By Dylan J. Darling

The Bulletin

Filling in for an angel

The informal group of trail angels, who provide support for people hiking the PCT, is adding volunteers to its ranks in Central Oregon. To volunteer, contact Brian Douglass by email at bdouglass2014@centurylink.net .

For years a Bend man did good deeds for hikers along the Pacific Crest Trail, living up to his title of trail angel.

Though 86-year-old Lloyd Gust, who died Wednesday of congestive heart failure, stepped down from his volunteer post in 2013, tales of his kindness remain. From changing out a backpack strap to hauling someone into the hospital for medical aid, Gust did whatever he could to help PCT hikers for more than a decade.

Gust didn’t mind getting up in the middle of the night or driving deep into the woods to help out, said Brian Douglass, 65, of Bend.

“He was probably a super trail angel,” he said. Douglass took over many of Gust’s duties this year and is still looking for help to fill the role.

“There is nobody that is going to be able to do what he did,” Douglass said.

The PCT stretches more than 2,600 miles from the Mexican border to the Canadian border, passing through Central Oregon along the way. While he never did the full trail in one hiking season, Gust did hike the entire trail in sections. He often hiked parts of the PCT with his wife, Barbara, who died after 60 years of marriage in 2005, and their three children.

Growing up in Wisconsin before moving to the Northwest, Gust was always into the outdoors, said sister Eunice Endicott, 84, of Springfield.

“That was a way of life for him and his whole family,” she said.

In 1949, after leaving the U.S. Army, Gust teamed up with two other climbers to scale all Three Sisters in less than a day. Carla Nordlinder, 54, of Duvall, Washington, Gust’s youngest daughter, said her dad was glad to pass on his knowledge of the PCT and the outdoors in Central Oregon to other hikers.

He was particularly knowledgeable about the portion of the PCT in Central Oregon. Hikers would pass his phone number to one another and give him a call if they were lost near Bend. Once they described what they could see around them, Gust would know where they were, Douglass said. Depending on their situation he’d then offer to come meet them.

Before becoming a trail angel, Gust was a travel agent for more than 30 years in Bothell, Washington, specializing in trips for senior citizens, Nordlinder said. He always had a love for mountains, and once he retired to Bend, she and her sister encouraged him to become involved with the PCT.

He relished his role as trail angel, doing what he could to aid people trying to accomplish the tough task of covering the entire trail. Gust would often also give the people he helped a brief lesson in the history of Central Oregon, from volcanic eruptions to the arrival of explorers.

“He was always educating people,” Nordlinder said. “Even though he wasn’t a teacher, he should have been.”

Although hikers covering the entire PCT go by trail names and many trail angels follow suit, Gust didn’t use his trail name, “Gusto,” much, Douglass said. Instead, people simply called him Lloyd or Mr. Gust. Thank you notes that he collected over the years show many called him a true angel as well.

He didn’t mind giving people a place to stay off the trail and was glad to take them out for pizza and beer, he said in an interview last month. Gust said he felt the PCT helped give Bend’s economy a boost — when hikers come into town to buy gear, food and more — so he wanted to support it.

“It is a very large magnet for a lot of recreation,” he said.

Douglass became friends with Gust after meeting him at Trinity Episcopal Church in 2006. Since then, Gust often joined Douglass’ family for holiday meals.

Gust’s family is working on plans for a public memorial, which likely won’t be until late this year, once repairs at the church are complete.

Gust was preceded in death by his wife, as well as his grandson Kyle Nordlinder, 20, in 2007, and his sister Doris McDaniels, 82, in 2009. Along with daughter Carla Nordlinder and sister Endicott, survivors include daughter Toni McKeel, 57, of Carnation, Washington, and son Rodney Gust, 62, of Alta, Wyoming.

— Reporter: 541-617-7812, ddarling@bendbulletin.com

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