The End of Light

20170821_091357.jpgI watched the eclipse from the top of Junior, my moderately trusty steed, but not before encountering this adorsable pet potbellied pig! Its owners had an amazing homebrew RV they had built from scratch, including welding the frame and covering the exterior with fiberglass. I was able to talk shop with the wife and then the husband for over an hour while their child kept track of the porker.

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I then proceed to jaw with this super friendly Forest Ranger while I was setting up for the eclipse. He was able to confirm that parking for days at the trailhead was normally probably not kosher, but with the eclipse chaos it was totally fine. I gave him the tour of the van and he really dug it.

I had a smartphone camera set up with extra eclipse lenses to record the sun itself, but when I saw how small the image was, I decided it wasn’t worth it. Many others will get better video.

What I *did* do is put more of the lenses over the field glasses that Cody, the fabulous human being who crawled under my van in the mud at 1 AM to rescue me recently had gifted me afterward. This made the image about twice as big as with just my eyes. I also set up my Good Camera to record a video of the mountains and trees behind me so I’d have a record of the darkfall effect. That video is here:

I sat on top of Junior for The Event. I found that if I held my eclipse glasses up between me and the sun, I could see it through them, but still see everything else. I found out from the Ranger that my original times were like an hour off, and with no data access I couldn’t get updated ones. This made timing things tricky.

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The sky seemed to slowly flicker a few minutes before totality, for which I was on nearly dead center. This was probably the terminator sweeping across hills I couldn’t see. I had great site lines for the sun, but I was in a bowl and could only see the mountains around me. As totality approached, it rapidly got darker and viscerally colder as the life-giving energy of the sun was decisively shorn. The star disappeared from my eclipse glasses as Darkness fell. I had bad information that said you shouldn’t look at the totality with the naked eye, so I used my normal sunglasses as a partial filter. Seeing the fiery ring was pretty incredible, even as small as it was. It definitely had the feel of a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I kept my eye on the sun through the two minutes of totality, then looked back across the landscape to watch it light up again. Unfortunately I was nearly alone when all this happened, everyone else had gone up or down the various trails for better vantage points. I kind of wanted to cheer, but not into silence.

On the bright side, this shockingly wonderful view of the sun through my silicone collapsible cup was actually a *lot* cooler than the eclipse itself. 🙂

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The only visual besides the video I got of the eclipse itself was these two panos of my view from on top Junior just before and during totality.

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Considering my original plans were blow to hell, I’m super happy with how all this worked out. If I’d had more time to research, could have made plans ahead of time, done it with friends, knew more about which trails to hike for a better view, etc., etc., it could theoretically have been better. But I got to see the eclipse from on top of a portable driving house I built myself from a gorgeous vista I stayed at for free on my very first visit to a National Forest as an adult, and I pulled all of it off with just a few days of planning while driving cross country. Not bad for a last minute adventure!

Next I’ll talk about my area hikes and detail about what it was like to boondock in Junior for the very first time!

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