Sun, Aug 20 2017 - 2017 Eclipse Backpacking (View Original Event Details)|
Our advance team traveled to the trailhead early, on a reconnaissance mission to scout out the trail conditions and secure our campsite. They found us some fantastic sites, then sent a couple of guides back to the trailhead parking lot for extra supplies from the coolers. The Indian Trail team, meanwhile, made our way up the path along Moccasin Creek to lower Hemlock Falls. We joined with the advance team guides to continue past the falls. Leaving the crowds behind, we had the remote and unmaintained footpath to ourselves.
We scrambled over many blown-down trees, had a thigh-deep creek crossing, dropped into a deep ravine and climbed back out, and ascended past upper Hemlock Falls to reach our camp, where we had the entire neighborhood all to ourselves. We had climbed right alongside Moccasin Creek almost the whole way up, and our campsite nestled up to the creek. A convenient footpath led to easy water access for filtering and to our makeshift refrigerator. After setting up our tents, we went for a refreshing swim and explored the cascades and pools below the upper falls. Our team worked together to gather firewood, filter water, and prepare dinner before relaxing around the roaring fire. Our stargazing adventure down to the base of Upper Hemlock Falls capped off the evening.
Monday morning, we shared coffee and breakfast and stories before breaking camp to head back down along the creek. We stashed our heavy backpacks in the cars and proceeded to the meadow with chairs, snacks, and eclipse glasses. Joining a couple other small groups of enthusiasts, we settled in to await the main event.
WOW. I'm at a loss for words to describe this stellar event. We wandered back and forth between our shady enclave on the edge of the meadow, and the center of the grassy field. In turn, we'd grab an icy drink and a snippet of conversation before marching back into full sunlight to check the moon's progress on her journey across the sun. The weather was absolutely perfect, a hot summer day with full sun in a brilliant blue sky, about 84 degrees in the meadow but a lovely breeze in the shade. Cumulus clouds hovered above the tree line, keeping their distance from the main spectacle and also providing a nice frame to the entire scene. A few minutes before totality, everyone was in place in the middle of the meadow, all eyes gazing upward, looking like the audience of a 3-D movie. The temperature dropped, the skies darkened, the world stilled...
It was great to share this phenomenal experience with such an amazing group of backpackers.