Backpacker Radio 73 | Doug Laher and Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit

Today we are joined by Doug Laher, the father of Trevor Laher, the hiker who tragically passed near Apache Peak on the Pacific Crest Trail earlier this year. Doug reads his beautiful tribute to Trevor, we talk about what lessons are to be learned from Trevor’s passing, and what can be done to prevent further tragedy on this dangerous stretch of the PCT.

We also chat with Kaitlyn Purington, a volunteer and the PR rep at the Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit, a rescue nonprofit based in Riverside County.  She walks us through what the organization does exactly, requirements for getting involved, and some examples of standout rescue missions from the last couple of years. We close out the show with some Trek Propaganda, how to check your bung for deer ticks, and our favorite creature comforts.


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Doug Laher, father of late Trevor Laher

00:03:55 – Doug reads his article about Trevor

00:26:40 – The Article was written six weeks ago, what has happened since then?

00:28:00 – The intentions behind telling Trevor’s story

00:29:20 – How are you doing now?

00:31:34 – What do you want people to take away from Trevor’s story? How do we carry on his legacy?

00:35:25 – Any advice or words of wisdom for parents of aspiring thru-hikers?

00:38:30 – Possibility of reworking the trail at Apache Peak?

00:39:30 – Guthook put a warning in Trevor’s honor

00:46:10 – Can you tell us about the fundraiser you did with RMRU?

00:49:00 – The Trek readers donated roughly $5,000 to RMRU

00:50:30 – You can donate to RMRU here

00:55:20 – Circus and Snapshot made a memorial to Trevor

01:00:26 – Two rescuers retrieved all of Trevor’s belongings

01:07:40 – “You’ve got one fucking life, you better live that shit.” – IBTAT

Kaitlyn Perington of RMRU

01:11:00  – Can you tell us about RMRU?

01:12:20 – Is there an area that requires the majority of RMRU’s rescue missions?

01:12:55 – Is there a busier season?

01:13:26 – How many calls do you usually get from PCT hikers?

01:13:44 – How did you specifically get involved with RMRU?

01:14:35 – What was the process like for becoming a volunteer?

01:16:30 – Are there specific requirements for joining the unit?

01:18:00 – What skills/training/certifications are people required to have?

01:19:30 – How does a shift work?

01:20:30 – Is there a certain number of people you need for a mission?

01:21:50 – How has coronavirus impacted SAR?

01:23:49 – Would you still do mouth-to-mouth during COVID?

01:24:34 – How many missions do you do per year?

01:24:56 – Is there one mission you were involved with that stands out to you?

01:29:17 – Does it frustrate you when people are unprepared?

01:13:51 – Do you ever get frequent callers?

01:33:30 – If you keep getting repeat places you’re called back to, can you put a sign in a specific spot?

01:34:30 – What kind of funds are required to keep RMRU going?

01:37:10 – Aside from monetary donations are there things RMRU could use gear wise?

01:38:20 – donate at


Trek Propaganda – Effie Drew’s “Changing the Narrative and Amplifying Voices: Resources for Education and Inclusivity in the Outdoor Industry”

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Comments 2

  • Clay Bonnyman Evans : Jun 30th

    Thanks for bringing Doug on to talk about Trevor’s story. Very moving, and it’s great that Doug is working to bring something positive out of a tragic and painful experience.

    Doug mentioned that, early on, he felt guilty for his reaction to his son’s death. It’s pretty common for people to feel that way. But after many years as a hospice volunteer, and having written a lot about end-of-life issues and grief as a journalist, I came to believe that any reaction on the part of a grieving person is “normal,” short of harming another person. Some people shut down. Some people get depressed. Some people become hyperactive. Some people turn to sex as a comfort. Some people…. fill in the blank.

    Obviously, Doug has found one way to channel his grief, and it’s great that it’s so positive. But if you are a person who is not yet “in the club” — i.e. you haven’t lost someone close to you — please don’t ever judge the way another person grieves. When it happens to you, you’ll understand.



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