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Take a Hike

Over 130 days of hiking north from the Mexico border through California on the Pacific Crest Trail, Kyle Soeltz ’14 had tasted the array of spoils the natural world offers. Fresh air, sunlight, challenge. There were surprises, of course, including the acrid smoke from distant forest fires. Soeltz was mostly alone.

The 26-year-old graphic design graduate finished the 2,660-mile trek in September.

Along the way, he raised money for Hike for Mental Health, far surpassing his goal of $1 per mile. The idea for the trip began with “Reconnect,” a campaign he developed for his UML capstone project that encourages folks to “experience the world on your feet, not on your phone.”

Reconnect, he says, is about not over-doing screen time. 

“The goal is to bring awareness to how much time we spend on Facebook and sitting in front of a TV, watching and reading other peoples’ stories,” he says. “But at the end of our time here, it’s not the stories we read and watched that will have had the greatest impact, it’s the ones we created through our own experiences.”