This is John Warren from the Adirondack Almanack with your look at outdoor recreation conditions around the Adirondacks for this weekend.
Snow has now arrived to the entire region and this will be a great weekend to get outside, though DEC has issued a statement of caution following four major backcountry rescues, and more than 20 people rescued from floating ice on local lakes in the past two weeks.
Currently there are 6 to 8 inches of snow on the ground at lower elevations in Warren and Eastern Essex County and into the Keene Valley approach to the High Peaks, with 15-20 inches in the lower elevations throughout the south-central and central Adirondacks. The caretaker reports 45 inches of snow at the Lake Colden Interior Cabin.
There is not as much snow at the trailheads out of Keene and Keene Valley, however the snow quickly deepens as you climb to higher elevations.
Be aware of proper safety methods for traversing steep slopes that are prone to avalanches. Skiers triggered an avalanche on the new slide on Wright Peak last weekend, and other avalanches have been reported.
Skis or snowshoes will be necessary in many areas, and required in the High Peaks where snow depths are approaching four feet. Full crampons are recommended for areas above tree line, while traction devices are sufficient for icy open areas at lower elevations. Summit areas can expect daytime wind chill values hovering around zero this weekend. Remember it takes more time and energy to travel through heavy snow.
The region's rivers and streams are running at normal levels for this time of year. Ice thickness remains less than what is typical for this time of year.
Lake Champlain and Lake George (with the exception of the South Bay of Lake Champlain) remain largely open water with some areas covered with dangerously thin ice. Expect wet conditions during the afternoon most everywhere and be aware of ice conditions throughout the day.
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, remember that ice that holds snow, may not hold the weight of a person.
This will be an outstanding weekend for downhill skiing. With the exception of a recommendation to call ahead to Hickory Mountain in Warrensburg to be sure, all the region's downhill areas will be open this week with nearly all of their terrain open on fresh packed powder and powder. It will be a great weekend for cross-country skiing as well, with all of the of the region's cross-country ski areas open on a 6 to 10 inch base.
The Jack Rabbit trail is skiable its entire length, although the Keene end is still somewhat thin. Less new snow in Keene and Keene Valley means the Johns Brook approach to the High Peaks and the first mile or so of the road to Lower Ausable Lake also remain thin. The Calamity Brook approach to Lake Colden, the Marcy, Wright Peak, and Whales tale trails are all skiable. Lake ice on Avalanche and Lake Colden crossable as is the ice in the St. Regis Canoe Area, but use caution near inlets and outlets.
Ice climbing conditions haven't changed much from last week. Most routes are in, but with mixed conditions depending on exposure and some spring-like conditions, stick to shaded areas, use caution, and judge climbs carefully.
For the first time this winter, most snowmobile trails will be open this weekend. With the best conditions 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. Some trails in Eastern Essex, Warren and Washington County are now ridable but boney. Jessup River Wild Forest would be a great bet this weekend, to get away from the crowds.
It’s going to a be a great weekend to be outside on the lakes and trails, but remember to use caution, dress in plenty of layers, eat plenty of food and drink plenty of water to avoid hypothermia, and be prepared for an unplanned night in the backcountry. If weather conditions worsen, or you feel you’re going beyond your abilities, don’t hesitate to turn back. Above all, err on the side of caution.
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.