Feb 24, 2012 — This is John Warren from the Adirondack Almanack with your look at outdoor recreation conditions around the Adirondacks for this weekend.
With the exception of Warren County and Eastern Essex County into the Keene Valley approach to the High Peaks, substantial snow has arrived for most of the region and this will be a great weekend to get outside, though be sure to know the latest weather before entering the backcountry.
Currently there are 10 to 15 inches of snow on the ground in the lower elevations, with 30 inches being reported at the Lake Colden interior cabin and more at higher elevations and the use of snowshoes or skis is now required throughout the High Peaks Wilderness.
Summit areas can expect daytime wind chill values hovering around zero this weekend and there is significant ice accumulation on summits. Full crampons are recommended for areas above tree line, while lighter traction devices should be sufficient in icy open areas at lower elevations. All backcountry visitors should be aware of proper safety methods for traversing steep slopes that are prone to avalanche.
The region's rivers and streams are running at 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, especially given our recent thawing. A vehicle went through the ice of Lake Champlain this past week, and numerous people trying to cross Marcy Brook immediately above Marcy Dam have broken through the ice. Marcy Brook should be crossed at the new low water crossing below the Dam which consists of well-packed ice and snow.
This will be the best weekend so far this winter for downhill skiing. Although you’ll want to call ahead to Hickory Mountain in Warrensburg to be sure, all the region's downhill areas will be open this week with good fresh packed powder. Gore Mountain and Whiteface are reporting more than 90% of their terrain open. It will also be a good weekend for cross-country skiing with all of the of the region's cross-country ski areas open on a 4 to 8 inch base.
Backcountry skiing has improved, with the notable exception of the VanHovenberg Trail between Marcy Dam and Indian Falls, which is boney as are other trails toward Keene including the Johns Brook approach to the High Peaks and the road to Lower Ausable Lake. Snow depths are not as deep as would normally be the case for this time of year, so use caution.
The Calamity Brook approach to Lake Colden is now being reported thin but skiable. The Marcy Trail is not yet reported skiable, but may be following snow today. Whale's Tail and Wright Peak should be skiable. The hiking trail from ADK Loj is still not recommended for skiing, but Marcy Dam Truck Trail, while thin at the start, is in good shape. Other early ski routes are all skiable, including the Jackrabbit Trail.
Mixed conditions remain for ice climbing, depending on exposure, with a lot of March-like conditions, so stick to shaded areas. Most areas are in, but use extreme caution.
With the additional snow this week, and more on the way, snowmobile trails are in generally good condition from Southern Franklin County and Cranberry Lake through toward Long Lake and Indian Lake, with lesser conditions toward Old Forge, Inlet, and the Speculator area. Eastern Essex, Warren and Washington Counties are still not ridable and that is not likely to change, even with new snow expected.
Those are the local outdoor conditions in the Adirondacks for this weekend, for North Country Public Radio, this is John Warren from the Adirondack Explorer’s Adirondack Almanack, online at www.AdirondackAlmanack.com.