As I stood there frozen, raindrops collected on the brim of my hood. I would look down at my hiking boots and then I would try to assess my next leap to the next slanted boulder that was wet and slippery. I retightened the straps to my backpack though I couldn’t get it any tighter; regretting I packed my full tripod, SLR camera along with many other accessories.
I was so excited to be hiking in the Enchantments because it was the evening of the Supermoon. I was to camp there alone for my first time without my adventure partner, Asia. She’s my six year old Weimaraner. I carried all my camera gear to take long exposure images of the night sky and practice time lapse. I was hoping to score a Milky Way image in what I think is one of the most magical places in the Pacific Northwest. The problem was, there wasn’t a star to be seen, just clouds and constant rain. The weight on my back was now just bricks instead of the tools for my creativity.
In my peripheral vision I could see a couple of people heading my way. One of those people was hopping from one boulder to the other with such ease and finesse like a gazelle in his native territory. By the time he reached me I’m was still standing on the same boulder, overthinking and contemplating my next move. I said hello under all my rain gear while looking down to keep dry. He said hello back and I immediately recognize his voice. It’s Chad. THE Chad Kellogg. When you’re by yourself stuck on a boulder due to a physical or mental block the voice you want to hear is Chad’s. The mountaineer of all mountaineers. We briefly made small talk and I asked him about his return from Everest. He said “I feel inspired”. He and his friend then hopped along and as he completed his last boulder he turned around and noticed I wasn’t following. I felt a bit uncomfortable, perhaps embarrassed that I questioned my safety and stability with an overweighted pack. I yelled out “I’m just a little cautious when I’m by myself”. He said “that’s okay, you should be”. I asked a favor of him… if he would help me with my pack so I can navigate off the boulders. Without hesitation and in no time at all he was back helping me remove my pack. With relief I hopped off the last boulder where he stood holding my pack. I thanked him for his help while he helped me reapply my pack . As he and his friend gained distance ahead of me I heard him yell back “you okay Gloria?” I replied “you bet, thanks Chad!”.
Though I didn’t get my Supermoon that evening I did see my Superman.
We’ll miss you Chad and the inspiration you brought to me and so many others. Your passion for the mountains was infectious and I will always admire your drive, stamina and humbleness. Climb on.
I believe summer officially started five days ago and it has already exceeded my expectations. Summer used to have a different meaning to me. I used to look forward to flip flops, lighting bugs, tan skin and lemonade. Now… since living in the Northwest over a decade I’ve let go of the idea of breaking my flip flops out of the box. You just have to accept that our summers here means you slip out of your snowshoes into your hiking boots. Summers here means I don’t have to worry about avalanche risk for a few months in the back country. At least that’s what it’s become to me and I love it!
The longer I live here the more I can’t live without getting out of the city and seeing a great mountain view. I love that I have access to all of this with just an hours drive from my house. Summer has just started and the options are endless of where the trail will lead us next.