Preparing for Mid-Day Darkness


I had the privilege of watching the 2017 eclipse from up in the Grand Tetons! It was an amazing visual and a fantastic shakedown cruise for living in Junior full-time.

Having never stayed in a National Forest before, I had a *very* hard figuring out where I could stay for free in the Bridger-Teton NF from my 3 AM perch in a trucker’s lounge in Rock Springs Wyoming. I got a bunch of offline maps through the Avenza Maps App, but it was very hard to tell how those maps related to the map of the park, how to connect it to potential campsites, and exactly how free “dispersed camping” worked. However, I was feeling the pressure of millions of Other People laboring under the misapprehension that their desire to see the eclipse somehow justified interfering in mine, so at a certain point I just said “fuck it” and headed north.

When I arrived on Saturday evening, it turned out that the dispersed camping areas around Grand Teton were closed, so while *I* had actually finally managed to connect the dots, the chaos caused by the eclipse fucked me. The drive in was amazingly beautiful, and I saw a few prospective campsites. I was losing the light, but I found an unmarked trailhead on Highway 22 just south of Ski Lake with pretty amazing views nearby, so I decided to try my luck parking there. I figured the worst thing that could happen was being told to move by a Forest Ranger, who, presumably, would tell me where I *could* park.

Here are some views from my parking spot.


Here’s the trail map I really *wish* I’d had at the time. Because I *didn’t* have it, and because the sign at the trailhead had been ripped off, I had no idea where I was or where any of the trails lead. I suspected that answer to the latter might have been “somewhere the eclipse would be even cooler”, but I had no way to be sure. It’s now clear I was at the Phillips Trailhead. I was afraid if I moved I would lose my parking spot. Cell reception was mostly non-existent for both of my phones, so there was no way to do further research. Every once in a while a random text message would sneak through, but usually failed.

I parked right at dusk, got myself settled, and then did a short hike down the unmarked trail. I walked down the walking trail, and then walked up the much more aggressive mountain biking trail. I would probably literally shit myself if I saw someone riding *up* that trail. I don’t mountain bike myself, but it looked hyper-aggressive. I was not murdered by either bears or Gerald Bullinger, which was a relief.

The view looked like it would be amazing at dawn, so I decided to go to bed early. Other than running the engine or boiling water, I have no way to heat the van at night. I own an excellent Olypian Wave 6 propane heater, but I didn’t bring it on this trip because I wasn’t anticipating being anywhere cold. I do have lot of blankets and a caving sleeping bag good to 20 degrees, so after setting my alarm for 5:30 AM I burrowed under those for the night, hoping for dreams of the eclipse!

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