LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN — At about 7,000 feet above sea level, the view from Lookout Mountain is stunning. On Monday morning, Isabel Spradlin and her brother, Tony Spradlin, will likely only have to share the vast summit with a few other people as they watch the moon pass in front of the sun, casting a large shadow on an expansive piece of Oregon wilderness.
“(I wanted) to not be in a crowd, and I wanted to be as high up on a ridge as possible,” said Isabel Spradlin, 37.
The two were the only ones who had backpacked up from the trailhead in the Ochoco National Forest by Friday afternoon.
Their campsite about a mile up the trail left them just 3 miles from the summit — close enough for a quick hike early Monday morning.
The two were among a handful of people who set out late in the workweek with the hopes of viewing the eclipse away from the masses. Oregon is expecting around 1 million visitors to visit the state for the eclipse, which would draw more tourists than any other event in state history.
Isabel Spradlin, a massage therapist in Portland, was eager. She is an avid hiker and has always wanted to see a full solar eclipse. For company, she roped in her little brother, who begrudgingly agreed.
“I have no interest in the eclipse,” said Tony Spradlin, a 36-year-old flight attendant. “This is just my first time camping and my sister is teaching me how to do it.”
He may be a novice, but he is in good hands. Isabel Spradlin did the journey a few weeks ago to scout it. “I didn’t want to end up without visibility or camping,” she said.
While the two had the top of the mountain to themselves, a few other groups remained below. Tyler Harris, 45, drove his family out from Beaverton. They were camped at the trailhead after traffic stretched the drive to 10 hours.
“I saw a partial eclipse when I was a young boy in Florida,” Harris said of his interest. “My wife is a science teacher, so it’s a big nerd-out for her.”
Harris said he trekked up to the summit Thursday to scope it out but decided he and his family will skip the 8-mile hike to the top and back and settle for viewing the eclipse in a gap between some trees near the campsite.
Lynne and Jim Philson, 57 and 70, respectively, plan to view the eclipse between mountain bike rides. They traveled from San Francisco and were staying in a campground west of the mountain, but plan to ride up early Monday morning, view the eclipse, then fly down the hill and get in their car before traffic from the nearby music festival starts up.
“This is sort of an excuse to go out and bike,” Jim Philson said.
Mary Beth Forteza, Lucas Buckman and Peter Lancaster, all 27, also came up from the San Francisco Bay Area; Forteza and Lancaster from Oakland and Buckman from Berkeley. Forteza is a “professional fairy” — meaning she dresses as a fairy for events such as children’s birthday parties — while Buckman sells books and Lancaster is a graphic designer.
Forteza proposed the idea of going to view the eclipse, and the trip to Lookout Mountain was the entire group’s first time in Oregon, and they were enjoying seeing the state. Forteza said she has always been into celestial events, and has for years had a poster showing all of the eclipse paths in the United States. She was excited for a chance to see it in person.
Lancaster picked the place after looking on backpacking websites. On Friday, they said they were planning to further explore the mountain to find the best location to view the eclipse.
None of those on the mountain knew they were driving the route to the massive Symbiosis festival a couple of miles farther down the road, and all were shocked at the hours and hours they had to spend in traffic. Ironically, the traffic likely scared others away and is what provided them the solitude they sought in the first place.
And the lengthy journey should pay off Monday, as the view from the summit of Lookout Mountain towers over the surrounding landscape, providing miles and miles of unobstructed viewing from all angles.
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