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Eclipse Trip Report

REDONE

Active Member


Just awesome from start to finish! (I'll edit this post to include more and more pictures as get them sorted, but wanted to get the thread started so the others can add their perspectives and pictures as well).
We began by bombing out of Denver Friday at 10am on I-70 to Rifle. From there we turned north to Meeker and then northwest in the the White River National Forest. We got to the Marvine campground shortly after 3pm. This is where I found my first mistake. I neglected to inform the group that there are three Marvine campgrounds. There's Marvine proper which is where I made our reservations, but Morris, Mike and David got there before us and set up in East Marvine campground 1/4mile away. This worked out fine though since they still came up for a campfire and to chew the fat, but were able to sleep far enough away that they didn't have to listen to my toddler wake up frequently through the night. The whole area was absolutely beautiful and we were able to catch up and swap stories and lies. This was also the only site where we were able to have a fire, although we might have gotten away with Morris' portable LPG firepit in Utah and Wyoming, but the need never really presented itself. We were all pretty bushed from the road and few of us were up past 9pm, haha!
Day 2 is where it really got fun! We took some scenic roads via Rangely into the badlands of Utah and were able to find Fantasy Canyon. This is a weird geological feature that was used as the planet "Klendathu" in Starship Troopers. I'm glad we were able to see it because it's become a target for vandalism. Before rolling up to Dinosaur National Monument, we lined up for a group shot. From left to right, it's Mike's LR, David's incredible van, Morris' LR and finally, our Trailhawk.

From there we rolled up to Dinosaur. I was a little disappointed at the cost here. It's $20 for a week pass, unless you roll in after the gate is unattended, then it's free to get in but the welcome center and grand hall are closed. Camping is another $20, with KOA style "camp hosts", so all in all it was $40 a vehicle. On the other hand, Dinosaur would be a great destination at that price, since we didn't even see 1/10th of all there is to see and do there. Even so, Layton in his Tacoma joined us here for the night and we rolled out around 9am the next day.
Day 3 was mostly highway. We took a long route up from Vernal, UT and followed the western edge of Flaming Gorge to get to I-80. About halfway through, after we lost sight of the LRs, I decided to get my comms radio up and running. That's where I found my second mistake. I really should have got the comms radio all setup and programmed before rolling out on Friday, but I figured I'd be able to screw around with it while my wife had the wheel. Turns out it bleeps and bloops too much for her when I screw around with it, and really the views the whole way were to pretty to take my eyes off them. Ultimately, somewhere between Rock Springs and Rawlins I did get it to take a simplex channel and we were finally talking to eachother. As a group this was the least interesting and longest drive day. We rolled up Green Mountain in WY around 4pm. There was 20 miles of washboard to the campground and Nate got there before us. David was able to raise him on the radio and he lead us up to a great dispersed campsite he scouted out the day prior. It really was beautiful, with great views, elk tracks all over, wild horses cruising through in the middle of the night and a LARGE pack of Coyote yipping up a storm all night long. Tom and his daughter were already here as well!


It was also at this site that I really got to feeling that David's van needs a nickname. Brown Bear just seems to generic and over used. David thinks Elephant or something along those lines works, but I don't see it. Also, you don't get to pick a nickname, it get's assigned, haha!

I could probably get behind Mastodon though. This was another early night as we hoped to storm out by 7am the day of the eclipse.

Day 4, Eclipse day!
We were largely successful at getting out at 7am. We came back via the campground to dump trash and use the vault toilets, but still got on the move quick! We took a spirited route up through the WY badlands. We kept a pretty open interval due to the dust. I only lead us down one deadend, and even then, it was only because of a water crossing I wasn't sure our Trailhawk could make. Nate was able to hear from Christine that the airfield I'd targeted for the eclipse was gated with a NO TRESPASSING sign, so the group adjusted track to view the eclipse from a hill we were cresting. Since I'd espoused the airfield for the last three weeks, I continued there just to see if anyone I wasn't tracking showed up there. I stopped at every vehicle in the area to see if they were there with RMO but fortunately everyone was just there as part of their own thing. I hurried to find a turnoff with a clearing big enough to set up some chairs and watch the eclipse with my wife and daughter. It was perfect. All the astronomy articles I'd read said not to ruin the experience trying to take pictures so I didn't and I don't regret it. I kept looking back and forth between my solar filters and a patch of white sand on the ground and caught the "shadow snakes" phenomenon. As totality set in, the wind stopped, the world was still lit up enough to see, but so incredibly muted. It felt as though we were in limbo between worlds. Looking up I was first able to spot Venus to the southwest of the sun, and then Mercury became visible to the northeast. One thing that I did not expect to see was how far the mass coronal ejections actually project from the sun. They look like lens flares, but they don't move based on your perspective. It really was amazing and I'm so glad we went!

After the eclipse I met back up with the group one more time before bombing back to Denver. Everyone who came on this trip was just awesome. I had so much fun I'm going to try and get another trip planned before it gets too cold for family car camping!

As I get our pics sorted out, I hope that anyone else who went finds the time to get their story and pictures shared here too!
 

mikeinCO

Active Member
I agree completely, a great trip top to bottom. Or bottom to top, whichever is appropriate. I left Denver around 9:15 after saying bye to the kids and hightailed it west on I-70, traffic up to Buffalo Herd Overlook was rough but as soon as I hit Floyd Hill it was clear sailing for me. Around 2pm I met Morris, who arrived a day earlier, in Marvine and then Dave rolled up right behind and then Matt and fam showed up about an hour later. I traveled the east side of the Flat Tops before but this was my first time on the west side and it is stunning. Real horse and cowboy country, it was nice to see that way of life still carrying on as it did 100 years ago. A quick dinner, kick ass fire and a few beers was a perfect way to ease into the beginning of the trip. Early to bed and early to rise!

Day 2 was great exploring the eastern hinterland of Utah. I have seen much of Utah and it was quite the experience of finding Fantasy Canyon. Matt and Rhiannon were awesome at the nav for the area and we found the spot with relative ease from my perspective. Except when Morris made a wrong turn and we wound up turned around for 10 minutes. ;) Ham radios came in handy though and we were soon rejoined with the convoy. Wild horses and crazy rock formations abound.









The ever present weird artwork of the desert.



After a quick explore of Fantasy Canyon and some lunch it was time for the rig shot in the desert.



And a quick photo of Matt, Rhiannon and Helen.



Then off to Dinosaur National Monument for the night. It was hot and dusty most of the day so it was a nice time to chill in the hammock for a quick nap.



That night we were joined by Layton who drove from Wyoming and gave us some info on the the drive we were expecting the next morning. We had the plan to take the west side of the Flaming Gorge up to Green River and start the Wyoming portion of the trip. A quick out the window shot of the rock layers in the Gorge.



And a quick stop once we crossed over into Wyoming.





Pretty uneventful convoy to reach our destination for the night which Nate had scouted earlier in the day. I-80 Eastbound was empty and we fueled up in Rawlins before heading up into eclipse territory. We arrived to the welcoming party of Nate, Tom, his daughter Emily and Lucky his dog. The spot they picked was perfect for our rigs, we had enough room to maneuver and spread out. A beautiful sunset was a nice prelude to the eclipse the next day.







Early start the day of the eclipse, we didn't know how much traffic and the condition of the roads we were going to take. The group decided on an alternative route that was some two track to the viewing destination and I am glad they did. It was a ton of fun bouncing around across the open tundra in the Land Rover even though I was pulling the tail.



When we found a spot on top of the hill it was all about this:



It truly is one of the most amazing and strange experiences I have witnessed. Totality involves all of your senses all at once (yes taste too if you have some Shiraz or Moonshine while you are waiting).

Traffic wasn't too bad coming back through Muddy Gap and Rawlins I thought. It was slow and go but mostly kept creeping along and nothing like the reports from Casper. We wound our way through Mediicine Bow Nat'l Forest and found a campground for us to stop for the night. It wasn't ideal for all of our rigs but I was tired from the road and just wanted a beer and dinner. Beautiful area though and we will go back to explore more. Saw this tiny cabin at the top of the pass.



All in all a great trip that I was glad to be able to join. Kudos to Nate for getting it off the ground way back when and Matt for spending the time picking the route and navigating! Also to Dave, Morris, Layton, Tom and Emily for taking the time off and joining in on the fun, it is always better traveling in a group and seeing all the different setups. Looking forward to the next adventure!
 

Morris Yarnell

Well-Known Member
I cannot think of anything to add to these great reports and the photos are such appropriate additions that you are really getting the whole story.
If you were not able to make it, perhaps the next time. I did stop last night in the woods near Estes Park and had a terrific encounter with a hail storm about 7:30.
 

ExplorerTom

Well-Known Member
We left Denver late Friday evening. The old adage “had to pick the kid up from soccer practice” could not have been anymore true. Initially my intent was to pick up the COBDR at Leadville and head north, but 20 minutes before leaving and after reviewing Ben’s COBDR Part 1 trip report one more time I decided that I didn’t have enough time to tackle that much of the COBDR. I decided to trim it back so we were starting at Gypsum. I hate cutting trips short but once I made the decision, I was instantly at peace with it so I knew it was the right decision. And looking back, it absolutely was the right decision. You could probably do Leadville to Wyoming in 2 days, but you’d have to hussle.

It was about 8:00 when my youngest daughter Emily and I finally rolled out to pick up the COBDR at Gypsum to head north to Wyoming. With the rush to get everything done, neither of us had dinner so we stopped at Wendy’s in Fricso. After we turned off I-70 at Gypsum and before I lost cell service, I pulled up an old thread from Ross where he posted GPS coordinates of a camp spot in the area. I plugged those in and headed up the trail. It was just after 11 pm when I shut the truck off and stepped out into the darkest night I’ve been in for quite some time. The Milky Way stretched across the sky and was breathtaking. And the surrounding silence was deafening. I set up camp and was asleep soon after hitting the pillow.

When the sun came up the next morning, we were greeted with a barren landscape populated only by sagebrush- a plant that would be all around us for the next 4 days.


We broke camp and continued down the trail. In the first couple of miles we stopped a lot to look at the interesting rock formations and artifacts from years gone by. I was thankful for the dry conditions since this area looked like it could be miserable when muddy. And at this point, I was thankful to be the only one on the trail since it was super dusty. It wasn’t until we got back on pavement before we saw our first other vehicle since I-70.






The Colorado sun was bright and intense and we looked for a pull off in the shade to eat lunch for a while before settling on just pulling over on the side of the road in the shade. It was actually almost too cool in the shade, but sitting in the sun was too hot.


Up until this point, a family sedan would be capable of running this trail. All the “trails” were either well maintained dirt roads or just poorly maintained dirt roads. This water crossing was the only thing that required high clearance. Off on the right side was a small hole that got my running board wet so I estimate it was 16” deep or so.


It was cold but that didn't keep Emily and Lucky from splashing around in it.
 

ExplorerTom

Well-Known Member
The old Rock Creek Stage Station is pretty neat. The second floor balcony is long gone but the rest of the structure is in pretty good shape.


We stopped in Steamboat to get some ice cream at Lyon’s Corner Drug & Soda Fountain (just around the corner from F M Light and Sons). We took our ice cream down to Little Toots Park along the river and enjoyed it in the shade. The ever present smell of sulfur from the hot springs gives the park its appropriate name. The 10 year old in both of us got a good laugh at that one. When we were done we continued our trek north across some wide open pastures and rolling hills. We decided to find camp earlier than 11 pm this time and found a nice spot just outside of Hahns Peak Lake on a dead end spur off FS 487. The spot was good and quiet- only a lost Subaru came by around dinner time.




The next day (Sunday) we ate some breakfast and broke camp and continued the COBDR. According to my map, the last few miles of the trail crosses the CO/WY border several times without any mention of doing so. I thought that was interesting. I was airing up just after 10 am at the end of the COBDR. The northern section is very mellow but don’t let that discourage you from doing it yourself. It was great.



At about this time, Nate sent out some coordinates for the Sunday night camp spot on Green Mountain. I plugged it in, plotted a course and headed that way. We arrived around 2 pm. Nate said he had seen some wild horses in the area but all we saw were hoof prints in the mud. Emily was really looking forward to seeing wild horses. We ate lunch but held off on setting up camp until the rest of the group arrived. A couple BLM guys drove by and talked with Nate and I and informed us that there was currently a burn ban going on. So with no campfire and the decision to leave camp by 7 am, it was early to bed.





We woke up early Monday morning (Eclipse Day!) and walked out to the point to take in the view one last time. This wouldn't be the only sunrise we'd see this day:


To be concluded.......
 

Morris Yarnell

Well-Known Member
...and yet it is probably the same people that dismiss global warming. Hopefully we won't get back to random witch burning.