Gratitude and Awe

Before we begin: No dogs were harmed in the making of this post. Don’t let those big brown eyes fool you.

Gratitude (n): The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation and return kindness.

I can’t believe the outpouring of kindness over the past week from the moment I was named a Badger Sponsorship finalist, to well past yesterday morning when it was announced that I was the winner. I am so grateful for the insane support that I’ve gotten from my family, friends, sorority sisters, former co-workers and corpsmembers, fellow hikers, and total strangers. I have done my best to thank each person, but sometimes it’s just so much easier to give a shout-out and hope that everyone sees.

12645093_10205860587179286_6058642975950537162_nI am fiercely competitive, but I joke that I always get the “bridesmaid award” – that is, I’m always in second place, never first. After initially taking the lead on the first day of voting, I had dropped back to second. I’ll freely admit here: I kind of let my competitive side take over. Finally, I resorted to putting my hiking gear on my dog and taking pictures of him and using his pitiful looks to get me votes.

12642747_10205874173798943_253566089949248250_nScrolling through my Facebook page, it is clear to me the outpouring of support that I received from family, friends, acquaintances, roommates, what have you. And that is heartwarming. I am positive that each finalist received an astounding amount of support from the people in their corners.


It’s amazing the outpouring of support that each finalist received. I read through every single comment here. It was heartwarming to see how enthusiastic people were, and their reasonings for voting for the finalist they chose.

As the last hour of voting began, I ignored social media (which was blowing up) and sat at my computer, applying the final edits to my thesis before I submit it for binding and publishing. I focused on my graphs, my data, and tried to put those figures into words. As 10:00 PM EST clicked past, I opened the polling window to see where I was.


Second place.

I mean, I didn’t have very high hopes. Maybe I would win, maybe I wouldn’t. But what I knew was, every single finalist in the Top 12 deserved to be there, and however the finalists were placed, there would be a good reason for it. I told myself, I had already seen the support that I received. There was no further need for me to prove myself by winning the sponsorship. Trail angels had come out of the woodwork to offer help in many ways.

I am truly grateful.

Awe (n): A feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.

I’ll be honest.

When Zach posted the results of the sponsorship, I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth and had forgotten to bring my phone. When I came back to my laptop, I had several notifications on Facebook, and Dylan’s status was on top of my feed congratulating me.

Congratulating me for what? What did I do?



My first comment: “I won?”

I can’t say this enough – I am so grateful and awed by the insane support that each finalist received. And from what I could see through extensive social media stalking (sorry, folks) everyone was friendly and polite. This has been said, and I will say it again – the finalists will all be excellent stewards for the trail and the thru-hiking culture.

Gratitude and awe really go hand in hand. I am awed by the support, and I am so grateful by it. Social media is a powerful tool, but I didn’t realize just how powerful it was until this week.

Thank you all.


So, what now?

Now that almost everything I need for my gear has been obtained (or will be in the mail very soon), I’ll be doing some shakedown hikes! I will be doing some shakedowns possibly along the MST or in the Blue Ridge. North Carolina has some gorgeous trails, and it’s a bummer that I haven’t explored more.

This month, my mom and I will be cooking, dehydrating food, preparing mail drops, and creating a bounce box. I will be reaching out to people along the AT’s route who have offered to help, to get their contact information so that I can contact them when the time comes.

T-minus 24 days.


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Comments 6

  • Stephanie Bush : Feb 3rd

    Congrats Gina!!! Super happy for you, you deserve it! Maybe we will cross paths on the AT this summer 🙂

    • Gina De Naples : Feb 4th

      Thank you!! I’m super excited! Maybe we’ll cross paths in the northern states!

  • Carol : Feb 4th

    Congratulations Gina! Best of luck on the trail and enjoy your journey.

    • Gina De Naples : Feb 4th

      Thanks! I’ll do my best to blog regularly so people can follow me along.

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