Summer solstice: How to spend the ultimate 16 hours of daylight

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

On Friday, North Idaho will experience 16 hours, five minutes and 18 seconds of daylight. It marks the summer solstice, also known as the official start to summer in the Earth’s northern hemisphere and longest stretch of daylight we’ll experience during the calendar year. This happens due to the Earth’s tilt — on June 21, the North Pole will be at its maximum tilt toward the sun.

This is all fine and dandy, but how can one take full advantage of such a momentous occasion?

Drive from Sandpoint to Yellowstone Park, watch Old Faithful erupt once, then drive home

It takes about 7.5 hours to get from Sandpoint to Yellowstone National Park. Hit the road at sunrise, take in the entirety of western Montana and witness one of America’s most beloved geyser features, because why the hell not? This suggestion does come with a couple of disclaimers, however. For one, there will not — I repeat, will not — be time for bathroom breaks. And secondly, even Old Faithful is only so faithful. The geyser does her thing every 44 to 125 minutes, so here’s hoping she doesn’t wait too long once you arrive, or else you’ll be getting home in the dark. And what an insult that would be to the spirit of the summer solstice.

Teach yourself to knit, then get seriously ahead on Christmas presents

I learned to knit a few years ago, and now every time I attempt to re-teach myself it takes at least two hours. Still, I occasionally get roped back into the almost therapeutic rhythm of wrapping and pulling yarn over and over. It always seems like a good idea to put this skill to use for practical purposes like Christmas gifts, and what better time to kick that goal into high gear than in the nearly endless sunshine of June 21? Let’s say two hours of learning plus 14 hours of knitting means, for a beginner, that by day’s end you have … maybe a scarf? But if you’re looking to get into the pot-holder business, summer solstice could be a seriously lucrative day for you.

Watch all extended editions of the “Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy, then hike the Mickinnick Trail

According to a random man on the internet who clearly has great taste in movies and far too much time on his hands, the three extended-cut versions of the LOTR trilogy total 11 hours, 23 minutes and 59 seconds. Tolkien’s tale of daring bravery and unyielding friendship is sure to kick off an excellent summer solstice, but what to do with the remaining 4.5 hours of daylight? I believe it’s only fair we pay tribute to Frodo and Sam’s trek to dispose of the Ring by experiencing a grueling trek ourselves — to the top of Mickinnick Trail. Melodramatic? Maybe. But that trail has kicked my butt pretty thoroughly, and provided some of the most satisfying views. As satisfying as saving Middle-earth? Maybe not, but I imagine watching the sun set over the lake might be a close second. 

Regardless as to how we all spend our summer solstice this year, be sure to take a moment to savor the sunlight. It’s hard to believe, but from Friday forward, we’ll be losing a few seconds of light each day. I plan to get a little work done, walk the dog and hopefully put my feet in a chilly body of water. It might not be as epic as the aforementioned suggestions, but I’m looking forward to it.

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