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The Saranac 6’ers

Notes from the North Woods

During the Memorial Day weekend, there were more snowflakes than blackflies in the air, after a late spring snowstorm deposited nearly three feet of fresh snow on Whiteface Mountain and the surrounding High Peaks.

During the Memorial Day weekend, there were more snowflakes than blackflies in the air, after a late spring snowstorm deposited nearly three feet of fresh snow on Whiteface Mountain and the surrounding High Peaks.

Heavy rains, strong winds, floods and more than three feet of fresh snow combined to usher in a most memorial, Memorial Day weekend in the Adirondacks.

Although the long, holiday weekend has traditionally ushered in the beginning of the tourist season, the foul weather greatly diminished the crowds of hikers, bikers, paddlers and anglers that are typically found out and about.

However, there was one major exception to the foul weather rule and it occurred in the village of Saranac Lake where nearly 100 hiking enthusiasts gathered in anticipation of becoming the first wave of Saranac Sixers.

The Saranac 6’ers campaign is a community-based effort that is intended to attract hikers to a few of the ‘lower peaks’ of the Adirondacks. The idea is the brainchild of Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau, who understands the importance of promoting the region’s natural attractions.

The campaign provides a climbing standard that is readily available and achievable by the average person. It is a ‘minor league’ version of the well established Adirondack 46’ers. Rather than attempting to tackle all 46 of the Adirondack High Peaks, the Saranac 6’ers campaign requires participants to climb just six local peaks, all of which are within easy striking distance of the community.

The six peaks include McKenzie Mountain at 3,861 feet, which requires the longest hike of more than a 10-mile round trip. Ampersand Mountain at 3,261 feet is the next tallest, followed by Scarface Mountain at 3,088 feet elevation, and Haystack at 2,874. St. Regis Mountain in Pauls Smiths stands at 2,865 feet and Mt. Baker, in the village of Saranac Lake is the smallest at 2,452 feet. It also features the shortest hike of only an 1.8 mile round trip.

In addition to the many hardcore hikers who took to the trails to set the standard, the Saranac 6’er Challenge has attracted a lot of local interest as well. I spoke with mother and daughter, Chrissie and Adrian Hayden of Saranac Lake on the morning of the campaign’s inaugural launch, who explained: “We plan on taking it at an easy pace, climbing just two peaks a day.” Her daughter was obviously excited at the prospect, and she offered: “We can see four of the mountains from our house.”

Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at brookside18@adelphia.net.

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