The Great American Eclipse: Worth the trip
Anyone who made the effort to see yesterday’s Great American Eclipse in totality will know what I mean. It really was all that. It was one of those experiences so visceral it’s difficult to put into words, but I’ll do my best.
Invited by dear friends to spend the eclipse in Alcova Wyoming on The North Platte River, we traveled early Sunday from Steamboat via Baggs, Wyoming. It was 70 miles plus an hour and smooth sailing to the sleepy town. Heeding predictions of record numbers of eclipse chasers descending Wyoming, we kept our gas tank and coolers full.
Alcova is a sleepy resort town full of beautiful reservoirs and BLM land. They may have had the largest stock of eclipse glasses left in the nation; everywhere we went they had a stacks of them without Amazon’s premium price.
We had a day to explore Alcova Lake by kayaks and do an evening float on the North Platte. The energy was already high and buzzing with anticipation, and the spectacular night sky was a prelude to the big event.
On Monday, people arrived in droves, and it felt like a run on Alcova’s only general store, Sloan’s. Cars lined up for gas, and cooks brought trays of breakfast burritos and sandwiches, which were scooped up immediately. We stocked up and put in the river about 10 a.m., and all felt immediately calmer. I was grateful to be able to view the entire duration of the eclipse from our friend Tom’s fly-fishing boat.
We donned our special glasses and watched as the moon slowly cast its shadow over the sun. It began with a tiny bite out of the sun’s upper right corner, and as it progressed, we watched the light change to hues unlike any I’ve seen before. Antelope grazed along the river, and two osprey sang from their nest more intently as the sky darkened. About halfway through occlusion, crickets started their ritual nighttime chirping. Pelicans flew by in an uneven V, and we watched an osprey and hawk fight for fishing rights.
I don’t think pictures do justice to the light, which shifted to an almost moss green as it grew darker and colder. Close to totality, we watched an antelope break into a run and a small flock of mallards fly quickly one direction and back again as if confused.
Then the big moment. And it really was much cooler than we could have imagined. We watched the sun’s glowing corona with naked eyes and fish started jumping out of the water in a feeding frenzy. The sky was dark, but not as dark as we expected. We could see Venus burning bright, and a 360 panorama of sunset shades of orange and pink. People in our stretch of river let out a cheer and then fell silent. It was nothing short of unforgettable, and the closest the eclipse will come to Steamboat Springs for many years to come. Friends told me the experience is life changing. I think I know what they mean.
However spectacular the adventure, I’m always so happy to come back to Steamboat. We rolled in about 2 a.m. and unpacked under our favorite patch of star-filled sky.
Check out the fun events happening this week in the Boat, and soak up the last precious summer days!
Jessica Berg is a freelance writer and Suzuki Violin teacher. She first moved to Steamboat after college in the mid ’90s and, after a long hiatus, is happy to call Steamboat home again. She runs a private violin studio out of her Steamboat home and teaches violin with Boulder Suzuki Strings. She holds a degree in magazine journalism from Ohio University and loves blogging about mountain life.
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