La Verne hiking group treks trails

Brooke Grasso
Metro Editor

A close-knit club of early risers began hiking together in 1995 and has been traveling to hiking destinations near and far six days a week ever since.

In 1995 La Verne resident Phyllis Helm discovered the city of La Verne did not have a true hiking club, so she started a group dedicated to hiking trails and paths in beautiful places.

Phyllis started the group as the Women’s Fitness Hiking Group, but after a man called and was interested in the group, the city informed her that she could not turn him down. Since then, the group has been available to men and women and is now named the Trail Trekkers.

Phyllis Helm and her husband, Bill Helm, still run the Trail Trekkers and lead hikes.

There were only a few members when the club first started, but the group currently has over 110 members and has had around 420 members throughout the years.

“I have seen so many people enjoying it over the years that have actually stuck with it,” Phyllis Helm said. “Some of them have been with me since I started it.”

Phyllis Helm that it is important for older people to have a group because, when they retire, it is difficult to stay in contact with people who still work, and they have more time on their hands that they need to fill.

The Helms especially enjoy the people they meet and spend time with because of the group. There are members with all kinds of racial backgrounds, interests and lifestyles, Phyllis Helm said.

An especially memorable story for Phyllis Helm was that of a woman who was new to the community and had just lost her husband, leaving her with no one to talk to. The club gave her the opportunity to meet residents and she even told the Helms that it saved her life.

“It has been wonderful for us and it has been wonderful for so many other people,” Phyllis Helm said.

The group hikes Monday through Saturday at various trails and has also gone on three-to four-day road trips in the past.

“You’d be hard-pressed to keep up with some of these old gals,” Bill Helm said.

Marshall Canyon, Pudding­stone, Big Dalton, Baldy Road, Thompson Creek Trail, Rubel’s Castle, Zion, Death Valley and Mammoth are just a few of the many places the Trekkers have hiked throughout the years.

Monday hikes at Marshall Canyon have the biggest turnouts. Anywhere from 12-50 hikers come out because the trail is local.

“We had 54 hikers, three dogs and a horse one Monday,” Bill Helm said.

After the hikes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the group goes to The Bagelry on Foothill Boulevard for coffee.

The group goes to The Bagelry so often that the staff knows them on a personal basis.

“I think it’s the best part,” said Mary Ellen Diaz, resident of La Verne. “We have gotten to know the workers and they have coffee ready when we get there.”

Diaz has been with the club since it started.

“I enjoy the camaraderie,” Diaz said. “I enjoy talking to whoever I am with, and we have done a lot of traveling together.”

Phyllis Helm recently broke her hip and is bedridden, but she said group members have come to her house to support her.

“It’s been quite a good group,” Phyllis Helm said. “I’ve been getting calls and people are stopping by quite often.”

The Trekkers also have movie nights on Friday at the Helms’ home as an extra way to get together.

Diaz and the Helms said that even though they are aging and the group is composed of mostly retired residents, they still do rigorous trails.

“I am so glad I joined or I wouldn’t know some of these people,” Diaz said. “A lot of us have aged, but we still have all of our friendships.”

A calendar of hikes and contact information can be found at saturdaytrekkers.wordpress.com.

Brooke Grasso can be reached at brookegrasso@laverne.edu.

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