Mar 22, 2013 — John Warren of the Adirondack Almanack checks in each Friday morning with a look at outdoor recreation conditions around the Adirondacks for the weekend.
Despite the thaw last week and the first day of Spring on Wednesday, Winter got a reprieve this week with colder temperatures and more than a foot of new snow in some areas. The weekend is expected to be slightly warmer, but forecasters are saying that a very low Arctic Oscillation may help keep weather colder than normal for the next week or so, possibly through next weekend. That’s good news for winter sports enthusiasts - winter was essentially over by this time last year.
New snow ranges from 4 to as much as 18 inches in some areas of the South Central Adirondacks and west of Route 30. Snowshoes and skis are required in the High Peaks, and will be needed elsewhere. A foot of new snow has fallen at Lake Colden where there is now three feet of snow and more at higher elevations. The potential for avalanches remain. If you are planning on traveling in avalanche terrain, be aware of the dangers, carry appropriate safety gear, and know how to use it.
Mid-elevations have about 10 to 20 inches of snowpack, while most lower elevations at the periphery of the Adirondack Park have about 8 to 12 inches.
The region’s rivers and streams are currently running at normal levels for this time of year. However, snow and ice bridges have been washed from most drainages as a result of last week’s rain and warm temperatures so not all crossings will be accessible.
Most lakes and ponds have a layer of ice covering a layer of water and slush. Last week’s thaw caused ice conditions to deteriorate, and ice along shorelines to recede. Cold temperatures have firmed ice again but extreme caution should now be the rule as ice conditions are uneven. Check ice depth frequently and avoid inlets and outlets.
With the exception of Roaring Brook Falls and the Palisades on Lake Champlain, all popular routes have climbable ice and good conditions. It’s looking like the back-side of Pitch-Off may go late this year.
Taking a look at the ski conditions, most downhill areas received a major boots this week with the new snow, but not all facilities picked up enough to keep operating. Oak Mountain near Speculator has closed for the season and Hickory in Warrensburg did not pick up enough to open and will end its second season in a row without opening due to lack of snow. Mt. Pisgah will offer this one last weekend of skiing and be closed on Monday. There is still plenty of skiing and nearly all terrain open at Whiteface, Gore, Titus, and McCauley Mountain in Old Forge. Cross country ski conditions have dramatically improved with all facilities open, grooming underway, and at least 8 inches of base.
Backcountry ski conditions have improved, but not as much as was hoped in the High Peaks. The trail between Adirondak Loj and Marcy Dam is still not recommended, although the Marcy Dam Truck Trail is in good condition. The new snow has improved skiing above Marcy dam, but the Marcy Trail for the first mile above the dam is rough and the hiking trail portion of the Wright Peak Ski Trail is not recommended. Fresh tracks are reported to a good crossing of the Opalescent River in the Flowed Lands, however, and the smoother routes around the region remain in good condition. The River Road and golf course sections of the Jackrabbit Trail may be thin by Sunday, but the entire trail is skiable now and in good condition.
With the exception of Warren County, snowmobile trails received enough snow to send the groomers out for one more weekend. However, the recent thaw left the base beneath the new snow bumpy and some drainages may be hazardous – so use caution. Trails in Southern Warren County remain closed and elsewhere in the eastern Adirondacks are generally thin and rough so use restraint there to avoid damaging trails. In the Eastern Lake George Wild Forest gates in the Shelving Rock and Pilot knob areas have been closed for the mud season, as is the Dacy Clearing Road.
Finally this week, Adirondak Loj will be closed April 1st through May 2nd for renovations. The Wilderness Campground and cabins will remain open, but meals will not be available at the Loj during the closure.
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.