In Memory of Pete Fish, Legendary PCTA Volunteer

We’re deeply saddened to report that after a battle with Lymphoma, legendary PCTA volunteer Pete Fish passed away on March 26. He was 90. He is survived by his wife, Joyce, three children, and four grandchildren.

Pete briefing a group of Boy Scouts on the day’s work ahead in 2015. 

The Pacific Crest Trail was a “second career” for Pete. After retiring from a successful career as a petroleum geologist, Pete section-hiked the entire PCT and was inspired to volunteer by another legendary volunteer, Alice Krueper, at the PCT Golden Spike Ceremony in 1993. The driving force behind PCTA’s Southern California volunteer chapter known as The Trail Gorillas, Pete poured his body and soul into caring for the PCT for over two decades.

In our database we have 19,515 volunteer hours recorded for Pete, but we know he put in many more hours before we started keeping track—which was ten years after his first volunteer project. One year at the San Bernardino National Forest Volunteer Recognition event, they announced that Pete worked over 2,000 hours that year—equivalent to a full-time job. In 1997 Pete was awarded the Alice Krueper Award, and in 2005 he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award. He also received the 1000-hour USFS Chief’s Service Award multiple times, as well as a stewardship award from Recreational Equipment, Inc.

Pete’s first volunteer job was serving on the PCTA’s board of directors. He helped establish PCTA’s credibility as a partner with federal agencies like the USDA Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. He also served as PCTA’s Vice President of Membership and helped recruit many new members to the organization. Pete’s wife Joyce was also an important member of the PCT community and remains so today.

Pete entertaining PCTA Executive Director Liz Bergeron and Director of Trail Operations Mike Dawson in 2005 over a camp meal.

On the trail, Pete was a crew leader, an instructor, a mentor, and a camp chef—known for his great food and famous cowboy coffee. At a 2017 Trail Dirt Live event where Pete was honored on his “retirement” from trail work for extraordinary volunteer service, he said “We got started in the 90’s with five projects a year, and the high water mark was 45 projects in a year.  I was spending over a hundred days a year actually out working on the trail, and to my wife’s dismay, I was spending the rest of the year—or most of it—either recovering from one project or getting ready for the next.”

In his closing remarks, Pete uttered the words he’d become known for: “Gravity never takes a day off.”

Pete’s steady, guiding presence and inspiration will be missed by many in the PCT community. He set the standard for excellence that volunteers will aspire to far into the future. Rest easy Pete—you have more than earned it.

Look for an in-depth appreciation of Pete in this summer’s Communicator magazine, out in June.

Author: PCTA Staff

The mission of the Pacific Crest Trail Association is to protect, preserve and promote the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail as a world-class experience for hikers and equestrians, and for all the values provided by wild and scenic lands.