What Backpacking the Appalachian Trail Taught Me About Thanksgiving


cropped-5237336713_912a58e48e_z.jpgLet’s get one thing straight; I was thankful before I set out the backpack the Appalachian Trail. But I was even more thankful after I finished the trip. Here are some way my perspective and appreciation changed as a result of the trip.

Going to the tap for a drink of water. We get the refreshment with a clean glass and simple twist of the tap. On the AT I once had to walk two miles to get water from a spring, and then freight two gallon water bags — one in each hand — back to camp. Uphill. In August heat!

I seldom fall walking up and down hills in the neighborhood. On the trail I fell many times, sometimes more than once or twice a day. Footway could be slick with ice or rain, plus falling with a heavy backpack hurts much more than when unencumbered. Once a fall on a rain-slicked log in Maine found my forehead slamming down face-first into it.

A spritz from an insect repellent or taking shelter indoors dispels the worry of mosquitoes. On the Appalachian Trail misery often dogged my steps and disrupted my sleep as hordes of the winged insect invaders sucked my blood and nearly maddened me with their incessant buzzing.

Air-conditioning gives blessed relief in mid-summer swelter. On the trail it’s often necessary to stoically press on beneath a blazing sun under a heavy pack while wilting in oppressive heat.

I could go on, but you get the idea. The trail is filled with fun and adventure. But it’s also filled with hard times and weary days. The upside, especially on reflection, is in knowing just how blessed I was to have the time and privilege to hike the trail, and to more deeply appreciate the common graces and conveniences of our day-to-day “real world.”

I think back on those times and feel deeply thankful. That has carried over into my life ever since, and I spend time especially at this season of the year counting the blessings I have received — and still enjoy. So, whether your Thanksgiving finds you alone, at a sumptuous feast among friends, or on a lonesome trail, remember: there is always reason to give thanks — and what you appreciate appreciates in value.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Filed under Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Hiking, Thanksgiving

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