less mention in this article.

There are several points of access into the Pepperbox Wilderness. From the north there are several trails which enter the Pepperbox and allow access to the few water bodies located there. Such small lakes as Jakes Pond, Spring Pond, Tied Lake or Greigg Lake are all accessed via foot trail or dirt road mostly from Bear Pond Road. Trailhead parking is available for access from the east out of Stillwater Reservoir, in the west from Sand Pond Road near the county boundary (Lewis/Herkimer) and from the south via Moshier Falls Road. With a canoe one could access the southern border via the Moshier Reservoir along the Beaver River.

The northeastern portion of the wilderness area is characterized by a plentiful number of larger water bodies. This area is best accessed from a parking area at the end of Necessary Dam Road via the hamlet of Stillwater Reservoir. A trail register is located here for recording your planned trip, which is an excellent idea when bushwhacking through a trackless wilderness like the Pepperbox. Although the road continues over the Beaver River as a well-maintained dirt road, it is gated at the bridge and available for driving by the owners of an in-holding on Raven Lake only. The road, now referred to as Raven Lake Road, is a convenient jumping off point for bushwhacking adventures into the Pepperbox from the east. Raven Lake Road acts as a border separating the Pepperbox from the southern portion of the extensive Five Ponds Wilderness (the southern Five Ponds offers outstanding bushwhacking opportunities in its own right).

A perfect way to access the Pepperbox off of Raven Lake Road is an old hunting trail situated between the first main stream crossing and where the road turns east. Although this trail is unmarked it is easily followed along its southern end. It passes just south of a large beaver vly and then turns north following along the eastern side of the same stream crossed back on the road. The trail passes to the east of the beaver pond feeding the stream before taking a sharp turn to the northwest. At this sharp turn it is very easy to lose the trail as many dummy trails at this point can testify. While navigating over a bog along the south shore of a beaver pond south of Sunshine Pond watch for chicken wire nailed between two logs on the bog mat to avoid wet feet and guide you to the trail again on the opposite side. After several attempts I have yet to be able to follow the trail after reaching the western shore of this beaver pond. Despite the lack of a trail beyond this point a bushwhacker is well situated to explore the many water bodies in this portion of the Pepperbox. Sunshine, Deer, Moshier, Duck and Pepperbox Ponds and the surrounding area will provide days of exploring for the intrepid bushwhacker. Click here, here, here and here for my trip report in this area back in May 2010.

A parking area at the end of Sand Pond Road allows access to the northwestern portion of the Pepperbox. This area appears to get little use, evidenced by the lack of a register here. A short old logging road from the parking area provides access to a brushed-out state property boundary that can be followed east over a hill and through a fern-dominated wet area to the border of the Pepperbox’s western boundary.

This part of the Pepperbox is dominated by a single unnamed pond and the Cowboy Beaver Meadow. The Cowboy Beaver Meadow is a series of old beaver vlys along the Alder Creek with little evidence of human activity. There are numerous places to cross the Alder Creek if one wishes to explore the steep rise on the opposite side. Between the pond and Cowboy Beaver Meadow is a hill with some steep cliffs to the east which should provide impressive views into the Cowboy Beaver Meadow below during the autumn and winter months when the tree foliage is absent. Keep an eye on the Bushwhacking Fool this winter for a trip report on my adventure through this area on Labor Day 2009.

The southwestern portion of the Pepperbox contains the extensive Threemile Beaver Meadow, numerous unnamed beaver ponds and a series of unusual glacial ridges. A parking lot and trailhead register are available here along Moshier Falls Road. Although the sign in the parking lot implies the trail to the Pepperbox leaves the parking lot, the true trail is across the street where it crosses bridges on both the Sunday Creek and the Beaver River.

The trail continues across the Beaver River and through a power line right-of-way before reaching the Pepperbox’s southern border where a sign warns that there are no marked trails beyond. As if mocking this official sign there is a well-used trail marked with gray paint slashes winding north into the unbroken forest. This trail remains easy to follow all the way to a large beaver vly east of the largest pond in the Threemile Beaver Meadow. North of this vly the trail loses its gray slashes and becomes less distinct though rumor has it one can follow it all the way to Bear Pond. I have tried this myself in the past with only limited success though I did manage to reach Bear Pond by bushwhacking a significant amount of the way.

Along the trail before reaching the large beaver vly there are several side trails to the west which gives access to the extensive Threemile Beaver Meadow. The Threemile Beaver Meadow is a beautiful and extensive series of beaver ponds and meadows well worth exploring.

A good bushwhacker can find many old herd paths in the Threemile Beaver Meadow area and there are even a few hunters’ camps scattered about, some recently used and others vacant for many years. This area appears to be heavily used during hunting season, and for good reason, as I have never seen a higher density of deer in the Adirondacks. Click here for a trip teaser about my recent bushwhack through the Threemile Beaver Meadow in September 2010.

To the north and west of the Threemile Beaver Meadow are a series of beaver ponds scattered about giving a bushwhacker numerous opportunities for exploration. For those interested in glacial landforms there is a series of steep and narrow ridges to the west of the beaver meadow. These ridges tend to end abruptly so one should use caution to avoid getting stuck out on one. The remnants of an old fire tower exists on one the highest ridges. The site of this fire tower, now merely the foundation and a few scattered boards, makes an additional interesting destination while trekking through this area.

The combination of hunting trails and unbroken wilderness makes the Pepperbox an excellent area for the beginning and experienced bushwhacker. So if you are looking for an interesting area to explore via bushwhacking then you cannot go wrong with the Pepperbox Wilderness Area in the northwestern Adirondacks.

Photos: Alder Creek along Cowboy Beaver Meadow, Sunshine Pond and Threemile Beaver Meadow by Dan Crane.

Dan Crane blogs about his bushwhacking experiences at Bushwhacking Fool.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Breaking: DEC Defending Paddlers’ Rights

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has sided with paddlers in the dispute over the public’s right to canoe through private land on Shingle Shanty Brook and two adjacent waterways.

In a letter to the landowners, DEC asks them to remove cables, no-trespassing signs, and cameras meant to deter the public from using the canoe route. If they fail to comply, the department warns, the matter could be referred to the state attorney general for legal action.

Christopher Amato, DEC’s assistant commissioner for natural resources, wrote the letter in September after negotiations with the owners failed to reach an agreement.

“The Department has concluded that Mud Pond, Mud Pond Outlet and Shingle Shanty Brook are subject to a public right of navigation, and that members of the public are therefore legally entitled to travel on those waters,” Amato said in the letter, dated September 24.

Amato told the Adirondack Explorer that DEC won’t take action right away. He hopes that the owners—the Brandreth Park Association and its affiliate, the Friends of Thayer Lake—will reconsider their position over the winter. Spokesmen for the owners declined to comment.

The Explorer will carry a full report in its November/December issue. The story is online now and can be read here.

The Explorer touched off the dispute last year by publishing my account of a canoe trip from Little Tupper Lake to Lake Lila. Instead of portaging around private land, I paddled down the three waterways. After that article appeared, the Sierra Club asked DEC to force the landowners to remove a cable and no-trespassing signs along the route. The landowners, however, put up a second cable and installed motion-activated cameras.

DEC contends that the public has a common-law right to paddle the waterways. The owners argue that the common law applies only to water bodies that have a history of commercial use (and the three waterways in question do not).

If the landowners stick to their guns, it’s likely that the dispute will end up in the courts.

Past posts to the Almanack on this topic, both by Mary Thill and myself, have generated much discussion. It will be interesting to see what readers on both sides of the debate have to say about this latest development.

Illustrations: Phil Brown on Shingle Shanty Brook by Susan Bibeau; a map of the Lila Traverse is online.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Alan Wechsler: Climbing at Shelving Rock

About a decade ago, I was riding a speedboat across Lake George — heading north to the Narrows — when I looked over to the eastern shore. There, right above the land formerly known as the Knapp Estate, was a series of large cliffs below Shelving Rock Mountain.

“I wonder if there’s climbing there?” I thought.

Turns out there is. It took a few years, but several local climbers have recently put up a variety of routes on the cliffs. According to Jim Lawyer and Jeremy Haas, authors of Adirondack Rock, there are six different cliff areas known together as Shelving Rock. » Continue Reading.


Friday, October 15, 2010

DEC Drops Plan to End Lake George Garbage Collection

When campers return to the New York State-owned Lake George Islands next spring, the garbage barges will be there to remove trash from three transfer stations.

Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis has agreed to to raise camping fees by $3 per night to cover the costs of garbage collection, which the DEC had announced that it would suspend because of budget cuts.

The alternative to the proposed “Carry In – Carry Out” policy was submitted to DEC officials by state legislators, municipal officials and lake protection organizations at a meeting in Bolton Landing on September 17.

“The decision is based on discussions and feedback from local Lake George officials and organizations, area state legislators and campers,” said David Winchell, a regional spokesman for DEC.

“Clearly, the DEC got the message. The message from around the lake was the same, whether campers or environmental groups or local or state government officials, everybody asked that the state deal with this problem not by weakening a successful program, but rather by increasing fees. The camping public is supportive of higher fees to maintain a level of service that will protect both the lake and the treasured Lake George island camping experience. Many families have been using these islands for generations” said Peter Bauer, Executive Director of the FUND for Lake George.

The $3 surcharge, which will raise the cost of a camping permit to $28 for New York State residents, will generate at least $90,000 in new revenues, enough to cover the costs of garbage collection, said State Senator Betty Little.

“The goal is to keep these sites clean, to ensure garbage doesn’t end up in the water and to prevent surrounding municipal trash systems from being overwhelmed,” said Little.

According to David Winchell, the surcharge will be collected by Reserve America, which administers public campsite reservation systems.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Oct. 14)

This announcement is for general use – local conditions may vary and are subject to change.

Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Conditions Report Friday mornings on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1) and the stations of North Country Public Radio.

The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional Forest Ranger incident reports which form a stern reminder that wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Be aware of the latest weather conditions and carry adequate gear and supplies.

SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

**Hazardous Weather Alert**
A large storm is set to impact the Adirondack region on Friday and Saturday. A Flood Watch has been issued for all of the Adirondacks. Current weather forecasts may change depending on the track of the storm. The National Weather Service is reporting that some models are indicating a possible 6 inches of snow across the Adirondacks and as much as 2 feet in the higher elevations. Significant rains and winds will be associated with the event, with stronger winds in the higher elevations. Plan for rain, snow, cold temperatures, high water, and possibly heavy snow: know the latest forecast before heading out.

**Flood Watches / High Waters**
Most of the Adirondack region is under a flood watch until Saturday. Significant rainfall is expected beginning Thursday evening (10/14) through Saturday (10/16). Combined with recent rains over the last two weeks water levels will be high. Low water crossings will likely not be accessible and paddlers should be prepared for high waters that may contain logs, limbs and other debris. Expect muddy wet, trails through the weekend. Wear appropriate footwear and to stay on the trail – hike through muddy areas and puddles to avoid widening the trails or creating “herd paths” around those areas.

Special Blowdown Notice
Recent storms have resulted in a good deal of blowdown. Limbs, branches and trees may be found on and across trails, especially on lesser used side trails. Strong winds are expected Friday and Saturday.

Most DEC Campgrounds Are Now Closed
Now that Columbus Day has passed the only DEC campground open in the Adirondacks is the Fish Creek Campground, all the others are closed until next season. The Fish Creek Campground will close October 31st.

Do Not Feed Bears
In mid September a bear broke into a home in Inlet and had to be euthanized by DEC Forest Rangers. In late August a forest ranger shot and killed a bear that was harassing campers at the Eight Lake State Campground near Inlet. Bears fed by humans (intentionally or incidentally) grow to not fear people. For this reason, two bears have now been killed this year; eight problem bears were killed in the Adirondacks last summer. The Inlet and Old Forge corridor has traditionally had problems with bears.

Waterfowl Consumption Advisory
With waterfowl hunting seasons open, hunters are reminded that wild ducks and geese may contain chemicals (PCBs and some pesticides) at levels that may be harmful to health. A Department of Health (DOH) advisory states that: “Mergansers are the most heavily contaminated waterfowl species and should not be eaten. Eat no more than two meals per month of other wild waterfowl; you should skin them and remove all fat before cooking and discard stuffing after cooking. Wood ducks and Canada geese are less contaminated than other wild waterfowl species, and diving ducks are more contaminated than dabbler ducks.” DOH’s complete advisories for sport fish and game can be found online.

Central Adirondacks Lower Elevation Weather
**See the Weather Advisories Above**
Friday: Wind and rain; high near 40.
Friday Night: Wind, rain, and snow showers; low around 34.
Saturday: Rain and snow showers likely; high near 40.
Saturday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 28.
Sunday: Partly sunny, with a high near 50.

The National Weather Service provides a weather forecast for elevations above 3000 feet and spot forecasts for the summits of a handful of the highest peaks in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. [LINK]

Cooler Weather
Cooler temperatures have arrived in the mountains. Night-time and morning temperatures in the 30s or colder are likely, especially at higher elevations. Pack extra non-cotton clothes, including a hat and gloves.

Darkness Arriving Earlier
Autumn has arrived and daylight hours have decreased. Know when sunset occurs and plan accordingly. Always pack or carry a flashlight with fresh batteries.

GENERAL ADIRONDACK CONDITIONS

Fire Danger: LOW

Accidents Happen, Be Prepared
Wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Hikers and campers should check up-to-date forecasts before entering the backcountry as conditions at higher elevations will likely be more severe. All users should bring flashlight, first aid kit, map and compass, extra food, plenty of water and clothing. Be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods and always inform others of your itinerary.

Motorists Alert: Moose

There are upwards of 800 Moose in the Adirondack region, up from 500 in 2007. Motorists should be alert for moose on the roadways at this time of year especially at dawn and dusk, which are times of poor visibility when Moose are most active. Much larger than deer, moose-car collisions can be very dangerous. Last year ten accidents involving moose were reported. DEC is working to identify areas where moose are present and post warning signs.

Hunting Seasons
Fall hunting seasons for small game, waterfowl and big game have begun or will begin shortly. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment while hiking on trails. Recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists with the legal right to hunt on Forest Preserve lands. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare. Hikers may want to wear bright colors as an extra precaution.

Motorized Equipment in Wilderness, Primitive and Canoe Areas
The use of motorized equipment in lands classified as wilderness, primitive or canoe is prohibited. Public use of small personal electronic or mechanical devices such as cameras, radios or GPS receivers are not affected this regulation.

Storage of Personal Belongings on State Land
Placing structures or personal property on state land without authorization from DEC is prohibited. Exceptions include: properly placed and labeled geocaches; legally placed and tagged traps, tree stands and blinds. The full regulation regarding the use of motorized equipment on state lands may be found online; the regulation regarding the structures and storage of personal property is also online.

Firewood Ban
Due to the possibility of spreading invasive species that could devastate northern New York forests (such as Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Wooly Adeljid and Asian Longhorn Beetle), DEC prohibits moving untreated firewood more than 50 miles from its source. Forest Rangers have begun ticketing violators of this firewood ban. More details and frequently asked questions at the DEC website.

Bear-Resistant Canisters
The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear resistant canisters; the use of bear-resistant canisters is encouraged throughout the Adirondacks.

Low Impact Campfires
Reduce the impact on natural areas by utilizing lightweight stoves, fire pans, mound fires or other low impact campfire techniques. Use only dead or small downed wood that can be broken by hand and keep fires small. Leave hatchets, axes and saws at home. Never leave a fire unattended, don’t burn garbage, and restore the appearance of your fire site; do not move fire rings. Campfires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness [LINK].

ADIRONDACK LOCAL BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS

** indicates new or revised items.

NORTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

** Salmon Fishing: The rivers are running high. Anglers should use caution and be alert for changes in water levels.

Chazy Highlands Wild Forest: The newly acquired Forest Preserve lands on the Standish and Chazy Lake Roads in the Lyon Mountain area, and on the Smith and Carter Roads in the Ellenburg Mountain area, are open for public use. State boundary lines are not yet marked, contact the DEC Region 5 Natural Resources office (518-891-1291) to obtain a property map. Be aware of your location at all times, do not trespass.

HIGH PEAKS

** Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands: The Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands, including the Elk Lake-Marcy Trail into the High Peaks Wilderness and the Dix-Hunter Pass Trail into the Dix Mountain Wilderness, will be closed to all public access beginning Monday, October 18, and remained closed through the big game hunting season

** The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road will be closed on Monday, October 18, and will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season.

** Lake Arnold Trail: A section of the Lake Arnold Trail just north of the Feldspar Lean-to may be impassable due to mud and water resulting from past beaver activity. Hikers may want to seek an alternate route during and after wet weather.

Bushnell Falls: The high water bridge at Bushnell Falls has been removed, the low water crossing may not be accessible during high water.

Upper Works to Duck Hole: All the foot bridges on the trail between Upper Works and the Duck Hole have been replaced and the trail has been cleared.

Moose Pond Horse Trail: The bridges on the Moose Pond Horse Trail have been replaced, horse drawn wagons can access the trail to Ermine Brook.

Newcomb Lake – Moose Pond: A bridge on the Newcomb Lake to Moose Pond Trail has been flooded by beaver activity. The bridge is intact, but surrounded by water.

Northville-Placid Trail: Crews have constructed and marked a reroute of the Northville-Placid Trail around an area flooded by beaver activity between Plumley Point and Shattuck Clearing.

Opalescent River Bridges Washed Out: The Opalescent River Bridge on the East River / Hanging Spears Falls trail has been washed out. The crossing will be impassable during high water.

Big Slide Ladder: The ladder up the final pitch of Big Slide has been removed.

Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail: Much of the blowdown on the Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail between the Calkins Brook lean-tos and Shattuck Clearing has been removed. The trail is open for hikers but remains impassable to horses and wagons. DEC crews continue to work to open the trail.

Mt. Adams Fire Tower: The cab of the Mt. Adams Fire Tower was heavily damaged by windstorms. The fire tower is closed to public access until DEC can make repairs to the structure.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ADIRONDACKS

Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement: Camping is limited to designated campsites, 8 campsites have been designated at this time.

** Adirondack Canoe Route: Significant rainfall is expected Friday (10/15) and Saturday (10/16). The National Weather Service has issued a “Flood Watch” for Hamilton County through Saturday (10/17) morning. Water levels are expected to be high through the weekend, waters may contain logs, limbs and other debris. Check the current USGS streamflow data for selected waters.

Adirondack Canoe Route: Northern Forest Canoe Trail volunteers rehabilitated the takeout at the north end of Eighth Lake. The 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail celebrates its tenth year this summer. Winding its way from Maine through New Hampshire, Quebec, Vermont, and into New York ending at Old Forge.

Forest Ranger Greg George: Ranger George has retired after 33 years of service. If you had contacted Ranger George in the past for camping permits, backcountry conditions or for any other purpose, you should now contact Forest Ranger Bruce Lomnitzer at 518-648-5246. For matters regarding Tirrell Pond contact Forest Ranger Jay Scott at 315-354-4611.

Ferris Lake Wild Forest / West Lake Boat Launch (Fulton County): The boat launch was impacted by August rains and floods. DEC staff have made repairs to the roadway, parking lot and ramps, however, be aware that the waters off the boat launch are more shallow than before.

** Moose River Plains Wild Forest: The Otter Brook Road and the Indian Lake Road have been reopened with the assistance of the Town of Inlet, the Town of Indian Lake and Hamilton County highway departments. Previously, with their assistance, the Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road), Rock Dam Road and Otter Brook Road up to the Otter Brook Bridge, had been opened. Currently all roads that had typically been open to motor vehicle traffic are again open.

West Canada Lakes Wilderness / N-P Trail: The bridge over Mud Creek, on the Northville-Placid Trail northeast of Mud Lake, has been washed out.

Shaker Mountain Wild Forest: The lean-to on the south shore of Chase Lake has been removed, and a new one is now been built on the lake’s north shore (See photos). A new trail spur leading off the old trail and approaching the new lean-to from the west has been marked. The site of the old lean-to is now a designated tent site.

Chimney Mountain / Eagle Cave: DEC is investigating the presence of white-nose syndrome in bats in Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain. Until further notice Eagle Cave is closed to all public access.

Wilcox Lake Forest: Trails to Wilcox Lake and Tenant Falls beginning at the end of the Hope Falls Road, cross private property. While DEC does have a trail easement for the East Stony Creek Trail to Wilcox Lake, there is no formal agreement with the landowner for access to the Tenant Falls Trail. DEC is working on a resolution to this matter. In the meanwhile, hikers and day uses must respect the private driveway at the trailhead and not block it. Also respect the landowner’s privacy – stay on the trail, do not enter the private property.

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: Flooding is affecting the Pine Orchard Trail and Murphy Lake Trail. Bridges at Mill Creek, approximately 3 miles from the trailhead on Dorr Road has no decking, only stringers, the bridges over Mill Brook, north of Pine Orchard, is not decked, and the Dayton Creek bridge is out on the trail from Brownell Camp (at the end of Hope Falls Road) to Wilcox Lake.

EASTERN ADIRONDACKS

** Hudson Gorge Primitive Area: The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Watch for Hamilton and Warren Counties through Saturday (10/17) morning. Water levels are expected to be high through the weekend, waters may contain logs, limbs and other debris. Check the current USGS streamflow data for selected waters.

Gore Mountain: The Schaeffer Trail to the summit of Gore Mountain, has undergone a significant reroute. The new trailhead is located at the parking lot for Grunblatt Memorial Beach in North Creek. From there the trail leads southwest and then north, looping around the North Creek reservoir before continuing southwest to the summit.

Lake George Wild Forest / Hudson River Recreation Area: Funding reductions have required that several gates and roads remain closed to motor vehicle traffic. These include Dacy Clearing Road, Lily Pond Road, Jabe Pond Road, Gay Pond Road, Buttermilk Road Extension and Scofield Flats Road.

Lake George Wild Forest: Equestrians should be aware that there is significant blowdown on horse trails. While hikers may be able to get through the trails, it may be impossible or at least much harder for horses to get through. Lack of resources, resulting from the state’s budget shortfall, preclude DEC from clearing trails of blowdown at this time.

NORTHERN ADIRONDACKS

** Adirondack Canoe Route: Significant rainfall is expected Friday (10/15) and Saturday (10/16). The National Weather Service has issued a “Flood Watch” for Hamilton County through Saturday (10/17) morning. Water levels are expected to be high through the weekend, waters may contain logs, limbs and other debris. Check the current USGS streamflow data for selected waters.

** Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands (former Champion Lands): All easement lands are closed to public hunting as of September 1 and will be closed to all public access during the big game hunting season, which begins October 23. Access corridors have been designated to allow hunters to reach forest preserve lands through the conservation easement lands. Contact Senior Forest Rob Daley for information on access corridors at 518-897-1291. The gate to The Pinnacle has been locked. The public may still walk the road and the trail until October 23, after which it will be closed for the big game hunting season.

** Raquette River Boat Launch: Due to the timing of the availability of a crane, DEC will be removing the floating dock at the Raquette River Boat Launch on Route 3, also known as “The Crusher”, within the next week or two.

St. Regis Canoe Area: The carry between Long Pond and Nellie Pond has been flooded by beavers about half way between the ponds. A short paddle will be required. DEC and Student Conservation Association crews will be working through mid-October to move 8 campsites, closed 23 campsites and created 21 new campsites [online map]. This week they are rebuilding a lean-to on Fish Pond. Please respect closure signs.

Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: Beaver activity has caused the flooding of the Stony Pond Road approximately one mile from the trailhead. Use caution if you choose to cross this area.

——————–
Forecast provided by the National Weather Service; warnings and announcements drawn from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and other sources. Detailed Adirondack Park camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation and trail conditions can be found at DEC’s webpages. A DEC map of the Adirondack Park can also be found online [pdf].

The new DEC Trails Supporter Patch is now available for $5 at all outlets where sporting licenses are sold, on-line and via telephone at 1-866-933-2257. Patch proceeds will help maintain and enhance non-motorized trails throughout New York State.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bicycling Around Great Sacandaga Lake

I’ve always thought of the Great Sacandaga Lake as a poor man’s Lake George.

It’s not meant to be an insult. Quite the opposite. When folks from New York City and New Jersey and around the northeast drive up to Lake George and their 20-foot-wide lake frontage and million-dollar neighbors, they pass right by the Sacandaga and don’t even know it. Outsiders come to Lake George; locals stay at the Sacandaga.

Its shores are never crowded. Tasteful, discreet summer homes dot the shores, both south and north, but never overwhelmingly so. Chicken-wire cages that protect garbage pails bespeak of wildlife (mainly raccoons) that you’ll rarely see in Lake George Village. And bisecting the middle is the wondrous, 3,000-foot-long Batchellerville Bridge.

Last week we explored both sides of the lake on a 65-mile bicycle ride. Though the leaves had only just begun to change, it was a scenic, two-wheeled view into a part of the Adirondacks usually left out of outdoor guides.

Our journey began and ended at the West Mountain parking lot, where my cycling partner Steve and I saddled up. In no time we were climbing hard as we headed west. But once we reached the south shore of the lake, the road was fairly level, with occasional views of the water.

The lake was created in 1930 with the building of the Conkingville Dam, for the purpose of controlling flooding downstream on the Hudson River. The dam flooded a handful of Adirondack valley towns, turning hundreds out of their homes — but created one of the park’s largest lakes.

Our ride brought us past buildings both historic and modern. Halfway through, we reached the general store in Batchellerville, a historic building well over a hundred years old. From there, we crossed the bridge.

The bridge itself is as old as the lake. The state Department of Transportation is spending $56 million on a replacement bridge, now under construction only a few yards to the west of the existing one.

Cycling along the older bridge is far better than driving. Due to safety concerns, it’s now down to one lane of traffic, giving drivers a long wait at either end if they time it wrong. In the meantime, bikers have two huge shoulders to choose from, and can stop and admire the construction of the new bridge.

The north shore of the Sacandaga is even nicer than the south. We left the main road heading east, choosing instead to climb a steep hill on Military Road, a charming lane that parallels the shore. Here we got treated to a brief sample of local heavy-metal — a band was practicing in a nearby garage with the doors open, and the screams of the singer serenaded us as we pedaled by.

From there, we headed further east, eventually crossing the bridge over the Hudson’s Rockwell Falls at Hadley. It was a few days after that massive rainstorm we had, and the water was roiling in a way I’d never seen it before. The falls itself was entirely covered by the swollen river, creating massive standing waves over rock shelves where sunbathers lay in the summertime.

Steve, an avid white-water kayaker, stared at the aquatic apocalypse and considered possible lines.

Eventually, we wound up riding down one of the steepest, twistiest roads I’ve ever taken on a road bike — made even scarier by the fact that my brake cable was about to snap — before bringing us back to West Mountain. The Sacandaga may be the poor man’s Lake George, but we felt ever the richer for having explored it.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Back At The Almanack:Winter Sports Writer Christie Sousa

It’s that time of year – time to welcome back Almanack winter sports contributor Christie Sausa of Lake Placid. Christie is a member of the historic figure and speed skating culture in the Olympic Village, and writes about those sports for the Lake Placid News and on her own blog, the popular Lake Placid Skater, which she founded in 2007.

As the winter sports season gets rolling Sausa, who attends North Country Community College, will begin covering local competitions and local athletes and the broader winter sports experience from popular sports like ski-jumping, downhill, snowboarding, and cross country, to the sliding sports (luge, skeleton, and bobsledding), as well as the more obscure winter pastimes of biathlon, skijoring, and dogsledding.

Sausa is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Lake Placid, the Connecting Youth and Communities Coalition, the Skating Club of Lake Placid, and the Lake Placid Speed Skating Club. When she is not on the ice herself, or writing about what happens there, Sausa and her mom run the Lake Placid Skate Shop.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Oct. 7)

This announcement is for general use – local conditions may vary and are subject to change.

Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Conditions Report Friday mornings on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1) and the stations of North Country Public Radio.

The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional Forest Ranger incident reports which form a stern reminder that wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Be aware of the latest weather conditions and carry adequate gear and supplies.

SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

Fire Danger: LOW

Columbus Day & Canadian Thanksgiving Day Weekend
Visitors to the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness should be aware that trail head parking lots and interior campsites will reach capacity early on this holiday weekend. Plan accordingly, seek backcountry recreation opportunities in other areas of the Adirondack Park. Day hikers should check DEC’s list of Trails Outside the High Peaks.

High Waters/Flooding
Heavy rains last week and steady rains this week have kept water levels high. Low water crossings may not be accessible and paddlers should be prepared for high waters. Expect muddy wet, trails through the weekend. Wear appropriate footwear and to stay on the trail – hike through muddy areas and puddles to avoid widening the trails or creating “herd paths” around those areas.

Special Blowdown Notice
Last week’s storm resulted in a good deal of blowdown. Limbs, branches and trees may be found on and across trails, especially on lesser used side trails.

Central Adirondacks Lower Elevation Weather
Friday: Chance of afternoon showers. Partly sunny; high near 61. Breezy.
Friday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 38. Light winds.
Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 51. Breezy.
Saturday Night: Clear and cold with a low around 25.
Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 57.

The National Weather Service provides a weather forecast for elevations above 3000 feet and spot forecasts for the summits of a handful of the highest peaks in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. [LINK]

Trout Season Ending
Trout season closes October 15 in most places. There are a few exceptions; check the updated 2010-2011 Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide for details. Male brook trout are beginning to group together in preparation for the upcoming spawning.

Cooler Weather
Cooler temperatures have arrived in the mountains. Night-time and morning temperatures in the 30s or colder are likely, especially at higher elevations. Pack extra non-cotton clothes, including a hat and gloves.

Darkness Arriving Earlier
Autumn has arrived and daylight hours have decreased. Know when sunset occurs and plan accordingly. Always pack or carry a flashlight with fresh batteries.

Fall Foliage Season
Fall Foliage Season is well underway in the central Adirondacks. For an updated foliage report see the state tourism site’s Foliage Report.

GENERAL ADIRONDACK CONDITIONS

Accidents Happen, Be Prepared
Wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Hikers and campers should check up-to-date forecasts before entering the backcountry as conditions at higher elevations will likely be more severe. All users should bring flashlight, first aid kit, map and compass, extra food, plenty of water and clothing. Be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods and always inform others of your itinerary.

Motorists Alert: Moose

There are upwards of 800 Moose in the Adirondack region, up from 500 in 2007. Motorists should be alert for moose on the roadways at this time of year especially at dawn and dusk, which are times of poor visibility when Moose are most active. Much larger than deer, moose-car collisions can be very dangerous. Last year ten accidents involving moose were reported. DEC is working to identify areas where moose are present and post warning signs.

Hunting Seasons
Fall hunting seasons for small game, waterfowl and big game have begun or will begin shortly. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment while hiking on trails. Recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists with the legal right to hunt on Forest Preserve lands. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare. Hikers may want to wear bright colors as an extra precaution.

Motorized Equipment in Wilderness, Primitive and Canoe Areas
The use of motorized equipment in lands classified as wilderness, primitive or canoe is prohibited. Public use of small personal electronic or mechanical devices such as cameras, radios or GPS receivers are not affected this regulation.

Storage of Personal Belongings on State Land
Placing structures or personal property on state land without authorization from DEC is prohibited. Exceptions include: properly placed and labeled geocaches; legally placed and tagged traps, tree stands and blinds. The full regulation regarding the use of motorized equipment on state lands may be found online; the regulation regarding the structures and storage of personal property is also online.

Firewood Ban
Due to the possibility of spreading invasive species that could devastate northern New York forests (such as Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Wooly Adeljid and Asian Longhorn Beetle), DEC prohibits moving untreated firewood more than 50 miles from its source. Forest Rangers have begun ticketing violators of this firewood ban. More details and frequently asked questions at the DEC website.

Do Not Feed Bears
Recently a forest ranger shot and killed a bear that was harassing campers at the Eight Lake State Campground near Inlet. Wildlife biologists believe the yearling had been fed by campers and grown not to fear people. Eight problem bears were killed in the Adirondacks last summer.

Bear-Resistant Canisters
The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear resistant canisters; the use of bear-resistant canisters is encouraged throughout the Adirondacks.

Low Impact Campfires
Reduce the impact on natural areas by utilizing lightweight stoves, fire pans, mound fires or other low impact campfire techniques. Use only dead or small downed wood that can be broken by hand and keep fires small. Leave hatchets, axes and saws at home. Never leave a fire unattended, don’t burn garbage, and restore the appearance of your fire site; do not move fire rings. Campfires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness [LINK].

ADIRONDACK LOCAL BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS

** indicates new or revised items.

NORTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

** Boquet River / Willsboro Fish Ladder: Over the past 2 weeks 49 landlocked Atlantic salmon and 1 brown trout were processed and released from the Willsboro fish ladder, on the Boquet River. Recent rains have made the river high. Anglers should use caution and be alert for changes in water levels. Typically Columbus Weekend is the peak time for the salmon run but this varies depending on weather and temperatures.

Chazy Highlands Wild Forest: The newly acquired Forest Preserve lands on the Standish and Chazy Lake Roads in the Lyon Mountain area, and on the Smith and Carter Roads in the Ellenburg Mountain area, are open for public use. State boundary lines are not yet marked, contact the DEC Region 5 Natural Resources office (518-891-1291) to obtain a property map. Be aware of your location at all times, do not trespass.

HIGH PEAKS

** Bushnell Falls: The high water bridge at Bushnell Falls has been removed, the low water crossing may not be accessible during high water.

** Upper Works to Duck Hole: All the foot bridges on the trail between Upper Works and the Duck Hole have been replaced and the trail has been cleared.

** Moose Pond Horse Trail: The bridges on the Moose Pond Horse Trail have been replaced, horse drawn wagons can access the trail to Ermine Brook.

** Newcomb Lake – Moose Pond: A bridge on the Newcomb Lake to Moose Pond Trail has been flooded by beaver activity. The bridge is intact, but surrounded by water.

Northville-Placid Trail: Crews have constructed and marked a reroute of the Northville-Placid Trail around an area flooded by beaver activity between Plumley Point and Shattuck Clearing.

Opalescent River Bridges Washed Out: The Opalescent River Bridge on the East River / Hanging Spears Falls trail has been washed out. The crossing will be impassable during high water.

Big Slide Ladder: The ladder up the final pitch of Big Slide has been removed.

Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail: Much of the blowdown on the Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail between the Calkins Brook lean-tos and Shattuck Clearing has been removed. The trail is open for hikers but remains impassable to horses and wagons. DEC crews continue to work to open the trail.

Mt. Adams Fire Tower: The cab of the Mt. Adams Fire Tower was heavily damaged by windstorms. The fire tower is closed to public access until DEC can make repairs to the structure.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ADIRONDACKS

** Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement: Camping is limited to designated campsites, 8 campsites have been designated at this time.

** Adirondack Canoe Route: Due to heavy rains last week and recent moderate rains water levels are high. Check the current USGS streamflow data for selected waters.

** Adirondack Canoe Route: Northern Forest Canoe Trail volunteers rehabilitated the takeout at the north end of Eighth Lake. The 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail celebrates its tenth year this summer. Winding its way from Maine through New Hampshire, Quebec, Vermont, and into New York ending at Old Forge.

Forest Ranger Greg George: Ranger George has retired after 33 years of service. If you had contacted Ranger George in the past for camping permits, backcountry conditions or for any other purpose, you should now contact Forest Ranger Bruce Lomnitzer at 518-648-5246. For matters regarding Tirrell Pond contact Forest Ranger Jay Scott at 315-354-4611.

Coyote Activity in Old Forge: There has been some anecdotal evidence for higher than usual numbers of coyotes in the Old Forge area. No nuisance animals have been reported, but their presence is a reminder that as coyotes increasingly adapt to people, more encounters between humans and coyotes will occur, either as sightings, confrontations with pets, disturbed garbage or pet foods, or howling at night. To minimize conflicts don’t provide food such as coolers or garbage, and do not feed wildlife.

Ferris Lake Wild Forest / West Lake Boat Launch (Fulton County): The boat launch was impacted by August rains and floods. DEC staff have made repairs to the roadway, parking lot and ramps, however, be aware that the waters off the boat launch are more shallow than before.

** Moose River Plains Wild Forest: The New York State Muzzle-Loaders Association is be holding it’s Primitive Rendezvous and Hunt, on Limekiln Lake Road about 7 miles from the Limekiln Lake entrance near Inlet. Now in its 19th year, the event features about 50 men, women, and children dressed in 1740 to 1840 attire and camping with period equipment. This year’s rendezvous will include tomahawk and knife throwing, Dutch oven cooking, tipi and canvass lodge living, an demonstrations of muzzle-loaders and other tools of the era. Visitors are welcome only on Sunday, October 10th, from 10 am to 5 pm.

Moose River Plains Wild Forest: Rock Dam Road and the campsites along it have reopened. The main Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road), the Otter Brook Road up to the Otter Brook Bridge will also be open this weekend. Gates to other side roads, including Indian Lake Road, Otter Brook Truck Trail, and Otter Brook Road, remain shut and the roads closed to motor vehicle traffic at this time.

Moose River Plains Wild Forest: Work has been completed on the main Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road). Once again vehicles may travel between the Cedar River entrance and the Limekiln Lake entrance. See photos of the two new bridges.

Sacandaga Lake: Warning! The spiny water flea, an aquatic invasive species, is has been confirmed present in Sacandaga Lake in the southern Adirondacks near Speculator. It was previously confirmed in Great Sacandaga Lake in 2008, Peck Lake in 2009, and Stewarts Bridge Reservoir earlier this year. It is not clear when the spiny water flea was introduced into each of the lakes. It is clear that the initial introduction, and very likely the others as well, were through adult, larvae, or eggs being transported to the waters by bait bucket, bilge water, live well, boat, canoe, kayak, trailer or fishing equipment. Prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species – INSPECT, DRY and CLEAN all fishing and boating equipment between waters. See advice in the “Do Not Spread Invasive Aquatic Species” webpage.

West Canada Lakes Wilderness / N-P Trail: The bridge over Mud Creek, on the Northville-Placid Trail northeast of Mud Lake, has been washed out.

Shaker Mountain Wild Forest: The lean-to on the south shore of Chase Lake has been removed, and a new one is now been built on the lake’s north shore (See photos). A new trail spur leading off the old trail and approaching the new lean-to from the west has been marked. The site of the old lean-to is now a designated tent site.

Chimney Mountain / Eagle Cave: DEC is investigating the presence of white-nose syndrome in bats in Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain. Until further notice Eagle Cave is closed to all public access.

** Wilcox Lake Forest: Trails to Wilcox Lake and Tenant Falls beginning at the end of the Hope Falls Road, cross private property. While DEC does have a trail easement for the East Stony Creek Trail to Wilcox Lake, there is no formal agreement with the landowner for access to the Tenant Falls Trail. DEC is working on a resolution to this matter. In the meanwhile, hikers and day uses must respect the private driveway at the trailhead and not block it. Also respect the landowner’s privacy – stay on the trail, do not enter the private property.

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: Flooding is affecting the Pine Orchard Trail and Murphy Lake Trail. Bridges at Mill Creek, approximately 3 miles from the trailhead on Dorr Road has no decking, only stringers, the bridges over Mill Brook, north of Pine Orchard, is not decked, and the Dayton Creek bridge is out on the trail from Brownell Camp (at the end of Hope Falls Road) to Wilcox Lake.

EASTERN ADIRONDACKS

Gore Mountain: The Schaeffer Trail to the summit of Gore Mountain, has undergone a significant reroute. The new trailhead is located at the parking lot for Grunblatt Memorial Beach in North Creek. From there the trail leads southwest and then north, looping around the North Creek reservoir before continuing southwest to the summit.

Lake George Wild Forest / Hudson River Recreation Area: Funding reductions have required that several gates and roads remain closed to motor vehicle traffic. These include Dacy Clearing Road, Lily Pond Road, Jabe Pond Road, Gay Pond Road, Buttermilk Road Extension and Scofield Flats Road.

Lake George Wild Forest: Equestrians should be aware that there is significant blowdown on horse trails. While hikers may be able to get through the trails, it may be impossible or at least much harder for horses to get through. Lack of resources, resulting from the state’s budget shortfall, preclude DEC from clearing trails of blowdown at this time.

NORTHERN ADIRONDACKS

** Adirondack Canoe Route: Due to heavy rains last week and recent moderate rains water levels are high. Check the current USGS streamflow data for selected waters.

St. Regis Canoe Area: The carry between Long Pond and Nellie Pond has been flooded by beavers about half way between the ponds. A short paddle will be required. DEC and Student Conservation Association crews will be working through mid-October to move 8 campsites, closed 23 campsites and created 21 new campsites [online map]. This week they are rebuilding a lean-to on Fish Pond. Please respect closure signs.

Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: Beaver activity has caused the flooding of the Stony Pond Road approximately one mile from the trailhead. Use caution if you choose to cross this area.

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Forecast provided by the National Weather Service; warnings and announcements drawn from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and other sources. Detailed Adirondack Park camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation and trail conditions can be found at DEC’s webpages. A DEC map of the Adirondack Park can also be found online [pdf].

The new DEC Trails Supporter Patch is now available for $5 at all outlets where sporting licenses are sold, on-line and via telephone at 1-866-933-2257. Patch proceeds will help maintain and enhance non-motorized trails throughout New York State.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Gear: The Perfect Bushwhacking Gaiters

A bushwhacker’s essential equipment list should include such items as a compass, a sturdy pair of hiking boots, a streamlined backpack and lightweight rain gear. One important and largely over-looked bushwhacking accessory absent from the list is the lowly gaiter.

Gaiters are protective clothing worn over the shoe and lower leg to prevent debris, mud, water, snow, etc. from entering the boot. Typically the amount of the lower leg covered depends on the season and activity (i.e. higher in wintry conditions). Bushwhacking gaiters tend to cover only the ankle during the warmer months primarily to keep debris and water from entering the boot.

It is critical for a good pair of bushwhacking gaiters to do more than keep debris out of your boots in the Adirondack though. Gaiters need to be waterproof not only for those rainy Adirondack days (which are more common than most would like) but for those early mornings where heavy dew has saturated the herbaceous vegetation in every beaver vly as well. While waterproof they still need to be permeable enough to keep the feet cool and dry. Durability is crucial for any piece of bushwhacking equipment and gaiters are no different. A rugged and durable gaiter will give the bushwhacker years of usefulness.

Integral Designs manufactures a pair of short gaiters absolutely perfect for the Adirondack bushwhacker. The eVent Shortie Gaiters are ultra lightweight, weighing at about only 2.5 ounces. They are made out of very breathable trilaminate eVent fabric so they will not overheat your feet. The breathable eVent fabric is an important feature since the gaiters lack both Velcro® and zippers, which makes them an effort to put on and/or take off as they require the removal of one’s boots. The lack of easy removal does increase their rain reducing potential however (read a description of my rain reducing method here). The insteps are reinforced with black supplex nylon to reduce wear and tear. The gaiters have a hook at the front for attaching to boot lacing plus shock cords which fit under the instep and around the leg to keep them securely in place. They come in two sizes (small/medium and large/x-large) and two colors (dark green and yellow).

I purchased a pair of Shortie Gaiters over two years ago and have been thoroughly pleased with them since. They keep my feet dry (combined with my Gore-Tex® lined hiking boots and rain pants) on both mornings with heavy dew and during intense rain fall. I have bushwhacked with the gaiters on in 80+ degree Fahrenheit heat and my feet never felt overheated or sweaty. The gaiters are extremely rugged as mine still have no rips despite my many backcountry adventures. They even survived a day of hiking along a scree slope in the Sierra-Nevada Mountains. Although very rugged, the gaiters are not indestructible as I severed an instep shock cord on my last bushwhacking adventure this past September. Mine are dark green gaiters as I found the bright yellow color too loud and offensive for this bushwhacker who would rather blend in with his surroundings than advertise a stylish choice of color.

The Integral Designs Shortie gaiters are ideal bushwhacking gaiters that will keep your feet dry and cool regardless of the conditions while preventing the inevitable debris from getting inside your hiking boots. Anyone planning on buying some bushwhacking gaiters for the Adirondacks cannot go wrong with these exceptional gaiters from Integral Designs.

Photo: eVent Shortie Gaiters by Integral Designs.

Dan Crane blogs about his bushwhacking experiences at http://www.bushwhackingfool.com/.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Moose River Plains Primitive Rendezvous and Hunt

There’s a unique event happening this week about seven miles from the Limekiln Lake entrance in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest – a Primitive Rendezvous and Hunt, held each year by the New York State Muzzle-Loaders Association (NYSMLA). Now in its 19th year, the event features about 50 men, women, and children dressed in 1740 to 1840 attire and camping with period equipment. This year’s rendezvous will include tomahawk and knife throwing, Dutch oven cooking, tipi and canvass lodge living, an demonstrations of muzzle-loaders and other tools of the era. Visitors are welcome only on Sunday, October 10th, from 10 am to 5 pm.

The Muzzleloaders Association was founded in 1977 as an offshoot (no pun intended) of the Tryon County Militia, an American Revolution reenactment group. Since then, the association has been dedicated to “the continuing support of black powder events, people, and legislation.” The group includes over 40 affiliated clubs throughout the state.

This year’s Primitive Biathlon, usually held in March, was canceled, but the group hosted a number of major events including this week’s rendezvous and hunt, a Fall and Spring “Family Fun Shoot & Camp Out,” and the summer New York State Championship “Trophy Shoot.”

Photos: Above, an aerial view of the Moose River Plains Primitive Rendezvous and Hunt; below, a typical camp scene. Photos provided by NYSMA.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Alan Wechsler: Jay Mountain Wilderness

Jay Mountain is surrounded by ominous signs.

To the east is Death Mountain. South of that is Slip Mountain. North of that is Bluff Mountain. So slip off bluff and find death.

Furthermore, without any official trail, and off any main road, these peaks are far off the radar. But after a visit last weekend — free of slips or deaths — I am proud to report that the Jay Mountain Wilderness is not only a lot more user-friendly than one might assume from its blank space on the map, but also that it’s well worth the visit.

To reach the trailhead — yes, there is one, though it’s unmarked — we drove through Keene Valley, passing hundreds of cars. Hikers were here by the flockload, it seemed, eager to take advantage of a sunny Saturday during fall color peak. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

An Onion River Lesson: DEC Needs Our Help

Onion River by Phil BrownPeople who oppose the state’s acquisition of land in the Adirondacks often complain that the state can’t manage the forest it already owns. So, the thinking goes, why buy more?

That argument always struck me as risible. Forests can manage quite well without our help. They did so for eons before homo sapiens existed.

I assume, then, the critics mean that the state has done a less-than-superb job creating and maintaining recreational facilities on the public Forest Preserve—trails, parking lots, signs, and the like. In this, they have a point. It was driven home to me last weekend when I paddled the little-known Onion River.
» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Adirondack 46er Trailmaster Wins DEC Award

Len Grubbs, a Trailmaster with the Adirondack Forty-Sixers, has received the Adirondack Stewardship Award from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), for his two decades and thousands of hours of time working on trails, organizing volunteers and planning trail work.

DEC Region 5 Director Betsy Lowe presented the award to Grubbs on Oct. 2 at the fall business meeting of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers at the Keene Central School in Keene Valley. The Adirondack Forty-Sixers Inc. consists of hikers who have climbed the summits of the 46 major peaks of the Adirondack Mountains.

“Stewardship is one of our most important tools in managing and preserving the beautiful lands and waters of the Adirondacks,” Director Lowe said. “It is truly gratifying to recognize Len Grubbs for the tremendous contributions he has made to protecting Forest Preserve lands, while ensuring the comfort and safety of hikers.”

The Adirondack Stewardship Award is presented by DEC to groups or individuals who demonstrate outstanding stewardship to the natural resources of the Adirondack Park.

DEC presented a certificate to Grubbs in recognition of his “two decades and thousands of hours of hard work maintaining trails and facilities on the Adirondack Forest Preserve, coordinating the work of others to the benefit and safety of those that use the trails, and conserving the natural resources of the Adirondacks.”

Grubbs began maintaining trails in 1989 as a volunteer with the Adirondack Forty-Sixers. In 1994, he became co-trailmaster a position he has held for 15 years, the longest anyone has held the post in the history of the group.

Grubbs has a total of 2,336 hours of service, which is 500 hours more than other “46er,” — and that does not include the time spent planning work, holding meetings, and writing reports. He has performed a wide array tasks, including: clearing blowdown, hardening trails, seeding summits, installing erosion control devices and building, repairing and moving lean-tos, foot bridges and pit privies. He also has spent time scouting and refurbishing “herd paths” on the trailless peaks.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Adirondack Groups Win Round Over Canoe Route

Two Adirondack conservation groups, the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) and Protect the Adirondacks! (PROTECT), have won an important round in a lawsuit to force the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) to classify a state-owned wilderness canoe route in the heart of the Adirondacks. According to the local conservationists their lawsuit challenges the failure of the state to classify the waters of Lows Lake and other water bodies at all and is not challenging a particular classification determination.

State Supreme Court Justice Michael C. Lynch denied the state’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit against APA and the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). According to a press release issued Friday, “the groups brought the lawsuit because of APA’s failure to classify the waters of Lows Lake and nearby water bodies. The groups assert that state law requires the state to classify state-owned water bodies that are part of the Forest Preserve.” » Continue Reading.