The 21st of August was a truly magical day in a valley that has its fair share of magical days. We see glorious sunsets, bitter cold blizzards, gale force winds, towering thunderstorms, majestic mountains, spectacular views of the nighttime skies, and a wide variety of wildlife and bird life. In short, it’s perfect here. And by what feels like dumb luck (though is actually due to the patterns of planetary motion), Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park won the cosmic lottery and were in the path of totality for the total solar eclipse of 2017.
I’ve seen pictures of total eclipses through the years, and have heard about people who, having gazed upon the sun’s corona, make valiant efforts to see it again. And now it all makes sense. Totality was one of the most beautiful and peaceful phenomena I have witnessed in my first 56 years. In person, it defied rationality, and left me with a bewildered child-like longing for more.
More than 100,000 people visited the Park for this event, yet during the eclipse itself, there wasn’t really any evidence of these extra visitors – at least in our corner of the valley. So powerful was the period of totality that the Park was dead quiet. No cars, no planes, no chatter. The only noises were those of nature. The creek burbling, the Snake River rushing by the banks, a few birds, and during totality a couple of coyotes howling just briefly. It hasn’t been this quiet around here for 100 years. Or at least since the ‘70s.
To look up at the sun during totality and see plasma streaming into space; to see stars popping out above the dim silhouette of the Teton range; to experience sunset, midnight and sunrise all in the span of a few minutes. Honestly, it was beyond words. Rationally, I know how lucky I was to see this eclipse. Emotionally, I felt profoundly connected to the infinite universe. And I am left with the desire to chase this rare phenomenon around the globe in hopes of experiencing another two minutes of cosmic bliss.