We Saw the Eclipse!

Thoughts

It was magical. Totality may have only lasted two minutes, but Lauren and I agreed — it was one of the most exciting, unique and interesting things we’ve ever seen.

Seeing the eclipse at 99% was marvelous. Witnessing it at 100% was unfathomable. Humans caught in the path of these things before the advent of science must have lost their damned minds. It is a hair-raising, end of days sort of spectacle.

 

Highlights

  • Feeling the temperature drop and the air grow still about 15 minutes before totality.
  • Playing with shadows when the eclipse was building. If you held up your hand to the sun, every finger on the ground would be comprised of countless crescents, for example.
  • The thrill of being in a crowd when the big moment arrived and the cheer that rose up – spine tingling, palpable excitement.
  • The sudden appearance of nearby mountain peaks, hidden by wildfire smoke during the day, popping into sight like spectres in the mist during totality. It was downright eerie.
  • The absolute black of the moon. It was a perfect void in a dusky sky.
  • The same can be said about the return of the sun, two minutes later — that first diamond burst of sunlight around the moon was the most brilliant white I’ve ever seen.

 

Photography During Totality

From a photography perspective, I put all my eggs in one basket: lone camera, mounted fixed on a tripod with a prime, manual lens and a bulb shutter cable. The conditions changed so rapidly and there was so much to see! If I had to do it all over again, I would have kept my camera in-hand with a more versatile lens attached. But I am still pleased. I kept my self-made promise to only take four photos during the peak, and it was tons of fun.

 

3:20am – We left Portland and embarked on a dark, chilly ride, stopping in Estacada (the last town before the wilderness) to warm up with jumping jacks, coffee and hot sandwiches.

 

6:45am – We arrived at Bull of the Woods trailhead. The ride was challenging and incredible, even in the dark, and it included a 10+ mile section of dirt forest roads.

 

7:02am – At the trailhead

 

8:55am – The trail climbed almost 2000′ and we could see evidence of nearby wildfire through the trees

 

9:00am – Mount Hood makes a majestic appearance

 

9:00am – Mount Hood in the distance

 

9:10am – Nearing the lookout, we caught some great glimpses to the NE

 

9:12am – On the final steps to the summit, we began to encounter scores of people camped out along the ridgeline

 

9:13am – More campers and over a hundred day-hikers all converging on the same waypoint

 

9:15am – Arrival at the summit. It was packed. The best views were over the ridge in front of me, but it was standing room only.

 

9:18am – Like I said, standing room only. And I accidentally stepped on a dog’s tail. 🙁

 

10:05am – The eclipse is heavily underway, excitement is building as totality approaches

 

10:18am – A huge cheer erupts from the crowd as the moment of totality arrives. People applaud, laugh, holler, cry.

 

10:19am – I kept my self-made promise to only take four photos during totality. Here is one with a different color balance. It felt just a bit darker than this in real life.

 

10:22am – Just a minute after totality, turning to face west, it felt like sunrise for 360 degrees in every direction. Magic.

 

10:25am – People start to mill around, the light is still very weak at this point, but the show is largely over.

 

10:29am – The first people funnel off the summit.

 

10:32am – I took a walk around to the ridge facing east, and the sky still had that early-dawn feel to it.

 

10:55am – We popped our mini bottle of champagne, gushed endlessly with our viewing neighbors about what we just saw, then hit the long trail out.

 

11:15am – Nearly back to full daylight on the hike out

 

11:40am – Tree upon tree along the “motherlode trail”

 

12:35pm – Pansy Lake, accessed by a little spur trail on the hike out

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