Pat Yale and Neal Watson

August 2010

Millions of people live close enough to the Appalachian Trail to use it regularly, but few devote as much time to the upkeep of their “neighborhood” as Pat Yale and Neal Watson. Life-long residents of York County, Pennsylvania, these volunteers and ATC members are dedicated Trail supporters. 
Pat and Neal are notable not just for their time commitment, but also the variety of volunteer roles they’ve taken on. They’re adopters of a two mile section of the A.T. and participate in regular work trips with local Trail maintaining clubs.  They also monitor and protect the Trail boundary – the outer edge of the land that buffers and protects the footpath – a place few hikers see.  And they “are long time trail crew volunteers,” says Mid-Atlantic Trail Resources Manager Bob Sickley, “aside from the multiple weeks they volunteer for the Mid-Atlantic Trail Crew every year, they’ve also volunteered for the Maine A.T. crew and the Long Trail Patrol in Vermont.” Pat also chairs the PA A.T. Committee. 
Their volunteer efforts have enhanced their experiences as hikers. They’ve hiked most of the northern half of the A.T, and with years of experience as trail builders and maintainers, they can better appreciate the trail as they hike. 
When asked why they volunteer – Pat and Neal respond first with jokes: “we like to hear people say thank you,” says Neal, and Pat adds: “we like getting down and dirty,” but “making sure that the A.T. is there for the next generation” is the real reason they volunteer.