Trevor’s Eternal Trail

This is a guest post courtesy of Doug Laher. Doug’s son, Trevor, passed away on March 27, 2020, during his PCT thru-hike.

Writer’s Note: Trevor slipped on a patch of snow-covered ice near Apache Peak (PCT NOBO mile 169.5). He was not wearing microspikes. In our research of the PCT, we felt confident he wouldn’t need his snow gear until Idyllwild. That turned out not to be the case. I implore everyone (now and in the future) to ship your snow gear to yourself in Warner Springs or to Paradise Valley Cafe. Don’t become another statistic. It’s not worth the risk; the weight penalty of carrying microspikes is worth every ounce. 

I’d like to thank Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit (RMRU) for their exhaustive efforts to bring our son home. They are a selfless group of volunteers who risk their own lives to save others. For those who are about to hike the PCT or for family members of those who will hike the PCT, I would encourage them to make donations in Trevor’s honor to RMRU here. The next life they save may be your own. 

In Memory of Trevor Laher

I am the father of the Pacific Crest Trail Hiker, Trevor “Microsoft” Laher, who perished in the mountains south of Idyllwild, California, this past Friday, March 27, 2020.  As you can imagine, we are devastated by the loss of our son. But somehow, my wife and I want to let the world (or at least the hiking community) know who our son was, how much he loved hiking, and why (despite everyone’s best efforts) he chose to stay on trail.

We just don’t want Trevor’s legacy in the hiking world to be that of an anonymous asterisk in PCT lore of someone who died doing what they love.  He was a man, a brother, a son, a grandson, a cousin, a friend, and boyfriend to his lovely girlfriend, Elise. He had his whole life in front of him.  This is who he was, and this is his story.

One of the greatest days of my life was the day he was born (Feb. 12, 1998, in Cleveland, Ohio). He loved playing sports as a child, but soon realized he didn’t possess the dexterity and speed to compete as an athlete, so he turned his interest and energy to academics, where he excelled.  And although we relocated to Texas in 2010 due to the recession, we still cheered on and watched our beloved Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturdays. Some of my fondest memories I have with Trevor are the times we spent watching our team as we proudly donned the school colors of scarlet and gray.  The 2010 move of the family to Texas, for a new career opportunity, was tough on 12-year-old Trevor. He threw himself into academics and video games as a mechanism to deal with the sorrow of leaving everything behind in Ohio.

Trevor was introduced to hiking in 2015 when a friend invited him on a trip to Yosemite National Park. They day hiked more than 50 miles in three days. He walked away in love with the hiking and instantly knew that he wanted it to be a mainstay in his life—to climb to mountain peaks and see the soul of our planet. It was as if the world that had existed before had only been visible to him in black and white and now suddenly everything had turned to vibrant colors. He loved the beauty of the trail—the experience and the solitude. He loved the endorphin rush of a physically exhausting climb. He loved hiking by himself.  He loved hiking with others. He loved the trail.

Shortly after his trip to Yosemite, he immediately began planning his first overnight backpacking trip with his close friend Alfredo. The flu prevented Alfredo from making the trip with him and thus began my love of hiking with my son. I served as his back-up and went from “Couch to AT” in 12 hours.

We were completely ill-prepared as we set off into the Smoky Mountains on our first backpacking trip.  We predictably made all the classic first-time hiker mistakes. We carried too much food, packed for our fears, and off we went with 50-pound packs saddled on our backs. Trevor knew I was not in shape to do this hike when he asked me to join him.  I agreed to do it to spend time with my son. He told me, “Dad…I’m getting you to the top of this mountain—you lead the way. We’ll go at your pace. Stop as frequently as you need to. We’ll get through this together.” It took nearly five hours to traverse more than 3,000 feet of elevation gain over five miles to the first shelter.  Trevor offered multiple times that we could head back down to the trail head and call it a trip. But we hadn’t driven 12 hours to turn around and head home. We persevered. The trip took a physical toll on my body (chafing, exhaustion, soreness, and two lost toenails). And despite all that, it was an adventure of a lifetime that I will cherish forever. 

When it came time to go to college, there was really no decision to be made. Ohio State was the easy choice. While there, he blossomed and turned into an amazing man. He joined the Trekking Club at Ohio State. He hiked the Presidential Traverse in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the South Kaibab Trail in the Grand Canyon (down and back in less than six hours). He also made at least one trip back to the Smoky Mountains every semester with his good friend Chandler. Trevor simply loved hiking.

Trevor and I would try to schedule hiking trips together when we could, mostly while he was on break from school.  Our most recent adventures included Eagle Rock Loop in the Ouachita National Forest and the Outer Mountain Loop in Big Bend National Park. 

It was during this time at Ohio State that he developed a passion for exercise and fitness. He was obsessed about being physically fit because he knew he would need it for something he had been dreaming about since he was 17 years old.

About 18 months ago, Trevor told me of his intentions to carry extremely heavy course loads over his next three semesters at Ohio State so that he could graduate a semester early to hike the Crown Jewel of all long-distance trails, the Pacific Crest Trail. I objected at first. It was a source of contention with us for several months. Then, approximately a year ago, I started buying in to the concept of him hiking the PCT. And if he was going to make this hike, I was going to serve as his wingman, his trail manager so to speak.

For months on end, I spent hundreds of hours watching PCT vlogs, reading books, and watching gear reviews.  I began the long process of purchasing all of the gear he would require for his adventure. Trevor had two main agendas during this time. First, to study hard so he could finish school early. And second, to focus on maintaining, and even increasing, his already high level of fitness. Trevor ran 30 miles a week to keep himself in top physical condition.

We both obsessed over the trail. As the research and days passed, I became more and more emotionally invested in Trevor’s hike. I wanted this adventure for him as much as he did for himself. 

Trevor hiked Big Bend a second time right before Christmas 2019 with his best friend Domenic. In grieving with each other this past week, Domenic told me that “Trevor and I had just finished the trail. I was exhausted and I was looking back at the mountains with amazement, bewilderment, and wonder. It’s at that moment Trevor looked at me and said, ‘Now you know why I’m so passionate about hiking the PCT!’ ”

Trevor’s need to put mileage under his feet prior to his trek was one thing, but his training for the PCT was next level. He deprived himself of comforts knowing that he would not have them on the trail. On our last training hike together (a quick 15-miler), he laid down in the creek bed soaking himself through.  Trevor knew there would be stretches of the PCT that he would need to hike soaking wet, tired, and exhausted. 

Trevor’s cadence might be as slow as 2.6-2.7 miles per hour when doing a leisurely hike with me, but he could instantaneously turn on the jets at a moment’s notice.  I was always in awe to see him hike at a 3.5 mile-per-hour cadence up steep climbs. And he could maintain that pace for hours. He was 6’3” and 200 pounds. He had long legs with a huge stride. If God wanted to create his vision for a perfect hiker, it was Trevor. 

Unlike most PCT hikers, Trevor knew he was not going to make it to Canada. Trevor was a brilliant computer coder.  He was offered a job at Microsoft, starting mid-July. So, when it came time to securing the permit for a PCT start date, he knew he would have to start early. Even with starting early, he would only have around 100 days on the trail. His target was to reach Crater Lake by July 1 and call it an adventure. 

We knew starting in mid-March had its risks. We developed a plan accordingly. If there was heavy snowpack in the Sierra, then he would bail at Kennedy Meadows and head immediately to the Southern Terminus of the 800-mile Arizona Trail. We felt our alternate plan wouldn’t be needed as reports of a low snow year in California made an early start on the PCT possible. We were happy his plans were coming together.

So on March 9, roughly a month after turning 22 years old, Trevor, my daughter Olivia, and I headed to Phoenix, Arizona, to spend a week with his grandparents, after which they would drive him to Campo a week later. Everything was in great shape. And then, suddenly, everything started to unravel. 

We got to Phoenix on Monday the 9th. There were growing concerns about the coronavirus, but nothing significant—at least that’s the way it was when we boarded the plane. Upon landing in Phoenix, the world was changing in front of our very eyes. The stock market had crashed. Concerns of the virus were growing with each passing day. That week was full of excitement for Trevor and anxiety for me. 

The day before we left, I told him that maybe going on the hike was not such a smart thing to do anymore. But he was within spitting distance of the Southern Terminus of the PCT in Campo, so the yearn to start on March 16 was strong. In his mind, he was practically touching the Southern Terminus. Nothing was going to stop him now.

His sister (Olivia) and I flew back to Texas on Friday, March 13. Saying our final goodbyes at the airport, Trevor gave me a longer embrace than usual—much longer in fact. And in that embrace, he whispered to me, “I love you Dad. Thanks for all you’ve done to help make this adventure a reality for me.” To which I replied—“Go hike the shit out of that trail!”

His grandparents dropped him at the terminus on Monday morning.  A few quick photos, big smiles, and some hugs. Then he was off on the adventure of a lifetime.

Trevor pushed himself to Lake Morena on day one. He couldn’t have been happier. It was in Lake Morena that he connected with his tramily. The tramily would morph into larger and smaller groups of people over the coming days, but there were three gentlemen whom he consistently stayed with through the entire journey: Leo from Milwaukee, Jannek from Germany, and Cody from Australia—the latter two were with him on the morning of Friday, March 27, when the accident happened.

His group hiked through a snowstorm, pulling into Mount Laguna on Wednesday. They were fortunate enough to hole up in one of the tiny houses to escape the snow. Their game plan was to stay there two nights as heavy snowfall was scheduled through Thursday. But they wanted flexibility in their plans and only booked one night. When they called the next morning to book a second night, they were told the tiny house had already been booked. They had no choice but to head back out into the snow. 

I spoke with his hiking partner, Leo, this past Saturday. He told me how miserable that day was. They were cold, soaked to the bone from the heavy wet snow. They were miserable. The group struggled unsuccessfully to find a protected location to set up camp. It was in that moment, during their first real moment of adversity on trail, that Trevor told him, “It’s during these moments of adversity, through trial and tribulation and our actions in dealing with these moments that define who we are as human beings.” Hearing Leo recount this to me brought me to my knees. I had been sobbing all weekend after I learned of his passing, but this shook me to my core. 

That same day, the day of the snowstorm, the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) had issued a statement that all thru-hikers not yet on the trail should postpone their hike, and that all hikers already on trail should get off due to COVID-19 concerns. I pleaded with Trevor that it was time to end his dream. To come home. The trail would still be there for him next year. Or five years from now. Or even 10. Trevor said that until it became illegal to stay on the trail, he was going to continue hiking. “This is my dream Dad…I’m living it right now. The views, the vistas, the things I get to see are the most beautiful that I’ve ever seen in my life. If I lose this opportunity now, I’ll lose it forever.”

And so became our daily argument for the next week. I begged him to postpone his trek. I told him he was being selfish. I told him he was putting himself and others at risk. That he wasn’t thinking about Elise, his sister, his mother, or me. I threatened I was going to withdraw financial support and would no longer resupply him (my last option). I think we both knew I would not do that.

I said things I regret. I even lobbied the USFS to terminate all PCT permits to no avail. The most haunting, prophetic thing I said to him was, “Please come home. I don’t want you to get sick on the trail—or worse yet, die. It would devastate me if I had to be the one to call Elise and tell her something happened to you.”

After about 5-6 days of trying to convince him to come home, I realized he was staying put. There was no getting him off the trail, at which point I would focus on supporting his hike. I vowed to myself, if he wouldn’t come home, then I’d at least do what I could to keep him as safe as possible with current information and good resupply boxes.

Trevor and the group trudged on. They were closing in on Warner Springs, having just passed PCT mile 100. I sent Trevor a text and asked him how he was feeling and how his body was holding up. He told me other than a few pesky blisters, he was feeling great and that his body was strong. I remember him saying there were a couple of members in his tramily that were nursing some injuries… sore ankles and knees, but he said could not have felt better. 

Trevor’s closest trail friend, Leo, was nursing a bum knee after hiking several days without a break. Leo got a hitch from Warner Springs via the PCT Trail Angels Page on Facebook to a hotel to take of couple zero days to heal up. Leo encouraged Trevor to take those zeros with him but Trevor, Jannek, and Cody were still feeling strong. Trevor had limited time on the trail. They were going to press on without Leo. While sitting in his hotel room for a couple of days watching the news, Leo learned of the severity of COVID-19. He decided to end his hike at this point. I’ve asked myself multiple times, “What would have happened had Trevor stayed back with Leo that day?” His decision to press on will haunt me forever. 

Our last communication with Trevor was on Thursday night. They had just pulled their 8th straight day of “twenties” (twenty-mile days) by completing a 3,000-foot climb. Arriving to their camp site at PCT mile 166.5, they hunkered down for the night. Trevor sounded exhausted. He was eager to complete the last 14 miles into Idyllwild where he, Cody, and Jannek were planning to take two zeros. While in town he’d pick up his resupply (which included his ice axe and microspikes) in preparation for Mt. San Jacinto and Fuller Ridge. He never made it to Idyllwild. 

A friend called me on Friday to notify me of a tragic accident on the PCT close to Trevor’s last known location at mile 166.5. Of course, at that time, we didn’t know the hiker involved was Trevor. The news report mentioned a hiker had succumbed to their injuries before the rescue team arrived.  The report suggested the rescue occurred “near” Mountain Center, of which Trevor was close to the prior day. He was now some 10-15 miles past that point. But when you’re dealing with the wilderness, the word “near” could mean one mile, five miles, 10 miles, or even 25. I was slightly concerned and would remain that way until I heard from Trevor, but I was confident he was well past the search area. I had two thoughts. First, Of all the hikers on the trail, what is the likelihood this deceased hiker was Trevor? Second, He had his driver’s license with him. If it was Trevor, Search and Rescue would have certainly reached out to me by now. I was confident it was not him, but would remain mildly concerned until I heard his voice. That voice never came. 

7 p.m. rolled around in Dallas/Fort Worth. I knew Trevor would have been in Idyllwild by now. Every time I tried calling, it went straight to voicemail.  He would likely have access to internet in town. Therefore, he would most likely be on his phone. It was also about this time every night that he would check in with us via call, text, or his Garmin InReach.  I started to worry. I called the Riverside County Sheriff’s office.

I won’t go into all the details of the next several hours, as some of those details will only remain with my family. Speaking to the Sheriff’s Deputy who orchestrated the Search and Rescue, and then subsequently to the Coroner were some of the most difficult conversations I’ve ever had to have in my life. My life was changed forever when the Coroner told me, “We have Trevor.”  

To the best of our knowledge, Trevor slipped on a patch of snow-covered ice near Apache Peak (PCT mile 169.5). Trevor’s accident was first reported by Cody and Jannek via their emergency GPS device at roughly 9:38 a.m. PT. Rescue crews from the Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit and the California Highway Patrol Medic and Air Operations Unit arrived on site at roughly 10:30 a.m. Five fire trucks, two helicopters, and more than 24 rescue personnel fought the elements during the rescue mission.  One helicopter focused on rescuing Cody and Jannek while the other attempted to locate Trevor. Dangerous terrain, coupled by severe weather, prevented the helicopter from locating Trevor. They were able to locate a safe landing spot to drop Medic Charles Rhodes of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) onto the trail. Medic Rhodes hiked and eventually bushwhacked a total of five miles to reach Trevor at 1:30 p.m. Sadly, prior to Medic Rhodes’ arrival, Trevor had succumbed to his injuries from sliding several hundred feet into a steep ravine. I am grateful to the men and women who risked their lives to recover my son. I will forever be in their debt. 

As you can imagine, Friday, March 27, 2020, was the darkest, most painful, heartbreaking moment of our lives. The grief of losing our son has hit us like a tsunami. The unstoppable waves drown us in grief each time they hit. There’s nothing that can be done to stop them. It’s several days later now, and the waves still come.

I yearn for the day when Trevor’s family and closest friends can talk about him and look at photos without pain or grief, but instead smile and recall the happy times we shared together. 

Trevor was not a statistic. He was not a PCT asterisk. He was everything you want in a son. As parents, we were so proud of him. He was our child. Trevor LOVED hiking! He was handsome, responsible, and smart. He was going to make this great world a better place. He was convinced he would someday write a computer program that would change the world. Most importantly, I want people to know that he cared deeply about his family and friends. He was philosophical. He was a deep thinker. He genuinely cared for others, encouraging those closest to him to be “the best version of themselves they can be.” 

Just as in life, Trevor made the same impact on others during his brief time on the PCT. As communicated to me by his close trail friend Leo, who said, “While our time together was brief, it was intense. We had several deep conversations on the trail and my viewpoint on the world has in many ways changed because of Trevor.”

My hope and wish is that Trevor’s death can start the healing of a hiker community that has been ravaged and torn apart by COVID-19. What was once a free-spirited group who loved “The Trail,” the community has become name callers who have hurled insults at each other because of one’s position to hike or not to hike. I beg of you, that if there is one way we can honor Trevor, I ask that you put aside your differences and come together as a community. And I ask that you not judge Trevor for his decision to remain on the Trail. COVID-19 did not kill my son. His death could have happened to any one of us, in any year. 

In closing, I’d like to leave you with a quote from Trevor shared with me by his girlfriend, Elise. In which Trevor says, “We are not individual souls, but a collection of the souls of the people we love the most—we are one in the universe.” 

Be good to each other. Love each other. Come together as one hiking community and heal the pains by which the coronavirus has inflicted upon this community. That’s what Trevor would have wanted. 

Hike on, my son. I count the days when we’ll be rejoined again on the highest of all mountain peaks in Heaven… on the Eternal Trail. The trail of eternal life. 

All photos courtesy Doug Laher

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Comments 53

  • Jac “Birddog” : Apr 1st

    I want you to know how deeply sorry we as a hiking community are for your loss. I think I can speak for all (or at least most) of us when I say that we bear heavy hearts when we hear of an injury or fatality on trail. Many of us feel this loss personally, as we know it could’ve been any one of us, and the grief, any one of our families. Many of us had foot slips or missteps that we laugh off and are lucky enough to continue on. Our thoughts are truly with you and your family. Thank you for sharing his memory here with us, and it sounds like he was an amazing man looking forward to an incredible life and journey. Know that the hiking community is a close knit family and his memory will not be lost on us.

    • Kim Lavey : Apr 2nd

      I am so very sorry you lost your amazing son. My husband and I plan to hike the PCT in 2021. I promise you we will carry our microspikes.

  • Kieran OBrien : Apr 1st

    Very sorry for your loss, may Trevor rest in peace.

  • Laura Wilson : Apr 1st

    Thank you for share your son’s amazing adventures with us. My prayers are with you and everyone who loved him!

  • Heidi Sfiligoi : Apr 1st

    I am so so so sorry. What a loss you, your family and our community has to experience. Please let us know how we can help keep his vibrant spirit alive.

    Lots of love <3

  • Neville Harris : Apr 1st

    Coming at such a profound time in all our lives -Thankyou for taking the time to write this! ❤️

  • eric holden : Apr 1st

    Thank you for sharing Trevor’s Story. He sounds like he was an amazing man. From all of us at RMRU we send our deepest condolences and thoughts in these hard times.

  • Liz "Rest Step" Fallin : Apr 1st

    Dear Doug and family,

    I am so very sorry to hear of Trevor’s passing. As a mom and a hiker, I know there are no words that will ease your grief. I pray God’s mercy and peace for you all. May Trevor’s dear memory be eternal, and may God hold you all in the palm of His hand, until you meet your son on the eternal trail.

    • Sabrina Grafton : Apr 4th

      Hello Doug, thank you so much for writing about Trevor. You gave us all the gift of learning some about who Trevor was, of feeling your love and connection to him.
      I lost my son two years ago, he was also doing what he loved most.
      To you and the family: stay close right now, take things one minute or hour at a time, minimize distractions and grieve in whatever way feels best. That may differ wildly among you all.
      My heart aches, truly aches for you. Your incredible love for Trevor is evident in your words. Reach out if connecting with another grieving parent would be of any value to you, Sabrina

  • OneSpeed : Apr 1st

    You are a remarkable father who obviously raised an equally remarkable son. You are correct in pointing out that this accident truly could have happened to anyone this year, or any other year for that matter. I also agree that the incessant vitriol being hurled within and throughout the hiking “community” is uncalled for and in my opinion abhorrent, no matter the season or the situation. As a parent of two young adults, I am so sorry for your loss, and I cannot even imagine the depth of your grief. Thank you for your courage in writing and sharing this post. You have championed your son well!

  • Bryce Maki : Apr 1st

    This one was hard to read. I appreciate the vulnerability of this piece so much. I am empathetic towards you all and it sounds like we lost an absolute legend way too soon. I hope that his spirit lives on within those that knew him and those that got a glimpse by reading this article. The world would be a better place if we have more people with the perspective of Trevor and that’s something to be proud of. Cheers and my greatest condolences to the family, friends, and peers. God speed.

  • Jack Joned : Apr 1st

    My deepest sympathies to you and your entire family. I’m a friend of your sister, Christie, and although I never knew Trevor, reading this painted a picture of what sounds to be an amazing young man. Nothing I could write could ease your pain, but please know that I’m heartbroken for you all. What an amazing young man you raised into this crazy world. Prayers for you all.

  • Tito Zendejas : Apr 2nd

    Our deepest sympathies from my wife, my son, my daughter and son-in-law. We thank you for sharing your son’s and your story with us.

  • Kevin Love : Apr 2nd

    I am sorry for your loss. I actually kind of feel your son is a victim of some March start preachers. There are a couple guys who post everywhere about starting in March. Not just posts but even posting many articles at various hiking sites and dedicating a significant part their own website to this gospel. I argue with these people endlessly telling them how incredibly stupid March starts are but they are so adamant and persistent they post about it to no end on Facebook, Reddit, hiker forums, every where. There are only a couple of them but they are so loud. Starting in March is just so dangerous and miserable. You get constantly snowed, rained, sleeted on from day one in feezing temps. The 11,000 foot mountains you enter in the second and then third week are extremely dangerous. And even having lived in Mammoth for years I could never convince these March starter preachers that yes the Sierra gets multi foot snow storms in May EVERY year (even providing the historical snowfall in Mammoth never convinces these people). Bottom line March is a terrible month to start and no one should be starting then. If you are slow start in April. If you are average start early May. If you are fast start late May.

  • Ian : Apr 2nd

    I hiked into Idyllwild on March 16, before most of the snow had fallen. I had seen only occasional patches of snow under the shade of trees until mile 174, where the trail became nothing but sparse footprints through snow and ice. From there onwards, my pace slowed substantially. I was underprepared, with no spikes or ice axe. I support Mr. Laher’s advice to gear up for the snow going into this section, especially for those starting the trail earlier in the season.

    Hearing what happened to Trevor shook me, as I know it could have happened to me or any other hiker on the trail. Trevor sounds like he would have been an awesome guy to hike with. May he rest in piece.

  • Jon Inkrott : Apr 2nd

    Doug and family…

    I am devastated to hear this news and heartbroken for you all. You had a special bond that not many share and I am sorry you have lost such an amazing human being. My thoughts and sympathies to all of you.

  • Ana : Apr 2nd

    My heart goes out to you and your family for this devastating loss. The bond that you and Trevor had sounds quite extraordinary.

    I am also sorry to hear that you were exposed to recent conflicts in the thru hiking community, but please know that we will be united in supporting you and your family in your grief, and in keeping the memory of Trevor alive. Thank you for sharing him with us today.

  • Cari : Apr 2nd

    I feel so heavy hearted and sad with you as I read this. I am beyond sorry for your loss of your son Trevor. There is nothing that can take away that pain. But I am deeply grateful for your beautiful vivid writing about him, so that we can all feel like we knew a part of him. I can only imagine how happy he was to be out there on the PCT, and all the preparation that went into it. Thank you for sharing him with us. Thank you for honoring Trevor by sharing of his life with the world. Peace and grace to you and your family. Sincerely, Cari

    • Chad Skinner : Apr 2nd

      So sorry for your loss. Sounds like he was a great kid.

  • Tawnee : Apr 2nd

    So sorry for your families loss. Thank you for sharing Trevors adventures with all of us. He sounds like a remarkable young man. Our hearts are aching for you and your family.

    • Vince Strawbridge : Apr 3rd

      What a tribute. What a loss. Thank you for giving us the person to mourn and remember. Peace to your heavy heart.

      May your steps on trails in days to come be filled with joy in his rememmberance. May you hear his voice inviting you further up and further on.

      Thank you.

  • Jean Compton : Apr 2nd

    Doug, that k you for sharing your beautiful yet heart breaking story. Trevor sounds like he was kind, passionate and strong willed, which are strong and admirable characteristics. We all know how it is to try to convince another person to quit something they started that they have so much passion about, which is how Trevor obviously felt about his PCT hike. No words are adequate at this time. I pray that you feel God’s peace and comfort at the time of extreme grief, and that it brings you some comfort knowing that he died doing what he loved and was passionate about. We all hope to be so lucky. Sincerely, Jean

  • Marybeth : Apr 2nd

    This is a beautiful tribute to your son (who had the good fortune of living his dream). The final quote by Trevor that you shared, is one I will contemplate. I have copied it and written it in my journal with his name. Thank you, his words will be among my collection.

  • Christy Teglo : Apr 2nd

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I enjoyed reading about your son and learning about his passion for life. Thank you for sharing him with all of us. I hiked the JMT solo in 2016 and I know how much planning and preparation goes into it. I completely understand your son’s desire to hike after all he went through to prepare. Deciding to quit is not an easy thing to do when your mind is set on something that big. I pray for healing for you and your family. I pray he’s in heaven hiking the greats peaks.

  • Florian : Apr 2nd

    I live in Palm Springs and can see the location on Apache Peak from my home. Trevor reminds me of my son. I will think of Trevor every time i look at the peak from now on.

  • Jo Ann H Hickey : Apr 2nd

    Thank you so much for this beautiful tribute to your son. We all mourn his loss. May you have a lifetime of wonderful memories to sustain you.

  • Brad : Apr 2nd

    I find myself at a loss for words after reading this. I’m sorry for your loss seems woefully inadequate. As a parent I just can’t fathom what you must be going through. I appreciate your sharing your sons story. Even though I didn’t meet him on my own brief attempt at a thru hike this year, I won’t forget Trevor.

    • Chery : Apr 2nd

      I am filled with your sense of loss but also your deep love and I am grateful that you shared your very personal story. I have been hosting hikers from the PCT for 7 years at the 101 mm and they have changed my life for the better. The Hikers of the PCT represent the best of the human emotions we are capable of. I have seen great acts of kindness and selflessness and every hiker who has spent time with me at my home/retreat has been gracious, kind, grateful, generous and a whole lot of fun! I feel so blessed to live close to the PCT where I can continue to serve and meet these amazing people. As a mother and grandmother, my heart aches for your loss. Bless you.

  • "Fearless" : Apr 2nd

    I am SO sorry for your loss!! Thank you for sharing Trevor’s story. He sounds So much like my own son, Kiowa. (that at times hikes with me.) Every year I hike from Lake Tahoe to Crater Lake. From this day, Trevor and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers each time I reach the banks of Crater Lake… God Bless Your Family!! ??? aka “Fearless”

  • Sheila : Apr 2nd

    When hiking finds you, it is like “seeing the soul of our planet.” May Trevor be in Heaven a half hour before the Devil knows he’s dead. To fallen friends.

  • Susan : Apr 3rd

    I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing this deeply touching tribute with us.

  • Diane Adams : Apr 3rd

    I was very moved by your story and feel compelled to honor your son in a Beautiful way and a way that very well could Unite the PCT hikers during the 2021 season. When you are feeling ready contact me at [email protected] My heart is aching for you and your family….

  • Cindy Holder Poole : Apr 3rd

    What a loving tribute to your son. Honest, soul-bearing, beautiful. We lost a family member in a similar tragic accident last summer. The pain of it is very surreal. Being on a trail is now my salvation, where I feel closest to him. Much love to your family and all who loved your Trevor. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • JJ Katri : Apr 4th

    I am heart broken for you and your family. I have always loved back packing, as shared by my father when I was a young boy. In my later teens, my friends and I began exploring the PCT in Northern California. I now have a son who is twelve years old and loving back packing. The sorrow I feel from what has happened will stay with me. I will try to honor your son by not taking for granted my relationship with my children. Your son’s spirit will live on that trail and I will carry good thoughts for you and your family when we hike. I am sooo sorry for your loss.

    • William : Apr 4th

      Words cannot express the sadness of this event. We all grieve when a fellow hiker is fallen before their time doing what they love to do. You have my heartfelt sympathy.

  • David Francis : Apr 4th

    Dear Doug and all who mourn the loss of Trevor:

    Please know that I and many other fathers sit on the mourning bench with you. My 24 year old son, Jon, died in the Idaho wilderness. I understand your deep sorrow. My sympathy. Jon also had a love affair with the wilderness – God’s creation.

    Since his death I have written two books about my grief and loss, Bringing Jon Home: The Wilderness Search for Jon Francis and Grief Travelers: Learning to Live and Love Again after Loss. I would like to share my story with you in the hope it may help you while you walk through the Valley of Grief. Contact me if you would like to talk. Peace be with you. David Francis, [email protected]

  • Jim Knox : Apr 4th

    Heart wrenching news for the family of a precious precious son and a Dad with unconditional love and support for his son. Rest In Peace Forever ‘Microsoft’ .. you still and continue to remain an inspiration.

  • Mary Baele : Apr 4th

    This is a devastating loss for you, your family, and our hiking community; I am so sorry, Doug. Although I never got to meet Trevor, I echo the other hikers’ sentiments that when we lose one of us, it is a pain that we collectively feel and carry. It sounds like Trevor was not only a strong, well-disciplined hiker, but also an outstanding, hard-working, intelligent, caring, and thoughtful person who loved his family and friends deeply. His passion and soul were fiercely alive on the PCT, a passion that I and many of us can understand.

    Thank you, Doug, for your message of unity in this difficult, divisive time for all of us as a society. You’ve really dialed in my awareness of what matters by sharing Trevor’s incredible character and path that stopped much sooner than we all would have wanted.

    I am praying for you and your family, I hope you’re able to experience moments of love and peace during your grieving. I remember that stretch of trail when I was on it this past fall because it had one of the most spectacular sunsets, the type that fills the whole sky with a warm glow of brilliant colors. I can’t help but think that Trevor’s fervent spirit had a similar effect of shining light upon everyone around him.

    With love,


  • Scott Heller : Apr 6th

    Your son’s obituary appeared in our local newspaper in Wooster, OH which led me here to read your amazing tribute to Trevor. As a lover of the outdoors and someone who dreams of backpacking a long trail one day, I was drawn to his story and can truly appreciate the love he had of the outdoors and the excitement that must have filled him to be able to go on an adventure of a lifetime. My heart breaks for you and your family. I am a father of two sons, not much younger than your son. I hope you find peace during this time of grief.

  • Patrice Malloy : Apr 6th

    My sincerest condolences to the family. What a beautiful, well-written tribute and explanation of the history and what led up to the hike. I helped Trevor and his group on the Tuesday prior, in Warner Springs (I am admin at the resource center there.). Since I usually forget names I just ask where people are from. I remember Trevor saying Ohio now Texas. I am from Indiana so I remembered that. We didn’t get into Big 10 colleges but I went to Purdue. I recharged their devices and offered some resupply. I also helped Leo find a ride to Temecula. ‘Just a little more info about Trevor’s journey. Hugs from Warner Springs!!!

    • Doug Laher : Apr 7th

      Thanks for you kindness and generosity Patrice. Trevor’s stop in Warner Springs was brief, wanting to be respectful of the community. A quick visit to the PO and the community center and back to the trail they headed. When asked where Trevor was from, he would always say “Home is in OH, but I live in TX.” Thanks for looking after him while in Warner Springs.

  • Doug Laher : Apr 11th

    It’s been 15 days since Trevor’s passing and today was one of the worst days yet. I’ve re-read my piece several times, somehow thinking that perhaps it’s a fictional piece written by an unknown author, that I’ll learn something new, and sadly I always draw the same conclusion…I authored the article, my family have and are still living out this storyline. The tsunami of grief has not slowed. Trevor has left a huge void in our hearts, but we have been brought peace by the many friends (many of whom I do not know) who reached out to tell me how he impacted their lives. There has been an outpouring of international support from the hiking community sending their condolences and well wishes. I cannot thank you all enough. RIP “Microsoft” – Dad loves you!

    • Anna Mary Hinkle : May 26th

      I read a faith-based book years ago called ” Lament For A Son” by Nicholas Wolterstorff. His son also died tragically young doing what he loved – climbing mountains. The
      accident happened in Europe, and the dad wrote a tribute to his son while working through his own grief.

      I wish you peace Doug. Sometimes there are no answers that make sense this side of heaven.

  • Win Marsh : Apr 12th

    As a parent and as a backpacker, I am so very sorry for your loss. There is truly no pain equal to that of losing your child. We have been there and would wish no parent ever experience that pain.

    Thank you for sharing the story of Trevor. Trevor will not be forgotten within this community of hikers. We do plan to hike the PCT when it becomes an option again. We have purchased micro spikes. I will remember Trevor whenever I question myself whether it is time to wear them.

  • Tom “Quicksilver” Clark : Apr 13th

    So sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your son’s story.

    “Death leaves a heartache
    no one can heal.
    Love leaves a memory
    no one can steal.”

  • christine : Jun 16th

    I opened the link to your story back when you wrote it and could not bring myself to read it, knowing it was about the death of your young son on the PCT. My son had completed the hike in 2018 and I was so worried about his safety for 5.5 months. What you and your son have experienced is the ultimate nightmare I hoped would never be mine and my son’s story.

    I finally got the nerve up to read your tribute tonight, June 16, 2019, many months into covid and what probably seems like years for you and your family, since your son lost his life at the same time covid officially hit here in the US. What a beautiful tribute you have shared and I can only say how incredibly hard it still was to read it even now. The tab with Trevor’s story remained open on my laptop since I first found it in early April. I could not read it and tonight it just happened. I found myself beginning to read….and cried all the way through, feeling the intense pain of your loss. You shared so honestly from your heart and your fears and your concern for others. I hope in writing this and sharing it here, that you have been able to influence others as they approach the PCT. I wish you and all of Trevor’s friends and family well. I love the quote you shared of his in the end of the story: “We are not individual souls, but a collection of the souls of the people we love the most—we are one in the universe.”
    May the pain of your loss in some unbelievable way, be replaced with something amazingly fulfilling that will honor Trevor and your love for him forever.

  • MJ : Jul 15th

    Thank you for sharing Trevor’s story.

    I’m a PCT day hiker. trying to piece together as much of the trail that I can do. I’m so impressed by the thru hikers and had the privilege of saying hello to many of them as they started their hikes this year. (I was headed southbound on a day hike greeting the thru hikers just starting out.) I think I was out there a day before Trevor stated his hike.

    I”ll be hiking the section where Trevor had his accident in the next week or so. I just wanted you to know that I will be thinking of him while on that day hike. Your son seems like he was a great guy and will not be forgotten.

  • Jeff Lowder : Aug 21st

    Hi, I’m an aspiring future PCT hiker who just learned about Trevor’s accident and this web page. After reading the story, I felt compelled to respond. Trevor sounds like an amazing young man. I suddenly find myself wishing I had gotten the chance to meet him and hike with him. I want to express my sincere condolences to his family. When I do hike the PCT, I will think of him.

  • Melanie : Jan 20th

    We are avid backpackers and have a home in Idyllwild. We just recently hiked up towards Apache peak. I will always think of Trevor when I am out there. God bless you


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