Saranac Lake 6er attracting families

SARANAC LAKE – On Tuesday, young Eli Cady made it to the summit of St. Regis Mountain by 10 a.m., taking in a sunny day with his father and mother.

The 5 year old is the latest person to become a Saranac Lake 6er, a program that started in May and seems to be popular among both local and visiting hikers. It requires hiking Baker, Ampersand, McKenzie, Haystack, Scarface and St. Regis mountains.

“It was such a beautiful day,” said Eli’s dad, Mike. “We spent an hour up there. Oh, the views were amazing.”

Mike Cady, who is from Elmira, is an avid hiker himself. He’s done the 46 High Peaks in both summer and winter, and hiked the Catskill Mountain’s 35 highest peaks.

He was also one of the first people to hike the Saranac Lake 6, finishing 11th overall and becoming an Ultra 6er, which means he hiked them all within 24 hours. After starting at 8 a.m. on May 25, he finished up at 4 a.m. the next morning.

He said one of the things he likes about the 6ers is that his wife and kids can hike them.

“When the 6ers came along, that seemed attainable for five year olds,” said his wife, Carol. “(It’s) family friendly.”

Their 6-year-old son Luke has also started to hike them, knocking off Baker recently.

“We thought we’d start them off with that,” Carol Cady said. “If they could do that, then we’ll work ’em up toward the 46.”

Overall, the program seems to be attracting a nice mix of families, locals and visitors.

As of Monday, there were 143 who had registered as 6ers, according to Kelly Brunette, Saranac Lake’s community development assistant who oversees 6er registration, its website and Facebook page.

People from Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, Canada, and even as far away as England have completed the mountains.

“One of the more gratifying aspects of the 6er program is that so many families are doing it with young kids, and a lot of dog owners are doing it,” Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau said. “A lot of the dog owners have wanted a patch for the dogs. We did have someone pay extra for patches, for their two dogs. We made them honorary 6ers.”

Doug Fitzgerald, who runs Broadwing Adventures guide service in Saranac Lake, became 6er No. 33. He said in the first few months he ran into a lot of locals on the trails. More recently, he’s seen more visitors hiking it.

“It seems to be gaining momentum from my observations, from seeing who is posting, seeing who has completed, seeing how fast the numbers are growing and that kind of thing,” Fitzgerald said. “I think it’s a good thing.”

Fitzgerald’s business even benefitted from the program. Last month, he led a group of about a half dozen hikers from the Connecticut chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club on trips up the six mountains. They stayed at the White Pine Camp and completed the hikes over a week’s time.

“It’s been gratifying,” Rabideau said. “We’ve met a lot of new friends.”