Almost since we first arrived in May, we’ve been hearing about preparations for the eclipse. The path of totality went through the northern part of our field office and thousands of visitors were expected to pour into the area. No one knew exactly how many people would come but there was general fear that the traffic would overwhelm the two highways north and unprecedented demand would empty remote, rural gas stations and grocery stores. There was even talk that highways would come to a complete standstill and be shut down. Our office planned teams to drive around with extra supplies, rescuing stuck cars, checking campsites, and teaching people about fire safety. There was so much buildup, we almost didn’t go see it. Luckily, we braved the craziness and found no major issues.
One of the interns and I drove a couple hours north to the Salmon-Challis National Forest to be in the path of totality. It was one of the strangest and coolest things I’ve ever seen. For most of the partial eclipse, if you didn’t have the glasses, you would hardly know anything was different. The sun is so powerful half the sun is nearly as bright as a normal sunny day. Through the glasses, it looked like a cookie with a bite out of it at first and gradually shrank down to look like a crescent moon. By the time it got down to a tiny sliver, the day had dimmed noticeably,. It was almost like twilight but without the golden or reddish tinge that usually accompanies sunrise or sunset. At some point as it darkened, the crickets began chirping and the birds began twittering as if it were evening.
At the moment that the sun finally disappeared, everything went silent for a second and then the crickets began chirping again like crazy. I expected totality to be darker, like the middle of the night. Instead, there was still some light, it was more like an hour or so after sunset. There was even a pink tinge on the horizon. The sun looked incredible. I wasn’t able to get a good picture during totality, but this photo captures it the best.
Totality ended so fast. In a matter of seconds the light went from dark, to dim and bluish, to normal daylight. It seemed to end so much faster than it began/