Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Snowmobile Companies Offer 2012 Sneak Peak

At 22 locations across the American snowbelt, snowmobile makers Arctic Cat, Polaris and Yamaha will debut a “Sneak Peek” of their new model sleds for 2012. Most are free admission events that will display 15-18 sleds from each manufacturer, more than 50 new snowmobiles on one show floor all at the same time. Snowmobilers can see, touch, sit on and inspect the sleds that will be at their dealer in the fall.

Adirondack snowmobile enthusiasts can see the new models at the Old Forge SnoFest grounds, March 11-13, 2011. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: Sledding in Long Lake

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities
We are traveling back home and the kids decide that a unified singing of “Are we there yet” will magically transport us to our destination. They then resort to singing it in the round. I’ve told them if they can just hold it together until we get to Long Lake we can sled down the old Sabattis Mountain Ski Area, named for the Abenaki Adirondack guide, Mitchell Sabattis.

We arrive at twilight and scramble over each other to put on snow pants, gloves and hats. It is a well-choreographed dance and I am grateful for our van’s tinted windows. We are initiating the new Flexible Flyer saucers and the first two people on the slopes get the honor. The town of Long Lake re-graded the old rope-tow ski area and built up a berm around the bottom of the sledding hill to keep any sliders from ending up near the road.

Though there some tire inner tubes available, we use our own sleds. The walk to the top is a bit steep but both children manage to do it without complaint. My daughter finds the perfect sledding technique. She crosses her legs on the saucer and shoots down the slope. She hits the bowl like a top, propels off the bottom onto the side and hugs the lip of the bowl as she spins the whole way down.

My husband and I scramble up the ridge yelling out strategies if she pops over the other side. Each child’s subsequent trip further carves a path into the bowl’s rim creating a mini luge-like run. The ski hill’s lights are still there and illuminate the old run as night approaches. The slick conditions just adds to the excitement. We are finally exhausted and ready for the next stanza of “Are we there yet?”

The sledding hill is just part of the Geiger Arena in Long Lake. Free ice-skating and skates are also available at the nearby rink. Rink hours are Mondays from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.; Thursdays from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.; Fridays from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. then 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.,;Saturdays from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. then 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.; Sundays from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. then 6:00 p.m. 9:00 p.m. The rink is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

At the Route 30/28N junction (by Hoss’s General Store) continue on 30S for 0.1-mile. The Arena is on the left, on the corner of South Hill Road and Deerland Road, across from the Post Office. Call 518-624-3031 and ask ice attendant Caleb Davis any additional questions.


photo and content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Adirondack Whitefish

Hidden in a very limited number of Adirondack lakes is a jewel of a fish, the Frost Fish. The Frost Fish or Round Whitefish is an endangered species that is only known to exist naturally in approximately seven lakes within the Blue Line. This indicator of clean water is actually a relative of salmon, trout and char. Being of the family Salmonidae, they live in cold, deep lakes with adequate dissolved oxygen.

What makes the Round Whitefish so unique, is that they will spawn in late November, early December over gravel. They have even been known to spawn under the ice. The eggs will drift down into the cracks between the rocks to wait for the warmth of spring to hatch. Unfortunately it seems, that the deck is stacked against this important forage species. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Lost Ski Areas of the Adirondacks

Jeremy Davis is founder of the New England Lost Ski Areas Project (NELSAP) and author of two books on that subject. Last week I had the opportunity to talk with Davis about NELSAP, his books and lost ski areas of the Adirondacks.

Jeff: So, just what is a “lost” ski area?

Jeremy: It’s a ski area that once offered lift-served, organized skiing, but is now abandoned and closed for good. For NELSAP’s purposes it had to have a lift – it could be a simple rope tow or multiple chairlifts, but it had to have a lift. The size of the area or number of lifts isn’t important.

Jeff: And what is NELSAP?

Jeremy: NELSAP is the New England Lost Ski Areas Project, which I founded in 1998 in order to document and preserve the history of ski areas in New York, New England and elsewhere that are no longer in operation.

Jeff: What was the inspiration behind your founding of NELSAP?

Jeremy: As a kid, not long after I had first learned to ski, we took a family trip to North Conway, New Hampshire. On the way up I saw this mountain called Mount Whittier that had closed down about five or six years earlier, and it made me wonder what had happened. At the time it was still pretty visible, but now it’s almost completely grown in. A short while later, on another family trip to Jackson, New Hampshire, we saw another lost area from the top of Black Mountain, called Tyrol. Seeing those two abandoned areas sparked my curiosity and made me want to learn more about them, but there weren’t any resources back then. After that, whenever we took family ski trips, if we saw an old area on a road map that we knew wasn’t open, I’d drag my parents there to check it out. They were really supportive about that and found it fun. Gradually I collected more and more information – postcards, brochures and trail maps, old ski books. Then, while I was in college, I decided to put what I had on the web. That was October of 1998. Gradually, more and more people began to see it and they would send me more information. The thing that really catapulted the website was a Boston Globe article in December of 2000 on the front page of the New England section of the Sunday paper. By 7am I had more hits than I had gotten in a year. The traffic shut down the site and overloaded my email. The AP picked up the Globe story and it ran in what seemed like every New England newspaper over the next few weeks. The project just mushroomed from there. What we have up on the site now is just a fraction of all the information that we’ve collected over the years. It’s a lifetime of work.

Jeff: You’ve got nearly 700 lost ski areas listed on the website now, 19 of them are lost Adirondack ski areas.

Jeremy: Right, in fact those 19 areas are just the start. I think the real number is probably between 50 and 60 areas within the Adirondacks. We’re always looking for more information. If we can get to the owners, or the people who ran the ski school or managed the areas, that kind of primary source information is invaluable.

Jeff: Are there any lost Adirondack areas that you’re particularly interested in, areas that you’re looking for more information on?

Jeremy: Paleface, near Jay, is one. Paleface was run like a dude ranch, an all-inclusive resort with lodging, a bar and restaurant, indoor pool, and skiing. There was a double chair, a T-bar, and a dozen trails with 750 feet of vertical. It operated from 1961 until the early 1980s, and had been re-named Bassett Mountain near the end. Mount Whitney, also near Whiteface, is another one we’d like to gather more information about. And there are lots of other Adirondack areas that we have to research.

Jeff: What factors led to these ski area closures? Were there any factors that were particular to the Adirondacks?

Jeremy: Well, you have the same factors that caused ski areas all over the Northeast to close down: insurance and snowmaking costs, the gasoline shortages in the ‘70s, bad snow years, competition and changing skier preferences. But there are some interesting cases in the Adirondacks: Harvey Mountain is a good example.

Jeff: What happened there?

Jeremy: Harvey Mountain was a classic, family-owned ski area on Barton Mines Road in North River, just a few miles up the road from state-run Gore. It had a T-bar, 400 feet of vertical, and operated from 1962 to 1977. It was a great alternative to Gore. But they weren’t allowed to have a sign advertising the mountain on Route 28 at the bottom of Barton Mines Road. They got around that by paying somebody to park a truck with a sign for Harvey Mountain each day at the turnoff for Gore, but eventually regulation and competition from Gore caused the ski area to shut down.

Jeff: It seems like there’s a good number of lost Adirondack ski areas that have been re-born: Hickory outside of Warrensburg, Oak Mountain near Speculator, Big Tupper. Is that unusual?

Jeremy: It is pretty unusual for a lost area to re-open, and there’s a unique, interesting story behind each one of those. Besides those three that you mentioned, several towns have their own rope tows that are still open: Indian Lake, Long Lake, Chestertown, Newcomb, Schroon Lake. A lot of people don’t realize those areas exist and are completely free. There’s also Mount Pisgah in Saranac Lake, which is municipally operated and very affordable. You’ve also got places like Willard, West Mountain, Titus Mountain (near Malone) and McCauley Mountain (Old Forge) that still have that local, more intimate feel. So we’re really lucky in the Adirondacks to have these smaller areas that can introduce people to the sport and be an affordable alternative to the big areas. Hopefully the number of ski areas has stabilized, and short of some economic catastrophe, we won’t lose any more.

Jeff: Will there be a Lost Ski Areas of the Adirondacks book, similar to the books you’ve authored for the White Mountains and Southern Vermont regions?

Jeremy: Eventually there will be. I don’t know what region we’ll do next, but the series will probably continue with a new book every two years or so until we’ve covered all of New York and New England. That will be eight books in total, so that’s a lot of work.

Readers who may have information to share with NELSAP are encouraged to visit NELSAP’s website or contact Jeremy Davis at nelsap@yahoo.com. Reader input has been a critical part of NELSAP’s success over the years.

Photos: Top: Spring skiing at Harvey Mountain (courtesy Ann Butler and NELSAP). Middle: Paleface Mountain (courtesy NELSAP). Bottom: Davis at Gilbert’s Hill outside Woodstock, VT, site of the first lift-served skiing in the United States (courtesy Jeremy Davis).

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


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Jan. 20)

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.

** EXTREME COLD
The National Weather Service is forecasting temperatures below zero Farenheit beginning Friday night and lasting through the weekend. Daytime highs will be in the single digits below zero with night time lows reaching 20 below zero or colder. Conditions will be more extreme in higher elevations. Prepare accordingly with hat, mittens and numerous layers of non-cotton outer wear and clothing; carry plenty of food & water be sure to eat and hydrate often.

** WINTER CONDITIONS AT ALL ELEVATIONS
Winter conditions exist throughout the area. Expect to encounter one to two feet of snow in the lower elevations with several feet above 2300 feet and ice on some summits and other open areas. These conditions will require snowshoes or skis at all elevations and crampons on exposed areas such as summits. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports 5 inches of new snow has fallen during the past 24 hours for at total of 30 inches of snow at the cabin. Many people are traveling on the ice on Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden but caution is recommended around inlets and outlets.

** Snowmobiles
Gates have been opened on all snowmobile trails. Snowmobiles are operating on these and other designated snowmobile trails. Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobile trails should keep to the sides of the trail to allow safe passage. Not all lakes are safe for snowmobiles. Three men lost their sleds into the waters of Lake George after driving onto slushy ice last weekend.

** Thin Ice Safety
Ice has formed on water bodies and people have been observed on the ice at numerous locations. Always check the thickness of ice before crossing. 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 several more have gone through the ice – including three men on Lake George last weekend. 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: Light snow likely, cloudy, high near 18. Expect 2 to 4 inches in the SE.
Friday Night: Chance of snow showers, cloudy, low around -9. Wind chill to -19.
Saturday: Cloudy and cold, high near 7.
Saturday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around -18.
Sunday: Mostly sunny and cold, with a high near -2.
Sunday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around -28.

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 a foot and a half to three feet of snow at lower elevations across most of the Adirondack Park. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports 5 inches of new snow has fallen during the past 24 hours for at total of 30 inches of snow at the cabin; snow can drift to a more than several feet deep at higher elevations. 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 (including Hickory in Warrensburg, and Big Tupper) will be open this weekend with plenty of snow. 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 8 to 12 inch base. The Jackrabbit Trail is skiable its entire length, with about 8 to 15 inches of base [conditions]. Paul Smiths College is now grooming the Paul Smith’s VIC trails, including the Esker Loop now that logging has finished for the season. The building is closed this winter, however, but the parking lot continues to be plowed.

** Backcountry Ski Report
Snow cover is suitable for skiing on all trails, though there are still some subsurface rocks in lower elevations. Avalanche Pass Trail is fine for skiing, though the Calamity Brook Trail still needs more snow to cover rocks and seeps, and the Marcy Dam hiking trail is still somewhat thin (the Truck Trail is the better route). The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports 5 inches of new snow has fallen during the past 24 hours for at total of 30 inches of snow at the cabin. Many people are traveling on the ice on Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden but caution is recommended around inlets and outlets. The Avalanche Pass Slide is closed to skiing and snowshoeing during the winter months. Snowshoes or skis now required for all High Peaks travel.

** Ice Climbing Report
This past weekend during the Adirondack Ice Festival Matt McCormick, Bayard Russell and Matt Horner made the first ascent of Endangered Species a 3 pitches, M6+ NEI5+ R. The new route parallels Gorillas in the Mist, a line established by Jeff Lowe and Ed Palen in 1996. Climbable areas include Chapel Pond (the pond is now frozen), Cascade Pass, and the North side of Pitchoff, Multi-Gulley, and Poke-O-Moonshine. Chillar Pillar and the Mineville Pillar are in, but only for top-roping. There is no report for Roaring Brook Falls. Palisades on Lake Champlain went out in the thaw last week, and was rebuilding at last report (last week). In the backcountry, there is climbing at Underwood Canyon and Elk Pass. It’s believed some climbs must be in at Avalanche Pass, and Pharaoh Mountain, though no reports yet. Nothing yet on the north face of Gothics. 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, but ice conditions vary widely by location. Anglers have been observed on Rollins Pond, Lake Colby, and Lake Clear and Lewis, Kings, Catfish, and South Bay on Lake Champlain. Most of Lake George is still very thin and three snowmobiles went through the ice there last weekend. There is still open water at Diamond Point, Northwest Bay, and Hague. The south end of the lake, the Narrows, and various more-open bays have started to freeze. Many smaller local lakes have 6 inches or more of ice. Ice anglers are traveling on foot thus far and motor vehicle traffic is not recommended on the ice at this point. Due to the softness of the road, the gate at the Kings Bay Wildlife Management Area has been closed. 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
Most of the region’s snowmobile trails are in fair to good condition with about a 6 to 10 inch base across most of the region. The gate has been opened in the Split Rock Mountain Wild Forest allowing snowmobiles to access Lake Champlain from the Lewis Bay Clearing Parking Lot. Riders everywhere should show restraint and use extreme caution as unseen obstacles may be present. Conditions throughout the region vary depending on elevation, nearness to large lakes, and latitude. Avoid riding on lakes or ponds, and excessive speed. So far this year one sledder has died in Franklin County, one in Jefferson County, and two in Lewis County. Three snowmobiles went through the ice on Lake George last weekend. Ride safely. More Adirondack snowmobiling resources can be found here.

** All Rivers Running At Or Below Normal
Waters in the region are running at or below normal levels for this time of year. Ice has formed on nearly all flat waters and is forming on swift waters as well. Paddlers should use care and consult the latest streamgage data.

Hunting Seasons
Although fall hunting seasons for big game and waterfowl are over in the Adirondack region, some small game hunting is still underway. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment while hiking on trails. Recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists with the legal right to hunt on Forest Preserve lands. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare. Hikers may want to wear bright colors as an extra precaution.

Furbearer Trapping Seasons
Some furbearer trapping seasons remain open. This would be a good time to keep pets leased and on the trails. A reminder that 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: About 1.8 miles north of the Silver Lake lean-to and just south of the Canary Pond tent camping area, the trail is flooded and may require wading through water and mud. 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.

Lake Durant to Long Lake: About a half mile north of the Lake Durant trailhead at Route 28/30 the trail crosses several flooded boardwalks. Use extreme caution as the boardwalk is not visible and may shift. Expect to get your boots wet and use a stick or hiking pole to feel your way along to avoid falling off the boardwalk.

Lake Durant to Long Lake: About 4 miles north of the Tirrell Pond the trail is flooded by beaver activity. The reroute to the east is now also flooded in spots.

Duck Hole to Averyville Rd. and Lake Placid: Beaver activity has flooded the trail about 3 miles south of the Averyville trailhead and will require a sturdy bushwhack.

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

Snowshoes Required: Snowshoes are required in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness.

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

Western High Peaks Wilderness: Trails in the Western High Peaks Wilderness are cluttered with blowdown from a storm that occurred December 1st. DEC will be working to clear trails as soon as possible.

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.

Wright Peak: Snow shoes are necessary on Wright Peak and full crampons will be required for the final 1/4 mile approach to the summit as there is thick ice on bare rock.

Jackrabbit Ski Trail: Improvements have been made to the Jackrabbit Trail, a 24-mile cross-country ski trail that runs between Saranac Lake and Keene. There has been a reroute of the popular six mile section between McKenzie Pond Road outside Saranac Lake to Whiteface Inn Road outside Lake Placid. The rerouted trail avoids some hilly terrain at the start of this section and also avoids the ball field, and some private property. Trailhead parking is expected to be expanded in this area later this year.

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.

Wilmington Wild Forest: Snowmobiles may be operating on designated snowmobile trails. Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobile trails should keep to the sides of the trail to allow safe passage.

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

Blue Ridge Wilderness: DEC Forest Rangers and trail crews have been working to clear blowdown from trails. The following trails are cleared and ready for skiing and/or snowshoeing: South Inlet Loop (no bridge at stillwater be cautious crossing ice) and the Sagamore Loop Trail

Moose River Plains Wild Forest: All designated snowmobile trails in the Moose River Plains are now open. DEC Forest Rangers and trail crews have been working to clear blowdown from trails. The following trails are cleared and ready for skiing and/or snowshoeing: Limekiln Lake Ski Routes, Bug Lake Trail (open to snowmobiles, be cautious), the north side of the Black Bear Mountain Loop (blow down still present on south side), the trails to the summits of Rocky Mountain and Black Bear Mountain are also well marked (snowshoes & crampons may be necessary).

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

Shelving Roack: All gates on snowmobile trails in the Shelving Rock area are now open.

Tongue Mountain: Tongue Mountain has snow cover from base to summit, snowshoes or skis and ice crampons should be carried and used whenever conditions warrant. There is some minor blowdown on the trail.

Jabe Pond Road: The Jabe Pond Road gate is open and the road is open to snowmobiles, skiers, and snowshoers.

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.

Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: The Dacy Clearing Road is a designated snowmobile trail, has been reopened. Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobile trails should keep to the sides of the trail to allow safe passage.

Hudson Gorge Primitive Area: Ice is forming 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.

Saranac Lakes Chain: The lower locks on the Saranac Lakes Chain have been shut down for the winter. The locks are closed and made inoperable every winter to avoid unsafe situations for users and to prevent damage to the locks. Operation of the locks in icy conditions in the past was the cause of damage to hoses, hydraulic rams, and the hydraulic control mechanism. The repair of these damages is costly and stops boater traffic in the highly utilized area while the locks are being repaired. DEC does not officially close the upper locks on the Saranac Lakes Chain. They are manually operated and become inoperable when ice forms. Unlike the lower locks, there is no hydraulic equipment that can be damaged. The lower locks will be reopened after the ice goes out in the spring.

Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: Gates have been open on the old D & H railroad bed (Snowmobile Corridor C7B). Skiers and snowshoers using this designated snowmobile trail should keep to the sides of the trail to allow safe passage of snowmobiles. Snowmobilers are required to slow down when passing skiers, snowshoers or other snowmmobiles on trails.

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

** Split Rock Mountain Wild Forest: The gate has been opened allowing snowmobiles to access Lake Champlain from the Lewis Bay Clearning Parking Lot.

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. (12/23)

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, January 20, 2011

Jay Harrison: Climbing Multiplication Gully

Most Adirondack ice classics line the road near Keene Valley or Cascade Pass, clustered together, but Multiplication Gully stands alone, hiding deep in a crevice along Route 86 near Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort. Breaking the fortress of impenetrable cliff lining the road, that crevice glistens white once temperatures dip below freezing. Only a glimpse is afforded drivers as they pass the fault, so it isn’t surprising that Multiplication Gully wasn’t discovered for so long.

Six years after Yvon Chouinard brought front-pointing and short tools to the Adirondacks, two relative unknowns reported ascending the slot that hides within that crack. Alan Spero and Tom Worthington snagged what has become one of the most sought-after ice climbs in the Park, then they practically vanished to the annals of Adirondack climbing history.

Every winter, I visit this crystalline gem at least once. The combination of claustrophobic crevice and mind-boggling exposure, with its view of Moss Cliff framed by the surrounding rock walls, creates a unique experience. I’m not alone in that regard: Multiplication Gully is one of the most popular routes in the Northeast.

This popularity comes at a price. On weekends, there’s a queue clumping up at the base, often several parties awaiting their chance to head up the ice. Since the route follows a natural channel, anything falling from above heads directly down it, so following parties become the unexpected targets of ice, dropped gear, and plummeting climbers. If another car is parked in the lot, look for climbers already on the route, and if possible, wait until they are nearing the top before hiking up to it.

Climbers should park in the pullout on the opposite side of the highway, about 200 feet east of the boulder marking the start of the access path. While the route appears close to the road, the trail to it winds among a thick stand of conifers, then meanders up a treacherous, icy talus pile to reach it, so the approach takes about ten minutes.

Once at the base of the route, place gear and the belay to the right, sheltered by a rock overhang. Handy trees provide a quick belay anchor and an initial protection point just as the real climbing begins. Be careful to put any gear staying at the bottom off the wet ice in the rock alcove, where it won’t get covered with snowfall or damaged by falling ice. Be mindful that other climbers will almost certainly be arriving; keep your items together and compact.

The first pitch provides a good warm-up for the difficulties to come: it is a moderate WI3 with plenty of rests between steep spots. These ledges accrue a lot of snow, but since the route is popular, they get packed down quickly. Work up the line as desired, but don’t stop at the fixed anchor on cedar trees to climber’s left. Instead, continue up another twenty feet to a wide, level area, then walk climber’s right along a ledge and build an anchor well out of the bomb zone (I usually place a screw in the ice face above the ledge to redirect the belay and provide a first piece of protection for the second pitch).

The second pitch begins with a short, steep WI3 wall, then narrows considerably as it winds up toward the top. Above the first step, the ice rears up briefly, with a dead-vertical pillar on the left and a bulging rock wall on the right. Most parties opt to climb the thread of ice lying between these two barriers, gaining height by chimneying with crampons on the pillar, back against the rock, and tools lashing desperately in the wasp-waisted strip overhead. Another brief respite lies after this, and then the final obstacle: the line, almost strangled by an overhanging wall of rock on the right and a steep rock ramp to the left, twists through a twelve-inch slot. There are two options for this spot: either pick oh-so carefully up the verglas on the ramp to a vertical ice pillar finish, or squeeze along that slot, making the most of rock holds and shallow ice before sinking a tool in the duff on top and working left to the fixed anchor. With two 60 meter ropes, rappel the route, being careful of climbers below. Stay to the left, gaining that anchor near the top of the first pitch.

For more information check out Mountain Project’s Multi Gulley page or pick up a copy of Blue Lines, An Adirondack Ice Climber’s Guide, by Don Mellor; published by Adirondack Rock and River Guide Service, 2005.

Jay Harrison lives in the southern Adirondacks, works as a climbing guide, and occasionally writes about his antics on his own blog.

Photos: Above, climber Travis King on the second pitch; Middle, look for this stone marking the approach path’s start; Below, view of Moss Cliff from the top of Multiplication Gully. Photos courtesy Jay Harrison.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tupper Lake Fire and Ice Golf Tournament

The Tupper Lake Rotary and Lions clubs have joined forces to create a new and unique event in Tupper Lake: The Fire and Ice Golf Tournament. The event will be held in the Tupper Lake Municipal Park and on Raquette Pond on Saturday, February 12.

Organizer Doug Wright is hoping the new event will peak the interest of both locals and visitors. The event is designed to be a family day open to golfers and non-golfers of all ages. All proceeds will benefit the community giving of the Rotary and Lions clubs.

One of the golfing events planned that day between noon and 4p.m. is a miniature-putting contest on a small 9-hole course fashioned in the snow. Organizers are also planning a chipping contest, where the best wedge and sand wedge shots will win contestants merchandise prizes.

Black golf balls, designed to stand-out on the ice, have been ordered for all events, including the Fire and Ice long drive contest. A giant bonfire on the ice will be built to warm the golfers.

A 3-hole course will be built on the pond to challenge golfers. The committee will be soliciting sponsors for the various flags used on the various courses that day in upcoming weeks. “It’s something new for Tupper Lake, and we’re excited about it,” Wright said.

Helping the local Rotarians organize the event are Lions Club members Tom LaMere, Mike Dechene and Dan McClelland. Club members from both community organizations will help staff the event. County Legislator Paul Maroun has signed on as grand marshal of the day’s events.

The Lions Club will have its food and beverage concession dug out and dusted off for the weekend and P-2’s Irish Pub will have a satellite venue set up to dispense beer and wine.

For more information contact Doug Wright at 359-3241 or drw12927@verizon.net.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Explorer Creates Legal Defense Fund

The Adirondack Explorer has set up a legal defense fund to raise money to fight a lawsuit filed by private landowners who claim I trespassed when I canoed through their property.

As a small nonprofit publication, we operate on a shoestring and will have to struggle to pay all the costs associated with a court case that could last two or three years. Given the principle at stake, however, it’s imperative that we not back down. We have hired Glens Falls attorney John Caffry, an expert in this field of law, to represent us.

The decision in this case could define paddlers’ rights throughout the Adirondacks and the rest of New York state. If the case reaches the state’s highest court, it may even influence judges in other parts of the country.

The Explorer and the landowners have starkly different views of the common-law right of navigation. In brief, our contention is that the public has an age-old right to paddle through private property on navigable waterways that can be legally accessed and exited. The other side contends that the common law applies only to waterways that have a history of commercial use (such as log drives).

If you’re a paddler, the implications of the landowners’ claims should give you pause. Most rivers in the Adirondacks and elsewhere in the state flow through private land at some point. If you paddle much, you probably have been on some of them. Do you know their commercial history? Should your right to paddle these rivers depend on whether or not logs were floated down them in the 1800s? What if the commercial history of a river is unknown?

Incidentally, the state Department of Environmental Conservation agrees with our interpretation of the law and has told the landowners, in writing, that the waterways in dispute are open to the public.

If you’d like to learn more about the legal arguments, click here to find copies of the landowners’ complaint and our answer. You also will find links to some of the stories we’ve published on navigation rights.

Meantime, if you care about paddlers’ rights, please consider contributing to our legal defense fund. Click here to find out how. Donations are tax-deductible.

We need your support. Please let your friends know too.

Photo: Phil Brown on Shingle Shanty Brook.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

DEC Summer Camps Prepare for 2011 Season

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that registration for the 2011 summer camp programs began this week. Applications from sponsors must be postmarked no earlier than Jan. 15. Parents may submit applications postmarked no earlier than Jan. 29.

The Summer Camp Program offers week‑long adventures in conservation education to children ages 12-17. DEC operates four residential camps for children ages 12-14: Camp Colby in Saranac Lake, Franklin County; Camp DeBruce in Livingston Manor, Sullivan County; Camp Rushford in Caneadea, Allegany County; and Pack Forest in Warrensburg, Warren County. Pack Forest also features Teenage Ecology Workshop, a three-week environmental studies program for 15-17 year old campers.

DEC is also encouraging sporting clubs, civic groups and environmental organizations to sponsor a child for a week at camp. Those groups who sponsor six paid campers will receive one free scholarship.

Campers participate in a wide variety of outdoor activities including fishing, bird watching, fly-tying, archery, canoeing, hiking, camping, orienteering and hunter safety education. Campers also learn about fields, forests, streams and ponds through fun, hands-on activities and outdoor exploration. DEC counselors teach youth conservation techniques used by natural resource professionals, such as measuring trees and estimating wildlife populations.

Changes for the 2011 camp season include:

* Camp fee for one week is $350.

* All four camps will run for seven weeks, beginning July 3.

* Children who have attended camp in the past may register for any of the seven weeks.

* Campers may attend for more than one week during the summer. The fee for the total number of weeks must be included with the application. Please note that campers will not be able to stay at camp on Saturday night, so parents should make alternative arrangements if two consecutive weeks are selected.

* Camp Rushford will no longer offer one week for 15 to 17 year olds. Older campers are encouraged to sign up for the Teenage Ecology Workshop at Pack Forest for one of the first three weeks of camp, beginning July 3.

For information and applications visit DEC’s website or call 518‑402‑8014.

Interested parents may also sign up for DEC’s camps listserve or contact DEC in writing at DEC Camps, 2nd Floor, 625 Broadway, Albany, New York 12233‑4500.

Photo: A fishing lesson at Camp Colby. Courtesy DEC.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Jan. 13)

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 exist throughout the area. Expect to encounter one to two feet of snow in the lower elevations with several feet above 2300 feet and ice on summits and other open areas. These conditions will require snowshoes or skis at all elevations and crampons on exposed areas such as summits. Daytime temperatures below freezing can be expected at all elevations, with wind-chill below freezing as well. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports 10 inches of new snow has fallen during the past 24 hours for at total of 25 inches of snow at the cabin. Many people are traveling on the ice on Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden but caution is recommended around inlets and outlets.

** Snowmobiles
Gates have been open on all snowmobile trails. Snowmobiles are operating on these and other designated snowmobile trails. Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobile trails should keep to the sides of the trail to allow safe passage.

Thin Ice Safety
Ice has formed on water bodies and people have been observed on the ice at numerous locations. Always check the thickness of ice before crossing. 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. 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: Mostly cloudy, high near 18. Wind chill to zero.
Friday Night: Mostly cloudy, low around -1. Light and variable wind.
Saturday: Light snow, cloudy, with a high near 20.
Saturday Night: Light snow, cloudy, with a low around 10.
Sunday: Chance of snow showers, cloudy, with a high near 20.
Sunday Night: Cloudy, with a low around -3.
M.L.King Day: Mostly cloudy, with a high near 16.

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
This week’s storm contributed mightily to the region’s snow cover. There is one to two feet of snow at lower elevations across most of the Adirondack Park, with the highest amounts in the Northeast part of the park. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports 10 inches of new snow has fallen during the past 24 hours for at total of 25 inches of snow at the cabin; snow can drift to a more than several feet deep at higher elevations. These conditions will require snowshoes or skis at all elevations and crampons on exposed areas such as summits. The southeast part of the park, in Northern Warren and Eastern Essex County including the Keene Valley approach to the High Peaks, finally received about 8 to 10 inches this week. The latest snow cover map from the National Weather Service provides an estimate of snow cover around the region.

** Downhill Ski Report
All mountains (including Hickory in Warrensburg, and Big Tupper) will be open this weekend with plenty of snow (except at Hickory, where it’s reported that skiing is good on the lower mountain only).

** Cross Country Ski Report
All cross country ski areas will be open this weekend with a six to 10 inch base. The Jackrabbit Trail is skiable its entire length, with about 8 to 15 inches of base [conditions].

** Backcountry Ski Report
Snow cover is suitable for skiing on all backcountry trails, though there are still some rocks to be avoided on narrower trails. Avalanche Pass is now skiable, as is the hiking trail to Marcy Dam, although still somewhat thin. The Marcy Truck trail is the better skiing approach. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports 10 inches of new snow has fallen during the past 24 hours for at total of 25 inches of snow at the cabin. Many people are traveling on the ice on Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden but caution is recommended around inlets and outlets. Snowshoes or skis now required for all High Peaks travel.

** Ice Climbing Report
Climbable areas include Chapel Pond (the pond is now frozen), Cascade Pass, and the North side of Pitchoff, Multi-Gulley, and Poke-O-Moonshine. Chillar Pillar and the Mineville Pillar are in, but only for top-roping. There is no report for Roaring Brook Falls. Palisades on Lake Champlain went out in the thaw last week, and was rebuilding at last report (last week). In the backcountry, there is climbing at Underwood Canyon and Elk Pass. It’s believed some climbs must be in at Avalanche Pass, and Pharaoh Mountain, though no reports yet. Nothing yet on the north face of Gothics. NOTE: Mountainfest takes place this weekend in Keene and Keene Valley. Expect heavier than normal use both Saturday and Sunday at the Quarry, Pitch-Off Right, Lions on the Beach and Positive Reinforcement. 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, but ice conditions vary widely by location. Anglers have been observed on Rollins Pond, Lake Colby, and Lake Clear and Kings Bay and Catfish Bay on Lake Champlain. Some of the bays in Lake George have iced over but are still very thin. Many smaller local lakes have 6 inches or more of ice. Ice anglers are traveling on foot thus far and motor vehicle traffic is not recommended on the ice at this point. Due to the softness of the road, the gate at the Kings Bay Wildlife Management Area has been closed. 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 regions snowmobile trails made major progress with this week’s snow, and grooming has begun, HOWEVER, trails are still fairly fragile in fair to good condition with about a 6 to 8 inch base, across most of the region. DEC has opened the gates to snowmobile trails throughout Franklin County. The exception is in Warren and Eastern Essex County, where many trails have yet to open. Riders everywhere should show restraint and use extreme caution. The connector trails between Newcomb, Long Lake, and Indian Lake are expected to be open this season and links to the east are in the works. Conditions throughout the region vary depending on elevation, nearness to large lakes, and latitude. Avoid riding on lakes or ponds, and excessive speed. Ride safely. More Adirondack snowmobiling resources can be found here.

** Nearly All Rivers Running Normal
Waters in the region are running at normal levels for this time of year with the exception of the Raquette River, which is now running just above normal, and the Indian River, which is now running just below normal. Ice has formed on nearly all flat waters and is forming on swift waters as well. Paddlers should use care and consult the latest streamgage data.

Hunting Seasons
Although fall hunting seasons for big game and waterfowl are over in the Adirondack region, some small game hunting is still underway. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment while hiking on trails. Recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists with the legal right to hunt on Forest Preserve lands. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare. Hikers may want to wear bright colors as an extra precaution.

Furbearer Trapping Seasons
Some furbearer trapping seasons remain open. This would be a good time to keep pets leased and on the trails. A reminder that 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: About 1.8 miles north of the Silver Lake lean-to and just south of the Canary Pond tent camping area, the trail is flooded and may require wading through water and mud. 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.

Lake Durant to Long Lake: About a half mile north of the Lake Durant trailhead at Route 28/30 the trail crosses several flooded boardwalks. Use extreme caution as the boardwalk is not visible and may shift. Expect to get your boots wet and use a stick or hiking pole to feel your way along to avoid falling off the boardwalk.

Lake Durant to Long Lake: About 4 miles north of the Tirrell Pond the trail is flooded by beaver activity. The reroute to the east is now also flooded in spots.

Duck Hole to Averyville Rd. and Lake Placid: Beaver activity has flooded the trail about 3 miles south of the Averyville trailhead and will require a sturdy bushwhack.

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

** Snowshoes Required: Snowshoes are required in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness.

Western High Peaks Wilderness: Trails in the Western High Peaks Wilderness are cluttered with blowdown from a storm that occurred December 1st. DEC will be working to clear trails as soon as possible.

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. (12/23)

Wright Peak: Snow shoes are necessary on Wright Peak and full crampons will be required for the final 1/4 mile approach to the summit as there is thick ice on bare rock.

Jackrabbit Ski Trail: Improvements have been made to the Jackrabbit Trail, a 24-mile cross-country ski trail that runs between Saranac Lake and Keene. There has been a reroute of the popular six mile section between McKenzie Pond Road outside Saranac Lake to Whiteface Inn Road outside Lake Placid. The rerouted trail avoids some hilly terrain at the start of this section and also avoids the ball field, and some private property. Trailhead parking is expected to be expanded in this area later this year.

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.

Wilmington Wild Forest: Snowmobiles may be operating on designated snowmobile trails. Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobile trails should keep to the sides of the trail to allow safe passage.

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

Blue Ridge Wilderness: DEC Forest Rangers and trail crews have been working to clear blowdown from trails. The following trails are cleared and ready for skiing and/or snowshoeing: South Inlet Loop (no bridge at stillwater be cautious crossing ice) and the Sagamore Loop Trail

Moose River Plains Wild Forest: All designated snowmobile trails in the Moose River Plains are now open. DEC Forest Rangers and trail crews have been working to clear blowdown from trails. The following trails are cleared and ready for skiing and/or snowshoeing: Limekiln Lake Ski Routes, Bug Lake Trail (open to snowmobiles, be cautious), the north side of the Black Bear Mountain Loop (blow down still present on south side), the trails to the summits of Rocky Mountain and Black Bear Mountain are also well marked (snowshoes & crampons may be necessary).

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

** Shelving Roack: All gates on snowmobile trails in the Shelving Rock area are now open.

** Tongue Mountain: Tongue Mountain has snow cover from base to summit, snowshoes or skis and ice crampons should be carried and used whenever conditions warrant. There is some minor blowdown on the trail.

** Jabe Pond Road: The Jabe Pond Road gate is open and the road is open to snowmobiles, skiers, and snowshoers.

** 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.

Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: The Dacy Clearing Road is a designated snowmobile trail, has been reopened. Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobile trails should keep to the sides of the trail to allow safe passage.

Hudson Gorge Primitive Area: Ice is forming 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.

Saranac Lakes Chain: The lower locks on the Saranac Lakes Chain have been shut down for the winter. The locks are closed and made inoperable every winter to avoid unsafe situations for users and to prevent damage to the locks. Operation of the locks in icy conditions in the past was the cause of damage to hoses, hydraulic rams, and the hydraulic control mechanism. The repair of these damages is costly and stops boater traffic in the highly utilized area while the locks are being repaired. DEC does not officially close the upper locks on the Saranac Lakes Chain. They are manually operated and become inoperable when ice forms. Unlike the lower locks, there is no hydraulic equipment that can be damaged. The lower locks will be reopened after the ice goes out in the spring.

Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: Gates have been open on the old D & H railroad bed (Snowmobile Corridor C7B). Skiers and snowshoers using this designated snowmobile trail should keep to the sides of the trail to allow safe passage of snowmobiles. Snowmobilers are required to slow down when passing skiers, snowshoers or other snowmmobiles on trails.

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. (12/23)

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, January 13, 2011

15th Annual Adirondack International Mountainfest

The 15th annual Adirondack International Mountainfest takes place this weekend, January 14-16, 2011. This year’s event will kick off with a slide show by Freddie Wilkinson on Friday night. Saturday’s speaker will be renowned Exum guide and mountaineer Mark Newcomb, and Sunday’s entertainment is Vermont’s star climber Matt McCormick.

Freddie, Mark and Matt will join local guides Chuck Boyd, Emilie Drinkwater, Jeremy Haas, Carl Heilman, Matt Horner, Chad Kennedy, Colin Loher, Don Mellor and Jim Pitarresi to lead instructional clinics on ice climbing, mountaineering, snowshoeing and avalanche awareness on Saturday and Sunday. All Participants must register in advance.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Beaver: Bushwhacker’s Boon or Bane?

Beaver are one of the very few mammals in the Adirondacks to transform their physical environment to meet their own needs (man being another more extreme example). These transforms can prove to be either a boon or a bane to a bushwhacker exploring the backcountry without the aid of a trail or path.

The most famous behavior of beavers is their propensity to build dams to pond water for protection from predators and to float wood, their chief source of sustenance. These dams offer the bushwhacker an unmatched resource for crossing wet area with a greatly reduced risk of soaked feet. These structures are so valuable that I have traveled a significant distance out of my way to cross one on more than a few occasions rather than ford across a bone-chilling cold, mucky stream.



After building a dam and flooding an adjacent area, beavers tend to clear most of the hardwood trees in the vicinity of their new home. Often this results in areas clear of most of the understory vegetation since beavers appear to prefer the succulent younger trees. Bushwhacking through these areas is often a welcome relief from fighting one’s way through thick coniferous vegetation.

Additional benefits from these beaver ponds results from the quest these large rodents participate in just to obtain a good meal. Often they journey far from the pond to find the exact type of trees they prefer and in the process they leave significant paths throughout the forest. Although these trails prove of little value within mature forests, they provide unmatched assistance to a backcountry explorer in blow down areas adjacent to beaver constructed water bodies. For such industrious animals the beaver finds the path of least resistance through even the most disorganized jumble of downed trees.

Another benefit these mammals provide to the bushwhacker is the channels of water they often produce at the point where they exit from their beaver ponds. These areas usually provide a narrow and deep canal of undisturbed water ideal for filtering. This is often a great benefit around water bodies with indistinct shorelines where finding a deep enough spot close to shore is virtually impossible.

Not all of the habits of the beaver produce conditions helpful to a backcountry adventurer. When these adverse conditions are encountered the backcountry explorer might very well conclude the beaver is more foe than friend.

The most dangerous of these buck-toothed mammal’s habits is its tendency to leave behind the remnants of the saplings it feasted upon. These Punji sticks are often covered in leaf sprouts and thus difficult to detect until one of these spikes has been embedded into an unprotected knee. And heaven forbid if one should slip and fall backwards in such an area. Now THAT would be a million to one shot, Doc!

Although the area around a recently formed beaver pond can be cleared of a significant amount of woody hardwood vegetation (making it easier to travel through), over time this can result in an area thick in conifers many years after the pond has been long abandoned. For anyone who has ever struggled through these young coniferous forests can attest to the painfully slow progress these areas afford. The scratches, scrapes and nearly poked out eyes hurt too!

Unfortunately beaver dams often result in flooding that is not represented on a bushwhacker’s map or personal GPS. This may require an explorer to make significant changes to their plans when they encounter a flooded area where once their favorite campsite was located.

Finally, one of the beaver’s most shocking habits is its mode of announcing its annoyance with one’s presence. This tail slapping on the surface of the water can be so loud and unsuspecting that it has startled me on more than a single condition even when I knew the beaver was near. Only an air horn could possibly be more disturbing or unsettling.

The beaver by the nature of its habits has shown itself to be both boon and bane to backcountry explorers regardless whether they are a hiker finding his/her favorite trail flooded, a backcountry enthusiast crossing a stream on a dam or a bushwhacker doing his/her best to avoid Punji sticks surrounding the shore of a beaver pond. So depending on your circumstances you may find yourself calling the beaver a friend or foe on your next jaunt into the Adirondack backcountry.

Photos: Beaver dam, beaver activity and beaver tail splash by Dan Crane.

Dan Crane blogs about his bushwhacking adventures at Bushwhacking Fool.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Adirondack Youth Archery Program Offered

The Warren County 4-H Shooting Sports program will be conducting an archery program on Thursday, February 3, 10, and 17th at 6pm, location TBA. Children 9 years and over will learn all fundamental safety steps for handling a bow. Bows, arrows, tabs, arm guards, and targets will be provided for this event.

As with all NYS 4-H Shooting Sports programs, Warren County instructors are either State or nationally certified in their area of discipline. Safety is always the primary focus of the program.

All participants must be registered 4-H members to participate for insurance purposes. There is a $5.00 fee for non-members which includes a membership in Warren County 4-H. Class is limited to 18. Pre-register by calling 623-3291 or 668-4881.

Photo: Dunham’s Bay 4-H Shooting Line, recurve bows.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

DEC Seeks Comments on Temporary Revocable Permit Policy

The DEC is taking comments through January 14, 2011 on a proposed revision of the Temporary Revocable Permit (TRP) Policy, which sets forth the procedure for issuing permits for the temporary use of DEC’s State lands, including, but not limited to DEC’s: Wildlife Management Areas, State Reforestation Areas, Forest Preserves, campgrounds, boat launches/waterway access sites, tidal wetlands, and conservation easements).

DEC issues TRPs for activities that are in compliance with all constitutional, statutory and regulatory requirements; the Adirondack and Catskill Park State Land Master Plans; adopted Unit Management Plans and Recreation Management Plans; and that have negligible or no permanent impact on the environment.

You can review the draft policy online [pdf]. You can find additional policy details and information on submitting comments here.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

DEC’s Great Stories from the Great Outdoors Contest

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is calling for writers to share inspirational stories of experiences in New York’s great outdoors by entering the “Great Stories from the Great Outdoors” contest. Stories can range from the simplest walk through the woods to meeting a challenge through an outdoor activity. The contest is open to all and runs through February 2011.

Each month, DEC will select stories and post them on the DEC website (www.dec.ny.gov). A prize will be awarded for the top story each month. Complete contest rules are available online.

Through the Great Outdoor Stories contest, students, sportsmen and women, outdoor enthusiasts, campers and hikers can reflect and share the importance of the natural environment in their lives.

Entries can range from a few sentences to a maximum 650 words. All story entries must be received by February 28, 2011. Submit stories online at GreatOutdoorStories@gw.dec.state.ny.us or by mail to:

Carole Fraser
NYS DEC Universal Access Program
625 Broadway, 5th floor
Albany, NY 12233-4255

Illustration: The Great Adirondack Pass 1837 by Charles Ingham.