Gratitude in Every Step Everyday: Journey to The Appalachian Trail

Gratitude comes in many forms, and hiking the Appalachian Trail, a journey stretching over 2,000 miles through the eastern United States, invites a deep sense of gratitude. This trek will not just be a physical and mental challenge, but one that should be looked upon as a gift.

Hiking the Bluffs in Michigan What Gratitude Means to Me

For me, gratitude is being thankful for the great things that are around us, be it a cup of coffee or the presence of friends. On the trail, it is about recognizing the privilege of experiencing such unspoiled nature. This can be every sunrise over a mist-covered (hopefully not rain) mountain, every quiet moment by a creek/ stream, and every canopy of stars is a gift. It’s easy to take these moments for granted in the rush of everyday life, but as a man of leisure, I try not to.

What I am Most Grateful For

Friends and family. That is truly it, as I have recently lost my pops my family is even smaller, and I treasure them. But as thankful I am for my family I am just as grateful for my friends. I am in Michigan now and have stayed with friends from Korea, China, and Saudi Arabia. They have opened up their homes and let this dirtbag stay (thanks Jenna, Eddie, Andrew, and Eva).

I can go to almost any country or major city in the world, and I could have a place to stay or a friendly face to get a beer with. It is rare for one to have so many good people they can rely on when times are good and when they are not. I have gotten my new job through a friend (cheers Patty and Carolyn), and this has afforded me the opportunity to do this trial. I even have my friend Leigh driving me to the trailhead and my other friends Travis and Ami up at the end. I will Always be Grateful and Thankful for them.

Hiking with Hope in snowMy Daily Gratitude Practice

My daily gratitude practice involves messaging my friend Pope each day to share what I’m thankful for. This simple act has become a cornerstone for the last few months.

Before that, my other friend Jeremy and his wife Rachelle would sit at the dinner table with their kids and ask what they were grateful for. I thought it was lovely and grounding, though I didn’t take it up as a habit.

On the trail, I hope it keeps me in the present and connects me with others even when I’m miles from the nearest town. It’s a moment of reflection that hopefully brings clarity and joy.

This practice has taught me that gratitude is not just about acknowledging the good in life, but also about recognizing and embracing challenges as opportunities for growth. Each day in life and the trail will present its own set of obstacles, from inclement weather to rough terrain. Approaching these challenges with gratitude has helped me to see them as integral parts of the journey, each one shaping me into a stronger, more resilient person.

The Essence of Gratitude on the Trail

Gratitude, for many, is the acknowledgment of the goodness in their lives. It’s a recognition that the source of this goodness lies at least partially outside themselves, connecting them to something larger. As I am not a Jesus or Allah believer, I do believe that we are part of something larger, be it other people, nature, or possibly a higher power. On the Appalachian Trail, this sense of gratitude will be magnified by the daily encounters with the raw beauty of nature, the kindness of strangers, and the accomplishment of each step forward.

Indonesian Mts BaliTrail Magic: The Kindness of the Community

Gratitude also comes from the community on the trail, the so-called ‘trail magic’ offered by fellow hikers and local townsfolk. These acts of kindness, big and small, reinforce the goodness in people. Whether it’s sharing a meal, offering a ride to the next town, or simply exchanging stories and advice. These moments build a deep sense of gratitude for the generosity and interconnectedness of humans.

The Impact of Gratitude

Why does gratitude matter? Beyond the immediate warmth and happiness it brings to our hearts, gratitude has profound implications for our mental and physical well-being. Studies have shown that practicing gratitude can increase happiness, reduce depression, and even improve physical health. It’s a powerful antidote to the consumerism and competition that dominate much of our daily lives, reminding us of what truly matters.

On a personal level, gratitude has transformed my experience in life. It has shifted my focus from what I lack to what I have, from the difficulties of the journey to its joys and lessons. This shift in perspective has not only made my life more enjoyable but has also deepened my resilience, helping me to overcome challenges with a sense of peace and purpose.

Gratitude in life and for the Appalachian Trail is more than a fleeting feeling. It’s a profound recognition of the beauty, generosity, and strength that permeate this journey. It’s about seeing the grandeur in the simple things, the kindness in strangers, and the growth in challenges.

This journey of gratitude has not only enriched my life but has also offered lessons that I will carry with me long after I’ve left the people I’ve interacted with. It’s a reminder that in every step, in every encounter, and in every challenge, there is something to be thankful for a reminder that can transform our lives in powerful ways.

Teagan Out

Hiking with my mom

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Comments 4

  • jen l : Mar 20th

    Beautiful reminder of the power and transformation in gratitude. I love the different ways you shared that we can practice this. I may try the texting a friend daily idea. Onward friend! Grateful.

    • Teagan : Mar 21st

      Happy to hear and have a great day. Thanks for reading.

  • Maureen : Mar 21st

    Peace and Joy on your journey! Being thankful for even the smallest of positives will make your days and nights have a profound impact on your Trek. Keep writing and I look forward to following you!

    • Teagan : Mar 21st

      Thank you for reading, have a great day.


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