We just finished up a nearly 3-week long eclipse gathering with a group of fellow full-timers in Stanley, Idaho. At its peak, the group swelled to 16 RVs, 1 tent, 27 people, 19 dogs, 2 cats…and 1 bird.
Thanks to our friend Marshall who scouted the location ahead of time, we took over a large grassy area on a seldom used forest service road with mountains looming overhead. Smoke from nearby wildfires sometimes obscured our views (including one fire that sprouted up only a few miles away), but on clear days those Sawtooth Mountains were truly something special.
The gathering may have originated because of the eclipse, but during our time together we did far more than simply wait around for the main event. In addition to everyone’s normal work stuff (no one in our group is retired), there were group hikes and paddles around the nearby lakes, a burrito/taco potluck, a pancake breakfast, a lesson in lock picking, a stitch n’ bitch, leather making demonstrations, trips to the river for fishing and gold panning, off-roading adventures, daily happy hours and happy evenings, group bonding at the hot springs, and of course, that crazy thing that happened in the sky.
On the morning of the eclipse, we all gathered for snacks and drinks while the moon slowly moved in front of the sun.
Other than a few people pics, I didn’t take any photos of the sky on eclipse day. I really wanted to experience it fully without worrying about fiddling around with filters or capturing every bit. Besides, even the most incredible photos I’ve seen floating around the Internet don’t even begin to portray how it felt and looked in the moment. As we neared totality, the temperature dropped rapidly, the sky turned an eerie shade of not quite twilight, and in what seemed like a split second, the sun was suddenly completely covered by the moon.
I didn’t cry or have any feelings of life changing clarity, but when I first took off my glasses during totality and saw the dark sun with a bright orange glow radiating around the edges, I’m pretty sure I jumped up and down and shouted, “look at that!”
I have to admit, when Tim first mentioned that he wanted to be in the path of totality for the eclipse, it sounded fun, but not like something that we absolutely couldn’t miss. Even as the event got closer and the eclipse hype started circulating around the media, I still thought it would be a cool thing to see, but surely it couldn’t be the highlight of our whole multi-week whole gathering. Well, I was wrong. That two minutes and 15 seconds when the moon covered the sun, the mountains around us glowed and the shadows danced with snakes and squiggly lines was most definitely the highlight of the gathering, and maybe even the highlight of the entire year.
Can’t wait to do it all again in 2024!