As I stood there frozen, raindrops collected on the brim of my hood. I would look down at my hiking boots and then try to assess my leap to the next slanted boulder that was wet and slippery. I retightened the straps to my backpack, though I couldn’t get them any tighter. Regretting I packed my full tripod, SLR camera, along with many other accessories.
I was 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 was hopping from one boulder to the other with the ease and finesse of a gazelle in his native territory. By the time he reached me I 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 recognized his voice. 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 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 could navigate off the boulders. Without hesitation and in no time 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 hoist 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.