The view at Cow Pond in Davis Township. Submitted photo

FARMINGTON — When the coronavirus made its first major impact on Maine in the spring of 2020 Doug Dunlap, 76, of Farmington, set a goal of walking and paddling 1,000 miles in Franklin County before the end of summer. On Aug.21, he and his wife Mary walked his 1,000th mile on the Sandy River intervale, enjoying a view of Mt. Abraham and the foothills of Farmington.

The day before, Dunlap had summited three of the county’s peaks over 4,000 feet in elevation: South Crocker, North Crocker and Redington, to bring the total miles to 999.

The purpose of the goal was two-fold and related to the coronavirus. One was to call attention to the extraordinary pandemic-related services of the United Way of the Tri-Valley area and encourage pledges or donations. The second was to encourage Franklin County residents to set aside time during the pandemic to seek peace of mind through time spent in the outdoors, such as by walking or paddling a kayak or canoe.

“We live in the midst of some of the most beautiful and pristine country to be found anywhere in the world,” Dunlap said. Although he has met the mileage goal, he plans to continue through the end of September. New goals include setting foot or paddle in every township in the county, hiking to the top of all eight peaks over 4,000 feet and hiking the full length of the Appalachian Trail in the county, about 50 miles.

“The work of the United Way continues,” said Dunlap. “Food, clothing, and even shelter for people hit hard financially by the impact of the virus; protective equipment for child care providers; the snack pack project to provide school supplies and daily snacks for school children; outreach to those at risk because of mental health needs or family violence; helping seniors who are lonely and afraid; and even assisting with applications for tax credits and refunds, the United Way shoulders major responsibility as our county’s true safety net in such difficult times.”

To pledge at any amount, Dunlap suggests starting at a penny a mile, or $10; or make an outright donation of any amount. Information can be found at uwtva.org.

This fall, the United Way will hold a series of events to celebrate the 1,000 mile + effort, including a community walk, observing COVID-19 guidelines, and one or more public talks about Dunlap’s discoveries along the way.


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