Hiking Haystack Mountain first step toward Saranac Lake 6er patch


Saranac Lake residents helped select the 6er patch.

Saranac Lake residents helped select the 6er patch.

One down, five to go.  I am officially on my way to becoming a Saranac Lake 6er!

This fun initiative launched May 25 by the good folks in Saranac Lake involves hiking the six peaks that surround the Adirondack village:  McKenzie, Ampersand, Scarface, Haystack, St. Regis, and Baker.  You can take as long as you need to accomplish this, and once you do, you simply notify the village and receive a specially designed 6er patch and sticker.

The program is intended to motivate people to explore different areas of the Adirondacks and to boost tourism around Saranac Lake.  It is modeled after the Adirondack Forty-Sixers,  hikers who have climbed all 46 of the Adirondack High Peaks that are more than 4,600 feet.

Call this new initiative 46er Lite, and call it perfect for people like me.

Daughter B and I, hosted by Friend P, conquered a muddy Haystack Mountain ( 2,864 feet) on Sunday. The trails were soupy from all the rain, and the normally tranquil streams and creeks were roaring at places.

At one point we had to take off our socks and boots and carefully cross a spillway and the fast water flowing over it.  Once we hit the summit, though, after a steep final mile of the 3.3-mile ascent, we were greeted by sunshine and outstanding views.

Friend P, who lives in Saranac Lake and knows all there is to know about hiking and canoeing through his work with Adirondack Explorer magazine, pointed out Ampersand, Algonquin, and other peaks. We could see Marcy, the region’s tallest mountain, but couldn’t quite make out Whiteface.  We were visited by black flies and a raven as we ate our granola bars and pretzel chips.

This stream is usually easy to cross, but not this time.

This stream on Haystack Mountain trail is usually easy to cross, but not this time.

It was a fairly tough hike for someone like me who hasn’t done any serious hiking in a while. But the 6.6-mile roundtrip was entirely doable, as are the other five peaks that make up the 6er challenge. For hikers wanting something more extreme, the village created the Ultra 6er for climbing all six peaks within a 24-hour period. There already are quite a few who have done that.

I’m aiming for another couple of peaks later this summer, when I hope to get back to Saranac Lake. I want that patch, and I want more Donnelly’s ice cream, which I will write about next time.

A view from the top of Haystack Mountain.

A view from the top of Haystack.

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