A little slice of magic at the Carson Pass Information Station

High in the Tahoe Sierra, at the summit of Carson Pass, a community of about 60 volunteers has committed to something special. Scheduled in shifts and working for the love of it, they drive to the pass every morning. It’s a popular Pacific Crest Trail trailhead. Tens of thousands of day hikers, backpackers, horseback riders, birders, botanists, history buffs, road trippers, skiers, snowshoers, and long-distance hikers have passed by.

Organized by the Eldorado National Forest Interpretive Association, this not-so-little community of docents has discovered a bit of what makes life rich: nature, genuine interactions, personal service. They sit inside or out on the porch, greet visitors, write permits, provide information and give sodas and treats to thru-hikers.

Watch Information Station by Katie Brigham

Carson Pass is named after Kit Carson, the famed western frontiersman. The pass is rich with pioneer history and is located on the California Trail that stretched 2,000 miles from Independence, Missouri to Sacramento. That places it at the intersection of two of our national trails: the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail and the California National Historic Trail. Truly, it’s a special place.

Docent and emeritus Station Manager Dennis Price talks of the pleasure of meeting people walking across the country.

“One doesn’t observe PCTers, you experience them,” he said. “They are lean, hardscrabbled, seasoned, tough.”

We’ve featured the Carson Pass volunteers a number of times over the decades. They are good friends of the trail and the PCTA. Truly, they’re a shining example of volunteers helping people have safe and successful journeys while protecting fragile local places.

An old-timer in the PCT world at this point, Dennis describes the thru-hiker as having “patina well earned” after weeks of crossing hot deserts, fording swollen rivers and streams, walking on snow for days at high altitudes with only a GPS to follow the trail, and dealing with blisters, torn muscles and equipment failures.

“When they arrive at Carson Pass, what we see are happy people that know exactly who they are and where they want to be,” he said.

A little of that magic — the deep happiness of volunteers being of service to nature and people, and hikers connected to the world and feeling deep personal success — has been captured in a short video. Take a few minutes — it’ll lift your day.

And when you’re done, sign up to volunteer with the crew at Carson Pass or elsewhere on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Author: Jack "Found" Haskel

As the Trail Information Manager, Jack works to connect people to the PCT. He's involved with a wide variety of projects that help the trail, the trail's users and the community that surrounds the experience. He has thru-hiked (Pacific Crest Trail in 2006; Colorado Trail in 2008; Continental Divide Trail in 2010) and is an obsessed weekend warrior.