Whatever happened to this year's summer? It appears to have been sandwiched between days of rain, wind, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, colder-than-normal temperatures, a tornado and generally unsettled weather. For many boaters the boating season came to an abrupt end the last week of August when Mother Nature began to unleash her fury on the area. One can only hope for better, more seasonal weather as 2011 winds down.
Despite all that, there are some positive notes.
September offers a number of opening days hunters eagerly anticipate. The statewide squirrel, crow and early goose seasons opened Sept. 1 and the early bear season here in the Northern Zone opened Sept. 17. Also, the Northern Zone big game bow-hunting season opens Sept. 27 and the Northern Zone ruffed grouse (partridge) season opened Sept. 20.
OCT. 1 IS BIG DAY
However, Oct. 1, just 10 days from today, is the big day for many other season openers. For example, the cottontail rabbit season in most of the state opens Oct. 1, as does the Northern Zone varying hare (snowshoe rabbit) season.
The pheasant season in the eastern half of the state also opens Oct. 1 and the ruffed grouse season in the entire southern and western portions of the state also opens that day.
The fall turkey season in the entire eastern half of the state also opens Oct. 1, as does the newly expanded (45-day) woodcock season and the statewide coyote season.
There are other season openers later in October, but we'll cover those in a future column.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation has updated its list of trail closures and conditions.
The Eastern High Peaks Wilderness is open to public recreation; however, the following trails remain closed: all trails out of the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (Ausable Club); the Deer Brook Trail from Route 73 to Rooster Comb; the Southside Trail from the Garden Trailhead to John's Brook Outpost; the Orebed Trail from John's Brook Valley to the Range Trail (between Saddleback and Gothics); the Cold Brook Trail between Lake Colden and Indian Pass; and he Elk Lake Trail between the Elk Lake Trailhead and Panther Gorge.
The bridge on the road to the Garden Trailhead is restricted to 6,000 pounds. The Town of Keene will operate a shuttle bus from the Marcy Field parking area to the corner of Market Street and Adirondack Road (approximately 1.25 miles away from the Garden Trailhead) Saturdays and Sundays.
Dix Mountain Wilderness is open to public recreation. The main Adirondack Mountain Reserve Trailhead at the Ausable Club is open as are both trails that lead to the summit of Nippletop (the Henry Goddard Leach Trail and the Gill Brook / Elk Pass Trail). However, trails to the Colvin Range (Mt. Colvin, Blake Peak and Pinnacle) remain closed.
The Giant Mountain Wilderness is open to public recreation and the Roaring Brook Falls Trailhead is open for use.
Current details regarding conditions of open trails and the closures may be found on the High Peaks Trail Information web page at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9198.html.
Trails that are not closed are not necessarily in good condition. They may have heavy erosion and cobble, bridges washed out, blowdown and flooding.
Therefore, hikers must pay close attention, as many trails may not look as they did before the storm.
Many trails have been rerouted to avoid heavily damaged sections and eroded drainages can be mistaken for trails. The ability to navigate with a map and compass is important.
Both newly developed and previous low water crossings may not be passable due to high water.
Hikers, campers and backcountry trout anglers could still encounter flooding, bridge washouts, trail washouts and blowdowns. Wilderness travelers are advised to plan accordingly and be prepared to turn back when conditions warrant.
The list of closed trails and conditions for open trails are available on DEC's Adirondack Trail Information web page (www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7865.html). This information will be updated as trails are assessed and reopened.
NEW BOAT LAUNCH
Lake Champlain and the city of Plattsburgh have a new launch site, off Dock Street on the shore of Lake Champlain just south of the mouth of the Saranac River. The facility includes three launching and retrieval lanes with docks on each side of the ramp and along the shoreline. In addition, there also are 31 designated vehicle and trailer parking sites, 12 car-only parking sites and additional parking in the adjacent parking lot.
The ramp and docks are built in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Three accessible parking spots have been designated; two are for a vehicle with trailer and one is for a vehicle only.
The size of the ramp, the number and location of docks and the ample amount of parking is ideal for fishing tournaments and boating events held by the City each year.
DEC staff designed the boat launch and oversaw its construction. State capital funds were used to pay for construction of the $627,000 facility and the City of Plattsburgh is responsible for managing and maintaining the boat launch.