Posts Tagged ‘snow’

Monday, October 10, 2011

Adirondack Weather: The Winter Forecast

It is part of human nature to be curious about future events, and with the approach of winter, many people are currently wondering about the severity of the upcoming season. In an attempt to gain insight into the weather conditions for the next 5 to 6 months, some people turn to the scientific community. The Climate Prediction Center, the very long range forecasting division of the National Weather Service, regularly provides its “best guess” weather scenarios for the next 12 months based on oceanic and atmospheric anomalies that are believed to influence global weather patterns.

The Farmer’s Almanac and The Old Farmer’s Almanac are two very popular and long established publications that provide similar general and specific weather forecasts for the coming seasons. While the exact methods employed to devise these forecasts are still considered to be a trade secret, both of these almanacs are believed to rely on solar cycles and other natural phenomena that are thought to influence weather patterns.

As a means of learning what the future holds, some people turn to nature for those subtle “signs” of upcoming weather. Unquestionably, the woolly bear caterpillar is the bug assumed to be the most reliable and accurate in predicting the winter. The woolly bear is a very fuzzy caterpillar roughly an inch in length, identified by a reddish-brown section between the two black ends of its cylindrical body.

This caterpillar emerges from an egg late in the summer at which time it begins to feed heavily on the foliage of a variety of plants. Around the time of the first frost, the woolly bear abandons its feeding routine and starts to search for a sheltered spot in which to pass the winter. A pile of dead leaves around an old stump, a crevice in a rock that becomes covered by snow following the first winter storm, or a nook within a stack of firewood in a shed or barn are likely places where this caterpillar to retreat to and curl up into a ball before slipping into a deep state of dormancy. The reduction of moisture within its body and the development of certain substances in its tissues that lower the freezing point of water allow this caterpillar to survive prolonged periods of frigid temperatures without perishing.

According to popular legend, the width of the middle, lighter colored strip is the key to determining the severity of the coming winter. Should this middle section exceed one-third its body length, winter will be on the mild side, and the longer it is, the milder the winter will be. Scientists have discovered, however, that the relative length of this center band expands as the caterpillar ages. It has also been reported that dry conditions also promotes the expansion of this center band.

Folklore enthusiasts insist that the woolly bear’s coat responds to subtle atmospheric conditions and these factors are instrumental in determining future weather patterns, just like the Climate Prediction Center focuses on la Niña conditions across the Pacific.

Another “sign” in nature said to be useful in forecasting winter weather is the height of a wasp nest above the ground. When wasps build their nest high in trees, it indicates that there is going to be substantial amount of snowfall. However, this correlation doesn’t seem to make sense, as wasps completely abandon their nest during mid autumn. Only the queen wasp survives the winter by burrowing underground; all the workers eventually perish when the temperatures begin to regularly drop below freezing in mid autumn. The location of a wasp nest is based solely on the site the queen believes will provide the greatest level of protection from the predators in that immediate area, not on how future snowfall will impact the vacant nest.

The thickness of the coats of various animals and the bushiness of a gray squirrel’s tail are other “signs” that people cite as they attempt to peer into the future. The density of fur on all animals is regulated by genetics, yet its appearance can be impacted by the weather. For example, a deer’s coat appears to puff out as the temperature drops because of the hair’s response to cooler conditions. It is similar to a person having a “bad hair day” when moisture levels increase and the hairs react by becoming crinkled, or more rigid.

In any event here are the Forecasts:

National Weather Service: Normal temperatures and normal precipitation

Old Farmer’s Almanac: Below normal temperatures, especially from mid Jan through April and below normal precipitation

Farmer’s Almanac: Near normal temperatures with stormy and snowy conditions

Woolly bear caterpillar: (At least the ones that I have encountered.) normal winter conditions

Wasp nest: heavy snowfall winter

My own personal analysis: A mild winter to start with minimal amounts of snowfall into mid Jan. Normal to slightly above normal temperatures for the rest of the winter with above normal amounts of snowfall. (There will be 3 days this winter when the temperature never gets above zero.)

Illustration: The probability of average, higher, or lower than normal temperatures for November, December, and January. Courtesy the The Climate Prediction Center.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Still Midwinter on Mount Marcy

Heavy rain, thunder and lightning, flood watches, the Yankees vying for first place, the Mets vying for last—it seems that spring has arrived.

Not so fast. This past Saturday, I skied Mount Marcy with Sue Bibeau, the Adirondack Explorer’s designer and sometime photographer, and we were amazed at how much snow remains up high.

We took the Van Hoevenberg Trail from Adirondak Loj. Except for three short sections—at Algonquin Brook, Marcy Dam, and Phelps Brook—we kept our skis on the whole way. As we approached the tree line on Marcy’s summit, we found the last signpost, at the junction with the Phelps Trail, completely buried in snow except for the top few inches.

I’m not sure how tall that signpost is, though I’m told it’s under five feet. In any case, I’ve been up Marcy many times in midwinter and not found that much snow.

Of course, the snow is not going to disappear overnight. So despite the rains this week, there will be skiing on Marcy next weekend and (if we’re lucky) perhaps into May. As the days pass, skiers will have to carry their boards farther and farther to find snow. In past springs, I’ve lugged my skis as far as three and a half miles. That still left me with nearly four miles of good skiing.

Yes, it’s a lot of work, but there’s nothing quite like skiing Marcy’s bowl in a T-shirt. It’s no wonder we saw thirteen other skiers on the summit on Saturday.

Incidentally, I did the trip on the Madshus Epochs I reviewed here last week. The skis worked fine, though I was unable turn them as quickly as my wider skis. One big advantage is that the Epochs are a few pounds lighter than my other skis and can be used with lighter boots. This makes a huge difference on a 7.4-mile ascent.

Paddlers, too, should be grateful for the abundance of snow in the peaks. As it melts in the weeks ahead, the creeks will be running high. This is also good news for anglers: the cold, rushing water will scour silt from the holes where trout hide out and lay eggs.

It’s been a good winter, but it’s not quite over.

Photo by Phil Brown: Marcy’s summit last weekend.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mud Season: Sloshing Through Wet Trails

April and May are traditionally considered the messiest part of mud season in the Adirondacks. This designation ignores the fact that any month in the Adirondacks without snow cover could be classified as such. Mud season offers significant challenges to any backcountry adventurer regardless of whether they stay on hiking trails or venture off-tail into areas less traveled.

Although April is considered the beginning of mud season, the actual season can shift significantly from year to year depending on the winter’s snow pack, and the average temperature and amount of liquid precipitation during the early spring. Elevation effects the arrival of mud season with it occurring earlier at low elevations and much later on mountaintops. But regardless of when it starts the results are eventually the same: wet and muddy trails, boots and legs.

There are many challenges for the backcountry explorer during this messy time of the year. These challenges require additional planning, preparation and in some cases caution. But there are a few benefits to being in the backcountry this time of the year as well. In addition, there are some important environmental impacts of hiking in mud season that need identification and management so as to ameliorate their negative impacts.

One challenge of hiking during mud season is the weather. The months of April and May often display the most variable weather both from day-to-day and year-to-year. This variability requires being prepared for almost any type of conditions imaginable from deep snow to driving rainfall. This often requires carrying a vast array of equipment for both the winter and summer seasons.

Depending on the situation crampons and/or snowshoes (see a review of perfect lightweight snowshoes here) may be necessary and an effective pair of gaiters is a must (see a review of a great pair of gaiters here). A good sturdy pair of hiking boots, preferably with a waterproof layer, will help keep your feet dry even in the muddiest of conditions especially in combination with gaiters.

I have some first-hand experience with the variability of the weather during spring conditions. Once while backpacking within the Five Ponds Wilderness during early-May I sloshed through a substantial snowfall. I was clearly unprepared for such weather conditions since I brought only my summer equipment for the most part.

Crossing streams in the early spring can be very challenging regardless of whether hiking on or off trails. In early spring, ice jams can cause extensive flooding while later in the spring streams can become swollen with runoff from the melting snow pack and the saturated soils. Look out for floating logs and flooded boardwalks as both can be frequent hazards on trails through wetlands during this time of the year.

There are some negative environmental impacts to hiking during mud season. The chief environmental damage from hiking in mud season is erosion. Although erosion can occur anywhere it is more extensive within the mountainous and heavy trafficked areas within the High Peaks. Soils tend to be more susceptible to erosion in the spring due to the alternating warmer temperatures during the day and colder temperatures in the evening.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation often issues a voluntary trail closure for areas above 3000 feet in the Eastern High Peaks. These closures are issued to protect trails from erosion as well as to protect fragile alpine vegetation during this time of the year. The effectiveness of these closures on trail use in this area is questionable.

When encountering muddy trails one should avoid walking around sloppy portions of a trail to avoid the muck. Typically, avoiding walking through ankle deep (or deeper!) mud just seems like common sense but it is best walk right through the mud to avoid trail creep and damaging nascent vegetation growing along the trail’s border. These fragile early-season shoots can be easily damaged by the aggressive tread of a hiker’s boot.

Because of all the negative issues of navigating through mud season I typically avoid any backcountry hiking in the month of April in the Adirondacks. Usually my own backcountry adventures start around mid-May although this is highly dependent on the prevalent weather conditions during mid to late spring.

Although there are many challenges and some negative environmental factors of hiking during mud season there are a couple of advantages to the adventurous backcountry enthusiast.

One advantage of exploring the backcountry during April is the lack of a certain plentiful Adirondack pest. Typically April is the last totally biting bug free month in the Adirondacks until the following autumn. At some point in late May the bane of the Adirondacks, the black fly will reemerge from the stream and rivers, and attack anything warm-blooded with a pulse. Soon other biting flies will join in on the fun and most will be present until the end of summer.

Another benefit of hiking in the early spring is the lack of foliage. Although many may see this as a disadvantage due to the lack of shade, the absence of the scent of fresh foliage and the comforting rustle of the wind through the leaves there is a real benefit to be enjoyed. Without leaves blocking one’s views some outstanding vistas once obscured now becomes visible. This is especially true on rolling hills where the trees often grow thickest.

Hiking through the backcountry during mud season offers the ambitious explorer some real challenges and a few advantages over some other seasons in the Adirondacks. It is important to be prepared for any and all weather conditions but the season offers some pleasant bug-free hiking with some seldom seen awesome views. But the more fastidious explorer should sit this season out and wait for the warm winds of summer to dry up the trails.

Photos: Muddy trail on Mt. Colden, muddy and wet Adirondack trail, flooded trail near Cranberry Lake by Dan Crane.

Dan Crane blogs about his bushwhacking adventures at Bushwhacking Fool.


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (March 31)

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 STORM WARNING
NOTE: This Storm Veered East and Much Less Snow is Expected
Be prepared to break trails this weekend. A winter storm warning has been issued for the entire Adirondack region from late Thursday into Friday evening. The highest amounts of heavy wet snow are expected in the Southeast, in Northern Warren and Southeastern Essex County, including the Keene Valley approach to the High Peaks. Smaller amounts are expected in the Northern and Western Adirondacks, Southeastern St. Lawrence County, and the Northern Adirondacks and into Eastern Essex County along Lake Champlain; more in the High Peaks and at higher elevations. The latest details are online.

** WINTER CONDITIONS AT ALL ELEVATIONS
Even before Friday’s storm arrives winter conditions still exist throughout the area with 6 inches to two feet of snow on the ground across the region, and more in higher elevations. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reported just over 3 feet on the ground at the cabin. Ice may be found on summits and other open areas. These conditions still require snowshoes or skis at all elevations and crampons on exposed areas. Snow cover is good most trails and will improve after Fridays storm. Higher elevations waters are still iced in and covered with snow. Lower elevation waters may be open, or deceptively covered with snow. Use extreme caution with the thickness of ice.

** BEAR CANISTERS NOW REQUIRED IN HIGH PEAKS
The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness, and recommended throughout the Adirondacks, between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters.

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

** EXPECT BLOWDOWN
Recent storms and strong winds have caused blowdown – trees, limbs, and branches may be found on and over trails, especially lesser used trails which have not yet been cleared. This will be especially true aft heavy wet snow expected Friday.

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

** Snowmobiles
Although most of the region’s snowmobile trails have closed, there will still be some snowmobiles operating on designated snowmobile trails. Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobile trails should keep to the sides of the trail to allow safe passage. See the weekly snowmobile trails report below for more information about the condition of local snowmobile trails.

Thin Ice Safety
Ice may consist of alternating layers of hard ice and frozen slush which is not as strong as clear hard ice. Snows may be covering thin ice – ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. Always check the thickness of ice before crossing and at several points along the way. Be cautious of ice near inlets, outlets and over any moving water. Each year a number of people fall through thin ice. One has already died and many more have gone through the ice. Use extreme caution with ice at this time of year.

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

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

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

** Central Adirondacks Lower Elevation Weather
Friday: Snow. High near 32.
Friday Night: Snow. Low around 25.
Saturday: Snow showers likely; cloudy, high near 34.
Saturday Night: Slight chance of snow showers; mostly cloudy, low around 18.
Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 34.

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

** Snow Cover
A winter storm warning had been issued for the entire Adirondack region from late Thursday into Friday evening, but that storm has turned east. The highest amounts of heavy wet snow are expected in the Southeast, in Northern Warren and Southeastern Essex County, including the Keene Valley approach to the High Peaks. Smaller amounts are expected in the Northern and Western Adirondacks, Southeastern St. Lawrence County, across the Northern Adirondacks, and into Eastern Essex County along Lake Champlain; more in the High Peaks and at higher elevations. Conditions still require snowshoes or skis at higher elevations and crampons on exposed areas such as summits. The latest snow cover map from the National Weather Service provides an estimate of snow cover around the region.

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

** Cross Country Ski Report
Most of the region’s cross-country ski areas are still open. With 10-15 inches of hard, crusty snow on the ground. The Jackrabbit Trail is skiable its entire length, with about a 10 to 20 inch base. The entire trail has good cover, but the hills are hard and fast. Complete and up-to-date cross-country conditions are available [here].

** Backcountry Ski Report
Snow cover is suitable for skiing on all trails with just over 3 feet at Lake Colden and more at higher elevations. Use old hiking trail to reach Marcy Dam from ADK Loj. Truck trail has open brook crossing 1/4 mile past the register, but it can be crossed via a narrow snow bridge or a detour upstream to a beaver dam. The bridge is out on the trail to Marcy, see below for details. Snows have accumulated to sufficient depths on Adirondack Mountain slopes to create conditions conducive to avalanches and DEC has issued an Avalanche Warning. The Avalanche Pass Slide is closed to skiing and snowshoeing during the winter months.

** Ice Climbing Report
Anything facing south or east is mostly gone or dangerous. Climbers are reporting Chapel Pond, Cascade Pass, the back side of Pitchoff, Underwood Canyon, the North Face of Gothics and the Trap Dyke as climbable areas. Multiplication Gully is reported in great shape, probably the best of the season. Poke-O-Moonshine is pretty much done, as is Roaring Brook Falls, Pharaoh Mountain, and the Palisades on Lake Champlain. Mineville Pillar and Chillar Pillar are likely top-ropeable but the conditions there will be day-to-day. In the Southern Adirondacks there is still some good ice on Dutton Mountain, but the ice on Crane is gone aside from some hidden spots on the back side. Additional Adirondack ice climbing conditions are supplied by Adirondack Rock and River Guide Service.

** Rock Climbing Closures
Effective Monday, April 4, all rock climbing routes on Upper and Lower Washbowl Cliffs in the Giant Mountain Wilderness and on Moss Cliff in the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness are closed to allow for peregrine falcon nesting. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.

** Ice Fishing Report
Ice fishing is officially open, but recent heavy snows and warm weather have left very slushy conditions last week which have frozen over to crusty ice. While higher elevation waters (above 2500 feet) are still iced in and covered with snow, lower elevation waters are beginning to open up. Portions of lower elevation waters are opening during the day and refreezing at night. Be cautious around inlets, outlets, shoreline seeps and over moving water. 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 local clubs have closed there trails or are planning to this week after one of its longest seasons in recent memory. Now is the time to show restraint to keep from tearing up trails that are fragile. There is still some riding to be had in the central Adirondacks but at least some trails are closed in all trail systems throughout the region. Washouts, water holes, fallen snow bridges, and open stream crossings can be expected around the region but some areas. Many clubs have already closed their trails, particularly in Warren and Washington counties, in the Town of Webb (which closes midnight Friday). Contact a local club for specific details in their area. In the Western Lake George Wild Forest the gates on the following snowmobile trails have been closed: Gay Pond Road, Prospect Mountain, Lily Pond Road, Palmer Pond Road, and Jabe Pond Road, Dacy Clearing and Shelving Rock. Avoid riding on lakes or ponds, and excessive speed. Ride safely. More Adirondack snowmobiling resources can be found here.

** Rivers Running, Below, At Or Above Normal
Waters in the region are running below, at, or above normal levels for this time of year. The Raqautte, Indian, and Sacandaga running above normal.The Oswegathcie and Black rivers are running below normal. Use care and consult the latest streamgage data.

** Hunting Seasons
Most hunting seasons are now closed with the exception of late snow goose. March 27th is the final day for hunting Coyote and March 28th, the final day to hunt crows. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms while hiking on trails. Recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists with the legal right to hunt on Forest Preserve lands. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare.

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

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

** Bear and Deer Harvest Report
Hunters killed just over 230,000 deer and more than 1,060 bears in the 2010 hunting season, according to DEC. The deer take locally was up about 3% from 2009, bear numbers were down about 35% from 2009. While overall population size plays a large role in harvest totals, annual variations in take are also strongly influenced by environmental factors that affect bear activity and hunting pressure such as natural food availability and snow fall according to DEC wildlife biologists.

ADIRONDACK LOCAL BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS

NORTHVILLE PLACID TRAIL

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

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

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

ADIRONDACK CANOE ROUTE / NORTHERN FOREST CANOE TRAIL

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

HIGH PEAKS

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

** Giant Mountain Wilderness: Effective Monday, April 4, all rock climbing routes on Upper and Lower Washbowl Cliffs are closed to allow for peregrine falcon nesting. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.

** McKenzie Mountain Wilderness: Effective Monday, April 4, all rock climbing routes on Moss Cliff are closed to allow for peregrine falcon nesting. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ADIRONDACKS

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

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

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

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

SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

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

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

** Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: The gates on the Dacy Clearing and Shelving Rock snowmobile trails are closed.

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

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

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

NORTHERN ADIRONDACKS

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

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

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

NORTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

** Taylor Pond Wild Forest: Effective Monday, April 4, all of the rock climbing routes on the Main Face of Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain are closed, except for the routes between “Opposition” and “Womb with a View”, to allow for peregrine falcon nesting. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.

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

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

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

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

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

GENERAL ADIRONDACK NOTICES

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

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

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

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

——————–
Warnings and announcements drawn from DEC, NWS, NOAA, USGS, and other sources. Detailed Adirondack Park camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation and trail conditions can be found at DEC’s webpages. A DEC map of the Adirondack Park can also be found online [pdf].

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


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Banner Winter for Adirondack Mice

The deep snow pack that formed this winter and its persistence in remaining has created hardships for many forms of wildlife, yet a few creatures have benefited from this substantial crystalline covering, especially the mice.

Life for a small, ground dwelling rodent in winter is a challenge that many individuals fail to survive. Not only must a mouse find enough to eat in order to maintain an internal temperature near 100 degrees, but it must also avoid the many predators that target this round-eared critter. After most other small creatures, like the chipmunk, wood frog, jumping mice, salamanders and snakes have entered their dormant stage in autumn, only a few ground dwelling forms of prey remain active for our carnivores to hunt. This substantially increases the pressure on these familiar small rodents.

In their attempt to avoid being seen by a fox, coyote, bobcat, fisher, hawk, owl or other meat eater, those mice that have not taken up residence indoors tend to confine their travels as much as possible to places under the snow’s surface. Limiting their foraging activities as much as possible to the crevices and hollows under fallen logs, around large rocks and stumps, and beneath other objects on the forest floor helps to conceal these critters from the view of the larger animals that are always on the prowl for prey.

While the keen senses of hearing and smell of most predators, especially the fox and coyote enable these highly perceptive animals to detect the movements of a mouse under the snow, their ability to capture one depends on the depth of the snow, as well as surface conditions. Rapidly and accurately digging through more than a foot of powder becomes a major challenge for any quadruped. The noise generated in flinging aside the snow instantly alerts the quarry to an attack, and causes this potential meal to quickly retreat from that spot. Unless a predator attacks with lightning speed, it will never be successful in apprehending a roving mouse beneath the snow pack.

A crust on the surface presents an even more formidable barrier to snagging a mouse as it moves in the shallow spaces that exist between the forest floor and the snow that covers the ground. A dense crust which forms after a late winter thaw is especially beneficial, as it can act like a coat of armor over the domain of a mouse.

Hawks and owls are particularly adversely impacted by the presence of a substantial layer of snow throughout the winter. These hunters rely entirely on snatching creatures that are traveling on top of the snow, or are moving just below the surface. While their razor sharp talons are effective weapons in quickly killing prey, they are useless in digging through the snow to search for an animal that has recently burrowed down into the powder to escape an attack.

Aside from offering protection from its numerous natural enemies, snow also provides mice with protection against bitter cold temperatures. Snow is an excellent insulator, and a layer of fluffy powder effectively traps the heat contained within the soil, making a far more favorable microclimate beneath this seasonal blanket than the air above.

It is difficult to say when the snow will eventually disappear for the season. For outdoor enthusiasts that enjoy bare ground and for the region’s numerous predators, it can’t come soon enough. But for the mice, a snow pack that lingers well into April is ideal, for this is when the intensity of the sun’s rays begins to thaw the soil and awakens most dormant critters. As these creatures begin to repopulate the forest floor, in an often still lethargic state, the appetite of the predator community begins to become satisfied, and hunting pressure eases on the mice.

So far, this has been a near perfect snow season for our mouse community, and undoubtedly, there are now plenty of mice to begin their extensive breeding season. With their normally high rate of reproduction, it can be expected that there will be an over abundance of these small, ubiquitous rodents by the time mid autumn arrives, and countless individuals will be looking for a warm home in which to spend next winter.

Tom Kalinowski’s videos can be seen at


Monday, March 28, 2011

Outdoor Gear For The Shoulder Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Deep Snow And White-Tail Deer Mortality

It has been a tough two months for the white-tailed deer throughout the Adirondacks, and the snowstorm this past weekend only added to the continuing misery experienced by this popular big game animal since mid-January.

With its long legs, the white-tail has the ability to travel through a snow bound forest when there is up to 12 to 16 inches on the ground. As the snow pack becomes denser, crusted, or deeper, the mobility of this hoofed creature becomes greatly restricted. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Snowshoe Rabbit in Early March

Early March is the time of the year when the snow pack in the Adirondacks typically reaches its greatest depth, and winter gales are the most frequent and powerful. Yet, this period of wind and deep snow produces some of the most favorable conditions for the varying hare, also known as the snowshoe rabbit, a common denizen of our dense conifer forests.

For a creature that can easily remain on the surface of the snow, a thick blanket of powder provides the varying hare with the opportunity to access vegetation that is ordinarily out of its reach. Standing upright on its powerful hind legs, this herbivore is only able to gnaw on the buds and bark of twigs that occur up to a foot above the surface on which the animal is located. Should a snow pack that is three plus feet deep develop over an area, the hare will then be able to reach the edible parts of saplings and shrubs that exist nearly four feet above the forest floor. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Corrina Parnapy: The Importance of Snow

During this winter, it seems to have been snowing almost every week. Snow is piling up making driving hard and causing roofs to collapse. While the snow may be causing problems for people, it is just what the environment needs. Winters with thick snow packs mean a productive, drought free summer.

Snow falls to the ground, insulating the soil and roots of plants. When the snow melts it sinks into the ground between cracks and crevices of the bedrock replenishing the groundwater supply. The snow-melt will seep into the pore spaces between the soil particles or flow over the ground, filtering out into the streams, springs and lakes, thereby recharging the surface water. Snow is the major form of precipitation in the Adirondacks. Mild winters threaten soil productivity, plant growth and freshwater resources. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Dec. 9)

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
» Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Whiteface Opens for 53rd Season Friday

Whiteface is ready to open for its 53rd ski and ride season on Friday, Nov. 26, at 8:30 a.m. Snow guns have been making snow since Thursday, Nov. 18, in preparation for opening day.

The Cloudsplitter Gondola will carry intermediate and above level skiers and riders to the summit of Little Whiteface to access Excelsior, Upper Valley, and the Summit Express. Skiers and riders will then load the Little Whiteface chair to return to the summit of Little Whiteface. At the conclusion of their day, they will then download on the Cloudsplitter Gondola.

The Lower Valley, Fox and Mixing Bowl trails are expected to open for the season Saturday for top to bottom skiing and riding.

Whiteface boast the East’s greatest vertical drop and was recently chosen by readers of SKI Magazine as the #1 ski resort in the Eastern United States and #1 for 18 years straight for Off-Hill Activities. Readers of SnowEast Magazine also tabbed the Olympic mountain the East’s favorite resort.

Opening day lift tickets are $47 for adults (20-64 years old), $37 for teens (13-19) and seniors (65-69), and $24 for juniors (7-12) and Seniors (70 and older). Children six and under ski and ride for free any day of the season. These prices will be in effect through Friday, Dec. 3. Early season prices begin on Saturday, Dec. 4, $57 for adults (20-64 years old), $47 for teens (13-19) and seniors (65-69), $34 for juniors (7-12) and $38 for skiers and riders 70 and older.

“We have great coverage on Excelsior and Upper Valley, and with a few more cold nights we should cover the Lower Valley, Fox and Mixing Bowl for Saturday,” said mountain manager Bruce McCulley. “This will give us 2.5 miles of skiing for Thanksgiving weekend, which is a great start to the season.”

Opening day will also feature the final installation of the 80-foot long mural in the lower tunnel of the Main Base Lodge, created by local area youth entitled “Seasons.” The mural features over 300 individually painted leaves and snowflakes and skiers are riders are encouraged to attend the 10 a.m. ceremony.

Throughout the 2010-11 season, skiers and riders can enjoy super savings on lift tickets with programs including Super Sundays presented by Bud Light, Coca-Cola “Why Not Wednesdays” and the Vertical Club.

The five Super Sundays are scheduled for Dec. 12; Jan. 2; Feb. 6; March 13 and April 3. During those five selected Sundays, tickets prices to ski and ride Whiteface’s 3,430 feet of vertical will be $35 for adults 20 years and older, $30 for teens and just $25 for juniors. The themes include Stylin’ Sunday (Dec. 12), Island Madness (Jan. 2), Super Football Sunday (Feb. 6), Shamrock Sunday (March 13) and Retro Sunday (April 3).

Every non-holiday Wednesday is a Coca-Cola “Why Not Wednesday” at the Olympic mountain. A one-day lift ticket is just $38 when a skier or rider brings a Coca-Cola product.

The Vertical Club allows skiers and riders the opportunity to save every time they visit Whiteface or Gore. As a Vertical Club member your first visit is free and it’s $15 off future visits to Whiteface to Gore. Use the card five times and your sixth visit is also free, plus Vertical Club members can cash in on extra savings days announced throughout the season at both Whiteface and Gore. The card must be purchased three days in advance and is available on-line at http://www.whiteface.com/summer/tickets/wf_special.php.

Photo: Making snow on Whiteface on Sunday, November 21st.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Whiteface Begins Snowmaking

You don’t need to be a meteorologist to know that it’s been cold the last several days and nights, ideal for dusting off the hoses and guns and making snow at Whiteface. “We saw an opportunity to take advantage of some good temperatures,” said Whiteface general manager Bruce McCulley. “We’ll keep watching the weather and the temperatures over the next several days and make snow when it makes sense so that we have a good product for opening day.”

This season’s snowmaking is far ahead of last year’s, when the mountain didn’t make its first snow until Nov. 16, pushing back opening day until Dec. 5. Starting at about 6 p.m. last night, 35 guns began blowing snow from the mid-station down, laying the based for the Friday, Nov. 26, opening, weather permitting.

The early snowmaking also should serve as a reminder to skiers and riders that Thursday, Nov. 18, is the deadline to purchase discounted 2010-11 season passes for Whiteface and Gore.

Whiteface boasts the greatest vertical east of the Rockies, 283 skiable acres and 86 trails and was recently named the number-one ski resort in the eastern United States by readers of SKI Magazine. The mountain also received high marks for its Après-Ski (#2), Dining (#2), Family Programs (#2), Scenery (#2), Terrain/Challenge (#2), Lodging (#4) and Overall Satisfaction (#5). And for the 18th consecutive year, Whiteface/Lake Placid was chosen number-one for its Off-Hill Activities, thanks to its array of Olympic-style sports including bobsledding, ice skating, cross country skiing, ski jumping, as well as events such as World Cup racing, shows and concerts.

Whiteface was also chosen by SnowEast Magazine readers as the East’s favorite resort. Whiteface topped such resorts as Sugarloaf and Sunday River, both in Maine, and even Killington, in Vermont. More than 3,500 readers took part in the poll and they also tabbed Whiteface as the most scenic resort and their favorite destination village.

Photo: Snowmaking at Whiteface, from Mid-station down. Photos courtesy of Whiteface/ORDA.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Oct. 14)

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

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

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

SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GENERAL ADIRONDACK CONDITIONS

Fire Danger: LOW

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

Motorists Alert: Moose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ADIRONDACK LOCAL BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS

** indicates new or revised items.

NORTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

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

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

HIGH PEAKS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ADIRONDACKS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EASTERN ADIRONDACKS

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

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

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

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

NORTHERN ADIRONDACKS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ellen Rathbone: The Vagaries of Spring

How many of you cringed when you heard yesterday’s forecast for up to a foot of snow here in the Adirondacks? And how many merely smiled and said “of course…this is the Adirondacks”? However you look at the meterological foibles of the North Country, you have to admit that living up here keeps us on our toes.

Now, I should confess that I am personally responsible for our latest snow storm. Yes, it was I, for last weekend I foolishly decided to plant my peas. But, in my defense, “they” say you can plant peas as soon as the ground can be worked, and this year that could’ve been March! Peas are supposed to be pretty hardy, though, so I’m sure this white coat the ground is now wearing will do very little harm to the hard round peas that are an inch or so beneath the surface.

But what about all the other trees and shrubs and non-woody plants that greened up early? I took this photo on my way in to work this morning – I love the way the new green leaves stand out palely against the white snow. It’s a lovely color. But will they survive? How much damage will they suffer? I suspect that since the temperatures did not drop radically (we were only 30 degrees Fahrenheit last night), they will come through okay.

Many plants are perfectly well-adapted to the seasonal vagaries of spring. The next time you are out wandering the woods this spring, take a look at the stems and leaves of the earliest bloomers. Odds are you will find that at least some part of these plants is covered with hairs. On some these hairs are fine and a challenge to see, while others are covered with a robust downiness that looks downright furry.

Take coltsfoot, for example. Coltsfoot is probably the earliest “wildflower” blooming around here. Usually not open until about the second week of April in my neck of the woods, this year it presented its first blossoms on the 4th. One might be led to think that this flower had been fooled by the ridiculously warm weather we had in late March and early April, but closer examination of the plant shows that it is prepared for any cold weather emergency. Each stem is covered with overlapping scales as well short hairs, both of which help insulate the plant from the wildly erratic temperatures of spring.

Some plants merely close up their flowers when the temperatures head southward. I imagine this is a strategy to preserve nectar for pollinators. After all, bees and flies and other pollinators won’t be flying around when the mercury falls – they are “cold-blooded” creatures that need warmth in order to move, and if they aren’t flying around looking for food, then they won’t be doing any pollinating. The flowers are better off closing up the shop until the sun comes back out and the customers return.

I was driving through central New York yesterday, in the snow, past all those apple orchards that make this state a major player in the apple market. I didn’t see many trees in bloom, but then it was snowing pretty heavily and I was keeping my eyes mostly on the road ahead. But I know that many fruit growers have been concerned as their fruit trees burst into flower earlier and earlier each year, only to get walloped by a “late season” snow storm (which in truth isn’t really late – everything else is early). When that happens, there isn’t much they can do, for apple blossoms are not designed for freezing temperatures.

Already, though, the snow is melting – large, heavy clods are dropping from branches and roofs. By the weekend, the weather prognosticators say the temps will be soaring up to the seventies! All this snow will be gone – a mere memory recorded in photographs and on blogs. The plants that were prepared will continue to blossom and grow. Those that weren’t will either shrivel up and die or will rally their forces and try to produce a new set of flowers/leaves. It’s the cycle of life. They don’t agonize over it. You either adapt and move on, or your genes do not make it into the future. Hm…sounds like a lesson to me.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Alan Wechsler: Suggested Hikes For Mud Season

It was T.S. Eliot who wrote “April is the cruellest month.” He also wrote, in his epic poem “The Waste Lands”: “I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”

Substitute “mud” for “dust,” and Eliot might have been talking about the Adirondacks after the snow melts (although, you want to talk about cruel, let’s talk black flies …but that’s a subject for another post).

Anyway, as we reach the spring mud season, and the state Department of Environmental Conservation issues its annual “please don’t hike on muddy High Peaks trails” request, may we suggest a few dryer alternatives?

For starters, cast your eyes southward. The Lake George region, which gets much less snowfall than other areas in the park, is also one of the first places to warm up in the spring. There’s enough hikes there to last a full season, but we can easily recommend a few: » Continue Reading.



Wait, before you go,

sign up for news updates from the Adirondack Almanack!