Friday we tested our first plan for getting into the totality path, driving to the upper Fremont Lake campground (our site was in the lower campground about 6 miles south). The drive was beautiful, though the road wasn't in great repair. When we got to the upper entrance there was a greeter next to a sign that read "Campgrounds full". I told her we had a campsite and had driven up to see what there was to see. Her reply, "A lot of cars." The place was packed, not only was that camp area full, but it's the staging area for a hike-in campground that was also full, and a lot of folks who were back country hiking/camping also were using it as a launching location. Cars were parked on the sides of every roadway in the immediate area. We drove back down realizing how popular and crowded that area was going to be on Monday and thought about other plans.
Saturday we tested our next plan - J's inflatible two seat kayak. We rowed out onto the lake trying to find some kind of rhythm. J has sailboat and river rafting experience, I tend towards sea sickness and try to avoid being on the water. Plus it's a kayak designed for rivers where the current is helping you go the way you want, in the lake it steered like a lame cow. But it would keep us outdoors and not stuck in a car in traffic, so Sunday we went back out to keep learning about the kayak and each other. (who's steering? it's best when only one person at a time does it.)
Monday we packed up camp, went to the day use area (saving ourselves a half mile of paddling from the much busier boat dock, we did learn some things Sunday) and put in. We rowed across the lake to the western shore to a jutting point we could see from the maps was inside the totality boundary. Kayak beached, we were able to climb up and around the small bluff at the shore. A lot of boats heading for the northern shore went by.
We watched the eclipse, just the two of us, in a clear Wyoming sky. Observations -
- The sun is bright. Even mostly covered it wasn't as dark as i thought it would be. Though the quaility of the light was fascinating, it has a very different color tone than a sunrise or set.
- The first thing I noticed wihtout eclipse glasses was it getting colder. The temperature difference was noticable, and I was glad I threw a fleece in the dry bag. It was downright cold at the totality.
- Totality where we were at the very southern edge lasted about 30 seconds. It never went full dark, more like very late dusk with pink all around the edges of the horizon. We saw a few planets out but no stars.
-The thing that made me emotional was the end of the totality, when the sun started coming back. I teared up then, it felt like a benediction.
We stayed on our bluff and ate lunch and watched the sun come back, and watched a lot of boats go past to the southern boat landings.. Then we climbed down and rowed back across the lake to our vehicle, packed up the kayak, changed into dry clothes, and started home.
It was a fabulous trip, entirely worth the driving and occasional traffic. It was nice just to get out camping which we haven't done much this summer so I'm glad we had the excuse.