Posted on September 15th, 2011 6 comments Add a comment >>
The state will either reconstruct the bridge at Marcy Dam or build a new one nearby, but the project likely won’t be done before winter, according to Tom Martin, regional forester for the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Martin said DEC plans to have an engineer look at the dam to determine if it makes sense to replace the original bridge. The alternative would be to build a bridge across Marcy Brook upstream or downstream of the dam.
“We do intend to look at all the options, but we’ll have some kind of crossing,” Martin told the Explorer after briefing the Adirondack Park Agency on Tropical Storm Irene’s impact on the backcountry.
For hikers, one of the biggest impacts of Irene has been the loss of the wide bridge at Marcy Dam. The bridge is located about two miles up the Van Hoevenberg Trail, the most popular route to Mount Marcy, the state’s highest summit.
Until a new bridge is built, DEC is rerouting hikers to a ford downstream of the dam. It requires hikers to hop across boulders to an island and then hop across more boulders to opposite shore, where they can pick up the Marcy Dam Truck Trail.
When I hiked to Avalanche Pass last weekend, I passed a few parties who had missed the reroute. If you’re going to Marcy Dam, look for the sign shown at the right. It’s on the left side of the trail 1.8 miles from the register at Adirondak Loj.
Martin told the APA board that the crossing should be used only if water is low. “There is no high-water crossing that we consider safe,” he said.
During times of high water, he added, hikers can park at South Meadow Road and go up the truck trail.
Likewise, this winter skiers may want to approach the High Peaks and Avalanche Lake via the truck trail. Because South Meadow Road is not plowed in winter, this will add about a mile to the trip each way. If conditions are safe, skiers may also be able to cross the pond created by Marcy Dam. Most of the water in the pond has drained since the storm, which also washed away the dam’s flashboards.
One drawback to the truck trail is that hikers and skiers cannot start at Adirondak Loj, which is owned by the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK). However, ADK is talking to DEC about reopening a link from the Loj to the truck trail: a section of the Mr. Van Ski Trail that fell into disuse years ago because its bridge over Marcy Brook is out.
If the Mr. Van bridge were replaced, it would provide a safer way to cross the brook than the rock-hop below Marcy Dam, according to Neil Woodworth, ADK’s executive director. Since the Mr. Van crossing is on ADK property, he noted, the bridge could be built without a lot of red tape, meaning it could be done by winter.
Nevertheless, Woodworth sees the Mr. Van option as a temporary solution: by this route skiers and hikers will have to travel 3.5 miles to get to Marcy Dam–1.2 miles longer than if they were to go via the Van Hoevenberg Trail.
DEC closed the eastern High Peaks, Giant Mountain Wilderness, and Dix Mountain Wilderness the day after Irene. It has since reopened all three areas, but some trails remain closed.
Martin told the Explorer reports from other parts of the Park indicate that trails are in good shape. “At this point I don’t anticipate any additional closures,” he said. “I anticipate between now and Columbus Day weekend, everything will be open and in as good shape as before or better.”
He noted that crews inspecting the trails are often carrying chainsaws and nippers and clearing the trails as they go. As of yesterday, DEC had cleared about 130 miles of trails.
Posted on September 15th, 2011 2 comments Add a comment >>
The state Department of Environmental Conservation and its volunteers have cleared about 130 miles of trails since Irene blew through the High Peaks region two and a half weeks ago.
DEC spokesman David Winchell said crews are still working on trails in the High Peaks Wilderness and Dix Mountain Wilderness that remain closed. The Adirondack Mountain Club, Adirondack Forty-Sixers, and Student Conservation Association have all provided volunteer.
“DEC has more than thirty staff working on five crews clearing blowdown, rerouting trails, repairing and rebuilding bridges, and other work to rehabilitate the trails,” Winchell said.
In the above map, trails that have been cleared are shown in green. Trails that are open but have not been cleared are in black. Those that remain closed are in red. Sections of the closed trails also have been cleared, but this is not indicated on the map.
Trails that have not been cleared are considered passable, but hikers may encounter blowdown or erosion. Many footbridges and puncheons were washed away or disturbed by Irene.
In the High Peaks Wilderness, the routes still closed are the Cold Brook Pass Trail, the Southside Trail along Johns Brook, the Orebed Brook Trail to the col between Gothics and Saddleback Mountain, the trail from Elk Lake to Panther Gorge, and the Great Range trails originating on the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (the Ausable Club).
The Wolf Jaws Trail was disturbed a landslide. So were the Southside and Orebed Brook trails. The photo below shows the debris deposited on the Orebed trail.
In the Dix Mountain Wilderness, the trails to the summits of Dial, Nippletop, Colvin, and Blake—all High Peaks—remain closed. All originate in the Adirondack Mountain Reserve. Most other trails in the reserve are also still closed. The exceptions are the trails to Noonmark and Round mountains.
In the Giant Mountain Wilderness, all trails are open, but the parking lot for the Roaring Brook Trail will remain closed until the state can remove highway equipment used to repair Route 73.
The bridge on the road to the Garden parking lot in Keene Valley is restricted to vehicles weighing less than six thousand pounds. The Garden is a popular starting point for hikes in the High Peaks Wilderness. The weekend shuttle bus will pick up hikers at Marcy Field and drop them at the corner of Market and Adirondack streets in Keene Valley. From there they will have to walk 1.2 miles to the Garden.
Note: I enlarged the green dots on the map to make them more visible. I also enlarged the black dots in the eastern High Peaks. I did not enlarge the black dots for trails in the western High Peaks, because those trails were never closed.
Note2: I deleted paragraph about the Wolf Jaws Trail. There was some confusion about whether it is open or not. I am now assured that it is open.