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.
** POOR ICE CONDITIONS ON ADIRONDACK WATERS
Recent heavy snows combined with earlier thaws have brought about inconsistent ice conditions on the surfaces of lakes, ponds and other waters in the Adirondacks and surrounding areas. The weight of snow has caused ice to sink slightly forcing water from below the ice up on to the surface. Water, in some places up to a foot deep, may refreeze resulting in alternating layers of ice and water all covered by a blanket of snow. The snow acts as an insulator preventing the water from refreezing completely even in very cold temperatures. There have been numerous reports of snowmobiles and other vehicles getting stuck in the mixture of snow, slush, ice and water. Several snowmobiles and vehicles have broken through areas of thin ice. These conditions also are dangerous to non-motorized recreationist who may have a much harder time traveling across the surface of waters becoming tired, wet and vulnerable to hypothermia. Snow cover also prevents seeing areas of thin ice, putting them at risk of breaking through to the cold waters underneath. Check the depth of the ice before crossing, and at several points along the way. Be particularly cautious around inlets, outlets, near ice prevention devices (bubblers), shoreline seeps and over moving water. Remember, ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. Be prepared by carrying ice picks to pull yourself out of the water, and a 50 foot rope to pull others out of the water. Remember Reach-Throw-Go.
** AVALANCHE CONDITIONS
Snows have accumulated to sufficient depths on Adirondack Mountain slopes to create conditions conducive to avalanches and DEC has issued an Avalanche Warning. 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.
** EXTREME COLD
The National Weather Service is forecasting winds as high as 50 miles an hour and more at elevation. While daytime highs are expected to be in the teens, windchill values are expected to be as low as -33. 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. High winds and wind chills into the -20s and -30s are expected this weekend. Expect to encounter 25-30 inches of snow on the ground, more in higher elevations and ice on summits and exposed areas. These conditions will require snowshoes or skis at all elevations and crampons on exposed areas. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports 3 1/2 feet on the ground at the cabin. Day time temperatures have been between 0 and 10 degrees Farenheit. Winds have been brisk on lakes, summits and other open areas but trails in wooded areas are protected. Snow cover is good on all trails. Snowshoes or skis are required throughout the area. Most trails have been broken out with a few inches of new snow on them.
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. Not all lakes are safe for snowmobiles. Three men lost their sleds into the waters of Lake George after driving onto slushy ice in early January.
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 several more have gone through the ice – including three men on Lake George in early January. 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: Chance of snow showers, partly sunny, high near 11. Windy, wind chill to -33.
Friday Night: Chance of snow showers, mostly cloudy, low around 2. Windy, wind chill to -21.
Saturday: Chance of snow showers, cloudy, high near 18. Windy, gusts to 50 mph.
Saturday Night: Chance of snow showers, cloudy, low around 8.
Sunday: Snow showers likely, cloudy and breezy, high near 25.
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]
** New Weather Pattern Developing
Meteorologists are reporting that a dramatic shift in the Arctic Oscillation change our prevailing weather for the second half of February. The persistent cold and snowy pattern that we’ve been experiencing is expected to give way to significantly warmer and less snowy weather. Another shift in the weather pattern could include another snowy phase in March. More information is available online.
** Snow Cover
There is a 25 to 30 inches of snow at lower elevations across most of the Adirondack Park. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports 3 1/2 feet on the ground at the cabin. Snow cover is good on all trails. Most trails have been broken out with a few inches of new snow on them. 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 will be open this weekend and the skiing should be outstanding on a one to three foot base. High winds and wind chills into the -20s and -30s are expected this weekend. Whiteface has already recorded more than 160 inches of natural snow so far this season, just a foot shy of last winter’s entire snow total of 172 inches.
** Cross Country Ski Report
All cross country ski areas will be open this weekend with an 12 to 18 inch base. The Jackrabbit Trail is skiable its entire length, with about two to three feet of base Complete cross-country conditions are available [here].
** Backcountry Ski Report
Snow cover is suitable for skiing on all trails with about 3 1/2 feet at Lake Colden and 4 to 5 feet over 4,000 feet. Most routes have been broken out. Marcy trail beyond Marcy Dam finally in good condition all the way to the summit. There is good cover reported on the upper part of the Wright Peak Ski Trail, but still a few rocks showing on the hiking trail portion. The weight of new snow has led to slush conditions on many lakes. Bring a scraper. Snows have accumulated to sufficient depths on Adirondack Mountain slopes to create conditions conducive to avalanches and DEC has issued an Avalanche Warning. 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. The Avalanche Pass Slide is closed to skiing and snowshoeing during the winter months.
** Ice Climbing Report
Most climbing areas are sporting at least some ice in good shape, but breaking trails to get to lesser used climbs could take some time and lower angled climbs like Chouinards, the Slab, Multiplication Gully and others are dangerous right now due to the threat of Avalanche. No climbing yet reported 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 and there has been an Ice Warning has been issued by DEC. Recent heavy snow will make for difficult movement and keep ice in only recently frozen areas thin. Slush has become a serious problem with up to a foot of icey water on the top in some locations. Lake George is frozen from end to end, but thin at its widest points and in the central and northern parts of the lake so anglers are mostly keeping to the shorelines and bays. Many smaller local lakes have 8 inches or more of ice. 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
All of the region’s snowmobile trails are in good condition with about a 8 inch to one foot base. Conditions throughout the region vary depending on elevation, nearness to large lakes, and latitude. Lakes have a good deal of slush and layered ice and the DEC has issues a Dangerous Ice Warning. Water, in some places up to a foot deep, may refreeze resulting in alternating layers of ice and water all covered by a blanket of snow. The snow acts as an insulator preventing the water from refreezing completely even in very cold temperatures. There have been numerous reports of snowmobiles and other vehicles getting stuck in the mixture of snow, slush, ice and water. Several snowmobiles and vehicles have broken through areas of thin ice. Avoid riding on lakes or ponds, and excessive speed. So far this year one sledder has died in Franklin County, one in Jefferson County, one in Herkimer County, and two in Lewis County. Three snowmobiles went through the ice on Lake George in early January. The new connection between North Warren and South Warren Snowmobile club trail systems between Thurman and Warrensburg has been closed on landowner concerns and an inability to make sure the trail was properly cleared. A new connection between South Warren’s trails and the Washington County trail system has been well-received, however.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.
Low water is reported for the Beaver Rivers. Ice has formed on all waters. Use care and consult the latest streamgage data.
Some small game hunting is 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: 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.
Avalanche Conditions: Snows have accumulated to sufficient depths on Adirondack mountain slopes 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.
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 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
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
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.
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.
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.