Because when you’re making huge life decisions, why not make another one?

My name is Rachel and I am thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail solo northbound in 2018. I am a 22 year old recent college graduate with no idea what the future holds. Although I’ve hiked a lot, I’ve never been a thru-hiker before. I can’t wait to become one! One year ago I thought I would be in law school right now in Ohio… well things change!

In the past six months I have made three huge life decisions:

  1. Move all the way from Ohio to Maine to move back in with my parents.

  2. Not to attend law school.

  3. Hike the Appalachian Trail.

Firstly, I was drowning when I lived in Ohio: student loan debt, temp jobs, working at Starbucks, and an overpriced apartment. In March found out I did not get into the Ohio State University’s Moritz school of Law, my number one choice. Soon after I realized I didn’t really want to live in Ohio for the rest of my life I decided spending all of this money just no longer seemed worth it. So my parents let me move back in with them in Maine, my home state.

After I did not get into my number one choice for law school I was discouraged and because I couldn’t afford to apply anywhere else it meant taking another year off before school. I began studying for my Law School Admissions Test again because my score was not fantastic, but my heart really wasn’t in it. I should have been studying on all of my days off from work but instead I was out hiking. Which truly made me happy. The best part about hiking? My depression symptoms were reduced so much without being back on my medication.

I’ve wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail for a long time. I’ve always loved hiking and being outside but there was always an excuse not to. Well now career-less, I’ve got plenty of time. I’m hoping this quest will bring me some ideas for a future career, some happiness, and some friends. I’m really excited to share it all with you!

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Comments 7

  • Judith : Oct 13th

    So excited for you. Most do all not going to law school. Spent 25 years in a law office and it’s truly disgusting Work. Hike love live laugh and keep hiking!!!

  • Michael Hong : Oct 14th

    I am old, like 65. Based on my life experience, I come to believe that everything happens for a reason. Take the hike. It’s an opportunity you will treasure for rest of your life. It will teach you so much, get sence of accomplishments, and build self confident that will serve as a foundation regardless what you choose to do. You are still young…..
    Aloha and good hiking….

  • Capt. Norm : Oct 14th

    Take the hike, it will guide you in what to do in life. I wish you the best of preparations and luck on your journey and don’t forget to thank your parents (?).

  • RC Angel : Oct 15th

    Go for it,.,Keep it Coming,.,amazing journey awaits you. Look forward to your updates an progress ??

  • Will : Oct 16th

    I took a gap year between college and law school. I worked. Wow…I could have hiked, travelled, sought adventure. Now I am a lawyer of 25 years, and a good one. But I’ll never get that gap year back. Take the hike. I’ve hiked the AT in Georgia, but I’ll be 60 before I can do a thru-hike. TAKE THE HIKE NOW!!!

  • Cosmo Catalano : Oct 24th

    Go for it , Rachel. After your hike (regardless of where it ends) you’ll have a lot more perspective. If you do decide to continue in the law, the Trail (any trail, actually) always needs good lawyers who have a direct connection with the experience.


  • Elizabeth : Jan 13th

    Hey! I’m checking to see that you still plan to hike this year? I’m in a similar situation as you hiking for many of the same reasons! Would be cool to keep up with your hike!


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