As many of you know, Mountain Crossings hosted an Eclipse viewing party this past Monday, the 21st. We were one of many venues at which you could catch a glimpse of this once in a life time (for most) event of the moon crossings over the sun during broad daylight. Check out these photos of the day!
The Total Solar Eclipse on Monday, August 21st is just around the corner and it is ramping up to be an event like no other. Even local schools in are are opting to let out school for the day to extending the school day so children are not riding the bus at the time of the event. The Forest Service in are are are warning that our little home in the Chattahoochee National Forest may be quite the hotspot for viewing the event. As many visitors to Mountain Crossings know, we are located at the very top of the mountain as far as road traffic is concerned and the roads leading to us are steep and winding. These roads make for a wonderful drive through the mountains and are even part of several well known loops for motorcyclists and bicyclists. Add in being the closet point to Atlanta to view a Total Solar Eclipse that won’t happen for another several hundred years and you’ve got a recipe for some traffic!
For all who are driving towards Blairsville and Dahlonega to catch a glimpse of the moon passing over the sun (in totality for just shy of 2 minutes!) we urge you to be patient, plan ahead with a possible back up plan or two, and be thoughtful and considerate to others in where you choose to park a car and view the eclipse. In an estimation from the Forest Service, the already potentially treacherous roads carving through the Chattahoochee National Forest may be lined with cars wanting to catch a clear view of the Eclipse. There are many safe pull off areas on these roads, but the number of them are far less than the expected number of visitors. Please do not put yourself of other motorists at danger in choosing a spot to watch the eclipse.
There are many places that are hosting viewing parties where parking will be much safer than on the side of a road. Mountain Crossings is one of those places where you can safely watch the eclipse! We will have lunch and eclipse glasses, which are needed to view the eclipse without the danger of damaging your vision. In fact, there are plenty of places where you can catch a glimpse of this phenomena in our area! Union County is expecting to more than double its population for a day as 40,000 viewers are projected to find a places within the totality band to catch the eclipse.
Besides careful driving, the most important factor of safety on the day of the Eclipse is wearing the proper eye protection. While the sun will be no stronger than it is on a typical day, we typically are not staring at it waiting for a once in a lifetime event to occur! It is massively important that if you are planning on viewing the solar eclipse during the times it is entering and existing totality that you wear NASA Approved Solar Eclipse Glasses. Mountain Crossings will have glasses available for all who attend our event but we urge all viewers anywhere to make sure they are properly protecting their eyes against the strong UV rays of the sun. The retina of the eye does not feel pain, so you are unaware that you are damaging your eye sight until the harm is irreversible. Please be safe, wherever you choose to view the Eclipse!
At Mountain Crossings, supporting the Appalachian Trail Conservancy is very important to us because they are the ones who work endlessly to support the Appalachian Trail. They help round up volunteers and resources to maintain the trail. They seek to educate users of the AT in an effort to protect the future of the trail for all. And they work to solve the major problems facing the Appalachian Trail all along its nearly 2,200 mile length. What they do is absolutely amazing and understanding their work better is one step in supporting and appreciating this amazing group of individuals and all their associates (every volunteer up and down the trail!) Check out this Question and Answer below with the ATC’s Central and Southwest Virginia Regional Office Director to get a better sense of how this non-profit organization is keeping the Appalachian Trail alive.
In further support, Mountain Crossings will donate $1 to the ATC for each purchase of an ATC Topo T-Shirt. This synthetic hiking tee sports the old timey, original metal trail marker plaque with a topographic background and the AT slogan, “A Footpath For Those Who Seek Fellowship With The Wilderness”, all on the back and a small, simple version of the metal trail marker in the center of the chest on the front.
Working at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy: A Question and Answer with Andy Downs
MTX: What is your job title for the ATC and what kind of work does that include?
Andy: I’m the Regional Director for ATC’s Central and Southwest Virginia Regional office. I personally work on land protection, external threats, volunteer development, trail design, visitor use management and sometimes rabid skunks, full privies, broken shelters, friendly bears, crazy hikers, etc. etc.
MTX: How does this compare to former positions at the ATC?
Andy: From 2007-2013 I worked in the Southern Region, mostly in the Smokies. My job at the time was about 65% in the field and I worked more closely with the Trail Crew Programs and the Ridgerunners.
MTX: How did you come about working for the ATC and what lead you there?
Andy: I went back to school at NC State with the specific intent of working for the ATC.
MTX: What was your experience with the Appalachian Trail before working at the ATC?
Andy: 2002 Thru-hike, numerous shorter sections but like most hikers, I had no idea who managed the trail or what it entailed.
MTX: Did you see yourself working for the ATC one day as you were thru hiking?
Andy: No, but I did soon after I started my first “real job” as an Archeologist.
MTX: What is your favorite thing about working for the ATC?
Andy: The Trail
MTX: What is the hardest part of working for the ATC?
Trying to explain to hikers when they are ruining the whole thing for everyone.
MTX: How have your feelings about the Appalachian Trail changed over time from when you were first acquainted with it, to now, after working to help protect it for years?
Andy: I love it more, much more than I ever have. Also, over the past couple of years I’ve come to realize how fragile the Trail experience is. We could lose the whole damn thing if were not careful. I mean, in 25 years, the A.T. will still exist BUT the kind of experiences that are available on the Trail could easily and irrevocably be limited through the actions of the people who love the trail the most. I don’t think most visitors know how close we are to that cliff’s edge.
MTX: Tell us one of your favorite stories from the years you have worked for the ATC:
Andy: I’ve told the story of the closest I’ve ever been to a bear a few times (which is very, very close) so maybe I’ll tell the story of the New River Relocation. I’d heard about this relocation since the first day I started with ATC, it had been on the books for about 25 years. It was the last major section of the entire Trail that was not protected, required land acquisition and about 6 miles of trail relocation. Along with the Rocky Fork project (which is another great story), the New River Relo was one of the last of the original big relocations.
About a month after taking the Regional Director job in Virginia, the word came down that the land owner, in this case the Celanese Corporation in Pearisburg, VA (yes, that factory) finally wanted to talk about providing an easement over their land for the long-preferred route up to Rice Fields. The catch was that we had to flag, clear and build about 3 miles of trail in just less than two months. I think volunteers came from around the state to help out on that project and the moment that sticks out to me was when all-star volunteer Trudy Phillips showed everyone the tuff stuff that she is made from. At the end of a hard summer day of clearing brush and trees from the trail route, at about 4pm, a group of guys sat on a log and started to take their gloves off. Trudy, at about 5 foot 1 and roughly 85 pounds immediately popped out of the woods in full chainsaw regalia – chaps, hardhat, long sleeves, earmuffs and went down the line like a General on a battle field, willing these tuckered out senior citizens onto their feet for one more shift. She banged her hands together and shouted, coercing every last ounce of energy out of the crew. The sight of Trudy, after she’d run a chainsaw all day in the 90 degree heat marching down the front lines and pulling the crew back into the woods for one more push will always stick with me.
We finished that relocation and, although it’s not the prettiest section of the trail, no one can put a fence across it and shut down the whole thing.
Mountian Crossings would like to extend a HUGE thanks to Andy Downs, the Regional Director for the Central and Southwest Virginia Regional Office for agreeing to help out with this blog post and taking time out of his day to participate! We would also like to thank ALL staff at the ATC, ALL the members who keep making contributions, ALL the ATC volunteers and ALL the trail crews and clubs to help maintain and protect the AT as we know it! THANK YOU!
You would nearly have to be living in outer space to have not heard the news of the upcoming solar eclipse that will be passing right over the southeast! On Monday, August 21st, the skies will go dark for just a few minutes in the early afternoon as the moon passes over the sun in the first total solar eclipse to cross the entire United States since 1918. The eclipse of August 21st will begin its journey over the U.S. in the north west corner of the country and pass by down through the south east and Mountain Crossings is directly in the line of the Total Solar Eclipse! Join us for the spectacular event!
We will begin at 12pm on Monday, August 21st, by grilling hot dogs for lunch. There will be fun for the kiddos and music playing for all to enjoy. The eclipse will take place fully at 2:35pm in the Blairsville area and will last for 2 minutes and 40 seconds. We will all be crowding the over looks and the parking lot at Mountain Crossings to get a good look! We will provide eclipse glasses for a small donation so that everyone can safely view the sun as the moon passes by it and makes the sky go dark. There will also be commemorative stickers and mugs while supplies last!
See what the Eclipse will look at where you will be! Use this Eclipse Simulator to input your location and get a preview of the eclipse in your area. The image below shows what Blairsville will see.
Fun Eclipse Facts:
- During a total solar eclipse, the shadow of the moon on the Earth is relatively small. The Earth typically continues to receive 92% of the usual sunlight it sees.
- It is very dangerous to attempt to view an eclipse without proper eye protection. Even just a few seconds spent staring directly into the sun can damage the retina of the eye from the visible and invisible radiation of the sun. The retina does not feel pain and damage can take hours to take effect, meaning you have no way of knowing you are damaging the retina until it is too late.
- It is safe to view a solar eclipse with out eye protection during Totality. This is when the moon is completely covering the sun and only a ring of light is illuminating the diameter of the moon.
- Regular sunglasses are not appropriate for viewing a solar eclipse. Eclipse specific glasses a required to remain safe, as these glasses are specially made to filter out the harmful radiation of the sun.
- Total solar eclipses occur somewhere on the planet about once ever 18 months on average. On the other hand, they occur at one given place only every 360 to 410 years!
- A total solar eclipse can only last for up to a few minutes because the moon is moving at a rate of approximately 1700km/h past the sun.
- The eclipse on August 21st will only be visible in totality through a narrow 70 mile corridor.
- The eclipse will be visible in totality only in 14 states, but it will be partially visible from many more states.