Thursday, August 17, 2017

Some last-minute tips for how to maximize on the Solar Eclipse 2017 in Idaho

A sneak-peek at what we'll see ... (Courtesy Astronomy Magazine) 
Eclipse path through Idaho ... the red line is the bull's eye (screenshot from NASA Interactive Eclipse Map) 
Hi all,

I remember experiencing the last solar eclipse to occur in the Pacific Northwest in 1979, and I can tell you it wasn't nearly the big deal they're expecting it to be this year in Idaho and the U.S.

I was going to college at the University of Montana at the time, and a friend and I drove east toward Great Falls to see the eclipse in the best place possible under the "Big Sky." But we didn't really "see" the eclipse, because of course, that would have ruined our eyes. So upon the advice of experts, I fashioned a box with a pinhole to watch the moon block out the sun entirely. I don't remember how long it lasted, but because I couldn't watch it with a pair of super cool eclipse glasses, it wasn't really that spectacular ...




This time around, it should be more interesting ... I've got my eclipse glasses ready to go, and I'm hoping to see the eclipse from a mountain top in the prime zone where you get to view a 100 percent total eclipse.

The question many people have had, I'm sure, is where to see the eclipse? How to avoid the masses? Or is that possible? I'm providing tips for this question and more below.

On the question of where to see it, I would refer you to the NASA Interactive Eclipse Map. Zooming into the map, you can see where the 100% eclipse path is located across Idaho, and it spans from Weiser to Stanley to Rexburg, and then Jackson Hole, Wyo. What a cool deal to have this happening so close to home!

Cross-reference the Interactive Eclipse Map with your topo and Google Earth mapping sources to zero in on potential camping areas and landing spots for you and your group.

I think it's pretty obvious that it's going to be super crowded in Weiser and Stanley, where 15,000 to 30,000 people are expected. The Redfish Lake camping areas and Redfish Lake Lodge have been sold out for weeks. I wonder how many people will be backpacking in the Sawtooths and White Clouds? Probably quite a few ...

  • Pick a spot that's off the beaten path where you can camp/stay for several days. The worst traffic jams are expected to be on the morning of the eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21, and after the eclipse. 
  • Leave at least a day early (if not sooner) to pick your spot for the eclipse and don't try to drive home until Tuesday. 
  • Check road conditions anytime on ITD's 511 site
  • Wear approved eclipse glasses with the proper ISO rating. I got mine from the Boise State Physics Department when they presented at the Idaho Environmental Forum. 
  • Take enough food and water with you for several days. 
  • Be ready to watch on Monday morning ... The eclipse begins at 10:10 a.m., with the total eclipse starting about 11:25 a.m. and running about 2 minutes. The eclipse ends about 12:48 a.m.
  • Call ahead and check with the Forest Service to double-check access to trails, camping areas and roads. Call the local ranger districts for the best information closest to where you plan to go. Here's a general USFS web site that leads to specific national forest web sites. 
  • Can I take a photo of the eclipse with my mobile phone? I've seen varying answers to this question ... and some experts say that taking a photo of the eclipse could cause lasting damage to your phone. If you have a way to filter the brightness, that makes it safer. See here for more info. 
I hope everyone has a great time watching the eclipse! 

See more information at the Boise State eclipse web site, which also has links to NASA web sites ...

Here's another link to 25 facts that you should know about the eclipse  from Astronomy Magazine before you go ... 
- SS 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Come walk, run or bike in McCall for the Mountain Pathways Celebration on Saturday

Hi all,

Valley County Pathways and St. Luke's McCall are teaming up on a new event, the Mountain Pathways Celebration, on Saturday, Aug. 5th, from 8 a.m. to noon. Please come if you're in the 'hood! 

This is a family friend, kid-friendly non-competitive event with a Bounce House at the Start/Finish and live music from a local DJ pro. 

We want to celebrate pathways in the greater McCall, Valley County and West Central Mountains region by hosting an event on McCall city pathways and the North Valley Trail. You can walk, run or bike for 1, 2.5, 5 or 10 miles. Entry fee is $5/person. You can pre-register online. Same-day registration is OK, too.  

For the 5-mile course, we'll shuttle people out to the south end of the North Valley Trail in the outskirts of McCall, so they can experience the full sweep of the beautiful trail along the tree-lined old railroad line, pass by the Activity Barn, McCall Airport and Smokejumper Base, and then cruise into downtown McCall on city pathways to the Start/Finish area behind City Hall. 

The event is a fund-raiser for Valley County Pathways, a non-profit group that's been working on developing a system of valley-wide trails that would connect the communities of Cascade, Donnelly, Lake Fork and McCall. 

Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes 
We all know how cool it is to experience long-distance pathways in beautiful settings such as the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes in North Idaho, the Boise River Greenbelt, and the Wood River Trail from Bellevue to Ketchum/Sun Valley. 

In the early- and mid-2000s, when I was working in government affairs for Tamarack Resort, I joined a number of citizens who wanted to put together a plan for long-distance trails in Long Valley. We wrote the first Master Plan in 2005. Since February of this year, I've been working on updating the Master Plan, with a new map and fresh priorities. The plan was approved by Valley County P&Z in March, and Valley County Commissioners in July. Big milestone for VC Pathways! We had 108 letters of support! 

The West Central Mountains' America's Best Community campaign asked us to update the Master Plan, and they see further pathway development as a big priority for the region in a 21-point economic revitalization plan. Now that our plan is approved, we can move forward with working on future pathways in high-priority areas throughout the valley. 

Back to the Mountain Pathways Celebration event ... the trail is nearly flat the entire way with a couple of short uphills and downhills. Very kid friendly for all ages. Seniors too!

We want folks to have fun at this event! Costumes are encouraged. We'll have music at the 
Start/Finish area, coffee, fruit and muffins. We'll have multiple aid stations with fun activities or treats. Scavenger hunts are planned for kids. 

Here's another reason to come ... we have some great raffle items from McCall businesses, including:  
  • Hala Hoss SUP $1,100.00 value, donated by River Gear, a paddle shop in Cascade. 
  • Yeti cooler, $199 value from May Hardware
  • Cheap Thrills ½ day Wave-Runner rental $175 value
  • Four passes to open skating at Manchester Ice Center
  • Two gift certificates for three movie rentals at Sunset Video
  • Two ½-day SUP rental from McCall Sports Exchange
  • Two $25 G.C.’s to McCall Jewelry 
  • Lift tickets to Tamarack Resort
  • Ski tune packages from Kurt Wolf 
  • Full-day mountain bike rental from Gravity Sports
We'd also like to thank our event co-sponsors Mida Gold and McCall Parks & Recreation for their support.

Prizes: Bring a prize to share at the event ... toys or stuffed animals for kids, used recreation gear, hats, whatever you think someone else might want!

To make things go smooth on the course, we plan on starting the walkers/runners first, and the cyclists afterwards. 

Bring your own water bottle, please! You can refill at our aid stations. 

For more information, go to valleycountypathways.org.