I keep humming Carly Simon’s, You’re So Vain…
“Then you flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia…To see the total eclipse of the sun”
We didn’t have to go to Nova Scotia in 2017, but we did go to our mountain home in Cashiers, NC to take part in this rare phenomenon.
Cashiers was in the path of totality. A small town with about 2,000 residents in the winter, it swells to over 10,000 people in the summer and fall.
Many expected huge crowds and with limited access (it is a one crossroad town after all) most people were taking a “this is going to be busier than July 4th” attitude. Also being a virtual rain forest especially in the summer, clouds and rain showers could be expected, limiting the effect of the solar eclipse.
The parking lot at Ingles was full for days as people bought groceries and prepared to stay home to watch the eclipse. Others bought camping supplies, ready to hike and camp in the mountains.
We stocked up on groceries, knowing we would be cooking in most nights. I imagine many people especially those with out of town guests, held eclipse parties Sunday night. We celebrated at good friends, Laura and Phil’s house, with a small group of friends.
With large numbers expected on Monday, Dave and I decided to stay out of the crowds.
Our home is close to Panthertown, a 6,295 acre backcountry recreation area. (I call it a wilderness area as there are 2 main road access points, no vehicles allowed, no toliet facilities, lots of lightly marked trails and many faint trace trails.) We hike in Panthertown all the time and know it very well.
We wanted to watch the eclipse on Little Green Mountain, one of our favorite lunch stops. Most times when hiking Little Green Mountain you might see a few people on the trail or at the top. Many times we see no one.
Zoom in…Little Green is the long rock faced mountain.
Eclipse day there were a few people…all hoping to capture the special moment.
Looking back to Salt Rock Gap, where we began our trip…a few clouds…
Sheldon loves hiking!
Dogs having as much fun as the people…see the clouds developing behind us.
Sheldon with his eclipse glasses…I am still having fun at this point!
Dave is getting ready…yes we are still having fun!
Our special solar glasses from Zoller’s Hardware…
And the rain came…(20% chance which is nothing this time of year).
We ran for understory tree coverage…hoping to outlast the shower.
It wasn’t a shower. It was a monsoon. At least over the Panthertown Valley.
Dave and I knew we had an hour and 1/2 hour hike out….which means going back down into Panthertown Valley and then back up and out through Salt Rock Gap. And even though it was pouring, the light was dimming. Also the temperature was dropping and being soaked meant being chilled.
We started hiking. Sloshing all the way down Little Green. At the bottom of the mountain…the floor of the valley, the light kept dimming. Now we know these trails like the backs of our hands. We have seen rattlesnakes, bears and thunderstorms before in this valley, but I have never been there after dark. (I no longer camp).
As the light dimmed, Sheldon came upon a campsite..and through the rain I could see someone sitting at the tent. (Every other camper was out on mountaintops waiting for the eclipse.) We called Sheldon back and continued our trek through the water/path. I looked back to see the person at the campsite get up and start following us. It was eerie because through the rain and the dimming light, I could see him behind us.
Dave kept us trekking…as quickly as we could slosh. Then total nightfall…We stopped…It was totally dark. I could barely see Dave right next to me and of course could not see Sheldon as he is a black dog. It was 2:37 in the afternoon and I will never forget it. Total darkness.
And by the way…we saw the camper go off into the woods because he lit up something…a phone? a flashlight? And we said, “let’s get out of here”.
It slowly grew lighter and we walked up and out. By the time we got to Salt Rock Gap the sun was beginning to come out.
I am happy many people were able to see the eclipse. I am happy I was able to experience the eeriness of total darkness in the afternoon.
Come celebrate with me. I’ll save you a seat at the table.