Thursday, March 31, 2011

Trout and Salmon Fishing Opens April 1st

Trout, lake trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon seasons all begin on April 1st, but unlike last year when opening day trout anglers were greeted with relatively tranquil conditions, this winter’s heavy snows and resultant high, cold stream conditions will not be friendly to early season trout anglers. Early season anglers should use caution, as ice melt can create swift flow in high waters, unstable ice layers and unstable hiking terrain – particularly in higher elevations where winter snow is returning Friday.

“After a long, cold and snowy winter, we know that anglers are anxious to hit the water,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. “Unfortunately, a good portion of the state remains covered with snow, which may restrict access to streams and cause very high stream flows making early season angling difficult.” » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Missing Woman Search in Moose River Plains

The search for a missing woman in the Moose River Plains area of the Adirondacks has entered its second day. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Forest Rangers assisted by members of the NY State Police, Town of Inlet Fire Department, the Town of Inlet Police Department, the Town of Webb Police Department, Hamilton County Sheriff, and volunteer search and rescue teams continue the search. A helicopter from the State Police Aviation Unit will join more than 50 searchers in today’s search.

A missing person alert for Kerry Young, 44, of Dewitt, NY was issued on Monday
evening, March 28, by the Town of Dewitt Police Department. Town of Inlet Police Department checked a vehicle they had noticed parked on the entrance road to the DEC Limekiln Lake Campground off the Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Stony Pond Ski Traverse and Falls Brook Yurts

Some of the best ski tours in the Adirondacks are traverses: Avalanche Pass to Tahawus, Siamese Ponds and the East Branch of the Sacandaga, and Hoffman Notch to name a few popular point-to-point routes. On Saturday, I had the opportunity to ski one of my favorite lesser known tours with a group of friends, from Route 28N in Minerva to Irishtown, passing Stony Pond and Big and Little Sherman Ponds along the 6-mile traverse. As a bonus, near the end of the traverse, our group made a detour to visit the Falls Brook Yurts, owned by Jim Hanley and Michele Quirk. The ski-through has become something of an annual tradition, organized by Jim and Michelle to mark the (almost) end of winter.

Nearly twenty of us met Saturday morning at the Irishtown trailhead. Jim shuttled food, gear and refreshments by snowmobile the two thirds of a mile up the trail to the yurts while the rest of us grouped up for the shuttle to the Stony Pond trailhead several miles north of Minerva on Route 28N.

At the Stony Pond trailhead, any thoughts of spring skiing vanished. Snow earlier in the week and cold temperatures gave us beautiful packed powder conditions over a firm 2- to 3-foot base. The traverse begins with a rolling 2-mile climb to the lean-to at Stony Pond, passing numerous wetlands and beaver flows along the way. Stony Pond itself is a large, attractive body of water and makes a good destination for a short out-and-back ski tour. Our group continued across the frozen pond, then made a short uphill climb through the woods before descending to Little and Big Sherman Ponds. That short descent is the most challenging skiing on the tour, but is easily negotiated with a strong snowplow. Not far beyond the Sherman Ponds the route begins a series of long, gradual descents, dropping nearly a thousand vertical feet in two and a half miles to the Irishtown trailhead.

Before reaching the trailhead, we turned onto the short side-trail to the Falls Brook Yurts. Jim and Michele have owned and operated the yurts for 12 years, renting them to families, groups and individuals for weekends or several day stays. The yurts are well-equipped with propane lighting, heat and cook stoves. Guests carry in their own food and personal gear. If you’d like to stay in the yurts, plan ahead: both yurts are booked well in advance most weekends year-round.

Hauling propane, cleaning between guests, and general maintenance of the yurts and the 20 acres they are sited on is a lot of work, especially in winter, but today’s ski tour and visit to the yurts was meant to be pure fun, socializing and celebration. Thanks to Jim’s snowmobile shuttle in the morning, we had plenty of hot and cold food and – most importantly – celebratory beverages waiting for us at the yurts. The spring sun and daylight savings time allowed plenty of time for those of us who weren’t staying overnight at the yurts to linger and socialize for a few hours before heading down the trail for the short ski back to the Irishtown trailhead. Winter is bound to end soon, but there wasn’t a single person on Saturday’s trip who wouldn’t mind if it stuck around for just a few more weeks.

The Adirondack Mountain Club’s Central Region trail guide is the definitive guide to the Stony Pond trail and other trails in the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest.

Photos: Irishtown trailhead; Stony Pond leanto; on the trail; arriving at the yurts.

Jeff Farbaniec is an avid telemark skier and a 46er who writes The Saratoga Skier & Hiker, a blog of his primarily Adirondack outdoor adventures.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Outdoor Gear For The Shoulder Season

This afternoon I took my regular lunchtime hike up Baker Mountain outside Saranac Lake. The trail is a mix of frozen turf, hard snow, and glare ice. I imagine most trails in the region are in similar shape.

This is a good time to invest in a pair of Microspikes. These lightweight mini-crampons are perfect for hiking on trails in early spring, when there isn’t enough powder to warrant snowshoes and where regular crampons would be overkill.

Made by Kahtoola, Micropikes weigh just 11.4 to 15.6 ounces, depending on which of the four sizes you buy. They consist of a tough elastic band (red or black) attached to a steel chain with small steel spikes. Just stretch the band over your boot and go. Microspikes are compact enough that you can easily carry them in your pack until they’re needed. They sell for $59.95 (stuff sack is $10 extra).

I’ve been impressed with how well the spikes grip even in hard ice on steep slopes. On my trips up Baker, I often pass hikers struggling up the slippery trail without traction. But I also see more and more hikers wearing Microspikes. Apparently, I am not the only one impressed with their effectiveness.

I do have one complaint: Microspikes don’t fit well over telemark boots, but this is not a flaw that will concern hikers.

Another worthy piece of shoulder-season gear is the NRS Wetsock, a neoprene bootie that can be worn with sandals, wet shoes, or whatever else you put on your feet while paddling. They’re great for keeping your feet warm on those early-spring trips when you find yourself stepping into frigid water.

Recently, I read a post from a backcountry skier who carries Wetsocks in her ski pack for emergency use in the event her regular socks get wet. This hadn’t occurred to me, but I’ll be carrying mine in my ski pack from now on.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Snowmobilers Select New Trails Coordinator

The New York State Snowmobile Association (NYSSA) has announced the selection of James E. Rolf of Rome, NY as their new statewide Trails Coordinator. Jim Rolf will be following Dave Perkins, the first and only NYSSA Trails Coordinator.

“Jim Rolf brings a great deal of snowmobiling experience to the Trails coordinator position,” Perkins said. “He has worked with many groups for the benefit of trails, has experience dealing with trails along the canal corridor, and is knowledgeable about snowmobile issues in the Adirondack Park.” » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (March 24)

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

Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Recreation 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

** indicates new or revised items.

** WINTER CONDITIONS AT ALL ELEVATIONS
Winter conditions still exist throughout the area with one to two feet of snow on the ground, more in higher elevations. Ice may be found on summits and other open areas. These conditions will require snowshoes or skis at all elevations and crampons on exposed areas. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports just under 4 feet on the ground at the cabin. Snow cover is good on all trails. Colder temperatures have brought about lower water levels. Higher elevations waters are still iced in and covered with snow. Lower elevation waters may be open.

** SNOWSHOES OR SKIS
The use of snowshoe or skis is required in the Eastern High Peaks where ever snow depths exceed 8 inches, as is currently the case, and is recommended elsewhere in the Adirondacks. Using snowshoes or skis prevents “post-holing”, avoids injuries, and eases travel through snow.

** HIGH WATERS
Colder temperatures have brought about lower water levels. Higher elevations waters are still iced in and covered with snow. Lower elevation waters may be open. If temperatures warm next week it could result in high water conditions with some stream crossings possible impassable and some trails along streams flooded.

** EXPECT BLOWDOWN
Recent storms and strong winds have caused blowdown – trees, limbs, and branches may be found on and over trails, especially lesser used trails which have not yet been cleared.

** AVALANCHE CONDITIONS
Everywhere snows have accumulated to sufficient depths to create conditions conducive to avalanches and DEC has issued an Avalanche Warning and several have occurred. The danger of avalanches is highest shortly after a significant snowfall, and avalanches can occur anytime there is a deep snow cover made up of multiple layers of snow. The risk of avalanche depends on a number of factors and can not only change from day to day, but also change over the period of the day as temperatures, humidity and solar warming all influence the character of the snowpack. Avoid traveling on open areas with slopes between 25 & 50 degrees and no vegetation. Never travel alone, carry proper safety equipment; and inform someone where you will be traveling.

** Snowmobiles
Many of the region’s snowmobile trails are still open snowmobiles are operating on designated snowmobile trails. Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobile trails should keep to the sides of the trail to allow safe passage. See the weekly snowmobile trails report below for more information about the condition of local snowmobile trails.

Thin Ice Safety
Always check the thickness of ice before crossing and at several points along the way. Ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. Be cautious of ice near inlets, outlets and over any moving water. Remember, ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. Each year a number of people fall through thin ice. One has already died and many more have gone through the ice. Use extreme caution with ice.

Carry Extra Winter Gear
Snowshoes or skis can prevent injuries and eases travel in heavy snow. Ice crampons should be carried for use on icy trails and mountaintops and other exposed areas. Wear layers of wool and fleece (NOT COTTON!), a winter hat, gloves or mittens, wind/rain resistant outer wear, and winter boots. Carry a day pack complete with ice axe, plenty of food and water, extra clothing, map and compass, first-aid kit, flashlight/headlamp, sun glasses, sun-block protection, ensolite pads, a stove and extra fuel, and bivy sack or space blankets.

Know The Latest Weather
Check the weather before entering the woods and be aware of weather conditions at all times — if weather worsens, head out of the woods.

** Fire Danger: LOW
NOTE: We’re entering the state’s historically high fire risk period from mid-March until mid-May.

** Central Adirondacks Lower Elevation Weather
Friday: Chance of snow, partly sunny, high near 23. Wind chill to -5.
Friday Night: Chance of snow, mostly cloudy, low around 4. Wind chill to -7.
Saturday: Slight chance of snow, mostly sunny, high near 22. Windy.
Saturday Night: Partly cloudy, a low around 1.
Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 24.

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 Cover
There is currently 1 to 2 feet of snow at lower elevations across most of the Adirondack Park. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports just under 4 feet on the ground at the cabin. Trails are in good shape with a hard pack and crusted snow covered by some fresh snow. Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake are frozen over as are waters in the higher elevation. Marcy Dam Pond and other waters below that elevation are beginning to thaw and may have open waters. Ice may be found on summits and other open areas. These conditions will require snowshoes or skis at all elevations and crampons on exposed areas such as summits. The latest snow cover map from the National Weather Service provides an estimate of snow cover around the region.

** Downhill Ski Report
Conditions vary depending on elevation from spring conditions, loose granular, frozen granular and machine groomed, to packed powder. Mountains relying only on natural snow have begun to scale back their operations and some have closed for the season, including Big Tupper, Mt. Pisgah in Saranac Lake, and Oak Mountain in Speculator. West, Hickory, Macaulay and Titus are expected to be open this weekend and there is still plenty of snow at Gore and Whiteface with a two to four foot base.

** Cross Country Ski Report
Most of the region’s cross-country ski areas are still open. With 12-15 inches of hard, crusty snow on the ground at most lower elevations the most reliable skiing is at groomed ski centers. The Jackrabbit Trail is skiable its entire length, with about a 10 to 20 inch base. The entire trail has good cover, but the hills will be hard and fast when temperatures fall below freezing. Paul Smiths College has been grooming the VIC trails, including the Esker Loop. Complete and up-to-date cross-country conditions are available [here].

** Backcountry Ski Report
Snow cover is suitable for skiing on all trails with just under four feet at Lake Colden and more at higher elevations. Use old hiking trail to reach Marcy Dam from ADK Loj. Truck trail has open brook crossing 1/4 mile past the register, but it can be crossed via a narrow snow bridge or a detour upstream to a beaver dam. The bridge is out on the trail to Marcy, see below for details. Snows have accumulated to sufficient depths on Adirondack Mountain slopes to create conditions conducive to avalanches and DEC has issued an Avalanche Warning. The Avalanche Pass Slide is closed to skiing and snowshoeing during the winter months.

** Ice Climbing Report
The big news this week is that the North Face of Gothics is in good shape and the Trap Dyke is in. Additional climable areas include Chapel Pond, Cascade Pass, and the North Side of Pitchoff which is a always good bet this time of year. There have been no recent reports from Underwood Canyon or Multi-Gulley, but they are likely to sport a few lines. Mineville Pillar and Chillar Pillar are likely top-ropeable but the conditions there will be day-to-day. Poke-O-Moonshine is pretty much done, as is Roaring Brook Falls, Pharaoh Mountain, and the Palisades on Lake Champlain. Additional Adirondack ice climbing conditions are supplied by Adirondack Rock and River Guide Service.

** Ice Fishing Report
Ice fishing is officially open, but recent heavy snows and warm weather have left very slushy conditions last week which have frozen over to crusty ice. While higher elevation waters (above 2500 feet) are still iced in and covered with snow, lower elevation waters are beginning to open up. Portions of lower elevation waters are opening during the day and refreezing at night. Be cautious around inlets, outlets, shoreline seeps and over moving water. Ice shanties were required to be removed from the ice by March 15. Tip-ups may be operated on waters through April 30, 2010. General ice fishing regulations can be found in the in the 2010-11 Fishing Regulations Guide.

** Snowmobile Trails Report
After one of its longest seasons in recent memory, the snowmobile season is winding down. Spring conditions are the rule. There is still some riding to be had in out of the way areas, but at least some trails are closed in all trail systems throughout the region. Washouts, water holes, fallen snow bridges, and open stream crossings can be expected around the region but some areas, such as the south central Adirondacks, including the town of Webb and Speculator, are reporting trails in fair to good condition with about a 10 inch to 1 1/2 foot base. Some trails systems, however, like most of those in Warren and Washington counties, officially closed their gates this week. In the Western Lake George Wild Forest the gates on the following snowmobile trails have been closed: Gay Pond Road, Prospect Mountain, Lily Pond Road, Palmer Pond Road, Jabe Pond Road [to be closed 3/28]. Contact a local club for specific details in their area.

The Moose River Plains Snowmobile Trail is completely open again, snowmobilers may travel between the Cedar River Headquarters and the Limekiln Lake gate. The water levels on Cellar Brook have dropped and the Town of Indian Lake has re-graded and groomed the trail so snowmobiles can once again cross safely. The waters of the Miami River have subsided and the C4/C8 snowmobile trail is open between intersections HM114 and HM6. As always, conditions throughout the region vary depending on elevation, nearness to large lakes, and latitude. So far this year one sledder has died in Washington County, one in Franklin County, one in Jefferson County, one in Herkimer County, and four in Lewis County. Avoid riding on lakes or ponds, and excessive speed. Ride safely. More Adirondack snowmobiling resources can be found here.

** Most Rivers Are At Or Above Normal
Waters in the region are running at or above normal levels for this time of year. The Raqutte, Indian, Bouquet, and Schroon are running above normal. Use care and consult the latest streamgage data.

** Hunting Seasons
All hunting seasons are now closed or will close next week, with the exception of late snow goose. March 27th is the final day for hunting Coyote and March 28th, the final day to hunt crows. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms 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.

Furbearer Trapping Seasons
Nearly all furbearer trapping seasons are closed with the exception of beaver (closed April 7th), mink, and muskrat (close April 15th). Body gripping traps set on land can no longer use bait or lure.

** Trout Season Opens April 1st
Trout (brook, rainbow, brown and hybrids, and splake) season is just around the corner. The season opens statewide April 1, but the season is expected to get off to a slow start with so much snow and ice on the banks of local streams, once all that snow and ice melts streams will likely be too high. Lake Trout and Landlocked Salmon season also opens. For catch and size limits view the freshwater fishing regulations online.

ADIRONDACK LOCAL BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS

NORTHVILLE PLACID TRAIL

The Northville Placid Trail (NPT) is the Adirondack Park’s only designated long distance hiking trail. The 133 mile NPT was laid out by the Adirondack Mountain Club in 1922 and 1923, and is now maintained by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Up to date NPT trail condition information can be found online.

Upper Benson to Whitehouse: Just north of the Mud Lake lean-to there has been significant blow-down in several areas across the trail that happened sometime in early December that requires several bushwhacks to get around.

West Canada Lakes to Wakely Dam: The bridge over Mud Creek, northeast of Mud Lake, has been washed out. Wading the creek is the only option. The water in Mud Creek will vary from ankle deep to knee deep.

ADIRONDACK CANOE ROUTE / NORTHERN FOREST CANOE TRAIL

Personal Flotation Devices Required: Users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

HIGH PEAKS

** Snowshoes or Skis: The use of snowshoe or skis is required in the Eastern High Peaks and is recommended elsewhere in the Adirondacks. Using snowshoes or skis prevents “post-holing”, avoids injuries, and eases travel through snow.

Avalanche Conditions: Everywhere snows have accumulated to sufficient depths to create conditions conducive to avalanches. Avoid traveling on open areas with slopes between 25 & 50 degrees and no vegetation. Never travel alone, carry proper safety equipment; and inform someone where you will be traveling. DEC has issued an Avalanche Warning.

** Opalescent River Flooding: Due to ice from previous flooding incidents of the Opalescent River, the Day Glow South camping area below the Lake Colden Dam, including the Opalescent and McMartin lean-tos, remains unusable. Campers are advised to use other campsites at this time

Marcy Brook Bridge: The Marcy Brook Bridge, below the junction of the Avalanche Pass and Lake Arnold trails, was damaged by ice during the recent thaw. The bridge is still usable but one of the railings is bent making the path over the bridge narrow. Skiers may have some problems crossing.

** Johns Brook Valley: Lean2Rescue, in cooperation with DEC, will be undertaking several lean-to projects in the Johns Brook Valley over the course of the next several months. DEC will post notifications at the Garden trailhead prior to work being started. Beginning the weekend of March 18-20 the Deer Brook will be moved and the Bear Brook lean-to will be removed.

Avalanche Pass Slide: The slide is closed to skiing and snowshoeing.

Western High Peaks Wilderness: The unpaved section of Corey’s Road, the main entrance to the Western High Peaks Wilderness, is closed for mud season.

Western High Peaks Wilderness: Trails in the Western High Peaks Wilderness are cluttered with blowdown from a storm that occurred December 1st. DEC has cleared blow down in most areas accessed from the Corey’s Road, although not along the Northville-Placid Trail.

Ampersand Mountain Trail: There is heavy blowdown on the Ampersand Mountain Trail as far as the old caretakers cabin – approximately 1.7 miles in. Finding the trail may be difficult after fresh snows. Skiing will be frustrating as there are so many trees down. Past the cabin site the trail is good but snowshoes are needed. There is aprox 3 feet of snow near the summit.

Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands: The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed and will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season. This adds 2 miles of hiking, plan trips accordingly.

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

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.

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.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ADIRONDACKS

** Great Sacandaga Lake: A section of North Shore Road in Hadley, which runs along the Great Sacandaga Lake, fell into the lake Friday night just south of the Conklingville dam. The Batchellerville Bridge in Edinburg has alternating one-way traffic.

** Perkins Clearing / Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands: The waters of the Miami River have subsided and the C4/C8 snowmobile trail is open between intersections HM114 and HM6.

Moose River Plains Wild Forest: The Moose River Plains Snowmobile Trail is completely open again, snowmobilers may travel between the Cedar River Headquarters and the Limekiln Lake gate. The water levels on Cellar Brook have dropeed and the Town of Indian Lake has re-graded and groomed the trail so snowmobiles can once again cross safely.

Chimney Mountain / Eagle Cave: Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain will be closed to the public from Nov 1 till March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. It is being closed to recreational spelunking to avoid disturbance of hibernating bats. DEC is closing all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easments to protect the bat population.

Pigeon Lake Wilderness: DEC Forest Rangers and trail crew have been working to clear blowdown from trails. The following trails are cleared and ready for skiing and/or snowshoeing: Shallow Lake Trail (well-marked with some minor blow down), West Mountain Trail (well-marked, some blowdown remains on section east of the summit), and Sucker Brook Trail

SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

** Snowmobiles: The majority of the snowmobile clubs in Warren County have stopped grooming and gates on both private and public trails are in the process of being closed. If you are planning to ride in the southeastern portion of the Adirondack Park please check with the local snowmobile club regarding trail closures or contact the DEC Warrensburg Office at 518-623-1265.

** Lake George Wild Forest (Western): Gates on the following snowmobile trails have been closed: Gay Pond Road, Prospect Mountain, Lily Pond Road, Palmer Pond Road, Jabe Pond Road [to be closed 3/28].

Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: The Town of Fort Ann has closed the Shelving Rock Road for mud season.

Hudson River Recreation Area: Gates on the Buttermilk Road Extension in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area), in the Town of Warrensburg remain shut and the roads closed to motor vehicle traffic.

Hudson Gorge Primitive Area: Ice has formed on all waters. Paddlers, hunters and other users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

NORTHERN ADIRONDACKS

Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands (former Champion Lands): All lands are open to all legal and allowable public recreation activities beginning January 1. The gate to the Pinnacle Trail remains closed until after the spring mud season.

Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands: Due to logging operations the Madawaska Road and Conversation Corners Road will be closed to snowmobiles and the Snowmobile Corridor C8 has been rerouted.

Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: The gate to the Lake Lila Road is closed. Public motorized access to the road is prohibited until the gate is reopened after the spring mud season. Cross-country skiers, snowshoers and other non-motorized access is allowed on the road. Trespassing on lands adjacent to the road is prohibited.

NORTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: Numerous cross country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities exist on the Public Use Areas and Linear Recreation Corridors open to the public. Skiers and snowshoers are asked not to use the groomed snowmobile routes. Signs on the trails and maps of the snowmobile routes instruct snowmobilers on which routes are open this winter. Portions of these routes may be plowed from time to time so riders should be cautious and aware of motor vehicles that may be on the road. These route changes are a result of the cooperation of Chateaugay Woodlands, the landowner of the easement lands, and their willingness to maintain the snowmobile network. The cooperation of snowmobilers will ensure future cooperative reroutes when the need arises.

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: A parking area has been built on Goldsmith Road for snowmobile tow vehicles and trailers. The southern terminus of Linear Recreation Corridor 8 (Liberty Road) lies several hundred feet to the east of the parking area and connects to the C8A Snowmobile Corridor Trail (Wolf Pond Road) via Linear Recreation Corridor 7 (Wolf Pond Mountain Road). Construction of the parking area was a cooperative effort of the landowner, the Town of Franklin, and DEC. The Town of Franklin donated time, personnel and equipment from their highway department and will be plowing the parking area.

Sable Highlands / Old Liberty Road / Wolf Pond Mountain Road Snowmobile Trail: Due to planned logging operations by the landowner on lands north of Loon Lake, the western portion of the snowmobile trail (Old Liberty Road/Wolf Pond Mountain Road) that connected with the C7 Snowmobile Corridor Trail (the utility corridor) just north of Loon Lake near Drew Pond and lead to the C8A Snowmobile Corridor Trail (Wolf Pond Road) has been closed this winter. The eastern portion of that snowmobile trail (Wolf Pond Mountain Road) now connects to Goldsmith Road near the parking area. Snowmobiles planning to travel between Franklin County and Clinton County using the C8A Snowmobile Corridor Trail must access C8A at the junction with C7 or use Goldsmith Road and the trail from the Goldsmith Road to C8A (Wolf Pond Road).

Sable Highlands / Mullins Road: The Mullins Road has been opened to snowmobiles to connect County Route 26 (Loon Lake Road) to C7. The road is located approximately halfway between the intersections of Route 26 with C8 (Debar Game Farm Road) and Route 26 with C7.

Norton Peak Cave / Chateuagay Woodlands Conservation Easement Lands: Norton Peak Cave will be closed to the public from Nov 1 till March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. It is being closed to recreational spelunking to avoid disturbance of hibernating bats. DEC is closing all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easments to protect the bat population.

GENERAL ADIRONDACK NOTICES

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.

Personal Flotation Devices Required
Paddlers, hunters and other users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

Cave And Mine Closings
White nose syndrome, the fungal disease that’s wiping out bat populations across the northeast has spread to at least 32 cave and mine bat hibernation sites across the New York state according to a recent survey. Populations of some bat species are declining in these caves and mines by 90 percent. White nose was first discovered in upstate New York in the winter of 2006-2007 and is now confirmed in at least 11 states. DEC has closed all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easements to protect the bat population including Norton Peak Cave in Chateuagay Woodlands Easement Lands and also Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain. Please respect cave and mine closures.

Practice ‘Leave No Trace’ Principles
All backcountry users should learn and practice the Leave No Trace philosophy: Plan ahead and be prepared, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife, and be considerate of others. More information is available online.

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Warnings and announcements drawn from DEC, NWS, NOAA, USGS, 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, March 24, 2011

Five Ponds Wilderness: The Red Horse Trail

The Red Horse Trail is a prime example of an Adirondack wilderness trail. Located in the southern portion of the Five Ponds Wilderness this trail stretches from Big Burnt Lake along the northern shore of Stillwater Reservoir to Clear Lake five miles to the north. The trail provides numerous opportunities to experience the wilderness from secluded lakes to wild streams and everything in between.

The Red Horse Trail is one of the oldest Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) established hiking trails dating as far back as 1922. At that time the trail went from Wanakena all the way to the Beaver River with a bridge traversing the Oswegatchie River at High Falls. Today the middle portion of the trail has been long abandoned but its course can still be found on a historical topographical map. Only the southern-most section of the original trail remains today.

The limited access to this trail probably has a lot to do with its wilderness character. The typical access is by boat via either Big Burnt Lake or Trout Pond. Both of these water bodies are inland bays of Stillwater Reservoir although at one time before the Beaver River was dammed they were independent water bodies in their own right.

There are many interesting sites to see hiking the Red Horse Trail. Along the trail are 3 large secluded lakes (Salmon Lake, Witchhopple Lake and Clear Lake), a lean-to (at Trout Pond), numerous wetland-crossing boardwalks, several beaver ponds, a northern whitecedar lined stream, old-growth northern hardwood forests and majestic towering eastern white pines. All in a length of only five miles!

Although the southern terminus of the trail is along the northern shore of Big Burnt Lake, Trout Pond appears to be the most popular access point due to the presence of the trail register and the nearby lean-to. A couple of sizeable designated camping sites exist along the trail in the direction of Big Burnt Lake.

The Red Horse Trail can be broken up into three different sections. The first consists of the section from Trout Pond to the southern edge of Salmon Lake. The second traverses along the edge of Salmon Lake and beyond until reaching the western shore of Witchhopple Lake. The third section stretches to the north and ends at the southern tip of Clear Lake. The amount of use of the trail appears to decrease with each succeeding section.

From Trout Pond it is only one mile to the southern edge of Salmon Lake. This section of trail is mostly level and parallels along the stream between Trout Pond and Salmon Lake. Unusual for the Adirondacks this stream is bordered by large eastern white cedars whose roots invade the trail and provide a hazard to the distracted hiker.

The trail meets Salmon Lake at its southern end at an old lean-to site. Although the lean-to burned down years ago an outhouse and two fireplaces still stand at the site. Since Salmon Lake lies north-south the view of the entire lake here is stunning.

After leaving the southern end of Salmon Lake the trail parallels the eastern shore of the lake although rarely in sight of the lake. Except for a couple wet areas (a legendary one is just north of the old lean-to site) the trail is mostly dry as it weaves its way through a mature hardwood forest. After about one more mile the trail rejoins Salmon Lake at its very northern end.

After leaving Salmon Lakes’ northern end the trail weaves through several wetlands via boardwalks before finally arriving at Witchhopple Lake. Some of the boardwalks here are half-submerged in water and can be quite treacherous due to their slipperiness.

At Witchhopple Lake the trail bisects a large camping site with plenty of open places for tenting. A large fire ring lies here and there is typically a plentiful supply of cut wood. This site appears to get a lot of use, probably during the hunting season. Litter is often plentiful here too with garbage, Styrofoam, old tarping and half burned rubbish strewn about. Despite the often filthy condition of this campsite the view of Witchhopple Lake is outstanding. Expect to be serenaded by loons and legions of frogs if you chose to camp at this site.

Beyond the Witchhopple Lake campsite is the most harrowing portion of the entire trail. The crossing of the outlet here is one of the most convoluted I have ever seen in the entire Adirondacks.

A series of small streams weave their way through tall gasses and reeds making it difficult to discern dry land from flowing water. Usually a maze of different trails weaves their way through the vegetation only some of which provide boardwalks over swift running water. The key to a successful crossing is to use a large downed tree located in the center of the vegetation as a bridge to make it over the widest stream at the northern edge of the confluence.

The northern most portion of the trail is the most remote and appears to get much less use than its southern segments. Some bridgeless minor stream crossings exist just beyond the Witchhopple outlet but should pose no difficulty for the intrepid soul who reached this point on the trail. This portion of the trail continues to gain elevation for the majority of its length through mostly hardwood forests with an occasional beaver pond passing.

The southern end of Clear Lake functions as the northern terminus of the trail. After a very slick crossing on a boardwalk the trail ends at a large camping site. Typically an old metal rowboat is located here. Summit Mountain can be seen looming over the northern end of the lake.

The trail provides addition opportunities beyond just hiking and backpacking. Canoeing and kayaking opportunities abound along the Red Horse Trail. In addition to accessing the trail via Stillwater Reservoir the three large wilderness lakes remain close enough to one another that the trail can be used as a canoe carry. Both Clear and Witchhopple Lakes provide access to even more secluded bodies of water to the north and east, respectively.

Although most visitors to the Red Horse Trail arrive by boat bushwhacking to the trail is always an option. I have bushwhacked from both the west (starting at the end of Necessary Dam Road) and the north (off the Sand Lake Trail). This option requires days of aggressive travel through remote wilderness with the northern route being the more difficult due to the plethora of scattered blowdown from the 1995 microburst.

Whether reached via boat or through bushwhacking the Red Horse Trail provides a true wilderness experience with plenty of natural beauty to satisfy even the most ardent outdoorsman/outdoorswoman. If one is looking for quiet and solitude far from the more popular trails within the Adirondacks then it is impossible to go wrong with the Red Horse Trail. Giddy-up!

Photos: Sign at Trout Pond, Salmon Lake and log crossing at Witchhopple Lake outlet by Dan Crane.

Dan Crane blogs about his bushwhacking adventures at Bushwhacking Fool.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Clarkson Cleans-Up At Snowmobile Challenge

Clarkson University claimed first place overall in the 12th Annual Clean Snowmobile Challenge, held at Michigan Technological University’s Keweenaw Research Center in early March.

The Clean Snowmobile Challenge is a collegiate design competition of the Society of Automotive Engineers. Engineering students from participating schools take a stock snowmobile and re-engineer it. Their aim: to reduce emissions and noise while maintaining or boosting performance. The Challenge also has a division for battery-powered sleds: the zero emissions category. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Adirondack Winter: It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over

Sunshine, melting snow, mild temperatures—it sure felt like spring this past weekend. But not everywhere.

On Saturday, I climbed the Trap Dike and the slide on the northwest face of Mount Colden. The snow throughout the ascent was hard, like Styrofoam, ideal for ascending with crampons. When my foot did break through the crust one time, I sank up to my thigh.

The trip served as a reminder that winter lingers in the high elevations long after spring arrives in the valleys. If you’re willing to carry your equipment two or three miles over muddy trails at the start, you sometimes can ski Mount Marcy into May.

Spring skiing is great fun if you catch the right conditions. Ideally, the nights are cold enough that the snowpack remains hard, but the temperatures climb enough during the day to soften the surface. If snow remains too firm, you’ll have a hair-raising descent. If it softens too much, you’ll be sinking into mashed potatoes.

A friend of mine snowboarded Algonquin Peak and Wright Peak on the day I climbed the Trap Dike. In photos posted on Facebook, his friends are seen crossing an open brook with skis over their shoulders. This kind of thing is typical of the approaches in spring.

A few years ago, I did the Algonquin/Wright trip with four others and wrote about it for the Adirondack Explorer in a story headlined “Winter’s last redoubt.” If you’re interested in reading a detailed account of spring adventure, click here to see the story and Susan Bibeau’s photos.

Spring skiing leads to odd juxtapositions. I once skied Marcy and played golf on the same day. Other times, I drove to Albany after a ski trip and saw flowers in bloom, with temperatures in the seventies. If you tell people you went skiing on a day like that, they look at you funny.

Indeed, many people do not realize how long winter hangs on in the High Peaks. On a warm day in April, I once encountered a hiker on the plateau below Marcy’s summit, sinking to his knees with each step. I asked him why he wasn’t wearing snowshoes, as required by law. He informed me that “the season is over”—referring, I suppose, to the skiing/snowshoeing season.

I’m skiing and you’re sinking up to your knees in snow, but the season is over?

Another day, I started out from the Adirondak Loj in a T-shirt. The temperatures must have been in the sixties, and it got warmer as the day progressed. Nevertheless, when I got to Marcy’s summit cone, the wind-chill made it feel well below freezing. I put on my winter layers. Meanwhile, a hiker was struggling up the slope in shorts, looking miserable but determined to get to the top.

So if you’re planning to climb a High Peak in April or early May, don’t be misled by the mild weather at the trailhead. Winter can be nasty, even in spring.

Photo by Susan Bibeau: skiers ascending Algonquin Peak in spring.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (March 17)

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

Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Recreation 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

** indicates new or revised items.

** HIGH WATERS
Rains and warm temperatures are expected to result in high water conditions around the entire Adirondack region. Some stream crossings may be impassable and some trails along streams may be flooded.

** EXPECT BLOWDOWN
Recent storms and strong winds have caused blowdown – trees, limbs, and branches may be found on and over trails, especially lesser used trails.

** WINTER CONDITIONS AT ALL ELEVATIONS
Winter conditions exist throughout the area with one to two feet of snow on the ground, more in higher elevations. Ice may be found on summits and other open areas. These conditions will require snowshoes or skis at all elevations and crampons on exposed areas. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports just over 4 feet on the ground at the cabin. Snow cover is good on all trails, although many remain unbroken after this week’s snows. NOTE: flooding and high waters expected. See warnings above.

** AVALANCHE CONDITIONS ELEVATED
Recent snows have increased the potential for avalanches on slides and other areas prone to avalanche and several have occurred. Everywhere snows have accumulated to sufficient depths to create conditions conducive to avalanches and DEC has issued an Avalanche Warning. The danger of avalanches is highest shortly after a significant snowfall, and avalanches can occur anytime there is a deep snow cover made up of multiple layers of snow. The risk of avalanche depends on a number of factors and can not only change from day to day, but also change over the period of the day as temperatures, humidity and solar warming all influence the character of the snowpack. Avoid traveling on open areas with slopes between 25 & 50 degrees and no vegetation. Never travel alone, carry proper safety equipment; and inform someone where you will be traveling.

Snowmobiles
All the regions snowmobile trails are open snowmobiles are operating on designated snowmobile trails. Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobile trails should keep to the sides of the trail to allow safe passage. See the weekly snowmobile trails report below for more information about the condition of local snowmobile trails.

Thin Ice Safety
Always check the thickness of ice before crossing and at several points along the way. Ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. Be cautious of ice near inlets, outlets and over any moving water. Remember, ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. Each year a number of people fall through thin ice. One has already died and many more have gone through the ice. Use extreme caution with ice.

Carry Extra Winter Gear
Snowshoes or skis can prevent injuries and eases travel in heavy snow. Ice crampons should be carried for use on icy trails and mountaintops and other exposed areas. Wear layers of wool and fleece (NOT COTTON!), a winter hat, gloves or mittens, wind/rain resistant outer wear, and winter boots. Carry a day pack complete with ice axe, plenty of food and water, extra clothing, map and compass, first-aid kit, flashlight/headlamp, sun glasses, sun-block protection, ensolite pads, a stove and extra fuel, and bivy sack or space blankets.

Know The Latest Weather
Check the weather before entering the woods and be aware of weather conditions at all times — if weather worsens, head out of the woods.

Fire Danger: LOW

** Central Adirondacks Lower Elevation Weather
Friday: Morning showers, high near 37. Breezy, gusts to 40 mph.
Friday Night: Chance of snow. Cloudy, low around 13.
Saturday: Cloudy, with a high near 29.
Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 34.

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 Cover
There is currently 1 to 2 feet of snow at lower elevations across most of the Adirondack Park. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports just over 4 feet on the ground at the cabin. Snow cover is good on all trails, but ice may be found on summits and other open areas. These conditions will require snowshoes or skis at all elevations and crampons on exposed areas such as summits. The latest snow cover map from the National Weather Service provides an estimate of snow cover around the region.

** Downhill Ski Report
All mountains should be open this weekend with some great spring skiing conditions, however some of those relying on only natural snowfall may have limited terrain so call ahead for details. Ski with caution, mountains relying on only natural snow have some hidden obstacles and thin patches.

** Cross Country Ski Report
All cross country ski areas will be open this weekend with an one to two foot base. The Jackrabbit Trail is skiable its entire length, with about a two foot base. Complete and up-to-date cross-country conditions are available [here].

** Backcountry Ski Report
Snow cover is suitable for skiing on all trails with just over four feet at Lake Colden and more at higher elevations. Use old hiking trail to reach Marcy Dam from ADK Loj. Truck trail has open brook crossing 1/4 mile past the register, but it can be crossed via a narrow snow bridge or a detour upstream to a beaver dam. The bridge is out on the trail to Marcy, see below for details. Rains and warm temperatures are expected to result in high water conditions. Some stream crossings may be impassable and some trails along streams may be flooded. Snows have accumulated to sufficient depths on Adirondack Mountain slopes to create conditions conducive to avalanches and DEC has issued an Avalanche Warning. The Avalanche Pass Slide is closed to skiing and snowshoeing during the winter months.

** Ice Climbing Report
There is still ice to be climbed but the next few days will be in the 40s so south facing climbs in the sun are mostly done. The shaded areas are still climbable but soft. Lower angled climbs like Chouinards, the Slab, Multiplication Gully and others may still be dangerous due to the threat of Avalanche. Additional Adirondack ice climbing conditions are supplied by Adirondack Rock and River Guide Service.

** Ice Fishing Report
Ice fishing is officially open, but recent heavy snows and warm weather have left very slushy conditions. Ice shanties were required to be removed from the ice by March 15. Ice shanties that fall partially through the ice become hard to remove and create hazards to snowmobiles and other motorized vehicles on the ice. Ice shanties that remain after ice out become navigation hazards for boats. Tip-ups may be operated on waters through April 30, 2010. General ice fishing regulations can be found in the in the 2010-11 Fishing Regulations Guide.

** Snowmobile Trails Report
The region’s snowmobile trails are in good to fair condition with about a one foot base; heavily used and wide open trails can be expected to be in fair condition this weekend and will worsen with the weekend’s thaw. Recent rains and warm temperatures are expected to result in high water conditions and some stream crossings may be impassable and some trails along streams may be flooded. The Moose River Plains Snowmobile Trail is completely open again, snowmobilers may travel between the Cedar River Headquarters and the Limekiln Lake gate. The water levels on Cellar Brook have dropeed and the Town of Indian Lake has re-graded and groomed the trail so snowmobiles can once again cross safely. The C4/C8 snowmobile trail is closed between intersections HM114 and HM6 due to severe ice jams and flooding of the Miami River. Travel from points south (Piseco and Sacandaga Lake area near the Jessup River Wild Forest) will be impacted. Travel to all destinations north or east of the Piseco/Oxbow area can be reached using alternate trails (Oxbow to Sacandaga Lake trail) toward the Village of Speculator. Destinations north (Indian Lake) or east (Speculator Tree Farm/Thurman Connection/Wells) can be reached from the “Ballfield” parking area located in the Village of Speculator. As always, conditions throughout the region vary depending on elevation, nearness to large lakes, and latitude. So far this year one sledder has died in Washington County, one in Franklin County, one in Jefferson County, one in Herkimer County, and four in Lewis County. Avoid riding on lakes or ponds, and excessive speed. Ride safely. More Adirondack snowmobiling resources can be found here.

** All Rivers Running Well Above Normal
Waters in the region are running well above normal levels for this time of year. Use caution this weekend along the Ausable, Bouquet, Saranac, Sacandaga Schroon and Hudson rivers. Ice is beginning to break up on the regions moving water. Beware of ice jams which are unpredictable and can break up, move and jam again quickly. Water backing up behind the jam can flood areas under deep water with surprising speed. Anyone living in or traveling through these areas is advised to take precautions. Peak flow will likely not be reached until Friday evening or Friday night. Use care and consult the latest streamgage data.

Hunting Seasons
Nearly all hunting seasons are now closed with the exception of late snow goose, crow and coyote. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms 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.

Furbearer Trapping Seasons
Nearly all furbearer trapping seasons are closed with the exception of beaver, mink, and muskrat. Body gripping traps set on land can no longer use bait or lure.

ADIRONDACK LOCAL BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS

NORTHVILLE PLACID TRAIL

The Northville Placid Trail (NPT) is the Adirondack Park’s only designated long distance hiking trail. The 133 mile NPT was laid out by the Adirondack Mountain Club in 1922 and 1923, and is now maintained by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Up to date NPT trail condition information can be found online.

Upper Benson to Whitehouse: Just north of the Mud Lake lean-to there has been significant blow-down in several areas across the trail that happened sometime in early December that requires several bushwhacks to get around.

West Canada Lakes to Wakely Dam: The bridge over Mud Creek, northeast of Mud Lake, has been washed out. Wading the creek is the only option. The water in Mud Creek will vary from ankle deep to knee deep.

ADIRONDACK CANOE ROUTE / NORTHERN FOREST CANOE TRAIL

Ice: Ice has formed on all waters.

Personal Flotation Devices Required: Users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

HIGH PEAKS

** Avalanche Conditions (Warning Elevated): Recent snows have increased the potential for avalanches on slides and other areas prone to avalanche. Everywhere snows have accumulated to sufficient depths to create conditions conducive to avalanches. Avoid traveling on open areas with slopes between 25 & 50 degrees and no vegetation. Never travel alone, carry proper safety equipment; and inform someone where you will be traveling. DEC has issued an Avalanche Warning.

** Opalescent River Flooding: Due to ice jams in the Opalescent River, Day Glow South camping area below the Lake Colden Dam is susceptible to flooding. The Opalescent and McMartin lean-tos have ice blocks in and around them and will not be usable until have the spring thaw. Outhouses and privies are unusable. Campers are advised to use other campsites at this time.

** Marcy Brook Bridge: The Marcy Brook Bridge, below the junction of the Avalanche Pass and Lake Arnold trails, was damaged by ice during the recent thaw. The bridge is still usable but one of the railings is bent making the path over the bridge narrow. Skiers may have some problems crossing.

** Johns Brook Valley: Lean2Rescue, in cooperation with DEC, will be undertaking several lean-to projects in the Johns Brook Valley over the course of the next several months. DEC will post notifications at the Garden trailhead prior to work being started. Beginning the weekend of March 18-20 the following lean-tos will be worked on as described:

Moving the Deer Brook Lean-to to a new location that is out of sight of the brook and the trail in order to bring it into compliance with the High Peaks Complex Unit Management Plan and the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. It is expected that it will take several weeks to complete this project. The lean-to will be closed for use beginning March 18 and reopen once the project is complete.

Removing the Bear Brook Lean-to without replacement in accordance with the High Peaks Complex Unit Management Plan. This lean-to will be closed for use beginning March 18.

Snowshoes Required: Snowshoes are required in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness. The use of snowshoe or skis is required – even on hardened trails! Using snowshoes or skis prevents “post-holing”, avoids injuries, and eases travel through snow.

Avalanche Pass Slide: The slide is closed to skiing and snowshoeing.

Western High Peaks Wilderness: The unpaved section of Corey’s Road, the main entrance to the Western High Peaks Wilderness, is closed for mud season.

Western High Peaks Wilderness: Trails in the Western High Peaks Wilderness are cluttered with blowdown from a storm that occurred December 1st. DEC has cleared blow down in most areas accessed from the Corey’s Road, although not along the Northville-Placid Trail.

Ampersand Mountain Trail: There is heavy blowdown on the Ampersand Mountain Trail as far as the old caretakers cabin – approximately 1.7 miles in. Finding the trail may be difficult after fresh snows. Skiing will be frustrating as there are so many trees down. Past the cabin site the trail is good but snowshoes are needed. There is aprox 3 feet of snow near the summit.

Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands: The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed and will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season. This adds 2 miles of hiking, plan trips accordingly.

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

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.

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.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ADIRONDACKS

** Moose River Plains Wild Forest: The Moose River Plains Snowmobile Trail is completely open again, snowmobilers may travel between the Cedar River Headquarters and the Limekiln Lake gate. The water levels on Cellar Brook have dropeed and the Town of Indian Lake has re-graded and groomed the trail so snowmobiles can once again cross safely.

Perkins Clearing / Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands: The C4/C8 snowmobile trail is closed between intersections HM114 and HM6 due to severe ice jams and flooding of the Miami River. Travel from points south (Piseco and Sacandaga Lake area near the Jessup River Wild Forest) will be impacted. Travel to all destinations north or east of the Piseco/Oxbow area can be reached using alternate trails (Oxbow to Sacandaga Lake trail) toward the Village of Speculator. Destinations north (Indian Lake) or east (Speculator Tree Farm/Thurman Connection/Wells) can be reached from the “Ballfield” parking area located in the Village of Speculator.

Chimney Mountain / Eagle Cave: Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain will be closed to the public from Nov 1 till March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. It is being closed to recreational spelunking to avoid disturbance of hibernating bats. DEC is closing all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easments to protect the bat population.

Pigeon Lake Wilderness: DEC Forest Rangers and trail crew have been working to clear blowdown from trails. The following trails are cleared and ready for skiing and/or snowshoeing: Shallow Lake Trail (well-marked with some minor blow down), West Mountain Trail (well-marked, some blowdown remains on section east of the summit), and Sucker Brook Trail

SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

** Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: The Town of Fort Ann has closed the Shelving Rock Road for mud season.

Hudson River Recreation Area: Gates on the Buttermilk Road Extension in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area), in the Town of Warrensburg remain shut and the roads closed to motor vehicle traffic.

Hudson Gorge Primitive Area: Ice has formed on all waters. Paddlers, hunters and other users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

NORTHERN ADIRONDACKS

Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands (former Champion Lands): All lands are open to all legal and allowable public recreation activities beginning January 1. The gate to the Pinnacle Trail remains closed until after the spring mud season.

Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands: Due to logging operations the Madawaska Road and Conversation Corners Road will be closed to snowmobiles and the Snowmobile Corridor C8 has been rerouted.

Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: The gate to the Lake Lila Road is closed. Public motorized access to the road is prohibited until the gate is reopened after the spring mud season. Cross-country skiers, snowshoers and other non-motorized access is allowed on the road. Trespassing on lands adjacent to the road is prohibited.

NORTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: Numerous cross country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities exist on the Public Use Areas and Linear Recreation Corridors open to the public. Skiers and snowshoers are asked not to use the groomed snowmobile routes. Signs on the trails and maps of the snowmobile routes instruct snowmobilers on which routes are open this winter. Portions of these routes may be plowed from time to time so riders should be cautious and aware of motor vehicles that may be on the road. These route changes are a result of the cooperation of Chateaugay Woodlands, the landowner of the easement lands, and their willingness to maintain the snowmobile network. The cooperation of snowmobilers will ensure future cooperative reroutes when the need arises.

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: A parking area has been built on Goldsmith Road for snowmobile tow vehicles and trailers. The southern terminus of Linear Recreation Corridor 8 (Liberty Road) lies several hundred feet to the east of the parking area and connects to the C8A Snowmobile Corridor Trail (Wolf Pond Road) via Linear Recreation Corridor 7 (Wolf Pond Mountain Road). Construction of the parking area was a cooperative effort of the landowner, the Town of Franklin, and DEC. The Town of Franklin donated time, personnel and equipment from their highway department and will be plowing the parking area.

Sable Highlands / Old Liberty Road / Wolf Pond Mountain Road Snowmobile Trail: Due to planned logging operations by the landowner on lands north of Loon Lake, the western portion of the snowmobile trail (Old Liberty Road/Wolf Pond Mountain Road) that connected with the C7 Snowmobile Corridor Trail (the utility corridor) just north of Loon Lake near Drew Pond and lead to the C8A Snowmobile Corridor Trail (Wolf Pond Road) has been closed this winter. The eastern portion of that snowmobile trail (Wolf Pond Mountain Road) now connects to Goldsmith Road near the parking area. Snowmobiles planning to travel between Franklin County and Clinton County using the C8A Snowmobile Corridor Trail must access C8A at the junction with C7 or use Goldsmith Road and the trail from the Goldsmith Road to C8A (Wolf Pond Road).

Sable Highlands / Mullins Road: The Mullins Road has been opened to snowmobiles to connect County Route 26 (Loon Lake Road) to C7. The road is located approximately halfway between the intersections of Route 26 with C8 (Debar Game Farm Road) and Route 26 with C7.

Norton Peak Cave / Chateuagay Woodlands Conservation Easement Lands: Norton Peak Cave will be closed to the public from Nov 1 till March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. It is being closed to recreational spelunking to avoid disturbance of hibernating bats. DEC is closing all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easments to protect the bat population.

GENERAL ADIRONDACK NOTICES

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.

Personal Flotation Devices Required
Paddlers, hunters and other users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

Cave And Mine Closings
White nose syndrome, the fungal disease that’s wiping out bat populations across the northeast has spread to at least 32 cave and mine bat hibernation sites across the New York state according to a recent survey. Populations of some bat species are declining in these caves and mines by 90 percent. White nose was first discovered in upstate New York in the winter of 2006-2007 and is now confirmed in at least 11 states. DEC has closed all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easements to protect the bat population including Norton Peak Cave in Chateuagay Woodlands Easement Lands and also Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain. Please respect cave and mine closures.

Practice ‘Leave No Trace’ Principles
All backcountry users should learn and practice the Leave No Trace philosophy: Plan ahead and be prepared, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife, and be considerate of others. More information is available online.

——————–
Warnings and announcements drawn from DEC, NWS, NOAA, USGS, 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, March 17, 2011

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman Workshops Offered

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is offering one of its very popular “Becoming an Outdoors-Woman” workshops June 24 through 26, 2011, at the Silver Bay YMCA on Lake George, Warren County.

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman is a program that offers weekend-long, outdoor skills workshops for women ages 18 or older, and is designed primarily for women with little or no experience with outdoor activities. Nearly 40 different classes will be offered at the Silver Bay workshop. These include canoeing, fishing, fly fishing, kayaking, shotgun shooting, GPS, map and compass, backpack camping, turkey hunting, day hiking, wilderness first aid, survival skills, archery, bowhunting, camp stove cooking, reading wildlife sign, muzzleloading, and fish and game cooking. Women can even earn a Hunter or Trapper Safety Education certificate.

The early registration fee ranges from $270 to $290, which includes seven meals, two nights lodging, instruction in four classes, program materials and use of equipment.

Workshop information and registration materials are available on the DEC website. Information is also available by calling DEC at 518-402-8862 or writing to “Becoming an Outdoors-Woman, NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dan Ladd: Well Seasoned in the Adirondacks

Author and outdoor journalist Dan Ladd of West Fort Ann, Washington County, has recently released his latest book, Well Seasoned in the Adirondacks: People, Places and Pastimes of Northern New York. The book is a collection of articles and essays, many that have appeared in Ladd’s weekly outdoors column in The Chronicle newspaper of Glens Falls. The book also includes a collection of Laddʼs personal photos.

“Many of my friends in the writing industry, especially those at The Chronicle have suggested I do a book like this,” said Ladd. “In fact, I would encourage any outdoor writer who is regularly published, or has been, to share their experiences and adventures with their readers.”

Well Seasoned in the Adirondacks is organized by the four seasons of the year. Winter features a story on vintage snowmobile restoration as well as others on ice, fishing, small game hunting, skiing and snowshoeing. The Spring and Summer chapters feature everything from fishing, camping and hiking to paddling, including a story about a historic Adirondack canoe trip. The Autumn section is dedicated primarily to hunting and features several of the authorʼs relatives who had an influence on his hunting interest. » Continue Reading.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Avalanches at Whiteface, Colden Trap Dyke

A number of notable avalanches have occurred over the last month in the Adirondacks. Whiteface Mountain Ski Center officials have told the Adirondack Daily Enterprise that two avalanches have occurred this season on the Slides area of the mountain. Officials said both events were triggered by one or more skiers. The most recent (Tuesday morning) is believed to have been caused by someone who entered the Slides area from Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway. The Slides are not accessible by chairlifts, but can be accessed by a traverse from the top of the summit chairlift. The previous Whiteface avalanche occurred at the Slides on February 26th. About five avalanches are reported to have occurred at Whiteface over the past ten years. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (March 10)

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

Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Recreation 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

** indicates new or revised items.

** HIGH WATERS / FLOODING
Rains and warm temperatures are expected to result in high water conditions and flood watches have been issued for the entire Adirondack region. Some stream crossings may be impassable and some trails along streams may be flooded. Water levels are expected to be particularly high along the southern ranges and valleys; there a flood warning has already been issued for Warren County. Beware of ice jams which are unpredictable and can break up, move and jam again quickly. Water backing up behind the jam can flood areas under deep water with surprising speed. Anyone living in or traveling through these areas is advised to take precautions. Peak flow will likely not be reached until Friday evening or Friday night. Review emergency plans and be prepared for the possibility of flooding.

** FLOOD WARNING FOR THE HUDSON RIVER NEAR NORTH CREEK
A Flood Warning continues for the Hudson River at North Creek, the river went over flood stage early Thursday morning and is expected to rise until a peak Friday night. Moderate to severe flooding is occurring along Old River Road and is expected to occur for some time due to an ice jam. Should the jam break suddenly it could cause a sudden rise in the water level between North Creek, Riparius, The Glen, and Hadley. Moving ice could cause structural damage.

** EXPECT BLOWDOWN
Recent storms and strong winds have caused blowdown – trees, limbs, and branches may be found on and over trails.

** WINTER CONDITIONS AT ALL ELEVATIONS
Winter conditions exist throughout the area with 35-40 inches of snow on the ground, more in higher elevations. Ice may be found on summits and other open areas. These conditions will require snowshoes or skis at all elevations and crampons on exposed areas. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports almost 4 1/2 feet on the ground at the cabin. Snow cover is good on all trails, although many remain unbroken after this week’s snows. NOTE: flooding and high waters expected. See warnings above.

** AVALANCHE CONDITIONS ELEVATED
Recent snows have increased the potential for avalanches on slides and other areas prone to avalanche and several have occurred. Everywhere snows have accumulated to sufficient depths to create conditions conducive to avalanches and DEC has issued an Avalanche Warning. The danger of avalanches is highest shortly after a significant snowfall, and avalanches can occur anytime there is a deep snow cover made up of multiple layers of snow. The risk of avalanche depends on a number of factors and can not only change from day to day, but also change over the period of the day as temperatures, humidity and solar warming all influence the character of the snowpack. Avoid traveling on open areas with slopes between 25 & 50 degrees and no vegetation. Never travel alone, carry proper safety equipment; and inform someone where you will be traveling.

Snowmobiles
All the regions snowmobile trails are open snowmobiles are operating on designated snowmobile trails. Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobile trails should keep to the sides of the trail to allow safe passage. See the weekly snowmobile trails report below for more information about the condition of local snowmobile trails.

Thin Ice Safety
Always check the thickness of ice before crossing and at several points along the way. Ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. Be cautious of ice near inlets, outlets and over any moving water. Remember, ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. Each year a number of people fall through thin ice. One has already died and many more have gone through the ice. Use extreme caution with ice.

Carry Extra Winter Gear
Snowshoes or skis can prevent injuries and eases travel in heavy snow. Ice crampons should be carried for use on icy trails and mountaintops and other exposed areas. Wear layers of wool and fleece (NOT COTTON!), a winter hat, gloves or mittens, wind/rain resistant outer wear, and winter boots. Carry a day pack complete with ice axe, plenty of food and water, extra clothing, map and compass, first-aid kit, flashlight/headlamp, sun glasses, sun-block protection, ensolite pads, a stove and extra fuel, and bivy sack or space blankets.

Know The Latest Weather
Check the weather before entering the woods and be aware of weather conditions at all times — if weather worsens, head out of the woods.

Fire Danger: LOW

** Central Adirondacks Lower Elevation Weather
Friday: Morning showers, high near 37. Breezy, gusts to 40 mph.
Friday Night: Chance of snow. Cloudy, low around 13.
Saturday: Cloudy, with a high near 29.
Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 34.

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 Cover
There is currently 3 to 4 feet of snow at lower elevations across most of the Adirondack Park. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports 4 1/2 feet on the ground at the cabin. Snow cover is good on all trails, but most trails remain unbroken following recent storms and ice may be found on summits and other open areas. Recent storm totals are available online. These conditions will require snowshoes or skis at all elevations and crampons on exposed areas such as summits. The latest snow cover map from the National Weather Service provides an estimate of snow cover around the region.

** Downhill Ski Report
All mountains (with the exception of Mount Pisgah) will be open this weekend on a more than four foot base. Whiteface Mountain reports that the mountain has received more snow than any other ski area on the planet over the past seven days, 61.02 inches. Mount Pisgah in Saranac Lake is closed at least through Saturday due to the thaw. Weather permitting, the village of Saranac Lake says the mountain may be open on Sunday. Updates will be posted on the Mount Pisgah website.

** Cross Country Ski Report
All cross country ski areas will be open this weekend with an two to three foot base. The Jackrabbit Trail is skiable its entire length, with about three to four foot base, although some sections remain unbroken after recent snows. Complete and up-to-date cross-country conditions are available [here].

** Backcountry Ski Report
Snow cover is suitable for skiing on all trails with 4 1/4 feet at Lake Colden and more at higher elevations. Snow cover is good on all trails, but breaking trails may be a challenge this weekend. Rains and warm temperatures are expected to result in high water conditions and flood watches have been issued for the entire Adirondack region. Some stream crossings may be impassable and some trails along streams may be flooded. Water levels are expected to be particularly high along the southern ranges and valleys; there a flood warning has already been issued for Warren County. Snows have accumulated to sufficient depths on Adirondack Mountain slopes to create conditions conducive to avalanches and DEC has issued an Avalanche Warning. The Avalanche Pass Slide is closed to skiing and snowshoeing during the winter months.

** Ice Climbing Report
Nearly all climbing areas have at least some ice in good shape, but conditions will be changing dramatically as rains arrive this weekend. Breaking trail to get to lesser used climbs will be a challenge. Rains and warm temperatures are expected to result in high water conditions and some stream crossings may be impassable and some trails along streams may be flooded. Water levels are expected to be particularly high along the southern ranges and valleys where more rain is expected. Lower angled climbs like Chouinards, the Slab, Multiplication Gully and others are still dangerous due to the threat of Avalanche. Additional Adirondack ice climbing conditions are supplied by Adirondack Rock and River Guide Service.

Municipal Ice Skating Rinks Are Open
Most municipal outdoor skating rinks are now open. Call ahead for specific opening days and times.

** Ice Fishing Report
Ice fishing is officially open, and although ice conditions have improved substantially, recent heavy snows warming weather is creating slush conditions, especially in southern areas. Ice shanties must be off the ice by March 15. Ice shanties that fall partially through the ice become hard to remove and create hazards to snowmobiles and other motorized vehicles on the ice. Ice shanties that remain after ice out become navigation hazards for boats. Tip-ups may be operated on waters through April 30, 2010. General ice fishing regulations can be found in the in the 2010-11 Fishing Regulations Guide.

** Snowmobile Trails Report
The region’s snowmobile trails are in good to excellent condition with about a two to three foot base; heavily used and wide open trails can be expected to be in good condition this weekend but will worsen with the weekend’s thaw along the southern areas of the Adirondacks. Rains and warm temperatures are expected to result in high water conditions and some stream crossings may be impassable and some trails along streams may be flooded. Water levels are expected to be particularly high along the southern ranges and valleys; there a flood warning has already been issued for Warren County. Cellar Brook has flooded the Moose River Plains Snowmobile Trail approximately 6 miles west of the Cedar River Headquarters preventing snowmobiles from traveling through from east to west. The Town of Inlet has created a turn around area near the Lost Pond Road approximately 5 miles west of Cellar Brook and is no longer grooming beyond that point. The Town of Indian Lake is only grooming to the gate at Cedar River Headquarters. DEC and the Towns are working to address the situation and reopen the trail. The C4/C8 snowmobile trail is closed between intersections HM114 and HM6 due to severe ice jams and flooding of the Miami River. Travel from points south (Piseco and Sacandaga Lake area near the Jessup River Wild Forest) will be impacted. Travel to all destinations north or east of the Piseco/Oxbow area can be reached using alternate trails (Oxbow to Sacandaga Lake trail) toward the Village of Speculator. Destinations north (Indian Lake) or east (Speculator Tree Farm/Thurman Connection/Wells) can be reached from the “Ballfield” parking area located in the Village of Speculator. As always, conditions throughout the region vary depending on elevation, nearness to large lakes, and latitude. So far this year one sledder has died in Washington County, one in Franklin County, one in Jefferson County, one in Herkimer County, and four in Lewis County. Avoid riding on lakes or ponds, and excessive speed. Ride safely. More Adirondack snowmobiling resources can be found here.

** All Rivers Running Well Above Normal
Waters in the region are running well above normal levels for this time of year. Due to an ice jam the Hudson River is currently flooding along Route 28 and Old River Road at The Glen. An ice jam is also affecting West Canada Creek which is also likely to flood by Friday night. Use caution this weekend along the Ausable, Bouquet, Saranac, Sacandaga Schroon and Hudson rivers. Ice is beginning to break up on the regions moving water. Beware of ice jams which are unpredictable and can break up, move and jam again quickly. Water backing up behind the jam can flood areas under deep water with surprising speed. Anyone living in or traveling through these areas is advised to take precautions. Peak flow will likely not be reached until Friday evening or Friday night. Use care and consult the latest streamgage data.

Hunting Seasons
Nearly all hunting seasons are now closed with the exception of late snow goose, crow and coyote. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms 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.

Furbearer Trapping Seasons
Nearly all furbearer trapping seasons are closed with the exception of beaver, mink, and muskrat. Body gripping traps set on land can no longer use bait or lure.

ADIRONDACK LOCAL BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS

NORTHVILLE PLACID TRAIL

The Northville Placid Trail (NPT) is the Adirondack Park’s only designated long distance hiking trail. The 133 mile NPT was laid out by the Adirondack Mountain Club in 1922 and 1923, and is now maintained by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Up to date NPT trail condition information can be found online.

Upper Benson to Whitehouse: Just north of the Mud Lake lean-to there has been significant blow-down in several areas across the trail that happened sometime in early December that requires several bushwhacks to get around.

West Canada Lakes to Wakely Dam: The bridge over Mud Creek, northeast of Mud Lake, has been washed out. Wading the creek is the only option. The water in Mud Creek will vary from ankle deep to knee deep.

ADIRONDACK CANOE ROUTE / NORTHERN FOREST CANOE TRAIL

Ice: Ice has formed on all waters.

Personal Flotation Devices Required: Users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

HIGH PEAKS

** Avalanche Conditions (Warning Elevated): Recent snows have increased the potential for avalanches on slides and other areas prone to avalanche. Everywhere snows have accumulated to sufficient depths to create conditions conducive to avalanches. Avoid traveling on open areas with slopes between 25 & 50 degrees and no vegetation. Never travel alone, carry proper safety equipment; and inform someone where you will be traveling. DEC has issued an Avalanche Warning.

** Opalescent River Flooding: Due to ice jams, the Opalescent River has flooded the Day-Glo South camping area below the Lake Colden Dam. Tent sites have a foot half of water under the snow. The Opalescent and McMartin lean-tos along the Opalescent River below Lake Colden were recently flooded recently. Since the waters have resided the lean-tos are icy with large chunks of ice in and around the lean-tos.
The lean-tos and designated campsites are unusable at this time.

** Johns BRook Valley: Lean2Rescue, in cooperation with DEC, will be undertaking several lean-to projects in the Johns Brook Valley over the course of the next several months. DEC will post notifications at the Garden trailhead prior to work being started. Beginning the weekend of March 18-20 the following lean-tos will be worked on as described:

Moving the Deer Brook Lean-to to a new location that is out of sight of the brook and the trail in order to bring it into compliance with the High Peaks Complex Unit Management Plan and the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. It is expected that it will take several weeks to complete this project. The lean-to will be closed for use beginning March 18 and reopen once the project is complete.

Removing the Bear Brook Lean-to without replacement in accordance with the High Peaks Complex Unit Management Plan. This lean-to will be closed for use beginning March 18.

Snowshoes Required: Snowshoes are required in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness. The use of snowshoe or skis is required – even on hardened trails! Using snowshoes or skis prevents “post-holing”, avoids injuries, and eases travel through snow.

Avalanche Pass Slide: The slide is closed to skiing and snowshoeing.

Western High Peaks Wilderness: The unpaved section of Corey’s Road, the main entrance to the Western High Peaks Wilderness, is closed for mud season.

Western High Peaks Wilderness: Trails in the Western High Peaks Wilderness are cluttered with blowdown from a storm that occurred December 1st. DEC has cleared blow down in most areas accessed from the Corey’s Road, although not along the Northville-Placid Trail.

Ampersand Mountain Trail: There is heavy blowdown on the Ampersand Mountain Trail as far as the old caretakers cabin – approximately 1.7 miles in. Finding the trail may be difficult after fresh snows. Skiing will be frustrating as there are so many trees down. Past the cabin site the trail is good but snowshoes are needed. There is aprox 3 feet of snow near the summit.

Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands: The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed and will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season. This adds 2 miles of hiking, plan trips accordingly.

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

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.

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.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ADIRONDACKS

** Moose River Plains Wild Forest: Cellar Brook has flooded the Moose River Plains Snowmobile Trail approximately 6 miles west of the Cedar River Headquarters preventing snowmobiles from traveling through from east to west. The Town of Inlet has created a turn around area near the Lost Pond Road approximately 5 miles west of Cellar Brook and is no longer grooming beyond that point. The Town of Indian Lake is only grooming to the gate at Cedar River Headquarters. DEC and the Towns are working to address the situation and reopen the trail.

** Perkins Clearing / Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands: The C4/C8 snowmobile trail is closed between intersections HM114 and HM6 due to severe ice jams and flooding of the Miami River. Travel from points south (Piseco and Sacandaga Lake area near the Jessup River Wild Forest) will be impacted. Travel to all destinations north or east of the Piseco/Oxbow area can be reached using alternate trails (Oxbow to Sacandaga Lake trail) toward the Village of Speculator. Destinations north (Indian Lake) or east (Speculator Tree Farm/Thurman Connection/Wells) can be reached from the “Ballfield” parking area located in the Village of Speculator.

Chimney Mountain / Eagle Cave: Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain will be closed to the public from Nov 1 till March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. It is being closed to recreational spelunking to avoid disturbance of hibernating bats. DEC is closing all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easments to protect the bat population.

Pigeon Lake Wilderness: DEC Forest Rangers and trail crew have been working to clear blowdown from trails. The following trails are cleared and ready for skiing and/or snowshoeing: Shallow Lake Trail (well-marked with some minor blow down), West Mountain Trail (well-marked, some blowdown remains on section east of the summit), and Sucker Brook Trail

SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

Hudson River Recreation Area: Gates on the Buttermilk Road Extension in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area), in the Town of Warrensburg remain shut and the roads closed to motor vehicle traffic.

Hudson Gorge Primitive Area: Ice has formed on all waters. Paddlers, hunters and other users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

NORTHERN ADIRONDACKS

Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands (former Champion Lands): All lands are open to all legal and allowable public recreation activities beginning January 1. The gate to the Pinnacle Trail remains closed until after the spring mud season.

Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands: Due to logging operations the Madawaska Road and Conversation Corners Road will be closed to snowmobiles and the Snowmobile Corridor C8 has been rerouted.

Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: The gate to the Lake Lila Road is closed. Public motorized access to the road is prohibited until the gate is reopened after the spring mud season. Cross-country skiers, snowshoers and other non-motorized access is allowed on the road. Trespassing on lands adjacent to the road is prohibited.

NORTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: Numerous cross country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities exist on the Public Use Areas and Linear Recreation Corridors open to the public. Skiers and snowshoers are asked not to use the groomed snowmobile routes. Signs on the trails and maps of the snowmobile routes instruct snowmobilers on which routes are open this winter. Portions of these routes may be plowed from time to time so riders should be cautious and aware of motor vehicles that may be on the road. These route changes are a result of the cooperation of Chateaugay Woodlands, the landowner of the easement lands, and their willingness to maintain the snowmobile network. The cooperation of snowmobilers will ensure future cooperative reroutes when the need arises.

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: A parking area has been built on Goldsmith Road for snowmobile tow vehicles and trailers. The southern terminus of Linear Recreation Corridor 8 (Liberty Road) lies several hundred feet to the east of the parking area and connects to the C8A Snowmobile Corridor Trail (Wolf Pond Road) via Linear Recreation Corridor 7 (Wolf Pond Mountain Road). Construction of the parking area was a cooperative effort of the landowner, the Town of Franklin, and DEC. The Town of Franklin donated time, personnel and equipment from their highway department and will be plowing the parking area.

Sable Highlands / Old Liberty Road / Wolf Pond Mountain Road Snowmobile Trail: Due to planned logging operations by the landowner on lands north of Loon Lake, the western portion of the snowmobile trail (Old Liberty Road/Wolf Pond Mountain Road) that connected with the C7 Snowmobile Corridor Trail (the utility corridor) just north of Loon Lake near Drew Pond and lead to the C8A Snowmobile Corridor Trail (Wolf Pond Road) has been closed this winter. The eastern portion of that snowmobile trail (Wolf Pond Mountain Road) now connects to Goldsmith Road near the parking area. Snowmobiles planning to travel between Franklin County and Clinton County using the C8A Snowmobile Corridor Trail must access C8A at the junction with C7 or use Goldsmith Road and the trail from the Goldsmith Road to C8A (Wolf Pond Road).

Sable Highlands / Mullins Road: The Mullins Road has been opened to snowmobiles to connect County Route 26 (Loon Lake Road) to C7. The road is located approximately halfway between the intersections of Route 26 with C8 (Debar Game Farm Road) and Route 26 with C7.

Norton Peak Cave / Chateuagay Woodlands Conservation Easement Lands: Norton Peak Cave will be closed to the public from Nov 1 till March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. It is being closed to recreational spelunking to avoid disturbance of hibernating bats. DEC is closing all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easments to protect the bat population.

GENERAL ADIRONDACK NOTICES

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.

Personal Flotation Devices Required
Paddlers, hunters and other users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

Cave And Mine Closings
White nose syndrome, the fungal disease that’s wiping out bat populations across the northeast has spread to at least 32 cave and mine bat hibernation sites across the New York state according to a recent survey. Populations of some bat species are declining in these caves and mines by 90 percent. White nose was first discovered in upstate New York in the winter of 2006-2007 and is now confirmed in at least 11 states. DEC has closed all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easements to protect the bat population including Norton Peak Cave in Chateuagay Woodlands Easement Lands and also Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain. Please respect cave and mine closures.

Practice ‘Leave No Trace’ Principles
All backcountry users should learn and practice the Leave No Trace philosophy: Plan ahead and be prepared, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife, and be considerate of others. More information is available online.

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Warnings and announcements drawn from DEC, NWS, NOAA, USGS, 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, March 10, 2011

Backcountry Gear: Gravity Water Filter Systems

One of the most tedious tasks while exploring the backcountry of the Adirondacks is water treatment. Unfortunately much of the water in the Adirondacks may be unsafe for human consumption without being treated so this annoying task is unavoidable. The alternative is to risk an intestinal disease requiring an inordinate amount of time spent running to the restroom.

Adirondack water may contain any one of numerous waterborne parasitic micro-organisms. Many of these parasitic organisms may cause serious adverse reactions within humans anywhere from mild diarrhea to eventually, if untreated, death. These waterborne diseases can be caused by protozoa, viruses or bacteria. Giardia remains the poster-organism as far as waterborne disease-causing microorganisms are concerned in the Adirondacks region. » Continue Reading.