Solar Eclipse Skiing
Distance: 2 miles out
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I went skiing in August. On a glacier. In shorts. During a total solar eclipse.
Our motto for the weekend was "let's play it by ear."
We somehow managed to pull off a successfully adventurous weekend with extremely little planning. It's times like these that I think I have the best luck in the world.
I've spent the last few years working on trying to not be so uptight about things when they're not completely planned out and letting things be - and weekends like these convince me that a life worth living can't be completely planned.
We began with no plan. Then a tentative plan to climb Three Finger Jack. Then another plan to possibly ski Mount Hood. The total solar eclipse was slated to occur on Monday morning. It was already Friday night and we had made no decisions - instead we were all at Sunset Supper at Pike place drinking the night away. None of us were packed, we didn't know where we were really headed off to, and we were supposed to leave Seattle at 4:30am on Saturday morning.
Needless to say, that didn't exactly happen.
We somehow packed for all possibilities the next morning and were on the road by 7am. Not bad for no plans. All we knew was that we were headed to Portland first and we'd make a game time decision while we were on the road.
After lunch with Matt in Portland, we knocked some things off the to-do list - picking up wine for me, getting new tires for Noah, napping and dining. And at some point in this process we collectively made the assumption that skiing would be the way we were going for this trip.
We arrived at Noah's family cabin on Mount Hood late Saturday night. Weston and Noah waxed their skis, we repacked our bags and hopped in the hot tub before turning in for the evening. There'd been so much hype about the influx of eclipse traffic and limited parking so we wanted to head out early in the morning to ensure that we would be able to snag one of the overnight parking spots at Timberline.
By 7am on Sunday morning, we were waiting in line at the breakfast buffet at Timberline Lodge. There had been no traffic coming from Seattle to Portland and it remained the same from the cabin to the lodge. But since we were there and weren't beginning our climb until much later that afternoon, we spent a lackadaisical day milling around the lodge reading, napping, playing shuffleboard, and eating. In our rush out the door early in the morning, we had forgotten our bag of snacks and (most importantly to the boys, the eclipse beer). The parking lot was a bit full at this point so while Weston volunteered to make the drive to get the missing items, Noah spent the next hour demonstrating his impressive loitering skills to keep our parking spot. By the time Weston was back with our stash, it was time for us to start our climb up Palmer Glacier.
I've never had to carry my skis anywhere before - but on this climb, I carried them up (and thankfully, Weston carried my ski boots up for me). Talk about added pack weight! We hiked about two miles up Palmer Glacier past the ski lifts at Timberline in about 2.5 hours and set up camp for the night.
During our climb to our campsite, we were passed by a young fellow, whom we would later dub "the wizard". There's an entire hilarious side story about him that provided us with many laughs that evening that is best captured by Weston's narration of the story here.
We fell asleep under a sky littered in stars with views of the Milky Way and the Jefferson wildfires glowing in the distance.
On Sunday morning, we woke up, meandered around for a bit and packed up while we waited for the solar eclipse to begin. Around 9am we started to be able to see just a bit of the moon beginning to cross the sun. Below us, we could hear some skier holler out "TOTALITY!!!!" at the top his lungs several times. By 10:20am we were awestruck and staring into the total eclipse. In a matter of mere minutes, the lighting around the mountains changed from daylight to casting a shadow to dusk then back to a shadowy daylight. The temperature rapidly dropped then rose back up. It's easily one of the most insane things I've ever experienced.
We finished packing up and began our easy ski descent back to the lodge. We skied down Palmer Glacier and were able to make it a fair way back to the lodge before putting our skis away, staring at the last few moments of the eclipse, and hiking back the rest of the way to the car.
Somehow there are times when the moon and the sun perfectly align for a chance occurrence. And while this trip was mostly planned by "playing it by ear", literally everything ended up lining up just so.