There’s a network of trail angels taking flight in the South Shore.
The volunteers are there to help Pacific Crest Trail through hikers, from driving the trekkers from Echo Summit to offering up a lawn for an overnight bivouac.
Three years ago, only one trail angel lived in South Lake Tahoe. Now the group, though still small, is trying to establish a formal team of about a dozen people who can help PCT hikers throughout the summer.
South Shore resident Sara Moran started the local trail angel network three years ago after some hikers stumbled though the hotel where she was working. At the time she didn’t know about the dedicated volunteers scattered across the 2,663-mile trail.
Now Moran and her boyfriend, Kevin Cleland, spend the season picking up and dropping off hikers when their work schedules allow.
“We can’t hike that far or that long because we work full time, but it gives us really good motivation to get out there,” Moran said.
She’s collaborating with Lake of the Sky Outfitters owner Pete Hussman and fellow South Lake Tahoe resident Rick Brower to unite the trail angels in the community. Other volunteer groups on the PCT use websites or Facebook pages to solidify their networks and facilitate communication between members, and the goal is to recruit enough people to help hikers whenever they come through the city, Moran said.
For Alan Masters, a South Shore local who started hiking the PCT in April, the trail angels have been godsends as he battled scorching temperatures and rugged terrain.
“One of the crest blessings I’ve encountered is that my faith in humanity has been renewed because of the trail magic that occurs through these trail angels,” Masters said.
Masters undertook the daunting trail earlier this year to raise money for his nonprofit, Crest Blessings. The funds will go to diabetes research in honor of Masters’ father who passed away from the disease in 2012.
During one particularly difficult section of desert trail that stretched 32 miles between watering holes, Masters — who was carrying about 18 pounds of water in his pack — encountered a group of trail angels who’d set up a station with water and soft drinks.
“It was like an oasis in the desert,” he said. “They’ve been life savers.”