AUBURN — Last year, Kevin Morissette hiked to the top of Lost Valley over 100 times in 36 hours.

He aimed to climb the ski mountain 118 times, an elevation gain roughly equivalent to all 14 of Maine’s 4,000-foot peaks combined. Although he fell just short of his goal, he hiked over 40 miles and raised $1,000 for the Lewiston-based nonprofit, Tree Street Youth.

Inspired by this experience, he created the Maine Summit Trek fundraiser, an abbreviated version of the 36-hour challenge open to all, which will take place at Lost Valley Oct. 16.

This year, Morissette’s fundraising goal is $5,000. He hopes to help offset Tree Street Youth’s outdoor activity programming costs and, ideally, be able to provide a small backpack or some other basic hiking gear that kids can take home with them.

“(Outdoor gear) isn’t cheap, and it’s also not cheap to get to these places,” Morissette said, referring to recreational trails. “Not many people can, especially people who come from different backgrounds and are challenged financially or for whatever means.”

Morissette, who is 42, began hiking four years ago. He was inspired to pursue his own outdoor adventures after watching Netflix documentaries.

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For Morissette, hiking is about challenging himself. He started with Bald Peak and since then, has hiked all 14 of Maine’s 4,000-foot peaks and 34 of New Hampshire’s 48.

“It’s a different sense of space when you’re out in nature, and I think it opens people’s eyes. I know it did for me,” he said.

Kevin Morissette of Lewiston is raising money through his Maine Summit Trek event Oct. 16 at Lost Valley to benefit the Tree Street Youth program. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal file

His “impromptu” fundraiser in 2020 was based off of a similar event in Vermont which challenges participants to climb 29,029 feet, the elevation of Mount Everest, in 36 hours.

“I thought, ‘if I could do it again, wouldn’t it be great if I could start younger and was able to build on it?'”

In the future, he hopes to expand the event from four hours to 36 hours.

Maine Summit Trek will be held at Lost Valley in Auburn on Oct. 16 from 12 to 4 p.m. in conjunction with Lost Valley’s fall festival. Participants will be challenged to hike to the top of the ski mountain as many times as they can in the four-hour period.

It costs $20 to sign up and each participant will be asked to raise at least $100 for Tree Street Youth.

More information about the fundraiser can be found at runsignup.com.

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