Well everyone, Happy December! It is now officially December 2nd, and that means it is now officially in the 2 month countdown to our biggest hiking season yet. 2 months until looking down the barrel of 8,000~ miles of thru hiking on 5 trail systems. Just one of them being the NCT or North Country Trail weighing in at 4,600~ miles. 2 months until an 8 month "stint" on trail. 2 months until accomplishing this feat that will require an average of 33.1 miles a day including all travel, rest, and "off" days. 2 months until we begin the final year to accomplish one of the biggest goals that we have set for ourselves. 2 months, 2 months, 2 months... a lot has to happen!
Days have become like drops of rain. Falling heavily at our feet but at the same time soothing in their rhythmic sounds.
So, how do you get prepared for such a long and hard endeavor? Honestly, we are figuring it out as well. We have never tried to tackle such a length of time hiking as well as such a length of physical miles themselves. The longest we have ever been on trail has been 6 months and 6 days, and this was back when we were still learning to hike on the AT (Appalachian Trail). It sounds like that adding another 2 months to this would not be that big of a deal, but it is the scope in which this will be happening. The scope of putting the toll on our body with high mileage days, every single day. The scope of putting the toll on our minds, of juggling our business, documenting our hikes on our YouTube Channel, daily life demands, logistics to and from trails, communication with all of our clients and partnerships, the list goes on and on. Yes, we have chosen to put ourselves in this situation and could not be happier or more privileged to be in the position we are, yet happiness and and choice do not necessary mean less stress, sometimes more, because you are so passionate and put so much weight upon your shoulders about your endeavor.
So, yes this is quite the December to Remember. What are we doing to get prepared for hiking season 2021? Well, first off we have moved into another production run, due to all the support you have shown us since we began ElevenSkys. Our next production run will keep the products you love, but we have added in new variations as well, as we personally designed and created hiking pants that have proven to be the best! As we said earlier, we could not be more proud or happy to be in this position and thank you from the bottom of our hearts, yet managing this logistically (Cut, Sew, Fabric, Shipping, Design, Fit, Trim, Colorways, Partnerships, etc. etc. etc.) demands much of our time. Yet, we need to do this and our privileged enough to be at this point with our company and only have you to thank, so again thank you!
Logistics? Have we planned logistics yet? We have much planned previously from 2020 when it changed our plans as well as everyone else's plans , that we are still able to use. We do still have much planning needed as well though. Resupply points, where to find camp on these lesser known trails, GPX tracks to follow, gear selection, and of course the mental aspect of this. The mental juggling that when we begin there is very little room for error. When we say error we do not mean that are days are dialed into the exact tenth of a mile, that would be impossible to uphold for 8 months. What we mean is that when looking at each trail system in a big scope we have a time frame we need to adhere to. This lets us fluctuate our miles each day to average the needed mileage, yet much of our miles will be dictated by camping locations on these lesser known trail systems. It is finding where and when we can juggle this. So, logistics are still in the works, much of our focus has been demanded by ElevenSkys and our other full time job to get prepared for 2021 as much as possible. Honestly, again we could not be happier to be in this situation but it is going to be quite a December to Remember.
How do you get physically prepared for such an endeavor? Again, this takes time. The ongoing theme of this post is that time is quite precious and when utilized correctly can be managed well, but unfortunately there is no way to add hours to the 24hr day cycle... believe us we have tried. There is nothing that will get you prepared for a thru-hike, let alone an 8 month long 8,000 mile combination of thru hikes. The best you can do is get your body prepared for the impact on your feet and shoulders. That is what we have done in the past, and that is what we are going to continue to do in this December to Remember as well. Load a pack with 60, 70, 80+ pounds to break the shoulders into place and "hike" 5 or 10 miles a day to let your body continue to learn the repetitive motion. Last year, we somehow got plantar fasciitis and it was by far one of the most unpleasant and painful parts of any of our hikes. Not only is it something we deeply desire to avoid for personal reasons, but it is something that is necessary to avoid to accomplish this goal. We have set our sites on preparing the body as much as possible, and this is where we will remain until we are on trail. Yet, this also demands time... well while we "hike" we can return phone calls, emails, and multi-task, so not all is "lost" to this prep time. With the time of the year we are in though, a headlamp is a necessity due to us not getting "off" work from 5 A.M. to 5 P.M. and thus we walk in the dark. What needs to be done is done. No way around it.
Clocks, clocks, clocks! Time, time, time! Always spinning!
Now take out everything that needs to go into this December to Remember and this January to "Plan-a-rary"... yea we will go with that. Take a step back from every minute defined for us in these next 2 months, take away all the physical and mental demands we have put on ourselves. Let us leave our Founder to his self-pity and weight of the world pressure and let us look forward to when he is out on trail. What happens then? What is demanded from him then? Does much change, do the demands become less, is there a breath of air for our crippled hero?
Honestly, we would like to say yes. The miles of each day there will be a freedom from demands, from work, from this treadmill of life we have found ourselves on. Yet, that is a fantasy that we have concocted in a brain that is grasping for air. The reality is much more biting. The reality is that, much of our work has now transitioned to trail. Being on trail, writing about trail, filming trail, educating about trail, much of our work is now involved in The Trail. We wanted this and again we could not be more happy or more privileged to be in this position, but this, as life comes with its demands as well.
We now have to manage and direct ElevenSkys from trail. Manage customer service, manage partnerships, manage outreach, manage production, manage content creation. We also have help from incredibly lovely people, but since we are still in the growth phase of our new company, we are incorporated into every decision. We would not have it any other way, again it is our happiness, and stress. We were the ones to chose this. Now every trail town becomes a "remote" work town. Our Nero days (zero's are going to have to be minimal) are now spoken for. Wandering around town, sitting out by the pool, falling asleep in the sun? No longer, now we will be using much if not all of our time for ElevenSkys. The concept of trail towns has shifted for us, and it is something that we are going to have to learn to co-exist with this year, and we have yet to see what will come of this. What we do know however is that ElevenSkys will continue to push us harder and further than we ever imagined.
Is ElevenSkys pushing us? Or are we pushing it? Or is this a chicken and egg scenario?
Filming. What started off as a passion project, has stayed due to our passion, but has also grown into work. We film every one of our thru-hikes. This means that when we are in town, we have footage to edit and upload. More time is demanded of us. More time that we already have little of, is put into creating videos for those behind us. For people to see the beauty that we see. For people to learn about these communities that we have learned so much from. For people to feel the trail and feel the specialness it brings to all aspects of life, as we have internalized it and continue to feel it day after day. We have done the footage in the past, we know what this will look like. We have had entire Nero days consumed by footage, so we are quite interested to see how this will incorporate into everything else that the trail now asks of us and that we are happy to provide.
Every moment on trail will now be a concise decision. Yes, we still have to put in high mile days every day. Yes we still need to resupply and "rest" in town. Yes we still need to stop for water. Yet, now the thoughts while revolving around trail will also revolve around our work. We have asked for this for years now. We have asked for the two parts of our lives to no longer be separated. The separation of our joy and passion (trail life) and the separation of a different type of joy and passion (our work life) had been becoming to much for us. We have asked and received the combination now of the two. No longer fractioned but intimately joined together. What do we do now?
All arrows have now combined, one line to follow!
This is the question the that is on our minds this December to Remember. It feels as if we are looking at an old friend that is familiar and loving but at the same time staring into the eyes of a friend that has changed. There is now a look in the eyes of our friend that carry with them a weight, a freedom, and a privilege. Outwardly our friend appears the same, but internally something has shifted. Is it their shift or ours, or is it both? The communication that we used to have together is still there, yet now there is also a new language we need to learn to speak. The comfort and ease found in our friends embrace is still gravitational and embracing, but now the taste of the embrace has something extra, something still to be defined. We know how to communicate to each other, but our communication has reverted again to an infancy where we used to speak elegantly. Hand gestures and noises escape, with the deep meaning still felt and known, until a more evolved language can be grown between the two of us. The trail and us have a lot of learning to do together again... we are "ready!"
December to Remember, and so so so much more!
With much weight upon our hearts and mind coupled with freedom and happiness,