Volunteers help Mount Charleston handle heavy wave of visitors

Hikers and cyclists can expect to find the likes of Matt Pearson on Mount Charleston’s trails this summer.

The 34-year-old Oregon native has trekked through the Grand Canyon, scaled Machu Picchu and grew up hiking parts of the Pacific Rim Trail, making him a good fit for Mount Charleston’s trail host program this summer.

But as director of VIP services for the Venetian’s Tao nightclub, Pearson also counts as the only one set to hit the trails within hours of leaving his day job.

“I might be the only person I know in the nightclub industry who wakes up before 9 a.m.,” Pearson said. “I guess I just don’t need that much sleep.

“But I love it up there,” the first-year trail host added. “You don’t get very good cell phone reception, so it’s a good way for me to unplug from the whole (nightclub) scene.”

Volunteer program development specialist Cody Dix said participation from volunteers such as Pearson is a welcome sight for those who were around to see the start of the 2-year-old program, which includes nearly two dozen volunteers. The trail hosts help guide visitors, maintain trails and promote the mountain during its peak season from May through September .

Dix said he was encouraged by the 15 new people who attended two information sessions over the past month to recruit volunteers .

But with trail hosts expected to greet more than 1,500 hikers this summer, Dix said he can always use more help.

“We’re looking for anybody in decent shape, who enjoys being outdoors, to help out a couple days over the weekend every month,” Dix said. “Folks like (Pearson) who have non traditional weekends are always encouraged.”

Dix counted five returning volunteers set to hit the trails this season, bringing the number of trail hosts enrolled in this summer’s program in line with volunteer participation last year.

Bob Grozenski, a second-year volunteer , planned to make his return to the mountain over Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of Mount Charleston’s busy summer season.

Grozenski, who split time as a trail host at Lake Mead last summer, has logged weeks of experience on mountain trails throughout Nevada, including those found on Mount Charleston and Telescope Peak.

A member of the Sierra Club and the Las Vegas Mountaineers Club, Grozenski expects to spend plenty of time this year preaching the basics: proper footwear, lots of water and plenty of sunscreen.

In between, he said, the job counts as an easy way to give back to nature.

“On a personal basis, I love it because there’s no pressure,” the 60-year-old Gaming Control Board investigator said. “It’s quiet, you get to see the birds in the trees, you get to hear the wind. There’s not a lot going on . It’s just nice and calming.”

Elsewhere on the mountain, plenty is going on.

The Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort, which marked the close of ski season last month, was set to kick off summer resort activities over Memorial Day weekend.

Representatives from the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest have plans of their own this summer, with almost a dozen construction projects totaling nearly $80 million set to continue at least through Labor Day.

U.S. Forest Service officials with the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area advise hikers and campers to visit fs.usda.gov for more information on construction-related picnic and camping area closures .

To learn more about the trail host program, call 702-515-5408, email
volunteer@gomtcharleston.com or visit gomtcharleston.com/volunteer.html.

Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter James DeHaven at jdehaven@viewnews.com or 702-477-3839.

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