top of page


A single breath becomes your world. It is the very essence by which we live, but very rarely do we concentrate on the conscious thought and feeling. Take a moment - take a pause - take a breath and focus. 

Feel the air fill your lungs, feel your chest rise and fall, and feel that moment in that breath. The world drops away, the pressures of life ease, the thoughts quiet, and you breathe for physical necessity but also for peace. 

We have been taking that “breath.” You will have noticed at this point that our presence has been minimal lately. Minimal online but maximally felt within our person, our moment, our breath. Breathing is the sustenance of life, but truly taking a conscious breath is when life can flourish. 

A treadmill of time, miles, and trails has been our life for so long, we did not know how to safely dismount. We had mastered the art of breathing while running on an endlessly moving path that either through our own choice or muscle reflex our hand always seemed to turn the speed higher and higher. What had begun years ago as a leisurely stroll soon became a walk, a walk for the pure bliss of walking one day became a jog, a jog transformed into a sprint, and before we knew it that sprint was our constant life. 


Ready, Set, Go!


Acceleration for the sake of acceleration. Speeds unfathomable when we first began simply walking, now the only way we knew how to pursue hiking. The incline on the treadmill of trails may have always fluctuated, but the tempo of time was no longer our own to control, we were sprinting and could not stop. 

We had become stuck in our own paradoxical prison of breath. Breathing while still, breathing slowly, and a simple trait that was innate upon our very first day of being born, became the most difficult task of them all. We could breathe extremely well at high speeds, but to slow down, to pause, to take a step off the treadmill, would leave us gasping for breath. 

On the one hand the sprint was no longer sustainable, but on the other there was no other option. Sure, our body had become tuned to the miles and pace but it was not our body that was asking anymore. We had long ago learned to ignore our bodies demands, whether that was for better or worse, it was a skill we had acquired while on this treadmill. We, however, could no longer ignore the heart's erratic beat pumping for a pause. 

It will probably not come as a surprise to those of you who have followed us closely, but for those who do not have a frame of reference, an easy way to understand our tangent of thoughts is to reference Days 49-51 of our Te Araroa Hike. We had been nearing the completion of the entirety of the North Island in New Zealand, which would soon be opening our world to the grandeurs of the South Island. The setting, views, and weather could not have been more magical, it was truly gorgeous outside. Inside dark clouds were rolling and crashing upon us. 

Dissatisfaction, discomfort, disenchantment. Call it an early mid-life crisis, call it the natural progression of time, call it simply a grumpy hiker, whatever it may be it shook our very foundation. We had never before had to ask the question “Why?” The answer was always found in the moment, in the trail, in our joy, in our laughter, and in the pure love felt in the simple movement of hiking. Yet, now we were asking, and we were coming up short for an answer. 

What had become of our passion, our joy, our pure love for simply walking? When did we blink and our individual choice had become overruled by the dictation of our treadmill? Where was the trail’s voice that used to sing? Why was our freedom now our prison? 


This is "why" we hike... that smile...fine and also that candy!


We spent those three days searching and searching for answers that used to be there but had now only been replaced by endless questions. Even now writing this after time apart from this moment, our mind becomes a whirlwind of conflicting thoughts. It still triggers a nagging sense of unease. Instead of a queasy stomach from that rancid hotdog eaten out on trail, it is the queasy stomach of unshakable belief intermixed with doubt. 

At the very core of who we are, hiking is our truest joy. We will always find our truest sense of peace out on a trail somewhere, that will never change. Our growth into who we are now, today, can be directly interwoven into the stories of the trails themselves. From the bottom of our heart, we know can never repay the debt we owe to the trail systems for opening our eyes to a wider world and into the world of ourselves. 

Yet, in that moment back in New Zealand, we felt… for lack of a better word, stagnant. Our growth that had once been accelerated by the trails felt like it had been capped off. Sure, we could always press that button on our treadmill and continue to go physically faster, but that would not give us the growth we continued to seek. In fact, that very button that used to open endless doors, was now becoming the very cap, stagnation, and one could even argue regression we were struggling so hard against. The faster we went, the more we lost. 

Pursuing a life revolved around hiking is both an incredible privilege and gift that we will never take for granted. Yet, it also comes fraught with danger if you are not careful, or we should say if you are built like us. We are not able to do anything in life as a half-measure, whether that is hike, work, love, we give our entire being to anything we do. We had found ourselves in the pursuit of hiking but now were also lost within it. 

We love hiking far too much to let our relentless pursuit of it become bland. Please bear with us as we try to unpack another paradoxical feeling the best we can. For over seven years, 2555 days, 61320 hours, our focus has been hiking. Of course with repetition in anything there will be bland moments, that is not what we mean. Yet, even in those “bland” moments we could always find something compelling. The curve of a leaf, the crunch of our shoes against the earth, the breath of fresh air. Now there was an overarching stale taste to our pursuit and it was one of our own making. 

The longer we remunerated on this thought the more it became an unavoidable truth, to continue pursuing what we loved the most, we had to stop. At least for a time. To continue pursuing what we loved would be the very death of that love. We were a fish about to leave water, and would have to adapt, if for a time, until we could safely return to the ocean.


While a forest or mountain metaphor may be more apt, the message hits home above.


We needed the very breath that we so dreaded. A pace and world outside of hiking where we would have to learn once more to breathe. As our hand hovered above that treadmill’s button, it felt like we were about to rip a piece of our soul away, a very, very large piece. An impossible choice became imminent and as our hand descended on the stop button, we were thrown off the treadmill as all our breath was knocked violently from our body.

Life is filled with irony, and the irony of the moment when we threw ourselves off the treadmill, was in fact while we were still physically hiking. It was not at the end of the Te Araroa, but directly in the middle of the hike. We completed the North Island and spent two days in Wellington, resting for the remainder of the journey ahead on a new island, but also the change of pursuit that had directed our lives for so long. 

While we use metaphors heavily in our writing, let there be no exaggeration here, it very much felt like we had to go through the five stages of loss, because very much in fact we were losing a part of ourselves. A necessary part that had to be lost to grow, but a part nonetheless that had sustained us for so long. 

The most distilled sense of these five stages was in the preceding days to the end of the North Island, but one could say we had been grappling with them ever since the completion of our goal on the North Country Trail in 2021. At the time though we did not have the comprehension, understanding, or one could even say willingness to listen. 

We had set our sights on completing all the 11 National Scenic Trails, a goal that spanned the length of years, from 2016-2021. A goal that had ignited the fire in our souls to chase these hikes and trails relentlessly. A goal that once completed, had fulfilled a part of our being, but also came along with a heavy loss. 

One could argue we spent close to two years in the first stage of denial. Hiking was our life, it is simply what we did. We worked during the winter months, built a company to be run from the trail, and then created an itinerary to pack as much hiking as possible into the calendar year. We did the same with the year of 2022, exploring new regions, new trails, and fell into our pattern of pursuit with the hand always increasing the speed on the treadmill. 


Say what you will about our "treadmill"...

Without it we would be the gentleman on the left of this picture.


We hiked, traveled, and lived the full-time life of a thru-hiker constantly in search of the next trail. A rewarding life filled with new adventures and new experiences, but a life that began to fill as if it was missing something.  A feeling we never had in the preceding years, a feeling that we buried and denied as it fought against our very truth of living the life we loved. 

Then we found ourselves in those few days of hiking into Wellington. A process that had been stuck in the first phase of denial for over a year and a half now had every stage of loss rage through us in a short span. We could no longer deny the feeling that we needed time away from the trails to grow our love for them. 

We quickly accelerated into the second stage of anger, and were bitter against the realization that what we needed and what we wanted seemed to diverge. We wanted to be hiking, but needed to not be, for a time. We fought with the difference between our desire and our necessity and were outraged that no matter how hard we put up resistance we could not avoid the reality. 

It is simple to say the anger fell away, but if you reference those days into Wellington, it permeated every pore of our body. Eventually though it finally did fall away and we found ourselves bargaining. We told ourselves if we could just finish this hike, we would reset, and all would be well. We would give ourselves a small amount of time and then continue our pursuit. We would give everything we could to nurturing our souls off trail so we could return to the trail. 

The next stage was a consolidated sense of sadness. We realized that our bargains would not work unless we gave ourselves fully over to the feeling. We had to allow time for us to understand this new level of growth, and it was not our regular month or two reset from hiking, and then back onto the trail. We did not know the amount of time, but we felt with a saddening heart that it was going to be longer than we were used to. 

Finally, acceptance. Our relentless pursuit had led us to this point, we were both the cause and effect of this outcome. We have said it once, we have said it twice, we have said it more times than we can count, but it bears repeating. One of our strongest traits and one of our strongest weaknesses is our single-minded pursuit of goals. We only have one throttle in life, full-throttle, and for whatever captures our attention, focus, and heart we give it everything we have and more. 


No caption needed - a beautiful self portrait here.


When applied correctly it is truly an incredible power. Any goal in life that we have accomplished is not due to intelligence (or lack thereof), creativity, or stamina but instead to the simple fact that we are incredibly, incredibly, single minded upon a goal. There are no doubts, no questions, no alternatives, only the accomplishment of the goal. 

Yet, when it no longer is applied consciously and overtakes our individual choice is when it becomes an incredible weakness. When our mind refuses to let go of an endeavor that we know is no longer feeding us the sustenance it requires, we begin to lose ourselves. When there is that one word, that we have spent the past few paragraphs dancing around, but have yet to fully say, becomes lacking, our pursuit becomes our weakness not our strength. When we lack balance is when we need to change direction. 

This is an extremely long winded (pun intended) way of saying, we needed a breath. Once more for those of you who have followed us closely, you will have seen the makings of this in our videos, podcast episodes, and finally our book: Life in Pursuit. While we have not done a podcast episode in a long time, if you listen to those most recent episodes, you will hear a reverberating word come through in much of the conversations, the word balance. You will hear us talk of growth away from the trails, you will hear us mention craving “more”, you will hear us saying words that our heart already knew but our brain had yet to catch up to process. 

For those who have read our book, well much of these musings may be redundant. You will know at this point how we chase goals, you will know our passion, you will know how we operate on a deeply personal level. The words on the paper tell the story of our hikes, but if you read in between the lines along those trails, you will already know everything here we have said. You will have seen us pursuing that word that has been misplaced for far too long and that needs once more to become part of our vocabulary. You will see us not knowing how to reach it, but reaching for it nonetheless, reaching for balance. 

We also feel we owe an apology to those of you who have been with us for so long. While it was necessary to take this deep breath of change, we know that we have dropped the proverbial ball on messages, updates, and well letting you know we have not been eaten by a grizzly bear. Thank you for your patience and understanding, as we took our breath. 


Only wonderfully bodacious and cute Grizzly Bear's around here.

P:S: Please don't approach a Grizzly Bear - they may look cute and cuddly, but please appreciate form a distance.


ElevenSkys, while still active, took a backseat to life for a while. One out of necessity, but two out of the immense respect we hold in our hearts for hiking. This company was built to be about one thing only, the love for hiking. A foundation that is unshakable and one we vow to always have remain untainted by “business” just for “business” sake. 

While all business practices preach staying actively engaged it is a principle that we simply could not do. Sure, from the classic models of a business, it may have made us a “better” business if we came out with empty promotions, empty advertisements, and empty posts, but we truly feel it would have made our business worse. To dilute this company with anything besides that pure joy and happiness found out on a trail somewhere, would be to take away its heart.

We will never allow that to happen. Thus the “quiet.” Our world is filled with noise just for the sake of noise and that is a trait that we will not be a part of. After writing our book, we did not have anything to say for these past few months, thus we did not say anything. We now have had time to process and breathe and thus have something we believe to be worth saying. 

Back in Wellington we jumped off our treadmill. We hiked for another month or so until we completely finished the Te Araroa at the tip of the South Island and when we put our hand on that terminus we said goodbye to a life that had beautifully consumed us for over seven years. A life that was so incredibly rewarding that no amount of words will ever do it justice. A life that we are grateful for every single day. 


From the bottom of our hearts - thank you trails!


We stepped off that trail and stepped directly into a “regular” life. While the trail used to be our new frontier, we were now faced with a more Martian type environment, a completely different world, the wild frontier of “normalcy.” One that would take us a while to understand and acclimate to…or so we thought. 

It is quite simply astounding how quickly we were sucked back into the world of life off trail. The discomfort that we had anticipated coming from learning to be “normal” again, was instead the discomfort in the realization of the fact that we quickly and seamlessly slipped back into the normalcy of life. Normal life should have been a loose glove, but it fit all too easily. We had dismounted one treadmill, but it seems we were only bound for another. 

This is just simply how we are wired. We must remain in constant motion, whether that is a walk, a jog, or a sprint. The physical motion upon a trail is but the tangible representation of the motion that we crave and need the most, the motion of both growth and forward momentum in a goal. Within the very first few days we set our sights upon a new goal, and have been chasing it relentlessly ever since. 

Our focus, time, energy has been consumed by the normalcy of life, and while it may be another treadmill, it has given us the ability to take that breath. We have accomplished much of what we have set out to do, with always new goals created when one is surpassed, and this has allowed us to once more open the floodgates of thought and feeling on hiking. We have safely distanced ourselves from it for long enough, whether through the consumption of our new goals and focus or subconscious thought, that we have had time to rationally think and not reactively respond.

Touching that immeasurable depth of feeling for hiking again now, we are both welcomed within an intimate embrace, and at the same time feel like there is a foreign presence that was not there but only a year ago. The intimate embrace comforts us and the new foreign taste of feeling excites us. We know hiking, we lived hiking, we know every shape and contour of its body. One may say that we have distanced ourselves away from it long enough for it to take upon its own new characteristics, but we feel it is something different. The foreign presence is not in the hiking itself, but lies somewhere deeper. It is inside of us, we are that foreign presence. 

We have changed, and while we feel for the better, we can only hope that remains true. It would have been unfathomable if you had asked us years ago, if we would ever take a break from hiking. In fact, we would have been incredibly puzzled, as it was not even a thought that would have ever occurred to us. Hiking is simply what we did, it was our life, of course we would be hiking as soon as the winter thawed once more. 


An elephant, a giraffe, a hiker, a person.


It is an incredible gift that we have now had the capacity, time and breath to understand. What would have felt like a punishment years ago, is the very growth we have so craved. Our depth of life has deepened now from both on trail time and off trail time. A balance that had been lacking has been restored and we now can see clearly the very questions that troubled us in New Zealand have answers. 

You probably have been yelling at us this entire article about our lack of common sense for seeing what was so blatantly clear. The answers for you may have been easy to see all along, but as we have said we are wired, for better or worse, with a single-minded pursuit. Even if the answers were hidden right next to us all along, similar to a horse (or stubborn mule) with blinders on, we can only see when we change direction. 

The answers could only be seen when we changed that direction. Our love, passion, and joy for hiking are as strong as ever, they were never lost, only shrouded in our blinded pursuit. A pursuit that was necessary and loved for years, but one that at one point become the very blinders we fought against. Now with the blinders removed we can move forward. 

We need both in life, time on the trail and time off the trail. We now can wholeheartedly say we will return because it is our choice, not because it is our blinded pursuit. How that return will look, we are still unsure. Yet, we no longer have that queasy stomach of doubt, and we know it is what we truly desire, to walk simply for the joy of walking. 

While we may only pursue blended hikes into the normalcy of life or may one day return and pursue it with the intensity that still burns within us, we do not yet know. How the ratio of on trail to off trail will play out we cannot say for certain. Will it be overseas, will it be exploring the riches out West that brought the pioneers of the gold rush but continue to bring hikers to the same unfathomable wealth, or will it be through the beautiful plains of the Midwest, and history of the East, we have no idea. We cannot say for certain how, when and where this life will bring us, but we can now say for certain we will be there with joy, as we have found balance. 


Take that breath.


Feel the air fill your lungs, feel your chest rise and fall, and feel that moment in that breath. The world drops away, the pressures of life ease, the thoughts quiet, and you breathe for physical necessity but also for peace. Feel that breath for the growth you have found, and feel that breath of the mountains calling you home once more. 




P:S: ElevenSkys will always remain a part of that balance, and we thank you for continuing to be a part of our family. Thank you for your patience with us and we look forward to being there for you in your gear decisions and just as importantly seeing you out there finding your joy, whether on trail or off trail, in the life you pursue!


It is good to see your still alive my old friend. In hopes you are well dude. A lot of love being sent your way my brother.


It’s good to hear from you. Maybe another book is coming. Utmost respect for your honesty and need to take a break from social media.

bottom of page