With deep shame and regret we present ourselves to you, tail between our legs, heads bowed down in embarrassment fearful to look up and meet the judgment in your eyes. Our knees shake, our palms are sweaty, our brows knitted with a internal humiliation that cannot be swayed. We know we can never ask for your forgiveness, we only ask for you to listen to our story. A story that will never compensate our failure, but a story that will show you our deepest regret and sorrow. Our failure to uphold a simple promise. A promise to you. A promise to ourselves. A promise broken.
As you can see we had so many chances to stay true, stay strong...but we were weak!
We did not eat 4,833 boiled eggs on our North Country Trail Thru-Hike last year. The disgrace and dishonor we feel by just blatantly saying it makes us want to go run and hide, inside of a pickling jar. A pickling jar of our own making, that we call our own emotions. They have fermented for the past two months, as the apology we owe all of you, has been canned inside. We hoped that we could move on, gloss over this giant crater in our hearts, yet time was not the healer of all wounds in this scenario, instead the crevice only got deeper and darker. Bottomless and fathomless we have been perpetually falling, we need to find our bottom, so here it is. We did not eat 4,833 pickled and boiled eggs this year, and for that we are eternally sorry.
Let us go back. Back to when the idea was just an infant in our poorly constructed hiker brain. Back when we had thousands upon thousands of miles to increase our consumption and our "pickled egg per mile" average. Back to New York. Only two weeks into our NCT thru hike, our giddiness and excitement led to many deep philosophical questions about life, existence, the universe. It was in one of these such conversations we found the answer to our current temporal existence. We were put on this trail, upon this earth, upon this place in time with a job, a responsibility and a privilege. It was to consume enough pickled eggs to the point of transcendence. You know the chicken and egg dilemma? Which one came first? Well, we had found the universal origin of this question, the dilemma of which came first the pickled hiker or the pickled egg? We would quest to find the answer, for ourselves, for you, for the good of the world!
As the miles began to melt beneath our feet, we were quickly out of the state of New York. The tally was grim, we had only consumed 6 pickled eggs for 750~ miles. The job ahead of us now was tougher, to be sure, but not yet insurmountable. Our bodies and mind would just need to be fueled efficiently with eggs. 4827 eggs left, 4083 miles. Slightly over and egg a mile, not easy, but do-able. Yet, the siren call of sandwiches, pizza, fried chicken, and other consumables became our sins. We would heed their call, and forgo the job set before us. We succumbed to their temptation and we have vowed never again to be lost within our weakness.
As Pennsylvania and Ohio were stepped in the dog days of summer, we began to consider it a safety hazard. If we ate nothing but pickled eggs during humid 120 degree days, our body, our sanity, let alone our partners, would break. An excuse we know, but please stick with us, do not judge us until the end. Imagine 50 pickled eggs in your backpack, stewing in their own juices, as they slosh back and forth in the hot summer sun. Toxic warfare can be a fair term to use here, as the vapors released from such a jar, would have put us on a few terror watchlists. It was not safe, so we continued our momentum forward, knowing in our heart, the task was soon becoming unreachable.
Our eyes were not locked on the prize, our focus drifted upon the waves
Siren called to crash upon the rocks and shores of our own shame.
Into Michigan we arrived. Only 2,633~ miles left, and only 4827 more eggs to eat. The average had now swelled to close to 2 eggs per mile. If you still think this feat was accomplishable, well we simply ask you to go hike 10 miles. Eat 20 pickled eggs, and if you are not sick by the end of this hike, well this quest should have been bestowed on a better person such as yourself. Yet, we still refused to succumb to the knowledge it could not be done, we held hope. Hope that in each town we could spend a day chowing and plowing through 100-200 eggs as we did town chores. We even initiated the momentum to do just this many times, to be heavily vetoed and "threatened" lovingly from our partner that it was not going to happen. So, alas a few more states slipped away, as our hope slipped along with them.
North Dakota, our last state, our last chance. 443~ miles to go, 4827 eggs left to eat. The average had now become something whispered in sick legends. 10+ eggs per mile. At an average speed of 3.5mph to 4mph that is almost 1 egg per minute. Let alone the time to chew, swallow, and not explosively expel the eggs in many directions, the body is not meant to handle such extremes. Well, let us state that better, our weak body shamefully lacked the strength to accomplish the goal before us. Before we knew it the trail was over, and we celebrated with our partner with a smile and a kiss, but beneath our happy exterior, an egg sized hole in our chest had begun to grow.
We can blame our partner, we can blame the lack of accessible mass quantities of pickled eggs in trail towns, we can blame the stigma in society that someone who crams thousands of pickled eggs into their face is considered "unwell", we can shift the blame in many directions. Yet, the blame lies with ourselves. We should have chipped away slowly at this once accomplishable goal. We should have silently, as tears streamed down our grief stricken face shoveled nighttime eggs into our face as our partner slept. We should have used any break available, whether that be water, bathroom, town, or signing trail logs, to grab the pickled eggs from our hip pockets and inhale them as if they were pickled flavored tic tacs. We should have... But we didn't.
Don't let this be you learn from our failure.
We broke our promise. We could say we never "truly" promised to eat 4833 eggs, but that would just be an excuse to try and find relief. An excuse to try and ease our guilt and shame. Instead, we face you know with palms open devoid of eggs, a heart broken into egg shelled pieces, and pickled emotions dripping into the world. You have heard our story now, have seen our shame, have smelled the stench of rotten eggs upon our soul. We know we can never seek forgiveness for our broken promise, our pickled prison remains our punishment. Leave us upon our mountain of shame as we have become the hiker's Sisyphus, punished to eternally push our pickled egg burden uphill. All we ask is now that you have heard our story, use the lessons learned, share them with others so they can avoid the same fate.
Keep your absurd promises, slowly chip away at large goals, and mostly importantly of all, eat your pickled eggs.
Pickled Egg Sisyphus (ElevenSkys)