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Making Friends on Trail, Thanks to WTA

Posted by Rachel Wendling at Jul 06, 2021 02:09 PM |
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WTA members Judy Cochran and Pascale Lelong met for the first time on a WTA volunteer vacation back in 2015 — and they've been hiking together ever since.

By Patrick Myers

WTA members Judy Cochran and Pascale Lelong met for the first time on a WTA volunteer vacation back in 2015.

“Following an illness, I really wanted to spend as much time as possible outside,” Pascale said. “Volunteering with WTA seemed like a great way to help trails and meet others who also wanted to spend time outside and give back.”

So Pascale joined a volunteer vacation. These trips offer volunteers the chance to do trail work as a team for a week in beautiful backcountry locations. Judy remembers that the welcoming atmosphere made that 2015 trip feel special.

Pascale and Judy on a hike to Herman's Saddle. Photo courtesy Judy Cochran and Pascale Lelong.

“Most of the people on the trip liked getting outside but were fairly new to trail work,” she said. “We all just sort of gelled and got along really well. We bonded over trail work, but we bonded over other things too.”

Since then, Judy and Pascale’s friendship has grown to the point where they hike together regularly, and even organize an annual all-women snowshoe outing with a group of mutual friends and other hikers who work with WTA.

“Most of us just happened to love knitting too,” Judy said. “It’s something of an annual snowshoeing/knitting get-together.”

Both longtime trail workers, Judy and Pascale continue to volunteer with WTA for the opportunity to work hard and have fun outside while letting the crew leaders make planning and coordinating decisions. They consider their time volunteering to be a healthy reprieve from the demands and responsibilities of their busy careers and everyday life.

Like many, they also consider trails to be an essential resource during the pandemic, relying especially on natural spaces close to their homes in Seattle — places like Discovery Park, Magnuson Park and the Washington Park Arboretum.

Pascale Lelong (left) and Judy Cochran met on a WTA volunteer vacation. Since then, they’ve become close friends who hike or snowshoe together and with other folks they met through WTA. This photo was taken on an annual snowshoe trip to Artist Point. Photo courtesy Judy Cochran and Pascale Lelong.

Supporting WTA as members and working to maintain trails as volunteers is the way Judy and Pascale give back to the trails and natural spaces that have been so important to them. Judy and Pascale are the definition of what the WTA community refers to as “trail champions” — people who go the extra mile to give back to our state’s trails. From all of us at WTA, thank you, Pascale and Judy, for your incredible support!

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of Washington Trails Magazine. Support trails as a member of WTA to get your one-year subscription to the magazine.