From left to right: Mark, Lilly and Ellrose Hanlon are siblings from Manlius who have all become “46ers” by climbing the 46 High Peaks in the Adirondacks. (Submitted Photo)
By Hayleigh Gowans
The Hanlon family of Manlius are all avid hikers and, recently, all three children in the family achieved an accomplishment not many adults can claim — they have successfully climbed all 46 High Peaks in the Adirondack Mountains.
Parents Kevin and Denise have inspired an interest in hiking in their children Lilly, 22, Mark, 15, and Ellrose, 13, and all three children have taken on and completed the High Peaks challenge, which includes 46 mountains originally grouped together because they were thought to have elevations higher than 4,000 feet. According to website adk46er.org between 1925 and 2014, 8819 climbers have been recorded to be “46ers.”
The Hanlons reside in Manlius, but have a camp on Big Moose Lake. When they first started dating, Denise and Kevin went hiking together often, and it became a family bonding time once the children were old enough to hike, said Denise.
Kevin climbed his first high peaks — Mount Marcy —at the age of 12 with Boy Scout Troop 152 of Fayetteville, and it took him 46 years to complete the high peaks in the summer of 2015 when he climbed Allen Mountain. To date Denise has climbed 28 of the 46 high peaks.
Lilly started climbing the high peaks with when she was just seven by climbing Mount Marcy with her father, and completed the journey in the summer of 2015 on Iroquois Peak.
“It was a very special day, and even though my dad wasn’t able to be there, we FaceTimed at the top to celebrate,” said Lilly. “It was very bittersweet realizing the journey was over, but knowing the time and effort that went into accomplishing this goal paid off. There are definitely a handful of high peaks that are less than enjoyable, so I was most excited knowing that I could now go back and re-hike some of my favorites.”
Mark and Ellrose started climbing the high peaks at ages 6 and 4, and just a few weeks ago finished their last summit — Seymour Mountain.
Climbing these mountains can be difficult at times, and many of the hikes don’t have proper trails, said Kevin. Issues faced when climbing included bringing adequate food and water, braving the weather and wetness left by rain, as well as mental and physical fatigue.
“My least favorite [mountain] to climb was Cliff and Redfield because that day there was so much mud on the trail that made it very difficult,” said Mark. Ellrose agreed, but said it had made for some funny stories.
“It was brutal,” said Ellrose. “There was so much mud that it made us three to four hours behind schedule. I hiked this with my brother and sister but our parents at home were very worried. Since there was no cell service except for the summit we couldn’t let them know we were ok and they began to panic. They sent the state troopers and Adirondack Rangers looking for us. This began the whole Adirondacks out looking for ‘the three lost children.’ We were met by police in the parking lot asking if we were the ‘Hanlon children.’”
Learning to prepare for these long and challenging hikes has taught the family many life lessons, Kevin said.
“Along the journey they learned about setting goals, training, preparation and handling surprises along the way without ever giving up. Determination helped them through the many tough times on the mountain but also certainly in other areas in their lives,” said Kevin.
For the future, the family hopes to begin to take on the winter high peaks or the Appalachian Trail.
“There were very many times it would have been easy to quit or put off for another day but they kept at it. These are long days and you really get to know someone out on the trails,” said Denise. “It has been a family activity that has no doubt brought us closer together. I’m most pleased that the kids have done a few of these without us. I hope that they can continue this friendship and shared interest throughout their life.”
I am a reporter for the Eagle Bulletin and Cazenovia Republican at Eagle News. I report on topics ranging from town and village government, business, news and features.
I am a 2014 graduate of the Roy H. Park School of Communications and have a degree in Journalism and a minor in Psychology.