Town of Keene Essex County Wilderness Rescue: On Mar. 25 at 5:14 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a hiker reporting he was concerned that his 18-year-old friend was lost after the pair were separated on the trail for Mount Marcy in the High Peaks Wilderness Area. After speaking with the caller, Forest Ranger Praczkajlo advised that he and Forest Ranger O’Connor were responding to assist. Once on scene, Ranger Praczkajlo notified Dispatch that he and Ranger O’Connor made contact with the reporting party at Marcy Dam. Ranger Praczkajlo continued up the trail to locate the lost hiker while Ranger O’Connor began to escort the friend out of the woods. Lt. Burns advised that Ranger Lewis would respond to the Garden parking lot and begin to hike up the Mount Marcy trail from Johns Brook Valley.
The non-profit Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve applauds the announcement by Commissioner Basil Seggos of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation of a pilot reservation system for accessing selected trails from the privately-owned Adirondack Mountain Reserve located off State Rte. 73 in the Town of Keene.
“This pilot program for the upcoming High Peaks Wilderness hiking season is part of a critically needed set of user management tools for both the DEC, the Town of Keene, and the adjacent, cooperating private landowner, the AMR,” said Adirondack Wild’s David Gibson.
“We have been calling for a pilot reservation system for a number of years to reduce Wilderness congestion, restore wilder conditions, and increase both hiker education and public safety. Now, we wish to thank the High Peaks Strategic Advisory Group, the DEC, the Adirondack Mountain Reserve, the Town of Keene, and other stakeholders involved for their study of the problems, and for their upcoming cooperation and commitment to initiate this pilot beginning on May 1.”
“The shortest distance between two points is a straight line” – Archimedes
The early Greek mathematician posed this rule for flat surfaces, which the Adirondacks are anything but. Yet this was the scheme for our first mountain trails – hardly layouts, but ad hoc routes to get hikers and particularly Fire Observers, to the summits ASAP. After twisting past down trees, boulders, cliffs, or water, their lines would straighten right back out. Trails out West more gently curve along the contours and switchback to ease their ascents, but not those here. Most of our old direct goat paths are still in place.
Closures due to Spring Thaw Effective Monday, March 22, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Region 6 began closing all mud gates to snowmobile trails and seasonal access roads on Forest Preserve, State Forest, and Conservation Easement lands, due to spring thaw and muddy conditions. Gate closures are expected to be completed by Friday, March 26.
Motor vehicle use during the spring mud season damages roads, resulting in road opening delays. DEC will reopen the roads once they become dry enough to safely handle motor vehicle traffic and any necessary maintenance is completed.
Region 6 is comprised of Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Herkimer, and Oneida counties.
Town of Fort Ann Washington County Wilderness Rescue: On Mar. 20 at 8:11 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for Forest Ranger assistance from Warren County 911 for a report of three 19-year-old hikers from Saratoga Springs lost on Buck Mountain in the Lake George Wild Forest. The reporting party stated the hikers had no light source and were cold. Forest Rangers St. Claire and Donegan responded to the trailhead and hiked into the woods, locating the lost group at 9:44 p.m. The hikers were in good condition and able to hike out on their own. All parties involved were cleared of the incident at 10:15 p.m.
Town of North Elba Essex County Wilderness Rescue: On Mar. 13 at 6:41 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a 27-year-old subject from Rochester suffering from a sore knee while hiking to Mount Marcy in the High Peaks Wilderness. The hiker did not have a headlamp or flashlight and reported that his four friends hiked out ahead of him. Just before 10 p.m., at Marcy Dam, Forest Ranger Sabo made contact with the hiker and two friends who had turned back to help him. Ranger Sabo and the hikers arrived back at the Loj parking lot at 11:16 p.m. and reunited the hikers with their group.
Looking to hear your thoughts to help shape future recreation content. The Adirondack Explorer would love to hear from you about recreation: What you enjoy doing outside, where you go for information. All outdoors experience levels welcome to participate!
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Early-bird registration for the Lake George Land Conservancy’s (LGLC) Hike-A-Thon is now open, in an optimistic step towards a year of in-person events aimed at getting people out onto the land around Lake George. The event, to be held on July 5, is free and open to the public and offers a variety of hiking and paddle options. The early-bird registration period goes until April 30, and includes the incentive of a free t-shirt for each person registered.
These programs teach participants the outdoor skills they need to become comfortable, confident, influential members of the outdoor community. DEC experts provide information, encouragement, and hands-on instruction in outdoor skills such as fishing, shooting, archery, hunting, trapping, outdoor photography, map and compass, survival, camping, canoeing, and outdoor cooking.
BOW workshops are designed primarily for women who have little or no experience with outdoor activities but are open to anyone ages 18 and over. Past participants have ranged in age from late teens to mid-80s!
Snowmobiling is a fun and adrenaline-filled way to experience the Adirondacks during the winter. Some trails even allow riders to experience the wilderness of Adirondack Forest Preserve lands.
Snowmobiling on Forest Preserve lands gives riders the opportunity to enjoy a wild forest character while navigating a system of seasonal motor vehicle roads and designated trails. These trails typically wind through hilly or mountainous terrain within a natural setting, connecting small communities and area attractions. These trails generally are narrower than trails on private lands. Snowmobiling is not permitted on all Forest Preserve lands, so be sure to stick to designated snowmobile trails.
Changes reflect new zoning, recent additions to the High Peaks Wilderness
The brand-new 15th edition of High Peaks Trails, the flagship of ADK’s (Adirondack Mountain Club’s) comprehensive Forest Preserve Series of guidebooks, has just been released. The volume is edited by longtime Adirondack adventurer Tony Goodwin, who has been writing and updating guidebooks for over 30 years.
Since the 14th edition was published in 2012, 47,000 acres of Forest Preserve have been added to the High Peaks Wilderness Area. Its boundaries have been redrawn, and new regulations governing use of these areas are anticipated. The new 15th edition addresses the significant zone changes that have been implemented by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, as well as new acquisitions, new trails, reroutes, restored and altered trailheads, and parking regulations.
The Adirondacks are set to see the warmest temperatures of 2021 so far this weekend. With temperatures creeping into the lower 40s at base elevations and rain expected in some areas, conditions for hikers, backcountry skiers, and other winter recreationists will change significantly.
Variable weather such as is forecast for this weekend can create dynamic conditions for outdoor recreation. Warm days and below freezing temperatures at night create a freeze/thaw cycle that can lead to increased instability in the snowpack and may increase the risk of avalanches.
If you’re planning to hike in the High Peaks region this winter, you may have heard that snowshoes are required to be worn once snow depths reach eight inches. But why is that, and what does it mean for you?
Snow can get very deep in the High Peaks Wilderness. Currently, there is close to three feet of snow at base elevations and five to six feet on summits. When snow gets this deep, staying on the surface is vital to your safety and the safety of others.
Snowshoes redistribute weight and help hikers float on the surface of deep snow. This prevents the deep holes, known as postholes, created by bare boots. Note that carrying snowshoes with you is not sufficient – they must be worn to prevent falls and postholing.
It might seem like snowshoes are unnecessary when trails become packed down from repeated travel, but that is not the case. Snow alongside the hardpacked trails will still be soft. Imagine stepping off to the side to let another group pass and falling feet down into the snow. Such falls can lead to injury and leave dangerous traps along the trail. Even on hardpacked trails bare boots can still create holes and divots in the snow that might cause others – especially skiers – to fall.
There are some instances when you might have to switch your snowshoes for other traction devices. When you encounter thick, steep ice, swap out your snowshoes for crampons. As soon as you are past the ice, put your snowshoes back on.
It takes practice to be able to walk in snowshoes comfortably. Practice at home, in familiar locations, and on short walks before attempting a big hike. Using trekking poles can help with balance.
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