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Eclipse Adventures at Lake Champlain

By Henry Fisher | April 15, 2024

Something we appreciate in the Albany Student Press is looking back into our own archives and seeing how the paper has preserved key moments of UAlbany’s history. In this travel log, I’ll be going over our journey, preserving a historic event for Upstate New York. Last Monday, April 8, my friend Cesar and I traveled north to Lake Champlain for the solar eclipse’s zone of totality. To quote what many who got to see the total eclipse said, it truly was an experience unlike any other. 

Total solar eclipse over Ausable Point, Peru, NY on April 8, 2024. Venus shines just below the eclipse.

Photo Credit: Henry Fisher / The ASP

Part 1: The Plan

Realizing that the path of totality, the zone in which observers could see the total solar eclipse, was only an hour and a half north of Albany, I started looking at the different towns of the Adirondacks, hoping to choose something that was a reasonable distance away. Cesar and I settled on Westport, NY, a town about an hour and 45 minutes away right on Lake Champlain. Personally, I was hoping to get a view of the eclipse over the water. 

By the caption on the first image, it should be obvious that that did not happen. When I checked the weather on Monday morning, the forecast had changed – Westport now looked like it was going to have clouds. Already planning on leaving far earlier than we thought necessary, we made the decision to head for clearer skies by Plattsburgh. 

The journey itself was not terribly complicated: we went up the Northway from Albany until we reached Keeseville, where we would hop on Route 9 and head north until we reached a good spot to watch the eclipse. Despite leaving five hours ahead for our two and a half hour drive, the eclipse traffic would turn out to be no joke. 

Part 2: On the Road

Traffic building up on the Northway. 

Photo Credit: Cesar Martinez

At around 9:50 on Monday morning, I picked up Cesar and we hopped on the highway for our journey into the Adirondack Region. It wasn’t long after that we hit our first wave of traffic, starting at about 10:10. While not quite standstill, it was consistent, lasting for large stretches of time before briefly opening up. Around 10:40 at Fortsville, a town between Saratoga Springs and Glens Falls, traffic really started piling up – slowing our progress significantly.

Part 3: Schroon River Detour

Schroon River and snowy shores.

Photo Credit: Cesar Martinez

Our secret, third companion (the GPS) recommended that we bypass traffic by taking Schroon River Road, which we did at 11:50. While we were not the only to do so, it did help us get around a significant portion of the build-up. By this point, we were getting into the sparse, mountainous parts of northern New York State. 

While it hadn’t been too long since Albany got its fair share of snow, we were still surprised to see it on the ground, clinging to the shores of the Schroon River. Passing by the town of Schroon Lake, we officially entered the zone of totality. Regardless of if we made it to Keeseville and our final destination on Lake Champlain, we now knew we could catch a glimpse of the rare astronomical event. 

Back on the highway, we returned to traffic, but it soon cleared up. By 12:30 it was smooth sailing north to Keeseville. 

Part 4: Adirondack Highway

A mountain standing alongside the Northway.

Photo Credit: Cesar Martinez

This part of our drive was, thankfully, uneventful and traffic-free. The mountains continued to rise alongside us, and we got to enjoy the day with windows down and loud tunes. Something that did become more frequent were the phone alerts, warning travelers against parking on shoulders to keep them clear for emergency services. 

At 1:00, we made our exit to Keeseville, closing in on our final spot on Lake Champlain – a spot we would still have to find. 

Part 5: Keeseville

Keeseville Stewart’s Shops’ parking lot.

Photo Credit: Henry Fisher / The ASP

We briefly parked at a gas station alongside the highway, but the bathroom line dissuaded us. Instead, we turned to the greatest set of stores in NY: Stewart’s. We arrived at around 1:30, and the line for the bathroom was thankfully shorter. The store quickly filled with sightseers on their way to watch the eclipse. Some had even set up in the Stewart’s parking lot, ready with their eclipse glasses.

We grabbed some snacks (and a milkshake), fueled up the car, and got onto Route 9 – hoping to find somewhere on Lake Champlain to watch. 

On the road we passed by Ausable Chasm, a large gorge on the Ausable River. Many had gathered there for the eclipse, and while we thought about joining them, we continued on towards Lake Champlain. We did decide that we would return to the chasm after the eclipse, a little bonus adventure after our main one. 

Part 6: Lunch at Ausable Point

Our car on the Lake Champlain shore, the mountains of Vermont in the distance. 

Photo Credit: Henry Fisher / The ASP

At 1:55, we arrived at Ausable Point, a campground at the mouth of the Ausable River that stuck out into Lake Champlain. We parked the car and ate our Stewart’s lunch, enjoying the views of the lake around us. Finishing up, Cesar and I started walking towards the end of the peninsula to find the perfect spot. 

Partial solar eclipse with minimal coverage, taken 2:17 p.m. with a camera filter.

Photo Credit: Henry Fisher / The ASP

By the time we started walking, the eclipse had started. Looking up with our eclipse glasses, we could see a tiny bite had been taken out of the sun. There was still plenty of time to find a good spot, but time was ticking by. About halfway down the peninsula we found a large gathering of people on the roadway between Lake Champlain and a marsh. 

We considered moving further down the peninsula to try and see Burlington, but settled in with our fellow eclipse watchers. 

A crowd gathered beside the road at Ausable Point. 

Photo Credit: Henry Fisher / The ASP

Part 7: Partial Eclipse

Partial solar eclipse, taken at 2:40 p.m. with camera filter.

Photo Credit: Henry Fisher / The ASP

All that was left to do was wait and watch as the moon covered more and more of the sun. Just sitting there, I could tell why the glasses were necessary – the sun felt extremely intense. While it could have been the clear skies after so long in cloudy Albany, it seemed like that effect increased as the eclipse continued. 

I was growing frustrated with my old method of taking pictures, holding up my eclipse glasses over the camera lens, so I grabbed an extra pair and took out the filter to better cover the camera. Cesar had to help by actually pressing the button to take the picture, but it worked. 

Partial solar eclipse, taken at 2:48 p.m. with camera filter.

Photo Credit: Henry Fisher / The ASP

Near total solar eclipse, taken at 3:18 p.m. with camera filter.

Photo Credit: Henry Fisher / The ASP

As the sun grew more and more covered, little seemed to change outside of what we saw through our glasses. 

Part 8: Total Eclipse

Near total solar eclipse, taken at 3:27 p.m. with minimal exposure.

Photo Credit: Cesar Martinez

The total eclipse started quicker than I would have expected, though the air grew colder the closer we grew to it. Cheers erupted around us as the sky darkened and sunlight could only be seen at the thin halo surrounding the moon. Our pictures don’t truly do what we saw justice, but they come somewhat close.

All around us was a sunset that seemed to wrap across the horizon, an orange glow in every direction. One of the most surprising things about the eclipse was being able to see both Venus and a small part of what we believed was the Taurus constellation. Being as far north as we were, the total eclipse lasted about three minutes and 30 seconds. 

Total solar eclipse at Ausable Point with both the crowd and Venus visible. 

Photo Credit: Henry Fisher / The ASP

Though I have tried, there’s not much I can say to truly capture the total solar eclipse. Cesar and I stood with dumb smiles on our faces, taking it all in. Those three minutes in totality made the entire trip worth it. Just as quickly as it started, the total eclipse ended, warmth and light returning to Ausable Point. 

We stayed briefly to watch as the moon retreated across the sun, but decided to start our drive back. 

Part 9: Ausable Chasm

Rainbow Falls at Ausable Chasm. 

Photo Credit: Henry Fisher / The ASP

At around 4:00, we stopped at Ausable Chasm. While the trails around the falls and the gorge were closed, we walked over the bridge and past the visitor’s center – enjoying the natural beauty of northern NY. Here we observed the end of the partial eclipse and started on our way back home. 

Ausable Chasm, lit up during the last moments of the partial solar eclipse. 

Photo Credit: Henry Fisher / The ASP

Part 10: Ticonderoga and the Journey Home

The historic Community Building in Ticonderoga, NY.

Photo Credit: Henry Fisher / The ASP

The journey back to Albany was much worse than the journey there. Over the course of an hour back on the Northway, we had moved maybe 10 miles. Both Cesar and I were getting hungry, so we turned at the first exit with a food sign. That food sign led us on a 20 minute detour through Severance, Paradox, and finally back to Lake Champlain where we tried (and failed) to find food in Ticonderoga. 

Defeated, we left Ticonderoga at 7:20 p.m., resolving to eat once we reached Clifton Park, a little north of Albany. Traveling through traffic along Lake George, we got back on the highway with 50 of our 110 miles to go. Despite going around much of the Northway, the traffic remained for the rest of our journey. While 50 miles of traffic may sound like fun to the sadistic, it most certainly was not. 

After a quick stop in Clifton Park for a victory dinner, we continued on to Albany – finally arriving back at the University at Albany at 10:15. It had been a long day of travel, but both Cesar and I agreed that it had been well worth it.


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