This page last updated: 2014-05-02


  • May 2010 Discussion on Mud Season
  • Tips added for March 2010 Newsletter
  • Tips added for January 2010 Newsletter
  • Why store your water bottle upside down in the winter?
  • For winter conditions here are some hints!
  • Tips for hunting season!

Discussion of mud season

After the publication of our last newsletter we received the following e-mail from a member, Tom, expressing confusion regarding our statement of the time of mud season and encouraging hikers to avoid certain fragile areas even though hikes are being scheduled during those times.

Tom's inquiry: Hi Jack, Just received our latest newsletter and perhaps you can help me understand. After the article about avoiding the High Peaks during the spring mud season we announce a hike up Phelps Mountain during this time. Is staying off the trails really such an important thing or is the voluntary closure just a nice idea for others? Thanks, Tom

My response: Hi Tom. Thank you for your e-mail regarding hiking in the High Peaks during mud season. The Glens Falls/Saratoga Chapter tries not to schedule hikes in the more sensitive areas of the High Peaks from mid-April through Memorial Day. There are differing opinions as to adhering to various time frames. As a Chapter, we try to be sensitive to the yearly variations in the conditions, for example, if we have had a heavy snow winter with a longer period of snow melt, we will try to re-schedule a hike to the High Peaks to a different area where our impact will be lesser. I have a hike scheduled to Phelps on 5/30; however, if the conditions warrant, it will be changed to a different peak or postponed to a later date.

We also try to be sensitive to the economic impact on use or non-use of the High Peaks area. There are residents within the Blue Line who are dependent on tourism and use of the area for their livelihood. Admittedly, there is a delicate balance that comes into play here.

Regarding the article on mud season in the Chepontuc, please note that it discussed "voluntary trail closures" and that the time frame "typically runs from May through early to mid-June." There are no hard and fast rules. That said, our chapter is working with the DEC and ADK headquarters to design one standard rule regarding a time frame for mud season; however, this is proving rather difficult given the variable conditions.

Thanks again for your e-mail — we always appreciate input from our membership.

Tips added for March 2010 Newsletter

The Art of Butt Sliding:

I realize that this is the back-end of the season; however, I feel it is not too late for this information. First of all it is wise to make sure that there is enough snow to cover the rocks, and tree roots before you decide to place your derriere in the snow. Beginners should start with straight runs — as you gain experience or the more seasoned can try curves and corners. A good way to slow down is to put your poles together, holding the handles near your chest with the basket end dragging behind you. Leaning back will also lend some resistance. Lift your snowshoes up a few inches, otherwise the crampons on the snowshoes could catch and send you into a head-first pitch down the slope. You can also control your direction by leaning left or right. Being aware of your surroundings and controlling your speed can make butt-sliding more fun.


For those of you who do not feel comfortable going off trail or would just like to learn how to use a compass and map, the Glens Falls/Saratoga Chapter will be offering a few outings for you! If you are looking to purchase a compass, a good choice would be a base plate or orienteering compass. The first outing on May 2 will include the basic use of the compass, as well as, declination and basic map reading. The second outing on May 29 will cover such areas as attack points, collecting and catching features and aiming off.

Spring Mud Season:

A reminder — Spring mud season varies from year to year but usually runs from early Spring through the Memorial Day weekend.

Tips added for Jan 2010 Newsletter

Several headlamps are a good item to have in your pack. Check your lamp a least once a month. Change your batteries every six months or less, even if you have not used your headlamp in awhile because cold weather makes for a shorter battery life. If you are going to be hiking in cold weather, it is good to keep the head lamp in an inside pocket thirty minutes before you use.

A topographical map, compass and locating your position on a map is a good idea even when hiking in a group.

A great magazine for hikers is “Backpacker,” which has many tips, gear reviews and great articles.

Last month we were asked why we carry our water bottles upside down to prevent freezing. Resident scientist Ray Bouchard answers:

Why store your water bottle upside down in the winter?

One of the challenges of venturing into the great outdoors in the wintertime is having water available as a liquid when you need it. One time-tested strategy for those that use water bottles is to carry the bottle in an upside down position.

There are two reasons for this phenomenon both of which involve the fact that there is air above the water in the bottle and that water has a very high specific heat compared to most other substances, especially gases like air. It sounds pretty technical but simply put it means that if you compare equal volumes (rather than mass) of air and water, water must lose about 31,000 times more heat than air does in order for its temperature to drop by one degree. In other words, if the outside air temperature surrounding your bottle is well below 32 degrees, the warm air in the bottle only has to lose a tiny fraction of the heat that liquid water would in order to reach the same temperature as the outside air. The result is the air in the bottle cools off faster than the water underneath it. Once the air temperature in the bottle goes below 32F the water that is near it, including splashing up into it, cools off faster than the water lower in the bottle. The large amount of heat stored in the bulk of the water literally slows down the freezing process for the remaining water.

In order to drink the water in the bottle you have to be able to unscrew the “top.” If the “top” is right side up then water is constantly splashing on the cold plastic sides of the water bottle, which like air, experiences a large temperature drop with a relatively small heat loss. After awhile, the splashing water begins to freeze where the screw top and the side of the bottle meet, making it difficult to open the bottle. By contrast, if the bottle is upside down, then the screw “top” is protected for a time by all the water above it.

But as you well know, if you venture out when the temperature is bitter cold, let's say -30 degrees, a water bottle, even if it is upside down, will eventually freeze solid if it is kept on the outside of your pack.. The remedy is to fill the bottle with warm or even hot water, then put it inside one or two wool socks to insulate it before you store it upside down in the middle of your pack. It might also be worth mentioning that if there are significant quantities of sugar, think orange juice or minerals (aka-Gatorade) dissolved in your drinking water, the mixture has to cool below 32 degrees before it will freeze. It's the same reason we add antifreeze to the water in the radiator of our car. I can't honestly say I know the freezing temperature of orange juice or Gatorade but it should buy you a little extra time before it turns into a solid mass on one of those bitter cold days this winter while you ponder the meaning of life on top of Mt. Marcy.

Metal water bottles deserve special mention here because they have become increasingly popular after the recent BPA/Polycarbonate plastic scare. Personally, I don't think it's a good idea to use this type of bottle in the winter. Metals are excellent conductors of heat so the air and the water in a metal bottle will lose heat much faster compared to a plastic bottle. Oh, by the way, when was the last time you kissed a metal lamp post on a bitter cold day? Ooh! That can really smart.

When hiking or snowshoeing it is good to bring a plastic bag for your orange peels, apple cores, plastic wrappings and garbage. Remember, if everybody threw their trash on the summit or along the trail, it would be quite a mess. It you pack it in, pack it out and leave no trace.

Have a great winter season!

Tips for Hunting Season:

Now that hunting season is upon us, safety in the woods should be top priority. It is a good idea to wear the colors orange or red. I have found that an extra large orange vest (found at your local hunting store or major discount store in the hunting department) fits very well over a day pack. At a minimum, all hikers should wear an orange vest and a red or orange cap.

Also, it is a good idea not to wear white or tan colored clothing or hats.

For winter conditions here are some hints:

Water - To delay freezing, start off with hot water then carry it in an insulated pouch or wool sock upside down in your pack. You can also carry a small bottle in your jacket pocket next to your body so that your body heat keeps it from freezing. Carry a thermos of hot soup or hot tea. You will appreciate having it on that cold summit. Room-temperature orange juice mixed with an equal amount of water or room temperature Gatorade is also good for energy.

Feet - You should have a good pair of winter hiking boots rated from -25 to -40 below zero which are very warm. Wear a liner sock with a heavier wool or wool blend. Carry a couple of supermarket plastic bags in your pack. If your feet get wet, put on that extra pair of dry socks that you are carrying then put your feet inside the plastic bags before putting your boots back on. The bags will provide a water barrier and keep your new dry socks from getting wet from your wet boot.

Head - A good hat made of fleece, wool or a combination thereof is suggested. A balaclava or face mask is also invaluable on those colder, windy days.

Hands - Mittens are warmer than gloves. Bring several pairs with at least one pair being a waterproof outer over mitt.

Your body - Dress in layers, but not cotton or denim which tend to hold moisture. A good fleece or wool shirt/jacket layered over mid-weight underwear layered over wicking underwear topped by a Gore Tex windproof, waterproof jacket with a hood is a good bet to keep you warm.

Winter Pack - If it is in the 2,500 to 3,200 cubic inches there should be space for that extra fleece jacket, outer layer and the ability to strap your snow shoes on the back.

Hardware - MSR snowshoes are great for Northeast Winter conditions. Micro Spikes are good for icy conditions. For extreme steep icy conditions use crampons. The Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) stores are also a valuable resource for hiking gear.