SARANAC LAKE - The village will raise the cost of registration in its Saranac Lake 6er hiking program by $5 later this year.
Mayor Clyde Rabideau announced the change on the 6er Facebook page last week. He said the price for a 6er patch, decal sticker and certificate will go up from $5 to $10 on Dec. 21.
Rabideau told the Enterprise this morning that the increase in cost is a response to the success of the program. In order to become 6ers, hikers have to climb all six mountains in the Saranac Lake area - Ampersand, Baker, Haystack, McKenzie, St. Regis and Scarface - and register their hikes with the village. More than 410 people have done it since the program began in May.
"When we started out, we had no idea how successful it would be, and what the response would be and how much time and effort it would take," Rabideau said. "As it turns out, we're going to hit 500 6ers in the next few weeks. The response has been overwhelming, and as a consequence, it's taking time, and we really aren't covering all the costs at $5 for the patch, the certificate and the postage."
Rabideau said the $5 increase is modest, and he thinks most people will understand the reason for it.
"This is a self-sustaining program, and we're trying not to use any tax dollars," he said. "We want to keep the program going. We had to increase the cost to adjust for the realities of what it cost."
In addition to the expense of buying patches, stickers and sending out new 6er mailings, which the mayor said is just over $5, there's also some labor involved. Rabideau said four people - himself, village Clerk Kareen Tyler, Community Development Director Jeremy Evans and Community Development Assistant Kelly Brunette - are doing the bulk of the work, some of which is done on village time and some of which is done after hours on a volunteer basis.
No one raised any objections to the price hike after Rabideau posted it on the 6er Facebook page last week.
"Such a great program and worth the $5 or $10 or whatever it may be," wrote Dawn Leone, who said she completed all six mountains on Sept. 28.
The next big event for the 6er program is in December, when the village invites hikers and climbers from near and far to become the first Winter 6ers. A "Winter Saranac Lake 6er Kickoff" event is set for Dec. 21. It will begin with a shotgun start at 6 a.m. at Berkeley Green, at the corner of Main Street and Broadway. The first person to hike the six peaks and return to the downtown park will become the first Winter 6er. Hikers who complete the grueling 30-mile-plus trek in less than 24 hours will also become Ultra 6ers.