Last Updated: December 8, 2020
The first hike of the FOC 20 –5 -1 Campaign for Children’s Cancer Research (20 mountains, 5 states, 1 mission – A Cure) has kicked off and it has a great story to go with it.
On June 1, 2019, the Crocker Mountain hike, of 4,228 foot elevation, was completed.
Kelly Skelton, FOC’s Systems Architect, organized this multi-month hiking fundraiser, with the FOC Corporate Citizen program, to attempt to raise $100,000 for childhood cancer research and awareness by summiting 20 mountains of over 4,000 feet each.
Joining Kelly for the first hike and kick off was Dan Schmith, a recent graduate of UMass Lowell business school. Dan shares Kelly’s passion for fitness and loves a great cause. In his undergraduate career, Dan founded Love of the Game, an aspiring nonprofit that hosts adaptive sports clinics for children with physical and mental disabilities.
As the hike dates are to be announced around weather conditions, the very first one planned wound up having a great backstory and creative solution due to those factors.
This trip was originally scheduled to be a hike to the top of Mount Katadhin, Maine’s highest peak seen as the first mountain in the list on the 20-5-1 page. On the day before the hike, Kelly learned that his original destination, inside Baxter State Park, was shut down due to weather/safety concerns. Refusing to lose a hike and because of the limited number of weekends to complete the 20-5-1 campaign, Kelly sought out another 4,000+ ft mountain nearby. He found Crocker Mountain.
Crocker Mountain is a peak located in Carrabassett Valley, Franklin County, Maine, in the United States. Crocker Mountain is the fourth highest mountain in Maine, and is part of the Appalachian Mountains.
This hike wound up being a 10.4-mile round trip with 2,900 feet of elevation gain. It began on Maine Route 27 but Kelly and Dan only encounter two other hikers on the entire hiking trail.
“I’ve hiked dozens of mountains in my lifetime and I have never seen so few hikers on a trail, the trip was eerily silent.” said Kelly Skelton.
Though it is June and we have enjoyed some warm and spring like weather in the northeast lately, snow covered the last 25% of the trail where the sun does not shine. Kelly even noted, at one point, he took a step and immediately became waist-deep in snow having to use his upper body strength, assistance from Dan, and a nearby tree branch to pull himself up again.
The trip was so difficult and took so long that moments before summiting, Dan and Kelly had begrudgingly agreed to turn back if they did not reach the top in the next five minutes for safety concerns. They finished the hike as dusk settled into the region.
“As the first 4,000-footer of 2019 and this campaign, I was quite exhausted, but I continued to remind myself that there are thousands of sick children that would do anything for the ability to hike like I am but cannot. This reminder helped me keep going.” said Kelly Skelton
Dan Schmith added, “I’m an outdoor enthusiast and former collegiate athlete. As a close friend of Kelly’s, I thought that this was a perfect opportunity to practice towards my goal of summiting all 48 of the 4,000 foot White Mountains. It’s certainly nice to help out a great cause.”