Unpredictable winter conditions will continue this weekend. A mixture of mud, water, ice and some snow will be found on trails at lower elevations, while there will be snow and ice at higher elevations, more above 3,000 feet. Exposed rocks and bedrock are icy, especially on windblown summits, so pack and use ice crampons. Wear appropriate clothing, dress in layers, and have plenty of food and water to avoid hypothermia.
The region's rivers and streams are running above normal for this time of year, with the Bouquet, Ausable, Black and Independence rivers running well above normal.
Ice has begun forming on water bodies, especially at higher elevation waters, bays and backwaters and a few smaller lakes and ponds have a thin skin of ice, although at this time no ice is safe.
Some trapping and small game and waterfowl hunting seasons remain open, so keep pets leashed and on the trail.
Whiteface and Gore Mountain are open with about 25 percent of their trails and McCauley Mountain in Old Forge has a few trails open but downhill facilities relying on natural snow remain closed. There is not yet enough snow for cross-country or back-country skiing, or for snowshoeing or snowmobiling.
The ice climbing season has begun, thanks to cold nighttime temperatures over the past week that have opened up a few early routes. Climbers have been reported on the north side of Pitch-Off and on Crane Mountain, in general early routes are thin, but top-ropable. Climbing conditions should improve considerably in the coming week.
Taking a look around the region – the replacement of the bridge over West Canada Creek on the Northville-Placid Trail has been delayed. It was hoped construction of the new bridge would begin this fall, but that has been postponed until spring.
The 45 foot span bridge had replaced one that was lost in 2001. Until the bridge is replaced West Canada Creek will continue to require very careful crossing that may be intimidating to some hikers.
Over in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness the bridge over Mud Pond Outlet between Putnam Pond and the Treadway Mountain Trails has been replaced.
Tropical Storm Irene brought a lot of blowdown to the Pharoah Lake area, but Rock Pond Trail, the trails between Rock Pond, Lilypad Pond and Crab Pond, and the Bear Pond Trail have all now been cleared.