Search

Sleeping on a Cliff Edge

Happy Wednesday, and happy day before Thanksgiving! We are so thankful for the Trail and everyone and everywhere that encompasses. We are thankful for the mountains of the west, we are thankful for the mountains of the east, we are thankful for the deserts of the southwest, and we are thankful for the miles and palmettos of the south. We are thankful for the deep love of the locals in the South, we are thankful for the consistent energy and happiness of the locals that weigh another mountain to climb of the West, we are thankful for the warm hearts of the locals of the Midwest, we are thankful for the passion of the locals of the East, we are thankful for the deep wells of strength of the locals of the North, and everywhere in between. We are thankful for Trail Volunteers, Trail Angels, Trail Associations, Day Hikers, Section Hikers, Thru-Hikers, any body that follows their love of the outdoors. Anywhere a trail touches, we are so thankful for the community that is built around the local trail and that ties into the universal huge trail community that we are all a part of. Of course, we are always thankful for all of you! For all the love and support you have shown over the past few months, as we have continued to grow, by either going over to Our Store and supporting us with gear purchases, by reading our Blogs and hearing our voices that add into this void of the internet, or simply by leaving a comment on our YouTube Channel to tell us what you are thinking. Simply put, we have a lot to be thankful for. We are so grateful.

Simply, THANK YOU!

We are so immensely thankful for all that each one of you have done, and so thankful for the feedback and support each one of you has shown us, it is beyond humbling. That being said, as we start moving into the Holiday Season with Thanksgiving tomorrow and Christmas right around the corner, we would love to give back to you and show you our thanks, the people that have brought us this far and will be with us on all the journeys ahead. We want all of you to have a safe and happy Holiday Season, and to help with this from today (November 25th, 2020) through Christmas until the day after New Years, (January 2nd, 2021) we are going to be offering 50% ALL of our Hiking Shorts! On top of this if you purchase any of our hats along with the shorts, you will receive FREE SHIPPING this holiday season! Let us do our part this Holiday season, to help you avoid Black Friday, Christmas Shopping, and New Years shopping. Stay safe and stay well, and get the perfect gift for the outdoorsperson in your family, by shopping online and showing them the love of community that we have felt so strongly from you. Let us all move into the year of 2021 with mountain sunsets, crisp morning air, and happiness on our schedule. The trails are waiting, let us heed the call when the time is right, so get ready today!

CLICK THE PICTURE ABOVE TO JOIN OUR HOLIDAY SALE!

As is our fashion we do not want to have an article that does not have a little humor in it. All the above was too serious to throw in any humor, because we wanted to express our gratitude, without any reservations or any questions, truly thank you. Okay, that being said, let us laugh a little bit as we all need this year. The story we are going to tell today comes from 2017, on the Pacific Crest Trail, around mile 400~ in the desert of California. This story involves fire station pizza, a setting sun, a mountain to climb, and not 1, not 2, but 3 dead "headlamps."


We arrived to a fire station in the desert of California, that had a sign hanging near by. The sign mentioned a trail angel's name, phone number, and then it all went black and fuzzy as the word pizza jumped off the page to us. Next thing we knew, we were all sitting around a table, each having our personal pizza, with fruit, Oreos, anything that fills a hikers dream. The Trail Angel, lived down the road, and if hikers provided them with the amount needed to cover the pizzas, they would deliver them to the fire station, along with any goodies they brought along in their car. Our original plan was to fill up water bottles for 10 minutes and instead turned into a 2-3 hour break and story telling around boxes and crusts of pizza. It was amazing!


That is a story in itself, the immense amount of generosity that the trail angel showed to each hiker or trail family that would call them, so we want to say another huge Thank You, to them as well as every trail angel that makes these trails so special. Suffice, it to say we felt the gravity of the pizza weighing us into our bench seats, and knew we had miles to still do, even with the sun setting. Our plan was to get on top of this plateau by the end of the day, because that was one of the only flat places to camp from what we could see on our maps. Nobody, was really in a rush to leave, because well night hiking in the desert is easy...if you have a headlamp. We had not replaced the batteries in ours. So, having the great friends that we had, we accumulated (1) little hand held lamp that couldn't illuminate more than 2 ft in front of you, and another little light that obscured our vision more than it amplified. If we were going to make it, we needed to head out now, and crush a pace to reach the top of the climb. Telling everyone we would meet them in camp, we were the first to leave, and set out at quick pace as pizza sloshed around in our stomach to race the setting sun.

A representation of us at the pizza buffet! Happy, fat, and oh so content! Thankful and grateful! Nod to our racoon "heart" baby out there!

The first few miles were uneventful. Well uneventful in us still being able to see, but very eventful in the amount of pizza that we continued to feel every step. We pushed harder and harder, quicker and quicker, until we literally could no longer see without the aid of a light. We had even started stumbling and kicking rocks as we tried to extend every last second of organic light we could from the sun that had set. Finally, we had to turn on a headlamp. It was pitiful, our pace drastically decreased, we could see all of 2ft in front of us, if that, and we knew it was going to be a long night.


The first headlamp lasted for all of 45 minutes, getting worse and worse visibility until it finally, blessedly quit completely. We had been looking forward to changing out to the other light our friend had given us, fantasizing about how better it would be. As it flickered to life, our spirits crashed into reality, seeing that it would be the same if not worse. Another hour or so slipped by as we stumbled and mumbled our way through the landscape. At, one point we took the wrong trail junction and only noticed when it was not starting to climb, because we had known there was a consistent climb nearby. Turning around and worrying about not passing the trail junction a second time, our pace became a crawl. We were certain in our mind that everyone had already passed us and they comfy and cozy in camp already, and we still had 6-7 miles to go. Our pace was that slow, without being able to see.


Finally, we began the climb up towards the plateau. As was our luck, the 2nd headlamp died about 5 minutes into the climb. Okay, time for the reserve "headlamp" which was our phone. It was a terrible solution for a climb. Still not being able to see much, and the battery life draining by the second, we were starting to worry about reaching the top of the plateau. When, our phone started to warn us of 10% battery, we knew we were in the countdown. Within the next 5 minutes, our last source of light was extinguished, and all that met us was darkness. No moon to hike by, not many stars, just the darkness and the cold of a desert at night. What were we to do?

This may look like a picture of nothing, but it is a very accurate representation of how dark the night was!

We took stock of our situation. From our best estimates, and the last time we had checked our maps, we were about 2-3 miles from the top of the plateau. The trail conditions we had been experiencing were not great, with many rocks and loose ground, but not terrible either. So, we decided to see if we could follow the trail in pitch black, and hopefully find our friends headlamps on the horizon at camp that would show us the way. Quickly, though this idea began to take on a dangerous shape. The trail became steeper, the tread became harder to find traction or a confident step, and at one point we put our trekking pole off to the right and it only met air, no ground!


That is what scared us the most, we were not scared of the night, not scared of the navigation as we felt our way (we had done thousands of miles at this point, and picked up a sensation and feel for where the trail would lead), but what scared us was when our trekking pole only met air. That coupled with the steepness that we had been experiencing filled our mind with terrible scenarios. We were going to fall to our death, we were going to take the next step and tumble down a mountain into a ravine, where no one would find us, because well...we had no light! Of course we are stubborn by nature so, we kept trying to tell ourselves that we were so close, just around the next bend it would level out and we would see our friends. Yet, thankfully our rational mind won this argument, as we took off our pack, and accepted this was as far as we would go this night, we would catch up to everyone tomorrow.

Luckily the two halves of our mind found a balance. Our inner "miles" demon made friends with our inner "take a rest" angel.

As we woke the next morning, something was amiss. We had been sleeping on our mat, but were no longer on it. Our fingers felt dirt in one hand, but in the other our groggy mind was trying to make sense of the sensation in the fingertips. Then a bolt of electricity surged through us as we realized what we were feeling. We were feeling our hand dangling in the open air, when it should have been meeting only solid ground. Our eyes shot open, and the sight that met us is imprinted in our minds to this day, and probably for the rest of our lives. We were curled around a fledgling juniper tree the width of which was about the width of our wrist. Our middle was tucked in securely around it. It split our body into two segments, our lower and our upper body. Each part of our body had a piece of it hanging off the side of this mountain. We were literally, hanging off the side of a cliff, the only thing that had kept us from rolling completely off in our sleep was this Juniper Sapling. While not being immediate death if rolling off this cliff, bones would have broken, rescue would have been needed, death may have been a result. It was steep, filled with rocks, and went on for what seemed like forever. We had slept on the side of a cliff, literally.


As the shock flung our body to the opposite side of the trail where there was a rock wall, we sat and contemplated how lucky we had been. As we sat there in amazement, we heard footsteps leading up the trail. It was our buddy, SAV. We both looked at each other with puzzlement. We looked at him because he should have been way ahead of me, and him looking at us for the same reason. He looked around at the gear sprawled out and the expression on our face, and then looked of the side of the cliff, and hesitantly asked,

Bigger representation than the actual tree we curled around, literally a life saver!

" You slept here?!?!"


"Yes SAV, this was camp, why are you behind us?"


"Oh, after you left, we stayed for another hour or two, and then only hiked 4 miles out, it was too hard to leave, and we knew we weren't going to make the campsite, so decided to catch up to you today, that is why we are out of camp so early."


"NONE OF YOU REACHED THE PLATEAU?!?"


"Nope, I am the front of the group, everyone should be catching up to us here shortly."


Our mind whirled with this new information. We were still processing almost falling off a cliff in deep sleep that would have become permanent sleep, and now we had to process that we did not have to put ourselves in this situation to catch up to our friends. Our "friends" (yes parenthesis you get people! No, still love you) had just made a judgment call to break our camp spot decision and eat more pizza and take it slow. All we could do was laugh. It taught us a very valuable lesson. It was always our decision, and it would always be our choice to chose the situations that we were comfortable with on trail. Yea, we pushed hard and deeper into a lightless night because there is a responsibility to take care of your trail family, and try to get to arranged meet up spots so they do not worry. Yet, there is also a responsibility to yourself to not put yourself in a dangerous situation that may lead to more worry and more problems. Take care of yourself out there, take care of your trail family, and know to listen to your gut feeling when looking at a situation and making the safest decision.

If you take anything from our rambling stories, take this; we made many mistakes, mistakes are necessary to grow. It is okay to learn through failure. Not only okay but necessary.

We were reunited with our trail family that day and swapped stories as we laughed our way down trail. We brought them through all the failings of each light, the climbing of the mountain in the dark, and the waking up on the side of a cliff. While they told us stories of pizza and relaxation... Yea we were a little jealous. Yet, it only taught us more about what it means to hike. Letting the trail tell you when enough is enough for the day, instead of being stubborn and pushing to a point that there could be no return. One day we will go back to that desert, and if that Juniper Tree is still there, give it a deep hug, and a passionate kiss, as we let it know, the lesson was learned, thank you for being our teacher. We are extremely thankful.


With vertigo and deep sense of gratitude and thankfulness,


Sincerely

ElevenSkys

SHOWING THANKS: We are so immensely thankful for all that each one of you have done, and so thankful for the feedback and support each one of you has shown us, it is beyond humbling. That being said, as we start moving into the Holiday Season with Thanksgiving tomorrow and Christmas right around the corner, we would love to give back to you and show you our thanks, the people that have brought us this far and will be with us on all the journeys ahead. We want all of you to have a safe and happy Holiday Season, and to help with this from today (November 25th, 2020) through Christmas until the day after New Years, (January 2nd, 2021) we are going to be offering 50% ALL of our Hiking Shorts! On top of this if you purchase any of our hats along with the shorts, you will receive FREE SHIPPING this holiday season! Let us do our part this Holiday season, to help you avoid Black Friday, Christmas Shopping, Celebrating New Years shopping. Stay safe and stay well, and get the perfect gift for the outdoorsperson in your family, by shopping online and showing them the love of community that we have felt so strongly from you. Let us all move into the year of 2021 with mountain sunsets, crisp morning air, and happiness on our schedule. The trails are waiting, let us heed the call when the time is right, so get ready today!