I understand that this letter is long overdue. I thought that giving you three weeks of space and time away would help with the healing, but now I see that you’re still hurting, still protesting the rest of this journey we are on together. You used to be so optimistic back in the beginning, even when times were hard. But I know it was me that pushed you.
So I’m sorry, okay? I really am. I’m sorry for buying shoes that were too small, and the blisters that ensued. I’m sorry for being too lazy to apply sunscreen and bug spray, and for not protecting you in the ways I know I should. I’m sorry for skipping over water sources simply because I don’t want to stop and filter, getting your hopes up that a stream is ‘just a few miles away.’ I know some of those miles felt like marathons for you. And I’m sorry that sometimes my planning was a little careless with the resupplies, and that you were left with just crumbs when you were really asking for a feast.
And you deserve a feast, which is what I tried to give you in town. But I’m sorry for letting you down in that department, too. I truly thought you wanted all the hamburgers and ice cream and beer. I didn’t know what you really needed was… how did you say it? ‘Nutrients,’ I think? I’m sorry for encouraging you to gorge, even when you said you were already full. But for the record, I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: I really am so proud of you for the half gallon challenge. You are a champion in my eyes.
I’m sorry for taking so long to replace the shoes the first time. Everyone said that trail runners couldn’t last 800 miles, but I don’t know… I guess I thought we could defy the odds. Once again, I didn’t see how that would affect you in the long run. I couldn’t possibly foresee the Achilles pain and the swollen heel. And I know your knee and hip got bad after that, too, from the limping. But that’s all in the past, right? It seems like they don’t bother you too badly if I can get the pack weight down.
I really was thinking about you with the weight. That’s why I sent home the cold weather gear in Tennessee. How was I to know it was going to be the coldest night of the entire hike the very next day? And about those cold nights… I’m sorry that the sleeping bag I bought off Amazon was cheap, and that you shivered so much in those freezing temperatures. To be honest, you can be a little confusing sometimes. No offense, but you complain when it’s too cold and you complain when it’s too hot. I got you that fancy 15 degree bag from REI, but now you’re all, ‘it’s too sweaty and sticky.’ You have to know I’m trying here. I really am.
I’m sorry about comparing you to others, and for saying that I wish your legs were longer. I’m sorry for the time I called you stubby, and that other time I called you lazy, and for pushing you to do 28 miles just because everyone else was doing it. You are unique in your own way, and are only capable of so much. I know I shouldn’t have gotten mad that some people run the trail when you can barely walk it, but in my defense, it was a bit childish when you sat down in the middle of the trail and simply refused to go at all.
Oh, and I’m sorry about the heat rash, chafing, infected hangnail, catching noro virus, the scrapes, bruises, bloating, dehydration, lack of sleep, shin splints, stubbed toes, and plantar fasciitis.
Listen, all I’m asking is that you give this another shot. Stick this out with me for another month and a half, and I will make it up to you with whatever you want. I promise. Massages, warm bubble baths, days on the couch eating takeout? You got it. I look around at all these other bodies giving up, but I know that we have it in us to finish what we started. We will be stronger than ever before.
What do you say?