When I found out that parts of western North Carolina were in the path of totality for the solar eclipse I immediately new that I wanted to view it from the water. My husband and I (and Ceiba the schnoodle) launched our SUPs below Wesser Falls on the Nantahala River. We paddled the flow out and into Lake Fontana and the skies were clear!
About 45 minutes into the eclipse the light started to change. We noticed crescent moon shadows traveling across our boards when we floated under trees. The shadows also appeared to be much crisper than usual. We entertained ourselves by using our eclipse glasses to check on the path of the moon across the sun. We swam when we got hot. It felt great to be out on the water (our preferred venue) and active.
At one point a bald eagle flew overhead, circled and dove for a fish. It then flew into a nearby tree to feast on its catch. Our experience was already magical, and we had no idea of the extraordinariness of what we were about to witness!
The light continued to get dimmer, but it wasn’t the light that we are accustomed to seeing in the late evening. It felt more like I was looking through an Instagram filter. I took it all in. It kept getting darker and the crickets started to chirp. A Kingfisher came out to prey on the insects that were emerging. Everything seemed to slow down and quiet settled on the lake. Then, in what felt like an instant, the light of the sun dimmed so much that we could take off our glasses and look up with our naked eyes. I was astounded and left speechless. Cheers erupted from others nearby. I couldn’t say anything, I was in such awe.
There was a 360 degree sunset and the planet Venus appeared in the sky along with several stars. The moon fit perfectly within the sphere of the sun so that only the corona was visible. There was what looked to be a large whisp of light coming off the top left side of the corona. The beauty, magic and mathematical precision of our universe blew my mind! It felt like it was all too much for my human body to contain and tears welled up in my eyes. I sat there in awe and just stared up and around at this amazing phenomena. And then, a bit of light started to shine at one edge and it was time to put the glasses back on to witness the ‘diamond ring.’ Amazing! Two and a half minutes was way too short!
The light came back and we sat there processing what we had just seen. It was definitely one of the coolest experiences of our lives (and we’ve experienced a lot of cool things). I looked around and folks were rafted up with their boards and kayaks, hanging out and looking up to continue to observe the path of the eclipse.
We proceeded to paddle back up the lake and into the river to take out and head home. I’m not sure why or how, but I feel changed from the experience. I have so much gratitude for the opportunity to witness the eclipse floating on water, and my BIC Crossfit 10″ provided the best platform for viewing ever!