Goodness. Tonight, I searched for an earlier post on a solar eclipse we witnessed while traveling in Idaho several years ago. I discovered that it was a post I never posted. So, with some updating, it is below.
We in the United States will soon have two opportunities to witness two more solar eclipses within the next year. More on that below.
On August 20th of 2017, Chuck and I had two goals for that day and the next–to see a solar eclipse and to drive to Missoula, Montana. But we had also been following the trail of Lewis and Clark. Though theirs was a water trail we followed it by searching for their camps. We were on their return from the great Pacific.
At this point in the trail, Lewis and Clark were stuck near Kamiah, Idaho in a month-long camp waiting for the snow to melt on the Lolo Pass Trail. Like Lewis and Clark, we were stuck, too. A great forest fire blocked our way back to Missoula on the Lewis and Clark Scenic Byway through Lolo Pass.
We found ourselves in a pickle. We wanted to travel a little farther south to see the solar eclipse on August 21, the next day; but south of Missoula was the fire. Because this vast wilderness area lacked roads, to travel south to the eclipse, we would have had to drive another couple of days. We were flying out of Missoula on the 22nd. We didn’t have another couple of days.
So where could we go to watch the eclipse and still make it to Missoula in time for our flight the day after the eclipse? Turns out we had to go north, away from the best place to see the eclipse, but there were no places to stay between Kamiah and Couer d-Alene, the closest city with lodging.
So we spent our day traveling the blue highways north. We were off the Lewis and Clark Trail to see the eclipse.
In Couer d-Alene, we stayed in a local hotel. We had both been there before, many years earlier. Chuck had attended an environmental conference there, back in the 1970s, that would be BC, before Cindy. The city had a lovely downtown with entertainment around a large lake. We spent a nice evening there.
The next morning, for the eclipse, we had our special-purpose solar filters, which I had bought online beforehand. Thankfully, the online vendor sent several more than we needed. We were able to share with some of the hotel’s employees who were unaware of what was happening.
We hung out around the pool where there were no trees to block our view. What we saw was a partial eclipse, though, because we were so far north. Still, we were excited by what we saw. It was a great day anyway.
That afternoon, we left for Missoula. Lewis and Clark, after a month’s wait, began their journey over the Bitterroots in mid-June and arrived at Hot Lolo Springs near today’s Missoula by the end of June. They made it.
We did, too. We got to Missoula by 3 pm the same day. The city was covered with smoke from the Lolo fire just about fifteen miles down US 30 West. We checked into a hotel and waited for our flight home the following morning.
At Lolo Pass, though, Lewis took a small party overland to the great falls and then up the Marias River. Clark took another small group and crossed through the Bitterroot Valley, across the great divide and to explore the Yellowstone. Their plans were to meet at the mouth of the Yellowstone on the Missouri River. This they did on August 13, 1806, over a month later.
After some councils with the Missouri River neighboring Indian nations, the expedition continued downstream covering 50 to 60 miles a day with the current. They arrived in St, Louis by the third week of September.
They brought with them a Mandan Chief Sheheke and his family. Can you imagine that scene when the world of the Mandan Indians came to St. Louis with its stores of foodstuffs, calico piled high, shirts, handkerchiefs, and beads?
The next morning, Chuck and I boarded a 5:40 am flight back to Florida arriving by 6 pm the same day.
Two eclipses coming soon!
There are two more solar eclipses coming soon. The first will be on October 14, 2023, and the second on April 8, 2024. Both will cross the United States. If you wish to see them, make plans to be in the areas where they can be seen best.
Below are two NASA links for each eclipse. Each shows its path.
Also, here is a link for what you should do and expect to do. Wearing protective eyewear is vital. The National Park Service gives instructions. Only use special-purpose solar filters. It is not safe to use homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones.
Make sure your solar filters have ISO 12312-2:2015 certification, as well as the manufacturer’s name and address printed on them. Do not use ones made before 2015. With all the substandard Chinese products now sold in the US, this new certification will be vital. Don’t take chances with your eyes.
Below is the link on how to view the eclipse safely. It also explains the different types of solar eclipses, how to plan ahead, and how to use the eclipse filters correctly. Just click on the link below.