Carving out time to travel and live minimally for four months in a tiny teardrop camper to build my travel portfolio was a profoundly deepening experience. I’ve been searching for new avenues to explore my love of light and anthropology- and experiencing the Eclipse this summer was the pinnacle moment of this journey. It’s not just because the 2 minutes and several seconds on August 21, 2017 was the most glorious display of light I’ve ever seen, but because so many people in this country (and around the world) came together to share in the excitement of this natural phenomenon.
I could have been anywhere in the line of totality since I was essentially drifting this summer. I decided on the Teton Range in Wyoming since there’s something otherworldly about these gigantic grey snow dusted peaks dramatically soaring out of the Earth. They’re actually nicknamed “The Mountains of The Imagination”. I camped for a week at The Teton Canyon Campground at the base of the 12 mile round trip trailhead located in Alta on the “non-tourist” side of the Teton range – just a few miles from Driggs, Idaho in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest.
There were so many interesting eclipse chasers and interacting with everyone over the week as the buzz grew and seeing the excitement and light in so many peoples’ eyes in anticipation made for an incredible feeling of unity. It did not matter if you were Democrat or Republican or this or that – people from every walk of life were connecting all around. I saw so many people band together, greet each other, swap travel stories and help each other climb the mountain to stand together under our sun and moon.
The steep and rocky 4,000 foot elevation hike to Table Mountain facing east over the Teton range was grueling since I had to begin hiking at 5AM in the dark in a bear filled forest lugging a very heavy camera bag. The adrenaline rush I had at the very last push allowed me to forget about my fear of heights as I scrambled to the summit revealing excited eclipse glasses-wearing exhausted humans elevated at 11,000 feet.
Oohs and ahhs arose as the moon began to eclipse the sun on it’s crawl towards totality. Seconds before totality approached a blanket of deep shadow swept in like a heavy quilt in the sky creating a magical sunset. The temperature dropped drastically. The few dogs (including my partner in crime Lilli) on the mountain were as bewildered as the humans. It was amazing how quick the sky darkened revealing a scene that I only thought could be found in dreams or sci-fi-movies.
I was operating two cameras (one handheld and one triggering from a tripod) giving myself brief moments to fully witness seeing the sun flares behind the moons orb and take it all in. I had actually planned out every second in advance since I’ve heard stories of photographers being so entranced they did not get the shot! I was in tears the entire time because I had never seen something this beautiful. Many people were crying and sounds of joy and amazement flowed all around. It was one of the most profound moments of my life and I know so many people felt the same. In a time like this when the country seems divided and tragedies and natural disasters run rampant, I look back at this special time in our history and know what’s possible when we are in sync with the natural world and with one another.
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