The Great American Eclipse


I’ve summed up most of my thoughts on the subject in a letter I wrote to relatives in California – I have shared most of it below.

The Man and I, along with a few friends—and a 100 or so more “friends” who had the same idea as us—hiked 3.5 miles up 2000 feet to the top of Table Rock (elev. 4000ft) to be able to witness the eclipse from there. We were on the Eastern edge which overlooks the whole Cascade Range (Mt Hood, Mt St Helens, Mt Adams, although it was too smoky to see The Sisters or Mt Bachelor). On a good day they say you can see Mt Shasta! So we got to see the eclipse and 360* sunset over the Cascades. It was truly incredible. Overwhelming. Breathtaking. And all too short.

The corona was gorgeous and made you think about how it must be a small glimpse of what God’s throne must be like.

The difference between 99.9% coverage and 100% was incredible. As long as there was a bit of the sun showing, it was neat, but not spectacular. Once the black disc of the moon completely covered the sun, it was like looking at a black hole in the sky, with pure white tendrils of light shooting out from around it. Spectacular. The sky turned a metallic dusky dark blue/purple with an orange band all around the horizon showing where the moon’s shadow wasn’t reaching. We could see a few stars and Venus. And the dim lighting meant that people took on what I would call a platinum hue. Very metallically feeling. The mountains also appeared crisper and more in focus. It’s not something you can truly describe. It felt very otherworldly and unreal.  None of the pictures I’ve seen can do it justice.

It was fun watching it with a group of people along the ridge—there was a lot of clapping and cheering when totality happened, and someone was playing Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon. After the two minutes were up, there was a lot of chatting about how it was hard to believe that we had just witnessed it. You instantly wanted a replay as there was not enough time to soak it in.

The rest of the family stayed home…as we were in the path of totality. We invited anyone who wanted to come to come over, so there was a small crowd. At home we got about 30 seconds of totality I believe. The distance between us and where we know people got 99.9% coverage was less than half a mile, so we feel very fortunate to have been in that narrow band!

The crescent shadows were cool, and I know that some people saw white shadow ripples on the ground. The temps definitely got cooler.

There was a lot of media panic about the traffic on the eclipse day, but so many people were panicked about it, there was no traffic going south towards the center of totality that morning as so many people went down beforehand. But no one really thought ahead about the traffic afterwards as everyone tried to head home. That was apparently horrendous!

Anyways, I hope this was interesting. I would definitely recommend the experience. It felt like such a cool privilege to have been able to witness it in our back yard. And if you ever travel to see an eclipse, don’t settle for 99.9%!

Well, if that wasn’t enough for you, here are a few more notes:

  1. This is The Man and me, eagerly awaiting the eclipse. We had been at the top for awhile now, and the moon was slowly making it’s way across. We had the perfect ledge to sit on, which despite there being a hundred people around us, somehow no one knew about this perfect sitting spot. It’s also hard for you to tell just how excited I was. Seriously guys, the whole hike up, it felt like Christmas morning. But better. I kept saying, “I can’t believe it’s today!” I was totally psyched.
  2. At about this point, the light was definitely feeling different and things were sharper.
  3. & 4. These pictures by a friend who came with us do not do it justice. It wasn’t possible to capture it for reals. The Man and I had a slight advantage in that we didn’t have any trees in our line of sight where we were sitting, but you can get some idea of the metallic-y sunset sort of lighting that we experienced.

Anyway, it was a spectacular day, and all thanks to The Man having the brilliant idea that we should take our favorite hike for it!