Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Total solar eclipse

"If you love your work, you don’t need to rest. My work is nourishing, and in many cases it’s what has got me from one day to another. The people I’ve met through it keep me going."
-Emmylou Harris

Last August the Great American Eclipse came and the path of totality went right over the Mount Jefferson Wilderness. In an effort to manage the anticipated crowds that would come flocking to the Wilderness Area a request was put out for extra Wilderness Rangers to come down and help patrol. To add to this already complicated event, a fire broke out in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness about a month before the eclipse which was still burning during the eclipse. This fire ended up closing about two thirds of the Wilderness to the public so the fire personnel could operate and to keep the public safely away from the fire. Since the land managers were anticipating a lot of visitors and a lot who were less familiar with proper Wilderness human waste etiquette, they put out toilet stations. These were basically 5 gallon buckets with gelling agent in them and a little privacy tent. All these waste buckets would get packed out after the eclipse. Our main jobs besides simply being a presence were to monitor areas where camping wasn't allowed (we found some folks that were setting up in a well-marked day use only area), monitor the boundaries where the Wilderness was closed for the wildfire (which were signed and flagged off but we still caught people entering the closure area), and checking in that visitors got their Wilderness permits and knew about the campfire restrictions. Although there were enormous numbers of people anticipated for this, in the end it was not overwhelmingly crowded, more or less normal weekend numbers relative to what we're used to seeing in Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Probably because of how smokey the area was a lot less people came out.

It's always exciting to get to see another Wilderness Area but to do so while witnessing the solar eclipse from the path of totality was truly a privilege and honestly one of the most spectacular things I've seen.

Three Fingered Jack from an old wildfire burn

a view of Mt Jefferson and the Puzzle fire (2006) burn area with the smoke from the Whitewater fire visible near the base of the volcano

pointing at the sun, eclipse glasses on...during the eclipse it got so dark we could see the glows from nearby burning wildfires

looking across at Three Fingered Jack you can really see how much of this Wilderness has burned in years past (here looking at B&B fire burn from 2003)

we were lucky to have a clear day on the eclipse because this is what it looked like on the other days, very smokey.

despite how charred this Wilderness is from old wildfires, there are still lush places hidden away