Hawaiian Trail & Mountain Club


Bill Gorst: RIP

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Bill Gorst passed away on Wednesday, September 13, 2017.

Ex-President John Hall has written the following:

I don’t recall how long I knew Bill Gorst. It must have been 30 or 40 years. We
probably met on the trail, but my recollection of these years is shaky and not all
I’ll write here is reliable. I know that Bill was one of the early members of
Mable’s trail crew. For a number of years there were only 4 or 5 regulars
working with Mable to keep our trails open, and I think that Bill was one of
them. He worked as a Planner for State Parks and felt, I understand, that there
would be a conflict of interest for him to be a member of either the Sierra Club
or HTMC, but this did not affect his work with the trail crew or hiking with the
clubs. Bill was always meticulous in trying to follow the rules and do the right
When we petitioned the State Legislature to establish an official program to
oversee trails and access to trails and beaches, Bill helped to advise us, although
I don’t remember if he represented a club or not. After Na Ala Hele was
established, Bill served on the Advisory Council with me that served to advise
the local branch on the wishes of the various user groups. The first big project of
this Agency on O’ahu was the construction of the Ko’olau Poko Demonstration
Trail, better known as Maunawili, which Dick Davis laid out and which was
built by volunteers. Bill and I both worked on this project. Earlier, the Sierra
Club had built a shorter trail from the Moleka trail on Tantalus to Ualaka’a or
Round-Top, which demonstrated their ability to manage such a project. Bill was
active on this work as well, and persuaded me to try my first attempt at trail
After he retired, Bill felt free to join a hiking club. At first, I think, he was most
active with the Sierra Club, but through his work with the Trail Crew, he
gradually became more attached to HTMC. We worked together with the Trail
Crew for many years. Bill often headed for the summit, while I usually stopped
at an earlier portion where I thought work was needed. Later we volunteered
with Na Ala Hele to install steps on the upper sections of some of our very steep
trails where over-use and erosion was damaging the trails and making them
slippery and dangerous. When properly placed, these steps served to help hikers
and act as water bars to reduce erosion. Bill and I, usually with the help of many
other people, installed steps on the Wiliwili Nui and later on Hawai’i Loa trails.
On the latter trail, it took us two hours just to reach the summit where the State
had dropped the supplies. We were both well into our 70s by then and slowing
down. We’d work for a couple of hours, have lunch, and hike out again, having
installed perhaps, 5 or 6 steps or more, depending on how many helpers we had.
Eventually we just got too old to continue, and Randy Ching and his crew
finished the job.
Toward the end, Bill and I would stay together on hikes or with the trail crew,
but eventually he was no longer able to come out as physical problems and the
need to stay with his wife, Norma, made it more difficult. Bill was always a
valued companion. He was soft-spoken and thoughtful, and his advice was
always worth listening to. He was very reliable – a man of his word. I will miss
him greatly.