Kellie Kekich

  • Kellie Kekich
    Published 3 months ago
    Paradise  Divide

    Paradise Divide

    Pictured here are two of my closest friends sitting on a high-elevation mountain ridge between two peaks in Crested Butte, Colorado. When I took this picture, with us all sitting on a small boulder surrounded by low growing pine trees on a knife’s-edge trail at about thirteen thousand feet, I felt it described my friendship with these two wonderful young women perfectly. Looking out either side were two valleys with 360-degree views of formidable and breathtaking mountain peaks in the Gunnison National Forest. I had just introduced these two to one another that summer, and instantaneously we were all thick as thieves. In an Instagram caption, I had written, “when your two favorite TV shows do a mash-up.” It seemed like I got the best of both worlds in my friendship to each of them. We hadn’t planned to hike that much that day, all of us wearing just strap on sandals on our feet and swimsuits underneath our clothes, but we just kept moving, laughing and playing in the waterfalls and snow banks left from a heavy snow that winter. This would be the first of many huge hikes we would take that summer, sometimes trekking upwards of twenty miles in a day. Even though there were so many moments where I thought my lungs would explode right before we summited a mountain, there were even more moments where my sides were splitting from laughter as we danced on mountain tops. This moment is candid. Neither is wearing her best clothes or makeup. They are not trying to be anything, not trying to fulfill any role of what it means to be feminine or attractive, but in their own true selves illuminate what it means to be strong and reflective of their inward beauty. This photo is a wonderful reminder of one of the most fun summers of my life and a captured moment between me and my dear friends. At the end of the summer, Heather (pictured right), had told me, “Wow, we could’ve died so many times.” I hadn’t thought of it, and it struck me as odd that this extremity of living hadn’t seemed at all dangerous to me. Amongst cliff jumping into waterfall punchbowls, hauling ass in Bel’s (pictured left) Ford scout on narrow, rocky mining roads, boot skiing down summer snow banks lining steep valleys, climbing up mountain sides that almost felt as sharp as 90 degree angles, and walking down wet canyons in atmospheric thunderstorms, I hadn’t even felt for a second at risk of anything. Reflecting on our many adventures, I still don’t feel like I needed to worry about anything. We live in a very precautious world today, where danger and fear often loom around the word adventure. I think it is wise to be wary and to be smart about your situation, especially as a female, but in a sense I do not believe it is worth it to hesitate in order to lead a thrilling and full life. Things can go wrong, but more often than not, one can form some of the most meaningful and spiritually connected experiences they will ever have in their entire life. I feel like after the summer of 2017, I was far less afraid to take big leaps and to make room for fun in my life, especially when it can be shared with friends. Although my life now is radically different than when I lived in the mountains as a full time artist in New York City, and Heather and Bel now on their own adventures in Seattle and France, I still feel a bond lingering amongst us and an unspoken truce to live life defiantly, fully, and with maximal fun as the highest priority. There are so many chance moments in life, and like this photograph, I’m happy I’ve been there to take it.