Solar Eclipse 2017
Utah might not have been in “totality”, however, as anyone who wasn't in the path of “totality” and still witnessed even the partial eclipse knows, it was still “totally” cool.
Years ago we saw a very partial solar eclipse, but were not at all prepared for it. If I remember right, I jerry rigged as many pairs of sunglasses on top of each other as I could scrap together last minute to view it… i'm sure at the cost of a few years of eyesight later on in life. It was neat, but like I said, very partial. Had I not been looking for it, there was nothing otherwise noticeable about it.
When we learned there would be a much fuller eclipse on August 21st, we, like the overwhelming majority of the country, were excited to experience the phenomenon, totality or not! We knew Utah wouldn't be in the path of totality, but at 90+ percent, we knew it would be worth looking up at this time.
As the spectacle’s countdown began, we started searching for a unique place to witness it. After a little google maps scouting and fiddling around with some sun tracking apps, we set our sights on a place close to home, Utah’s West Desert. What use to be submerged at the bottom of ancient Lake Bonneville over 14,000 years ago, the vast West Desert is now a dry, forsaken and otherworldly region of western Utah, also known as The Great Basin where only wild mustangs, sagebrush and salt seem to survive for hundreds of miles in every direction.
It's a place where once you leave the safety of the interstate, you will likely never see another person or vehicle until you return. Roads are mostly dirt and services are sparse to nonexistent because of how desolate and uninhabitable the area is. The further you travel, the more vulnerable you become to the desert’s extensive exposure. Knowing this, we set out to chase the highly anticipated Eclipse over prepared with water, snacks and gas.
As we drove past roadside signs, one of which read “Solar Road” ironically enough, we passed others that all but warned us to turn back. It felt like we entered a hazy mirage. The heat of the desert blurred the horizon to appear like there was water ahead, always just out of our reach. At first glance, this place seems very uninviting, after all, the interstate passing through it is a 60 mile stretch of dead flat and straight road to get you through it as fast as possible with no communities to stop in along the way.
That being said, complete solitude and endless adventure await if you can appreciate it for what it is, a place truly unlike anywhere else in the world. If you didn't know better, you would think you are on another planet entirely, which is reason enough to visit, but it was also eerily peaceful and quiet.
Just as the eclipse was beginning, we stopped at a place called Lone Rock, a misplaced looking outcrop in the middle of the salt flat’s desert floor. We set up some chairs and pointed our cameras toward the sky, then not knowing what to expect, we sat back and looked up to enjoy the heavenly show.
Monday, August 21, 2017 at 11:34 AM.
The sky slowly darkened and the temperature began to drop generating a thermal wind from the noticeable temperature change. Birds we didn't realize were nested on the cliffs of Lone Rock broke the desert silence as they started chirping. The shadows on the ground turned into bizarre crescent shapes as the sun and moon collided in the sky. Time seemed to stand still momentarily before the light gradually returned, the wind calmed, the birds quieted down, and life under the stars resumed to business as usual, as it would until the next solar eclipse would cross the same skies some 28 years later.
Some called it a mere coincidence, but something about our planet, and in this case, our universe’s inescapable beauty has a way of humbling us and stirring our souls to recenter on the most important things in life that bring lasting joy, whatever they are: family, friends, God, the outdoors and/or becoming your best self.
The Eclipse was one of those resetting experiences we will remember for a long time. People throughout history have tried to make sense of and explain the awe-inspiring phenomenon, and while they are amazing scientific occurrences, they are also spiritually inspiring, at least for us it was. One of my favorite scriptures, by a man who obviously saw similarly incredible things, summed up my thoughts best when he wrote;
We spent the rest of the day exploring the West Desert until sunset. I'm embarrassed to admit it took a rare solar eclipse to get us to explore this place because we have been missing out on a diamond in the rough hiding right under our nose close to home. From the Bonneville Salt Flats to the peaks of the Great Basin National Park, the West Desert is a new found treasure we are bound and determined to discover.
Follow along to see more and join the chase for #AllThingsAdventure.