After months of anticipation, the Eclipse day finally arrived. Knowing we needed to get up early, DH set the alarm for 6 am. But, sleep was elusive due I think to a mixture of anticipation and dread. I dreaded the heat and humidity, hours of what I thought would be boredom, uncertainty of the weather and the traffic going both ways. On the other hand, it was going to be a once in a lifetime experience for us to see a total eclipse. I remember some partial ones in childhood, and in my early adulthood, but not the full Monty! We were out of bed before the alarm went off, I had been awake since probably 5:15 am.
We out the door by 7, meaning to get to our chosen destination of Table Rock Park on Hwy 11 in Pickens County, South Carolina. Going down the mountain was lovely, fog was settled between the mountains and the drive wasn’t bad at all with traffic.
We were lucky to get to the park while there were still spaces to park. Shortly after we found a spot, I noticed that the cars had stopped coming in. We had made it inside before they cut off allowing more people in. It was still early enough that we decided to do the 1.9 mile hike around the lake. I said it was really 2 miles if you counted the walk from the car to the trailhead. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.
Limiting the number of people made a pleasant day, as it wasn’t crowded. There were plenty of people, but plenty of room. Most everyone was setting up on a meadow next to the lake, where there was a small beach. Others were up near the road, and others walked out of the park over to the other side of the hwy to the larger meadow near the visitor center. We decided our smaller parking area in the Hemlock lot was just fine. There was space at the car for us to set up chairs, and we had shade from the trees around the area. Best of all, the area overhead looked like we’d have a good view, as long as the sun didn’t dip too low in the west.
The lake was smooth as glass. But no breeze made for an oppressively hot day with very high humidity.
A well marked trail led into the woods around the lake. Of course we used a lot of bug spray before setting out. I didn’t want to start a tick collection.
Weaving around the trees and lush foliage all in shades of green, we could get a peek at the lake here and there as we went around.
Table Rock Mountain came into view on the far side of the lake.
There is a dam with a spillway tucked into the foliage. The grey brick was really pretty with the water flowing down.
Mushrooms were everywhere, not surprising in the humid climate.
This section of the outbound creek just down from the spillway had an interesting rock formation.
We made it around the lake, then went back to our car to sit in our chairs and read until the show began. We kept looking at the clouds, and wondering if we would get anything at all. The clouds were moving around, different levels in the atmosphere were going in different directions, and it was maddening to watch this and wait. We spent the next 3 hours reading and talking. We had the small parking lot to ourselves at this point, everyone else had gone elsewhere to watch the show. So we moved into the middle of the parking area, set up the good camera and watched the sky.
The clouds gave us a tiny window right after 1 pm and we could see the first tiny bite of the moon’s shadow over the sun. Then it was covered up again.
A few minutes later, another little window, and then it was gone. I kept covering the camera with the white towel between runs of shooting the sun, hoping to keep the lens cool.
The cloud cover kept doing this for a while, until I was able to get this shot without the solar filter as the clouds were just thick enough to obscure the brightness, while allowing the shadow to be seen. Interesting, isn’t it? The clouds are showing up as grey shadows, while the blue sky area is white with the sun’s light.
Then our luck changed, and the clouds broke away completely, giving us an unobstructed view of the incredible celestial event.
I took 91 pictures that day, but no I won’t bore you with all of them, LOL!!
I do not know why the camera picked up all this extra color dots and diamond shapes as the ‘diamond ring’ formation came.
I think this is one of the Baily’s Beads (in the 10 o’clock position), light coming through the valleys on the surface of the moon just before totality.
Totality, in full view!
It is interesting to see the pictures, and how the corona changes. It is a constantly changing thing, although the changes are subtle between these pictures. They look at first glance like they are the same, but there are very slight differences.
Amazing. The light changed completely during totality losing the yellow tones and going a weird bluish green like a strange twilight on another world. The woods got quiet (while the crowd around the corner cheered).
More Baily’s beads?
We stayed for most of the show, watching the sun re-emerge.
The drive home took just over 2 hours, as we avoided the main road and went by the back roads up old 25, and through Flat Rock. We ordered a pizza on the way home and picked it up on the way. It was good to take a shower and just enjoy the rest of the evening, reflecting on the majesty of our universe.
If you have the solar eclipse glasses, don’t throw them away. Recycle them by donating them to Astronomers Without Borders, who will redistribute them to children in Africa who are in the path of the 2019 eclipse. You can mail your used, certified ISO glasses to:
621 Madison St.
Springdale, AR 72762
Did you see the Great American Eclipse? Or have you seen another one?