“Mixed feelings” sums it up well.
I traveled to Gorges State Park in Sapphire, North Carolina (KFF-2732) to view the total solar eclipse and to participate in the Solar Eclipse QSO Party (SEQP). I brought my radio gear and a camera with a 500mm telephoto lens.
As I set up the gear and waited for the eclipse to begin, skies were clear and the air was crisp. This was in line with the forecast that solidified my site choice. I worked 15 stations on 20m SSB and left the rig in CW beacon mode for a little while, looking to confirm that I was making it into the Reverse Beacon Network.
As the partial eclipse began, I found myself focusing on my camera and ignoring my radio. Soon after, clouds filled the sky, eventually obscuring the sun. It looked like it was going to rain, so I put the radio safely away and brought down my antenna. I’m glad I did, because it rained, hard.
The rain and clouds lingered until after totality passed us. I had great ‘neighbors’ and the scenery was beautiful, but I was incredibly disappointed after months of research and meticulous planning. I think my fatal mistake was choosing a location where I was stuck. I was up a slow-moving mountain road and had no way to quickly egress in search of clearer skies. Next time – in 2024 – I’ll be somewhere flat and open.