Okay, so Halloween is getting closer and closer, so you may assume we are going to come out with another spooky story. Yet, with how bone-chilling our last post was we know you are probably still recovering from the shock, sorry you will probably be recovering from those graphic images for a long time... avoid those tiny aliens at all costs! They will leave you so full, and then empty, over and over again for days until finally it is over and there is an emptiness deep within you..... We already got side-tracked reliving this painful memory again, that is not what we want to do, we want to let you experience joy, happiness, and love with us. That means today we went to have a light-hearted story, physically, metaphorically, and spiritually. This story revolves around our physical heart inside of us, our heart that is built from love which is our spiritual heart, and of course a crocheted heart found in the wilderness. Of course, our heart lies within the wilderness and one day a physical manifestation of this love was found on a old bench deep within the woods of Wisconsin. They all play a very important role here, and all tie into each other, love only seems to beget love we have found. So, take away the barricade from the door, turn on romantic lights, and curl up with your heart in whatever form physically or spiritually that takes, and let us tell you a story of many hearts in the very bottom of the Grand Canyon.
Best view in the world, as long as they are there.
We have been in love with the wilderness and the people within it for many years now. While the love did not manifest itself into a physical form for much of our childhood into young adulthood, I think it was within us since we were born. We believe it is in everyone, they just have yet to experience it, until they do, and then they are head over heels. That is exactly what happened to us. Those moments can come from a simple day hike, a simple mile, a simple step out into nature, and the inner being feeling connected to the world again. There is a place deep within everyone that craves our old ancestral connection to the physical world. As our society continues to advance in technology, it takes us further from this human truth, that we need nature. It is hard-wired into us. So, many people may not be able to define that is what they need, but it is as much a part of us as our phones have come to be nowadays. Look up from the phone, and just be with your humanity in the wild, and you will find your heart full as we have. An inner need fulfilled, just like our ancestors were one with the land, we can be too.
As our love for the wilderness filled our heart day after day and hike after hike, we were genuinely happy. We did not need or want for anything. We had everything we needed around us and thus inside us. Yet, the year of 2019 would make our heart overflow with love. We quite literally stumbled into it, in the environment that we had come to love so much, the world of thru-hiking, the world of freedom, the world of exploration, and the world of nature, the world of love. We met someone who was just as crazy and dedicated to this lifestyle as we were. There are many people in the world who love the outdoors and we have met many fantastic people along our journeys, yet this was something special. It takes a certain type of weird to choose this life year after year after year. We knew we were weird we had accepted this, yet meeting someone that matched our type of weird so perfectly was mind-blowing. Someone that themselves had chosen this life year after year after year and was not only planning to continue this life, but thrilled to live this weird lifestyle! Certainly not expected, looked for, or searched upon, more so stumbled into, and we are so happy we took that stumble.
Sleeping in a cornfield in North Dakota was their suggestion?! They had done it before they said, our heart was overflowing in this cornfield! Beautifully WEIRD!
This leads us to an amazing time together on the PNT (Pacific Northwest Trail) and a love that only blossomed as we ourselves continued to grow along the journey. Over long talks along ridgelines, mumbles through mouths stuffed with town food, and snores intermixed with half-awake words we continued to be amazed at our hearts melding together with another's. We had felt our heart meld before with the landscape, the environment, and quick flashes of connection, yet this was something deeper something stronger. There was no effort, no false-pretenses, no muddied reflection of the other besides the unblemished reflection of the pureness of who and what they were. The trail has an amazing way of stripping away walls that society demands us to build around ourselves and define ourselves within. The clothes you wear, the car you drive, the social groups and company you keep, the way you talk, the career path you chose, the status symbols where people can become a person in societies eyes, but this "person" that is necessarily created to live in said society will also mask who they truly are and what they value. It takes a special type of person to step out of this as fully as we ourselves have chosen to, not only that but find their humanity refreshing and freeing without bounds. No distractions, just you and yourself to confront when everything is stripped away, and we were confronted with a person that was absolutely beautiful in every sense of the word. Beauty defined and re-fined into where it holds the most truth, in who you are.
Like we said it takes a special type of person to revolve their life around trail, and in that specialness comes faults, comes imperfections, comes humanity. We ourselves are guilty of humanity as everyone is. We are proud to be guilty of what comes along with humanity, it makes us who we are. So, while we paint a metaphor of a unblemished reflection I believe what we saw was a perfect reflection of humanity and realization, in an imperfect person. Our imperfections were both on the surface for everyone to see, raw and exposed to the world, and they only pulled us closer. Our heart continued to grow, what we had believed was a fullness before, proved to be true in a sense. It was a fullness as one person in love with the wilderness and happy in their life. Yet, when combined with another's heart and love it showed us it was only ever half full, on a scale of love we had never known, never knew was available. It took us completely by surprise, yet this is where we were.
This plaque in the woods of Wisconsin on the same day we found the physical heart. We know it was meant for a loved dog, but it meant something more to us, this entire day was being on the verge of tears.
The trail ended abruptly, laughter, love, and happiness were a footstep and a second ago, and the next footstep and second we were looking down the barrel of splitting paths. We made plans to do another trail together with some of our other trail friends, but within life you truly never know how plans will pan out. This brought us onto the IAT (Ice Age Trail) and where we would find a physical manifestation of our heart, on a bench, in the middle of nowhere. It is completely another story to define and tell you how our heart ached on the Ice Age Trail along with our body each day. We had found something so pure and so filling, and it had been ripped away just as quickly. The absence did not diminish what we had felt, only defined it. It was in fact a love that was full, we had not allowed ourselves to admit this, until we no longer could actively deny it. It was within this definition that our footsteps led us to a bench. A bench at a trail junction quite literally and metaphorically. A literal trail junction where two paths split, but also a trail junction in our heart where the split paths had merged into one, no question or concern on where this trail in our heart went, there was only one choice, one path. At this bench, we looked up from reading the plaque attached and on the corner was a little pink crotched heart. It read simply: "Take Me! Spread Love Each Day."
Sent to our heart in a picture, when they as well as us were having an especially difficult day, which is again a whole different story, but that this heart manifested itself on this specific day was beyond incredible and meaningful.
That physical manifestation of our heart, came to define the rest of our hike, while hiking and finishing a trail system, it was not the hike to the terminus, but the hike to be together again. So, we will move quickly over Wisconsin (for now, we will come back to tell that story later). It was a trail that cemented and defined for us, where our heart was leading and growing, and it was together.
This leads us onto the Arizona Trail. Another twist of fate, our connector flight to Utah, where we had planned to meet to get to the trailhead, was the same flight! Life has an interesting and mysterious power to show you moments that are quite literally by chance, but figuratively feel as if by design. Getting lost within each other's hearts being close again, the next hours and days flew by. This would bring us into the Grand Canyon with our little crocheted heart. We had kept it and brought it with us from Wisconsin. Since our physical heart that was inside of us had already been given freely, this physical representation of it was destined to be given as well. Now we just needed a moment, a time, a sign of how happy this life made us. The very bottom of the Grand Canyon would be this moment.
We were giddy with excitement when we knew without a doubt this was the meaningful moment we wanted. It not only felt right with where we were and how beautiful the scenery was, but it also felt right with where we were together in sharing this life. Once again it felt like it was ourselves who was choosing this moment, but in another sense it had felt like this moment had already been chosen for us, there was simply no other way. As we got deeper and deeper into the canyon we began to pick up our pace, so we could set up the heart and hide ourselves, to see our partner's reaction. Yet, no matter the pace we increased to or the jog we began to find ourselves in every time we looked behind us on a switchback they were still within the same eye-sight! This in itself made us laugh with happiness and love! We knew them well enough to know they were competitive and they refused to see a hiker putting down a pace get further ahead of them. We actually laughed out loud as the love only bubbled over and over. This simple fact re-affirmed something that never needed re-affirming of just how much their weird went hand in hand with ours. Finally, we decided we had to do something, so we actually ran while laughing, which if you have not tried before it is in fact quite difficult!
Getting to a bridge that crossed the very bottom of the Grand Canyon, we had found our spot. We also knew we had very little time, because even with running, we knew our partner's mentality, so they would not allow us to have gotten to far ahead. We are actually smiling and laughing again while writing these last few sentences, the simple fact that they would not be outdone even by someone running down the trail is hilarious to us! Okay distractions aside, bridge and heart, here we go. We literally had less than 5 minutes to set up, like we said they were not far behind us even after our wind sprints! When they finally arrived at the bridge, they saw us first, because we may not be stealthy at hide-n-seek, also you could feel the energy bubbling from us throughout the entire canyon. When we pointed out the heart to them, and described the story that they had already known parts of, since they were a part of the journey through Wisconsin the entire time, we both melted. It was a physical representation of what both of us had been feeling for so long, defined in a small little token of a heart, but immensely big in what it meant. Our singular physical heart had brought us to this moment together where two hearts had become one, our spiritual heart had only grown since being together, and now our shared small crotched little heart signified that this was love in it's truest form. Counting the hearts in that Grand Canyon that day is a tedious task. You have our heart (1), you have our partner's heart (2), you have the heart of the wilderness (3), you have the spiritual heart of us all (4), you have the heart of all the hikers with us and the community around us (5), you have the heart of the trail (6), you have the heart of the Grand Canyon itself (7), you have the heart of the wildlife (8), you have the heart of the sky (9), and you have the tiny little crocheted heart that laid in between her hands, nestled safely inside all of this (10). The list could continue adding in more and more physical and metaphorical hearts, but the equation had actually became a lot less tedious and a lot more simple for us. There was in fact only (1) heart now, and it was all of this together, no separation, no distinction, purely love within a heart together in whatever context you chose to define it.
To all the journeys completed together. From left to right: PNT, AZT, GDT, and VIT. To all the journeys that I cannot wait to see where we go!
A drastic change from our spooky story from the other day, wasn't it? Well, we wanted you to finally unbarricade the door from all the fright from the last article! We hope that your hearts, however you define them, continue to always grow and love more. There is so much in this world, that the heart while being full, always has room to grow. It is the opposite of our Pain Well. Where our Pain Well has no physical bottom, our heart has no physical top, no limit to reach. Just as every heart is capable of, so continue to fill it with what makes you happy and feel love! We hope that we as a company, ElevenSkys, can continue to only spread love and happiness, as we continue to see it spread by so many in so many ways. That is why we wanted to bring you with us on our journey of heart, to show you where we come from and continue to grow from. The heart of the wilderness, the heart of the community, the heart of togetherness, it is all one heart, ready to grow!
With So Much Love and Heart