Pin It

The Trail Angel: Lloyd Gust is a Pacific Coast Trail hiker's best friend 

click to enlarge lloyd-gust.jpg

Lloyd Gust has never met a hiker he didn't like, and he's met a lot. Gust has been hiking the Pacific Crest Trail since 1946, or if you ask him, "back in the stone age." For the past 11 years, Gust has volunteered his time as a Pacific Crest Trail Angel, helping hikers on the trail by providing them with water while also bringing them into Bend and Sisters for medical care, a warm night's rest and plenty of beer, food and entertainment.

Each year Gust helps between 200 and 250 hikers who are in need in his area of the trail, which stretches from Windigo Pass, near Crater Lake, to just south of Mt. Hood.

"Some of them are in serious condition, others just need to come to town, go to REI, come to the Ale Trail. They really love beer when they get off the trail and they really love food," says Gust.

Gust loves Bend and loves bringing the hikers here and stresses that doing so is also an economic driver for the city. Once the hikers get into Gust's trail area, odds are that many of them have already walked nearly 2,000 miles and by this point, they need supplies, so he brings them to Bend where they spend money on shoes, tents, sleeping bags, as well as food, lodging and lots of beer. Gust says it may not be a big weekend event, but people come through all year and are able to experience what we all love about living in Bend.

Gust, who himself has hiked the entire length of the Pacific Coast Trail, from Mexico to Canada, has met a variety of people in all different kinds of situations. He's encountered people from all over the world, and luckily enough, he speaks multiple languages and has been able to communicate and help hikers on the move. One time he met up with a young man who didn't speak any English, only Japanese, and it just so happens that Gust is fluent in that language, so they got along famously. He doesn't always luck out like that, but has still been able to help people from Switzerland, New Zealand, The Netherlands and Americans from every state.

"What they really want is a good shower and they need it by that time because they smell," says Gust.

Now in his 80s (he only gave his age as "more than 80 and less than 90") Gust has led an incredible life. He's lived on every continent in the world, with the exception of Antarctica, but he's been to the frozen continent, of course. Gust's career working for a liquor distributor's acquisitions department took him all over the world looking for new facilities. Later in life, Gust and his wife, Barbara, started a travel tour company in Seattle marketed toward senior citizens, specializing in meeting their unique needs. With his background of living all over the world, Gust knew where to go, where to stay and what to do abroad.

click to enlarge localheroes-llyodgustthanks.jpg
Each week during the prime April-to-October hiking season, Gust makes the 150-mile roundtrip to refill the water caches he keeps at Windigo and McKenzie Passes. Always on the lookout for new volunteers, Gust says they are often hard to come by because no reimbursement is offered, and with rising gas prices it's going to be a tough year. Gust doesn't ask for much, just a simple thank you, which is why he has a book full of thank you notes.

"Some of them consider me a real angel and I get a real reward out of that," says Gust.

To most of the hikers Gust encounters, he truly is an angel, and no doubt a hero. Some of the hikers are without funds, or have very little and he arranges motel accommodations for them at a discounted rate and even takes people back to his apartment on occasion and feeds them pizza and beer.

"I even promise I can sprinkle some pine needles on the bed for them," says Gust.

Lloyd Gust

Age: "More than 80 and less than 90"

Occupation: Retired. Former owner of a travel tourism

company for seniors.

Personal hero: "A number of people in my church. The people at REI are tremendous people and I can't say enough about them, and the motel people for helping me help the people."

More in Local Heroes

  • The Doctor: Clarence Carnahan

    The Doctor: Clarence Carnahan

    It's not that Clarence Carnahan doesn't know what to do with his golden years. Carnahan plays tennis twice a week. He likes to travel and play golf. But the 83-year-old doctor still makes the trip into the Veteran's Affairs (VA) office in Bend once a week to meet with ex-soldiers, some whose service dates back to World War II, to help them deal with the lingering effects of combat. A veteran himself, Carnahan was drafted into the service during the Second World War, but gives little thought to his own service, which he describes as light duty. The men he has treated over the years as a VA psychiatrist are the heroes, Carnahan says.
    • Feb 25, 2011
  • The Flight Nurse: Deidre Heinrich

    The Flight Nurse: Deidre Heinrich

    Deidre Heinrich wouldn't label herself a hero. In fact, when we told her she was nominated as a local hero, she spent a few minutes trying to convince us why it's her job, not her, that is heroic. But no matter what she says, Heinrich saves people's lives on a daily basis in a profession that was named the most dangerous in America by the Wall Street Journal. Heinrich, who also volunteers her time at many local charities, including the Bethlehem Inn, the Red Cross and the Bend Community Center, works 24-hour shifts as a flight nurse for St. Charles Medical Center. Each morning Heinrich heads to work, she is debriefed with her crew, which includes pilots, respiratory therapists and other flight nurses, and prepares her plane or helicopter for the unknown. Depending upon the day, Heinrich and her three-person team may respond to as many as six calls during a 24-hour period.
    • Feb 25, 2011
  • The Veteran: Richard "Dick" Gorby

    The Veteran: Richard "Dick" Gorby

    Richard "Dick" Gorby's office in the Deschutes County Parole and Probation building is lined with pictures. A photograph of his father in military dress, a map of wartime Vietnam and photos of Gorby holding plaques, surrounded by veterans, family, friends and the parolees he works with every day. Gorby, a Vietnam veteran - he served as a minesweeper from '63 to '65 - has always been active in veterans affairs. But it wasn't until just 15 years ago when he realized he suffered from PTSD related to the war that he changed his profession from marketing to social services, leaving behind what he called his "money years."
    • Feb 25, 2011
  • The Jack (or Jill) of all Trades: Jill Hodgson

    The Jack (or Jill) of all Trades: Jill Hodgson

    Jill Hodgson likes to call herself a "broke philanthropist," which is not just funny, but probably also an apt description of her role as a jack-of-all-trades do-gooder in Central Oregon. Her job finds her as the volunteer coordinator at Common Table, downtown Bend's nonprofit restaurant, but her work extends far beyond that role. She's a poet who speaks about social change, she provides a helping hand to the city's homeless youth, helps out with arts education, coordinates neighborhood food growing efforts and, on top of all that, is always looking to help out friends and neighbors who also want to get involved in bettering the community.
    • Feb 25, 2011
  • The Rescuer: Geoff Frank

    The Rescuer: Geoff Frank

    When he's outside Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe, the popular water sports store he owns, Geoff Frank keeps a close ear on what's happening just feet from his back door on the Deschutes River. Frank and his employees are in the business of selling, renting and instructing people in the use of kayaks and canoes, but during the summer months, they've taken on an additional responsibility - listening for signs of distress near the Colorado Avenue bridge where floaters have in the past been known to find themselves in trouble.
    • Feb 25, 2011
  • The Teacher: Robert Tadjiki

    The Teacher: Robert Tadjiki

    Robert Tadjiki spends his days helping special needs students overcome disabilities by making sure that they focus on what they can do. A special education teacher at Bend High School, Tadjiki has been recognized for his outstanding work by the Oregon governor's office. In 2005, USA Today named Tadjiki to its annual teacher all-star list for his innovative approach to instruction. But it was a trip to China that truly expanded Tadjiki's horizons. There he met the director of a local orphanage who was selling traditional Chinese artwork in a public square. Tadjiki introduced himself and learned that the work was the product of Chinese orphans and that the proceeds were used to support the orphanage. The chance encounter led to the formation of a novel non-profit business, EChO (Educating Chinese Orphans) that is building schools for Chinese orphans, a la Greg Mortenson and Three Cups of Tea in Pakistan.
    • Feb 25, 2011
  • The Soldier: Ryan James Craig

    The Soldier: Ryan James Craig

    The word "hero" is sometimes applied quite literally, which is the case with Madras native Ryan Craig. He joined the Army after doing a stint as a carpenter and was nearly killed by a sniper's bullet that pierced his combat helmet during a patrol in Kabul. Ryan, 23, was scrambling to assist a pair of injured soldiers after his unit came under fire from insurgents when he was hit. A brawny young man who played both offensive and defensive line for the Madras High School football team, Ryan literally carried the big gun in his patrol, a .308 caliber, Mach 48, designed to pin down enemy soldiers and keep them hunkered.
    • Feb 25, 2011
  • More »

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Latest in Local Heroes

More by Anne Pick

© 2016 LAY IT OUT INC | 704 NW GEORGIA, BEND, OREGON 97703  |   Privacy Policy

Website powered by Foundation