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Old 03-19-2013, 02:02 PM   #1
geokrug
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High Peaks in April

Hello,

I am planning a 3-4 day backpacking trip with a friend and am trying to get a better handle on what to expect weather wise in mid-April in the High Peaks region. Both of us are experienced summer/fall backpackers, but have little experience with snowshoes, crampons, etc.

All suggestions appreciated! Also, if you think there is another area that would be more appropriate in mid-April than the High Peaks, we're willing to try anything.
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Old 03-19-2013, 02:16 PM   #2
DSettahr
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Warm days and cold nights will be the norm. Go prepared to shed layers as you hike during the day, but bring plenty of warm layers to wear in camp at night. Exposed summits will also probably be windy and cold, so bring an extra layer to wear while enjoying the views.

Also, in April, you can expect that precipitation will likely be rain, not snow. Any rain will be cold... perfect hypothermia conditions. Make sure that you are prepared for this potentiality with proper clothing, and if you do find yourself in the rain, make sure that you are regularly re-evaluating the situation to determine if it's ok to keep hiking.

Barring a rare April snowstorm (not likely but it could happen), most of the trails should be well packed out and easy to follow in April. Even if the trails are packed out, wear your snowshoes anyways, as they are required by law, and the snow will probably be getting slushy in spots.

As far as crampons- if you have mountaineering snowshoes (MSR Evo or Tubbs Flex), they tend to have decent crampons built in that can handle most of what you'd likely encounter on trail in the High Peaks. I would pay attention to trip reports in the days leading up to your trip to see if others are needing/using crampons before making the decision about whether you need to bring them in addition to snowshoes.

It's also a good idea to go easy with crampons at first, maybe try them out at home- they can feel very awkward as you first get used to using them. You can also expect to put a few holes into your pants, so don't wear anything that you spent lots of money on.

Another thing to keep in mind- as the snow begins to melt, streams will rise. Some stream crossings in the High Peaks can be pretty treacherous in spring. As ice and snow dams form and break, they can cause water to become incredibly fast and/or deep in areas that are just a small trickle in the summer. So I would carefully evaluate any stream crossing without a bridge before attempting it.

As far as alternatives, most of the Adirondacks will usually have at least some snow remaining in mid-April. The one exception is the Lake George area, which is usually mostly snow free by the beginning of April. There is some excellent backpacking in the Lake George area, but it can also be a popular spot in spring due to the lack of snow and proximity to Albany.
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Old 03-19-2013, 02:56 PM   #3
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Thanks for the quick response, DSettahr!

The more I read about the conditions in April, the more I feel like I should save the Adirondacks for the fall... I had a blast doing Marcy last summer, but melting snow and swollen streams might be too much for this trip.

Lake George sounds interesting; could you suggest any particular trails or lean-tos for me to investigate? Or maybe a favorite peak?
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Old 03-19-2013, 03:20 PM   #4
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I've made several trips in recent years to the High Peaks the first weekend in May because that time works well for me. Without fail, I've needed a variety of snowshoes/crampons/microspikes if I've climbed anything 3500' and over. So expect similar in April.

One of my favorite trips that time of year was a long weekend trip from Long Lake to Newcomb. I think we spent 3 nights, had comfortable daytime temps, no snow/ice, no bugs and spent the last night on Newcomb Lake which is a gorgeous spot.
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Old 03-19-2013, 03:46 PM   #5
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I also enjoy the early May season. It's different every year, but it can be a little like late sumer / early fall. But it takes a lot more timing and the freedom to make plans at the last minute.

Look for south facing, lower elevation areas, which are the first to dry.

Have fun!
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Old 03-19-2013, 03:48 PM   #6
DSettahr
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geokrug View Post
Thanks for the quick response, DSettahr!

The more I read about the conditions in April, the more I feel like I should save the Adirondacks for the fall... I had a blast doing Marcy last summer, but melting snow and swollen streams might be too much for this trip.

Lake George sounds interesting; could you suggest any particular trails or lean-tos for me to investigate? Or maybe a favorite peak?
The Lake George Wild Forest is broken up into 2 sections- the Tongue Mountain Range northwest of the lake, and the Shelving Rock area east of the lake. Both are worthwhile areas to hike and backpack in, but they are a little bit different.

The Tongue Mountain range is pretty rugged, with a lot of ups and downs that would make backpacking here more strenuous. Water availability can also be an issue along the ridge. There views from the range, however, are nothing short of awesome. Particularly in the stretch between Fifth Peak and Montcalm Point, where there are almost non-stop views of the Lake and the Black Mountain/Buck Mountain Range on the far side. There's 2 lean-tos along the range for camping options.

In contrast, the eastern side of Lake George has gentler terrain, especially if you stick to the Bumps/Fishbrook/Millman/Lapland Pond area, up away from the lake. The ponds throughout this area all make scenic destinations and it's fun to explore the trail network in this area. For long distance views, Black Mountain and Sleeping Beauty are good bets. There's 6 lean-tos scattered throughout this area, all of which are great camping destinations.

Both areas get a lot of day use- in particular, Fifth Peak in the Tongue Mountain Range, and Black Mountain and Sleeping Beauty on the eastern shore. But once you get beyond the vicinities of these peaks, you'll encounter relatively few people.

One other thing- there are rattlesnakes in the Tongue Mountain Range, but in April they probably won't be very active yet.

Last edited by DSettahr; 03-19-2013 at 05:07 PM..
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Old 03-19-2013, 04:08 PM   #7
geokrug
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Thanks so much for the information, folks. I'll have a look at the Lake George sections as well as scope for some lower-elevation options in High Peaks.
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Old 03-19-2013, 04:24 PM   #8
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DSettahr your trip to Millman pond looks great! I might try and emulate that, maybe throw in a few more of the surrounding ponds/lakes. We'll bring snowshoes and just cross our fingers that we can leave them in the car.
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Old 03-19-2013, 05:10 PM   #9
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Haha, you found my photo album? I've been back in that area a few times for day and overnight hikes. Here's my photo albums for the Lake George Area:

Black Mountain
Tonge Mountain Range
Millman Pond
Sleeping Beauty
Buck Mountain
Lapland and Fishbrook Ponds
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