Lester Graham Olin

Lester Graham Olin walked into the lives of the PCTA Southern California Trail Gorillas in April of 1996. The volunteer trail maintainers were working on the San Felipe Ridge portion of the trail, and Lester stayed and worked with them, delaying for a number of days what would become a 1,800-mile PCT trek. A month later, the Gorillas were working in the Piutes and ran into Lester again. He camped overnight with his new friends and then went on his way. At the time, the PCTA group had no way of knowing that Lester would return to work with them many times as a volunteer trail maintainer, trail crew leader, trail adopter, cook, and camp doctor.

Lester’s medical specialty was obstetrics and gynecology, but in addition to delivering babies, Lester was known for delivering cookies to hungry volunteers. In fact, Lester once made an “emergency” run to his home in Yuma (Arizona!) to bake another batch of his famous cookies and rush them back to the trail crew.

Lester’s friendliness and good humor were infectious. “They only failed one time,” remembers Pete Fish, PCTA Southern California Regional Coordinator, “when two women runners from Lake Morena accosted Lester and his trail crew south of the lake. The runners were indignant that the crew was clearing too much brush. Lester patiently explained why it was necessary for volunteers to do this, but they were not satisfied and left in a huff. Ironically, a short time later a wild fire that threatened the community of Lake Morena stopped when it reached the newly brushed PCT.”

After a long battle with cancer, Lester passed away peacefully at home on March 23, 2006. He was 69. Lester started hiking as a Boy Scout in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. By the time he was twelve, he was going on overnight hikes by himself. After his retirement, Lester began hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

Lester is survived by his wife Debora, sons John and Daniel, daughters Mary and Pamela, step-sons Daniel and Thomas, step-daughter Sara, and seven grandchildren. Lester’s ashes were scattered in the mountains of eastern Tennessee near his hometown of Maryville. Lester requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to a charity such as to the Pacific Crest Trail Association, Yuma Trails, Hospice, or Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church.

“Friends like Lester are a gift,” says Pete Fish. “We will miss him.”

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