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Taking Hikes, Building Friendships

Posted by Rachel Wendling at Jul 07, 2020 10:00 AM |
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When she was brand-new to Washington, time on trails helped Kayla Nunez find her new community.

by Sarah Coppock-Pector

“Well, it looks like we forgot the hot sauce too.”

Everyone in the group of backpackers laughed as they finished their search of the bear canister. The day before, the group, including Kayla Nunez, had discovered they’d forgotten the peanut butter. The plan had been peanut butter on tortillas for lunch and spicy bean burritos for dinner.


“I think we’ll survive,” Kayla said with a laugh. It takes a lot more than a few missing ingredients to bring her down.

It was Kayla’s second backpacking trip. She and her companions had chosen a site up on the bluff, looking out over the tidepools; they could watch the waves roll all the way in from the horizon. It was idyllic.

When Kayla moved to Seattle she knew nobody. She wanted to get out of the Midwest and was offered a job teaching through Seattle Public Schools. Three months later, she was moving into a small apartment in Mountlake Terrace. Four years after moving to the area, Kayla has made many friends. As she started to make new friends, she built her closest relationships by spending time exploring trails with them.

“Hiking is a great way to connect with people. It’s a shared experience. You’re accomplishing something, getting from point A to point B together. You can chat while you walk or pass the time together in the quiet of nature,” she said.

They may have forgotten some of their food, but it didn’t matter to Kayla Nunez (left) and her friends when they were able to spend time together on the beach. Photo by Sarah Coppock-Pector.

Kayla loves that in Washington, people spend time outside year-round, and it doesn’t have to be a big, expensive ordeal with snowbibs and cross-country skis. It’s easy for her to lace up her shoes and head to Discovery Park to meet her friends for a run.

“The year-round nature of recreation in Washington is actually why I decided to donate monthly to WTA. I figured, each month I use the website. WTA maintains trails year-round. It helps me feel connected, and like I’m really a part of the community. Plus,” Kayla said, “I don’t have to worry about it, and honestly, I’m probably able to give more than I would if I just made a one-time donation.”

From all of us at WTA — thank you, Kayla!

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of Washington Trails magazine. Support trails as a member WTA to get your one-year subscription to the magazine.