We’re in for a warmer weekend than we’ve seen in some time, with higher summits expected to be clear and in the 30s on Saturday, although some exposed areas are very icy. There remains plenty of snow for all outdoor activities at least through this weekend. Trails may be crusty or icy in the morning, but may turn soft in the afternoon or even wet in low lying areas. Snowshoes and skis are still required in the Eastern High Peaks and encouraged elsewhere.
A few snow avalanches have occurred recently in the High Peaks and the possibility for weak snow layers remains. If you are planning on traveling in avalanche terrain, be aware the dangers of avalanche, carry appropriate safety gear, and know how to use it.
Most areas around the Adirondacks kept their snow cover this week. There is about 40 inches of snow at the Lake Colden Interior Outpost and more at higher elevations with a mix of thinner snow and deeper drifts in open areas. Mid-elevations in the Central Adirondacks have about 15-20 inches of snow. The perimeter of the Adirondacks has about 10-15 inches, with 4 to 8 inches in the lower elevations where snow has melted in some southerly exposed areas.
Several vehicles and snowmobiles have gone through lake ice this week resulting in two deaths. Longer days and warmer weather have caused ice conditions to deteriorate, ice along some shorelines has begun to recede, and slushy conditions prevail at lower elevations. Always check the depth and quality of ice frequently and avoid running water, and inlets and outlets. Ice fishing shanties must be removed by March 15th.
The region’s rivers and streams are currently running at normal levels for this time of year, but should increase with warmer temperatures and snowmelt by Sunday afternoon, so some low water crossings may not be accessible.
Downhill ski conditions continue to be very good with local ski resorts reporting nearly all their terrain open with packed powder above 2,500 feet and granular and loose granular conditions below. Hickory Mountain in Warrensburg, will remain closed.
All cross-country ski areas are open, most with a 6 to 8 inch packed base; Lapland Lake has a 12 to 14 inch base; Garnet Hill, near North Creek has about 8 to 10 inches.
Backcountry ski conditions are generally good with trails everywhere skiable with care as there are still some obstacles to avoid, and some icy downhills. The trail remains rough but skiable between the Adirondack Loj Trailhead and Marcy Dam, so the Marcy Dam Truck Trail from the South Meadow Trailhead remains the better approach. To Avalanche Pass and beyond conditions are good, there is still plenty of ice on the lakes. The Marcy and Wright Peak trails are skiable with care in the lower reaches. Smoother routes remain good opportunities including Connery Pond, Hays Brook, Raquette Falls, Fish Pond, Newcomb Lake, and Moose Pond remain in good shape.
The entire Jackrabbit Trail is skiable, however the section from the Whiteface Inn Road to McKenzie Pond Road near Saranac Lake will be closed Saturday during the removal of plane wreckage from Big Burn Mountain. Also closed will be the Haystack Mountain Trail on Route 86 in Ray Brook.
Finally this week, five people have died on snowmobiles in the Adirondacks since Saturday including one man who failed to negotiate a turn at high speed, two who drowned after driving into open water during poor visibility conditions, and two more who were killed in a head-on collusion in which alcohol may have been a factor. PLEASE, take safety seriously. Your life and the lives of others may be at stake. With warm weather this weekend the riding season will begin winding down; but good riding continues to be had, especially in Northern Hamilton and Western Warren counties. Trails have generally closed in Warren, Washington, and South-Eastern and Eastern Essex counties due to lack of snow.
Franklin County Snowmobilers have signed an agreement to open the gate along Route 458 to allow access to the C8 Corridor Trail through the Santa Clara Easement Lands. DEC says they are continuing to work on obtaining full public access to the Madawaska Flow Quebec Brook Primitive Area.
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.