The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation is warning climbers, hikers and other backcountry trekkers to be careful and cautious on trails above 3,000 feet, until at least early June when trail conditions are expected to be much better. Of course, much of the following information might be moot already, considering the warm spell we've experienced the past week or so.
In any event, trails and vegetation in the higher reaches are most vulnerable to late snowmelt and saturated ground. The agency especially warns hiker and trekkers to these dangers in the higher elevations of the Dix, Giant and High Peaks Wilderness areas, but warns that similar, slippery and muddy conditions could prevail in other steep-sloped areas as well. Not only could hikers find conditions muddy and even treacherous in some areas, but native, fragile vegetation could suffer as well, due to erosion and foot traffic.
Specifically, in the High Peaks Area the DEC suggests hikers and trekkers avoid Algonquin, Colden, Feldspar, Gothics, Indian Pass, Lake Arnold Crossover, Marcy, Phelps Trail above Johns Brook Lodge, Range Trail, Skylight, Wright and all trail-less peaks.
There are others, and the agency has some recommended alternative trails. You can get them on DEC's website at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor or you can call the DEC Forest Ranger Office at (518) 897-1300 for more information.
MOOSE ON THE LOOSE
After a week watching a youngish moose wandering to and remaining within 20 or 30 feet of the Taconic State Parkway east and south of Albany, Region 3 wildlife biologists, assisted by a Region 5 staffer more experienced in this type of matter, decided to relocate the animal. If you've ever driven the Taconic you can appreciate how dangerous it is, for drivers as well as moose and deer.
The biologists were able to tranquilize the animal, described as a one-year-old male, fit it with ear tags and a radio collar and take it north into Essex County. Reports indicate the moose looked good and appeared to suffer no ill effects from his journey and subsequent release. As a matter of fact, he walked right out of the trailer when the door was opened. That's one more moose for the North Country.
Thanks to our erratic but warmer weather, the spring turkey season may be challenging for many hunters. It's really a two-edged sword.
On the positive side, a higher proportion of hens have probably already been bred and are busy incubating eggs, making gobblers more vocal in their search for receptive, unbred hens. This means toms may continue gobbling right through the season looking for mates. That could be a big help to hunters.
On the negative side of the equation, the early summer-like weather means leaves are already emerging, making it more difficult for hunters to see and hear their approaching quarries. Either way, it will make for an interesting and potentially frustrating season for many hunters.
FREE FISHING WEEKEND
Don't forget Saturday and Sunday, June 29 and 30, are Free Fishing Days here in New York state. No fishing licenses will be required these two days, though all other rules and regulations, such as minimum sizes and creel limits, will still apply. The weekend offers an ideal opportunity to introduce someone to the great sport of fishing and is also an excellent time for out-of-state residents to visit and sample all New York has to offer a freshwater angler.
Both residents and non-residents can fish free during these two days, without the need for a fishing license. Take a non-angling youngster or adult with you on your fishing trip that weekend. You'll both enjoy the experience and that youngster or adult will thank you some day for introducing him or her to the sport.
If you'd like additional information about free fishing days, or about New York state fishing in general, you're invited to contact your nearest Department of Environmental Conservation regional office.