Are volunteers like Bill Carter the last of their kind?
People like Dr. William Carter aren’t talkers, they’re doers—and these days, they don’t make them much like the 82-year-old Bishop optometrist who spends much of his free time repairing hundreds of miles of trails in the backcountry.
“If we don’t do it, nothing happens,” says Carter of the trail work he’s been doing for about the last two decades in the Eastern Sierra and points beyond.
With the amount of time Carter spends on his horses and mules in the great outdoors, you’d expect him to deliver some folk song-esque exhalations of the beauty of the backcountry, the meaningfulness of his work, how being on horseback in the High Sierra brings him closer to God. But Carter is almost deadpan about his work—he just plain gets it done.
Kevin Green previously wrote about Carter in The Sheet (see “Devastated Trails need Love, Volunteers,” July 22), and volunteered for his trail maintenance crew in early August. Green called Carter “Batman without the low voice and the suit, though he possesses a few gadgets and a tool belt.”
After his stint working with Carter in Reds Meadow earlier this month, Green was even more enamored with the man. “I found him to be one of the most interesting people I’ve met in many, many years,” he told me this week. “He’s also just a gentle man.” Green said he pitched his tent in Reds Meadow on the first day of work “and fifteen minutes later, [Carter had] laid down a ground cloth in front of my tent. It was like the Four Seasons all of a sudden.”
Carter, Green said, was “always seeing to it. Asking if I needed food, a beverage, a shower. He watched me hike out ahead of the stock for two days, and on the third, found me a horse. He even lent me long pants for the ride.”