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This weekend in the Adirondacks

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This is John Warren from the Adirondack Almanack with your look at outdoor recreation conditions around the Adirondacks for this weekend.

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John Warren
Adirondack Correspondent

This is John Warren from the Adirondack Almanack with your look at outdoor recreation conditions around the Adirondacks for this weekend.

A storm headed for the coast will miss us, but some regular light snow, especially at higher elevations, have helped to keep what snow we have on the ground.

Areas in the Eastern High Peaks into Eastern Essex County and Warren County still have little to no snow, with 2 to 6 inches at most lower elevation elsewhere. There is 5 to 7 inches in the south central Adirondacks and lower elevations of the central Adirondacks including toward Newcomb, and 20 inches is being reported at Lake Colden Interior Cabin.

The use of snowshoes or skis is required in the High Peaks Wilderness wherever snow depth exceeds 8 inches including beyond Avalanche Camp; beyond the junction of the Phelps Mountain and the VanHovenburg Trails; and beyond the junction of the Whales Tail and the Algonquin Mountain Trails.

Crampons will be helpful at lower elevations and required on steeper trails and other icy areas. Summit areas can expect wind chill values near zero this weekend.

The region's rivers and streams have returned to normal levels for this time of year. Ice thickness remains less than what is typical, but there is generally 6 to 12 inches of ice on most lakes. There is ice on the bays of Lake Champlain and Lake George, but large portions of those lakes remain dangerously thin or open water. Always use extreme caution when traveling on ice.

Warmer temperatures mean great downhill skiing, and mountains with snow-making capability have been making snow all week. With the continued exception of Big Tupper and Hickory Mountain in Warrensburg, the region's downhill areas will be open this weekend. Gore Mountain and Whiteface are reporting about 80% of their terrain open, but ski with caution as many trails still have thin cover, especially at mountains relying heavily on natural snow.

Cross-country and backcountry ski conditions remain largely unchanged from last week, with your best bets remaining the smoother, gentler trails, closed roads, and truck trails. All of the of the region's cross-country ski areas will be open this weekend, but with limited trails..

Good opportunities include the Paul Smith's and Newcomb VICs, which are still reporting good cover, as are the Tupper Lake trails, and Dewey Mountain. The Lake Placid area has about 3 to 5 inches of solid base and the Whiteface Highway is skiable. The Jackrabbit Trail has good cover on most sections, particularly from Whiteface Inn Lane to the top of the pass, but icy conditions on the west side. The rest of the trail including the Old Mountain Road section is skiable with caution.

Parts of the Marcy Dam Truck Trail are not well covered, especially at the start, but skiable routes include the Newcomb Lake Road to Camp Santanoni and Moose Pond (which has good cover), Burn Road at Little Tupper Lake; the Fish Pond Truck Trail, Hayes Brook Truck Trail to the Sheep Meadow; and the Raquette Falls area. The hiking trail from ADK Loj is not recommended for skiing, but Avalanche Pass is now reported skiable, as is the Calamity Brook approach to Lake Colden. The Wright Peak ski trail is reported skiable, but the hiking trail is icy. The Marcy ski trail is reported not yet skiable. Lake ice on Avalanche and Lake Colden was crossable as is the ice in the St. Regis Canoe Area, though use caution near inlets and outlets.

This has been an unusual winter and ice climbing routes are mixed depending on exposure, with a lot of March-like conditions, so stick to shaded areas. Best bets include the north side of Pitch-Off and, for experienced climbers, the Colden Trap Dyke which is now all ice and essentially a new climb. A bad choice would be Poke-O-Moonshine, which is reported to be mostly out, or sketchy.

There is not much change in the region's snowmobile trails, which are offering some limited riding on trails that are in fair condition in Southern Franklin County through toward Long Lake, Indian Lake, Old Forge, Inlet, and the Speculator area. Some of the best riding can still be found at the Cedar River end of the Moose River Plains and in the Perkins Clearing speculator Tree Farm easement lands. Trails in Eastern Essex, Warren and Washington Counties remain mostly closed.

There is some good news for backcountry enthusiasts.  DEC has said it will build a new bridge over Marcy Brook about a quarter-mile downstream from Marcy Dam and upstream from the current low-water crossing, which has become known as "The Squirrel Crossing".

In August, the old bridge at the dam was washed away during Tropical Storm Irene. A log-stringer bridge is expected to be built this spring or summer, paid for by the state’s Environmental Protection Fund. No decision has been reached yet as to whether or not  Marcy Dam will be replaced.  

Those are the local outdoor conditions in the Adirondacks for this weekend, for North Country Public Radio, this is John Warren from the Adirondack Almanack, online at  

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