At 90, Doris Peddy continues volunteering on the PCT

By Kathleen Lynch

Doris Peddy turned 90 on Nov. 13. Four generations of her family and a bunch of gorillas attended her party.

Members of the PCTA Trail Gorillas made the trip to San Bernardino, California, to celebrate with Doris, who has been an anchor of the Southern California maintenance crew for nearly three decades.

Growing up in Fresno, Doris always liked the outdoors. After her husband passed away in December 1988, she became a member of the Sierra Club and joined its monthly hiking trips. But one outing a month wasn’t enough for her.

Left to Right: Edwina Golightly, Al Golightly, Dave Fleischman, Liz Bergeron, Doris Peddy, Jerry Stone, Pete Fish, John Hachey, and Lyle Boulter.

Left to Right: Edwina Golightly, Al Golightly, Dave Fleischman, Liz Bergeron, Doris Peddy, Jerry Stone, Pete Fish, John Hachey, and Lyle Boulter.

In spring 1989, Doris came across a trail crew recruitment ad in Palm & Pine —the newsletter put out by the Sierra Club’s San Gorgornio Chapter. PCTA’s Alice Krueper was looking for volunteers to help build a brand new section of trail. So Doris, at age 64, packed a bag and gave it a go. She tried to do too much, she said. When she slowed down, she got along fine.

That first outing with Alice set the hook. “It was fun and it was for a good cause.” After that Doris was building trail with Alice “practically every weekend, except when I needed to babysit.”

Trail work quickly became her passion. “I became good friends with Alice. She would want to go out and check something on the trail, and I always had my pack ready to go.”

Over the last 26 years, Doris has hiked into work sites on every section of the first 700 miles of the PCT. She has worked in every weather condition, in every season. The Laguna Mountains are her favorite area of the PCT in which to do trail work because of the beauty.

Liz Bergeron and Doris Peddy.

Liz Bergeron and Doris Peddy.

These days you will find Doris cooking feasts for the Trail Gorillas. She usually rises at dawn to cook the crew’s breakfast and set out lunch fixings. By afternoon, she’s starting in on dinner. In October, Doris cooked for 50 people at the PCTA Trail Skills College in Idyllwild County Park.

“My neighbors think I am mad,” she says, “but I tell them, ‘I’m either hot, tired, and dirty, or cold, tired and dirty; but we always have fun.’”

Trail work is such a huge part of Doris’s life that when she went to buy a car, she put down the back seat at the dealership and laid down inside. “They must have thought I was nuts, but I needed to make sure there was enough space to sleep” she said.

Earlier this month, Doris received the PCTA’s Lifetime Achievement Award for her service. She received the Alice Kreuper Award in 2007 and the Regional Maintainer of the Year Award in 2001.

So what keeps bringing her back to the PCT every year? “It’s fun, and such a good group of people.”

Her advice to volunteers new to trail work is, “Work at your own speed. You have to pace yourself.”

If you’re in Southern California doing trail work next summer, there’s a good chance you’ll meet Doris. She said she has no intention of slowing down.

“I’ll keep working as long as I can.”

— Kathleen Lynch

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