Viewing the Solar Eclipse

August 2017

Alpine (WY)

6 Hours

After booking our plane tickets, we realized that there would be a Total Eclipse during our trip. We got so excited as it’s quite a dream to see one, in a lifetime.

The August 2017 total eclipse was a huge deal, as it would happen across the US during daytime. The eclipse of the century, they said… 

We soon realized that, in terms of planning, this opportunity was more of a curse. For instance, many campsites had been fully booked for years in advance, and private courtyards were rentable for hundreds of dollars a night!
This didn’t stop us, but we had to make a sacrifice, though. So we decided that Yellowstone would be for another time. 

Fortunately, we found a public campsite in Alpine for the night of August 19th, just south of Grand Teton. The campground, and everything else nearby, was full for the following night; but then luck helped us again, and one spot eventually opened up in our campground.

information about 2017 eclipse on the road

Preparing for the Eclipse

We were convinced that viewing an Eclipse would be amazing. And actually, it’s much more than that!

But, if you want to enjoy it in a special way, YOU NEED TO PREPARE FOR IT!

Well, let’s be honest, you cannot really choose and eclipse as you pick a pasta dish at an Italian restaurant.

There aren’t many happening, and they’re often far from home. But you should consider these parameters mostly if you wan’t to cross the whole Earth to see it:

  • In which part of the globe will it occur ? The more dry the country and season, the better. Remember that clouds mean no eclipse!
  • Go for a total eclipse, as much as possible, and study well its path and length.
  • Book a place to sleep at in advance, a lot in advance.

An interesting website if you’re looking for an eclipse!

Eclipse timetable and important websites and numbers

Don't forget to have the right equipment

Before leaving for our trip, we browsed the internet to understand how to take pictures of the eclipse, and which filters to use for both lenses and binoculars.

After a few searches, Nivek noticed the Baader AstroSolar filter. And then I looked for different tutorials to understand how to create home-made filters.

Considering the volume it takes and how fragile it is, I decided not to do it from home, but to wait until we were on site. It turned out to be a good decision, except that doing this kind of work in the dust of a campsite was a bit tricky… 

The humidity of the area didin’t let the glue dry between the “disk” and the cylinder, so at the end we only had the disk ! Not confortable as you always have to handle it, but still effective! 

So, from safety to must-haves, here are the things you should bring with you:

  • Eclipse glasses – even if we didn’t mention it of course YOU MUST have them, and even a spare as without it you won’t be able to enjoy the eclipse
  • Binoculars, and Solar Filter (see above) – as for safari, it is a must have
  • Long lens – if you have one, and with some luck you could bring back some nice pictures (see below)
  • A tripod – useful and even needed if you want to take some photos without any motion blur
In regards to photography, you’ll find a lot of information on this website. Remember that this is not something you’ll have the opportunity to train for… read as much as you can before d-day!
Nivek looking at the eclipse through protected binoculars

Selecting the right spot for d-day

Not having to worry about the campsite anymore, we dedicated the day of the 20th to plan our eclipse viewing. We took our time as we were not interested in living such a unique experience in a parking lot! After asking for information to a forest volunteer on the road, who provided general warnings about watching the eclipse and gave us stickers as souvenirs, we headed to Jackson where people were definitely getting ready for the eclipse. Even this dog!

Dog with the head outside of the car wearing sun glasses

We were told to get some information from the Driggs Forest Office. Nivek noticed a mountain area, outside the Grand Teton Park, that could be a nice viewing spot.

On one hand, we got the information we were looking for. But we also had a nice chat about traveling, mountains, bears and so on. And yes, Garns Moutain was the right spot to watch the eclipse, but also a strategic location to leave the area afterwards!

In fact, as a lot of people converged to the main eclipse sites, then everyone tried to leave at the same time creating a huuuuuuge traffic jam. 

Again, you’ll need time onsite, to ask for information to people in person – information that you won’t find at home or online! So, getting there at least one day before, and leaving one day after, would be great!

Viewing and photographing the Eclipse from Garns Mountain

21st of August 2017, that’s the day, the one that made us do that huge detour. The one that a big part of the United States has been waiting for.

We wake up at 4am. We want to reach our spot as soon as possible. We don’t really know how long it will get to reach the top of the Mountain. 

There were quite a bunch of people already prepping and warming up for the event.

It was a quite long woody hike. No view till we reached the top.

Just enough time to set our hardware to enjoy and get some records.

We heard about it, but seeing and hearing how nature reacts to a total solar eclipse was breathtaking. It was noon and we could see the stars. It got very cold very quickly. 

Insects and birds behaved as if nighttime had come early, and we couldn’t hear them anymore. A couple of dogs and horses, which we could hear from not too far, actually stopped barking and neighing, as if they felt that something was different from usual.

Grand Teton during total eclipse


After this incredible moment, we had to go down the mountain. Thinking about all these memories. Incredible memories. What a feeling… 

We didn’t feel the descent, our head was still up (as you can see on the picture 👉) … what a nice drug an eclipse.. isn’t it ?

We didn’t rest arriving at the car, we knew a long drive was expecting us.

Indeed, what a traffic jam… we decided to go off the main road and it was the opportunity to cross nice landscapes from the Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve

We arrived just before closure to our sleeping spot. 

Us doing a selfie with our eclipse glasses

We were alone during the whole experience, even if arriving at our spot we noticed a huge dome tent (the one you do have for camping with your whole family) on a summit a K far from us – strange to bring that on the top of a mountain ! 

At one point, someone appeared. “Sorry to distrub, I’ve been spending the night with my boy, we are out of water, I tought we could find some there, would you please help me, at least for my boy ? Could you give me something like one litter to watch the eclipse and then do our 2 hours hike back to the car ?”.

My first thought was “how stupid can you be to think you’ll find water on the summit of a mountain ?”  And even if it was far from being the most exhausting hiking of my life (Nivek), it was a bit tough carrying the whole equipment, plus all the water we took to support that sunny day. And he wants me to give it to him as a deliveroo order ? And maybe miss some later on ?

Of course we left him quite a lot of water, taking time to give a few tricks regarding the mountain, he confirmed how exhausting it was to bring that huuuuuuge tent, and had a nice talk about cycling in Brittany, as he went there quite a lot.

Not everyone has the same knowledge or experience about outdoors. Stay humble, you can be the best hiker in the world but the worst snorkler.

As much as you can, give an hand, someone will get it back to you one day !


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