Grand Teton NP and the Eclipse


This year's epic adventure was a trip into the backcountry of Grand Teton National Park to see the eclipse! We did the Teton Crest Trail and spread it out over 6 days to thoroughly enjoy it.

WARNING: Lots of nature photos coming up!

We spent our first day hiking through amazing fields of wildflowers, which none of my photos can capture...but here are a couple of shots.


Our second day took us to Marion Lake mid-day, where we had a very refreshing swim, and then up to Death Canyon Shelf, where we camped on a cliff.

In the morning, Tim set up my phone to do a time-lapse of the sunrise on the shelf. Check it out!

The following day was full of wide, expansive landscapes. We crossed the National Park border into the Alaska Basin area to camp at Sunset Lake. (Yes, we swam in it. Yes, it was very cold.) Our campsite was up on a bluff, so we ate our dinner on an outcropping of rock, watching the sunset over the lake, the canyon below, and the mountains beyond.

In the morning, we hiked UP to Hurricane Pass (aptly named...the wind was FIERCE!), where we got our first view of the Tetons; Grand, Middle, and South. 


The walk down from the pass took us through the South Fork beautiful!


Given the stunning landscapes surrounding us, it was easy to get lost in the vastness of it. But, I did catch a couple of shots of a few of the wildflowers we saw. The Pink Elephants were probably the most fun!

On Eclipse Day, we were up and out relatively early so we could climb a few thousand feet to our viewing spot. We passed by Solitude Lake, where quite a few people had already set up cameras. We kept climbing to a rocky ridge at about 10,000 feet. We had a beautiful view of Grand Teton and the North Fork Cascade Canyon. Once we got to our spot, we got out our eclipse glasses and settled in to watch the show! We didn't have to wait long. Jen was the first to notice the tiny bite taken out of the sun. None of us had cameras set up for taking pictures of the eclipse itself, but we tried to capture the strange, changing light. Tim took a time-lapse to totality! You can see the phone trying to adjust for the changing light, until finally it can't. We watched through our glasses until the last needle of light was gone and then saw it! That darkest possible black disc of the moon and the streaming white of the sun's corona. Everyone went a little crazy, as you might imagine! I know I was laughing and jumping up and down and howling. Farther up the ridge, another group of eclipse watchers was also howling. Down in the canyon, we could hear echoes of the same. Something about the sun going away in the middle of the day just turned us all into animals, what can we say? All around us we could see the edge of the shadow on the horizon. It was so surreal! We stared at it so we didn't miss the spectacular diamond ring effect, when the edge of moon just starts to clear the sun. It was instantly too bright to look at! But, when we put on our glasses, the sun was only the tiniest needle! What power! The light had a strange quality to it, like super-bright LEDs or white stage lights. We kept watching through our glasses until the moon's shadow had completely cleared the sun. What a show!!

Here is Tim's time-lapse. The phone keeps trying to adjust for the light. Right at the end before it goes dark (a wind picked up up during totality and knocked the phone over), you can almost see the moon's shadow moving across the sky. In the two pictures above just after totality, the moon's shadow is still visible in the sky as well. So Strange!

After the show, we still had the harrowing crossing of Paintbrush Divide. It actually turned out to be much less scary than everyone had been making it out to be. We did have to cross a few steep sections of snow pack, and a few rocky, but steep and slippery, switchbacks. But, we made it to an easily-sloped patch of snow between switchbacks that we all had a well-deserved butt slide down! The rest of the day's hike lead to our last campsite in the backcountry, Holly Lake. And what a way to finish the trek! It was clear and beautiful (and cold, of course), surrounded by granite slopes, with a tiny patch of soft grass on the shore that served as our private beach. It doesn't get much better!

It was hard to leave the backcountry the next day. All of us wanted to stay just a few more nights. But, schedules called us all home. So, we drove to Alpine Junction, where we spent a night at the Moose Lodge. We had delicious pizza for dinner at Driftwood Pizzeria, which was staffed by some of the friendliest, most wonderful people we met on the whole trip! In the morning, we were all up early. We met at an adorable donut place called and donuts for the road! 

What an incredible trip! Perfect weather, stunning scenery, a total eclipse, and the best bunch of backpacking buddies imaginable!

Cathie Apple