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July 30, 2011

Night Photography

Over the years I've been annoyed and amused by all the people who try to take snapshot photos at night. I've always assumed they were wasting time, and in years past, film. But never actually seen any results. I'm finally remembering that I now do carry around a camera, and so one night recently decided to see exactly what some of those photos might look like.

First is a backlit Sawmill eruption without a flash. Except for the moon and its reflection, the view is pretty much black. A similar photo taken from the other direction (as much as the boardwalk allows), was completely black.

Here's the result of turning the flash on. Just as useless, as all I've done is illuminate all the steam and fog that is normally invisible in the dark.

This is a photo of Penta's cone and vents. The hard part is aiming, as until the flash, the screen just shows a black rectangle. But local details are visible, but notice also how the background is already turning into a lighter version of the Sawmill eruption photo.

So it is possible to take close-up photos of features at night, but unless it is to document something weird or unusual, there's not much point.

July 26, 2011

Radio Rant

Time for the annual radio rant.

The use of radios in the Upper Basin is broken. Here are some of the problems, and even some ideas for solutions.

First is that some people just need to realize that you can't always broadcast in your own speaking voice. Sometimes you've got to speak up to be heard. If you are broadcasting and can't be heard, you are wasting everybody's time and batteries, including your own. It's frustrating to have the radio adjusted so that most people's broadcasts are at a reasonable volume, then not be able to hear calls because some people insist on not speaking up.

The worst part is that even after they've been told that they can't be heard, these people do not make any effort to change their habits. It's inconsiderate on their part, unless their goal to to talk into a box and every time they do, they have people call back asking what they'd just said.

A similar problem is poor reporting. If you are going to start calling out activity at Fan & Mortar (or Giant, should it ever wake up), you've got to follow through. People are making decisions on whether or not they are headed down based on your calls. Long periods of radio silence are worse than too much information. Silence makes one wonder what is going on, or if that just means the opportunity has passed.

A few years ago I pointed out that just calling Beehive's Indicator at the start was not enough. A person could miss the first call, and end up not seeing Beehive. (I speak from experience, as that was prompted by having missed a call by being in the shower.) The simple remedy is to announce that the Indicator was "ie" at about 5 minute intervals. Most people are doing that these days, and it's nice to hear.

Also, is it really necessary to yell out geyser times at the exact moment the eruption begins? A couple of times these past few weeks I've heard people have to retract their calls when it turns out that Oblong or Depression or Aurum wasn't really starting. And misidentification is inexcusable. You can wait a few moments to be sure that the steam cloud you see is Riverside start, and not a Grand that erupted two hours ago.

Another problem is early morning radio calls. There are people who want to get up in the night, or early morning, for Beehive or Fan & Mortar (or Giant or Giantess…). They leave their radios on at night, for those possibilities. But they don't care about Riverside or Daisy or Plume or Old Faithful. Or most of all, requests to "switch to five". The rule of thumb should be that until 07:00 or so, the only announcements should be those that would cause people to change their day, or to see something erupt.

It's scary, but by that criteria, Oblong and Fountain might qualify…) But if that's what people find useful.

And now we come the the real problem: The National Park Service and its Visitor Education Center [sic] personnel.

Here's what usually happens: Someone shouts out a geyser time. A few moments later comes a call from the Cathedral asking for a repeat of what was just said. If lucky, they'd understand the first response, but far too often they'll say the response was garbled or unreadable or they'll repeat back the wrong information, thus starting the cycle again. So what started as yelling into the aether turns into an Abbott and Costello routine.

Sometimes they don't acknowledge, and then a half hour later you get a request for information about Daisy, or Riverside, or Grand. This will start an exchange as before. Or, they'll hear some body ask about a geyser, and interpret that as an eruption call, again setting off a cascade of back-and-forth.

Add into all this the reported attitude that those managing the Cathedral (the rectors?) really don't care about the geysers, and if reports are accurate, believe that they don't really need anyone other than paid staff to do a good job. Why do people want to tolerate or enable such an attitude to continue?

The solution is simple. The Cathedral should have its own channel. Any information for them would be sent on that channel. Ideally, one would ask for their attention, get it, and then give them the geyser eruption time or info.

If their book doesn't have a Daisy time, the the reason is either a) they didn't answer the attempts to give it to them b) it hasn't erupted yet, or c) no one saw it.

People could still shout into the current channel at the very start, but they'd do so knowing that they should not get any response. No longer would that have to ask what's going one after every trivial broadcast of "switch to five". It would be true that reporting information would not be as free and easy anymore, and would require a little more effort, and that's going to be the excuse for most people not doing something like this.

If the radio situation got cleaned up, I might even participate beyond announcements of F&M in the middle of the dark.

July 24, 2011

Observations for 23 July

The anticipated short Grand interval didn't materialize. Hard to tell, but appeared that Rift had erupted earlier, and Grand was going to wait until West Triplet recovered or ten hours had elapsed. It wasn't until about the nine hour mark that Grand finally had what appeared to be an attempt to erupt, or at least get into an eruptive mode. After that it was alternating short and long Turban eruptions for over an hour until it finally did erupt.

Came out of the Lower Ham's Store parking lot on the Beehive Indicator call and had to change direction due to a pair of bison right next to the road. The Beehive eruption waited, of course, for the dead calm to end and there to be just enough breeze to douse all the people waiting on the boardwalk by Plume. But not enough breeze to seriously affect the height of the column.

After a couple of false alarms, finally had a real Fan & Mortar event around noontime. The activity looked good until the Angle Vent started, and that's when it became obvious that wearing the rainwear was being overdressed.

After that was another Grand wait, another one of those where every Turban interval is the same because the system is waiting for the West Triplet eruption. It appears the window extends to the first Turban eruption after West Triplet ends, as that's what happened again today. The eruption itself was a two burst. The wind direction helped emphasize the size of the early Vent eruption, keeping Grand and Turban's steam from obscuring the height of the water plume.

One feature of Grand's eruptions that I've noticed is that starting around the eight minute mark, Grand will have slowdowns as if it's about to quit, or even pause just long enough to make it look that's what's happening. The water only boils up 3 or 4 meters during that time, then when you expect the bursting to stop, we get a explosive rocketing of a slender jet. If seen several eruptions with two of these slowing, implying that the one burst Grand could have easily been a three burst Grand if only the system had a little less energy. This afternoon's eruption had the slowdown, and then actually did quit.

I'd decided to turn off the radio at 20:00 so I could get a good night's sleep, so of course the call about a Fan & Mortar event comes over at 19:45. Oh, well. Went down to see a nice double pause with lots of Main Vent splashing and then strong play from Fan. But nothing much came of it, and got back just as it was getting dark.

Paul Strasser suggested that the reason there's no longer bison meat loaf on the Lodge menu is because drivers haven't provided enough road kill.

July 23, 2011

Observations for 22 July

After several relatively short intervals, decided that I'd better get out earlier than I might have a day or so ago. Turned out that I didn't need to, but Grand still had an interval of a little over 8 hours, which for most of this trip would be considered a short.

I arrived to find that Sawmill had finally erupted, as its formations were wet. After dumping my pack and heading back, I found Uncertain in eruption, which confirmed that the group was in a Deep Drain mode.

West Triplet started about the time Grand had what could have been a Vent type delay. Which meant that there was a good chance that it could erupt in two Turban intervals, about the time West Triplet would end. Which is what happened. By then the moon had risen, and a breeze had come up,so the start of the one-burst eruption was nicely backlit. West Triplet quit a few minutes into the eruption, too, with no Rift accompaniment.

During the wait I got to hear lots of noise coming from drunken louts over in the Gov't Area, They were so loud, along with musical noise, that they sometimes made it difficult to hear the thermal features. I could even hear them during Grand's eruption. At least they kept the stupidity out of the basin.

Came back out with the possibility of another shorter interval only to find Rift early in an eruption. So we got the one-burst eruption about four hours later than I'd liked. But during the wait got to see a couple of distant Churn eruptions, and another eruption of Bulger's Hole.

The Hole now slurps when it drains after a fill, even if it doesn't erupt. The eruptions themselves seem to be getting stronger and throwing around a lot more rocks, now that they don't have to hit up against the bridge. And the increased power and water means more gravel and debris are being washed in from along the edge. Since they are obviously related, and since there's no discharge of the milky white water from the Hole, surprised that Bulger shows no sign of any water discoloration. Perhaps it's there but we just can't see it.

There were a couple of minor Fan & Mortar events during the day, but nothing much came of them. After the second, caught Beehive on the way back from the railing above Tilt.

Went to the evening Grand early, as I didn't quite trust it to not have a short interval following the long one this morning. Was quite windy, making what should have been a warm wait distinctly chilly. Saw a series of uninspiring Turban eruptions on longer (21m) intervals until West Triplet. For two more Turbans, nothing much to get excited about. Then, right after West Triplet ended, we got an early fill that stayed up and kept building to heavy waves flooding out in all directions. But no Vent overflow as Grand started yet another one-burst eruption. Twice, around the seven and the nine minute marks, Grand slowed enough to make it seem like it might stop, but then after some "Big Tardy", it surged as if a new burst had started. At least with the low sun, and the wind pushing the steam up the hillside, was pretty. The start of Vent, for example, was not wrapped in steam as it usually is, which made it even more impressive.

It appears that "food storage" isn't taken seriously anymore. These people have been here most of the week and I see all this stuff strewn about every morning.

July 22, 2011

Observations for 21 July

Heading out to Grand was interrupted twice. First, Beehive started to erupt just as I got to the front of the Inn. So took a few minutes to watch and listen to it by moonlight. Late in that eruption Castle started, which meant I got rained on between the bike rack and Crested.

Since that wasn't a minor eruption, it also looks like we are going to get at least one more synchronized eruption of the two this afternoon.

The wait for Grand was uneventful. West Triplet was high enough to erupt, but didn't. Even after Grand's one burst eruption.WIthout a breeze, got another one of those starts where the water column outraces the growing steam cloud at its base.

Also encountered the coyote in front of the Inn on my way back. Also below Crested encounter a couple of people who were headed out, to what, I don't know, as Castle and Grand had already erupted. (And there was another light over by Liberty Pool.) Only thing I can think of is that they interpreted the center time of Grand's window as the time to be out there.

So six hours later I wasn't just killing time in the parking lot at the Lower Ham's Store. There was no reason to be headed out. Except that's when the call that Grand had started erupting with an interval of 6h04m. Got out there in plenty of time to watch a 11-1/2 minute one burst eruption.

Following that, did see Bulger's Hole fill with water during a Bulger major eruption, but no eruption from the hole. The Sawmill Group was just ending a Tardy cycle, so decided that since I had nothing much better to do, I'd go back out in a bit and watch for Penta. After 1.5 hours of nothing much happening during the next cycle except heavy convection in Penta. At least on the way in I got to see an eruption of Tilt, and even recorded the whole thing.

Beehive broke the lock it was appearing to have with Castle by having a 12-1/2 hour interval. With the strong shifting winds, it was also a soggy eruption.

When I went out for the evening, it appeared that we'd still had neither an eruption of Sawmill nor Penta since I was last out. Got a major from Bulger, but no fill in the Hole. Grand had a sort of repeat of last night, where Vent came up and dropped, but this time the 11m15s eruption started only about a minute after Turban. And during the eruption, we had a Churn eruption, which signaled the end of another Sawmill cycle.

After both of today's daylight eruptions, Vent and Turban paused for about 20 minutes, which is the longer of the three modes. Interesting to see what happens tonight, since that and a two hour Rift eruption seemed to not prevent a 7h16m interval.

July 21, 2011

Observations for 20 July

In the early morning hours there was a bright moon and enough breeze to keep the mosquitoes away. For the first time this trip the benches weren't dripping, despite all the storms of the day before.

After dumping my pack at Grand and getting the first Turban eruption, I intended to go watch Sawmill by moonlight for a while. After I passed Bulger the activity just stopped. It seems to do that a lot.

Also for once Grand took advantage of the start of an eruption of West Triplet to start erupting instead of delaying for three hours. From my vantage point, it was nicely backlit by the moon. Unfortunately, there wasn't a second burst.

The next morning it felt like September arrived early. It was cool and blustery, thanks to a cold front that had moved through since I'd last been out. As with the previous eruption, Grand took advantage West Triplet and erupted shortly after it quit. This was a two burst eruption, and with the breeze blowing to the north and backlighting by the sun, was another nice view.

Bulger's Hole Bulger's Hole

Bulger's Hole morning and evening
It was still cold and blustery in the early evening when it was time for the next Grand. Came out to find Rift well into an eruption, and spent the next few hours with desultory Turban eruptions. Penta did have an eruption during that time, as well as Bulger's Hole. I didn't get over there to see it because of the unusually large crowd packing the benches. But this was the eruption that finally destroyed the bridge.

Turban finally had an eruption that signaled that Grand would be really to erupt in a Turban eruption or three. Three later, the pool looked okay, and Vent started to overflow then dropped, along with a drop in Grand. Usually this signals a two to four Turban delay, and I decided that maybe I should take advantage of that by making a gas station run. As I walked away, I noticed that Grand's pool had refilled. Scuttled back to the bench and saw a noisy, powerful Turban well into its third minute as Grand began having waves. Grand finally erupted (and Vent overflowed again) at 3m28s into Turban's activity.

Of course Vent started almost immediately, as its start time is related to Turban more than Grand. But then Grand quit at the 7m33s, which gave us a nice three burst eruption.

At the Lodge they no longer sell bison meat loaf in the cafeteria. "Meatloaf" seems like a good name for the annoying bison that hangs around the various trails.

July 20, 2011

Observations for 19 July

From in front of the Lodge, there seemed to be quite a bit of steam in the direction of Grand. Since I'd decided to add in an extra half hour of sleep, that meant I might have missed the eruption. Things didn't look any better as I tied my bike up at Castle. But As I came up from the bridge it became obvious that all the steam was from Rift and West Triplet both erupting. That was a sort of relief.

As it turned out, West Triplet ended almost immediately, and then I was surprised by Rift quitting within 20 minutes. And unusually short eruption. but unfortunately, it didn't result in a Grand eruption interval that was any shorter than usual.

It was dead calm, so the mosquitoes were annoying, despite the early morning cold. But that also meant that Grand's steam cloud went straight up during the eruption, just like those down basin from eruptions of Daisy and Oblong. Grand took advantage of the conditions for once, and proceeded to first quit a about 7.5 minutes, then have three bursts. After all the one bursts, was a nice change.

On the trip out to Grand, I encountered a coyote which ran across in front of me as I passed by the new Cathedral. Then out at Grand, once I'd settled in, a coyote followed the same path in front of me through Grand's runoff as on the other night. Coming back people had to contend with a bison that decided that the bike rack at the Lower Ham's Store was the perfect place to bed down..

Got the call for Beehive's Indicator as was finishing up breakfast. Since it was fairly early, there wasn't the usual crush of people, so decided to watch from multiple viewpoints. along that trail. From Blue Star, we got some nice rainbows. But between Beehive and Old Faithful is not the best place to see a concerted eruption.

At East Chinaman I noticed something that seemed unusual. The formations around the feature are a strange grayish green color, all the way to the rim. The color looks a lot like it could be some sort of slime or bacteria, or could be mineral. But except for a couple of small patches, there wasn't any of the usual orange colors. Quite a contrast to Chinaman, which was normal looking in its coloration, with the area immediately next to the vent a sinter gray and the orange only starting once the water cooled a bit.

After that it was nap time, and I awoke several hours later. Nothing much was going on until there came a call saying that there had been splash in Fan & Mortar's Main Vent. There had been no pauses or any other unusual behavior before that, and the vents looked okay but not great. Later reports were that the activity seemed to be getting stronger, then after a few minute, got a report that things had died down. At that point I had gotten myself ready to head out, but just didn't think it was worth the effort. A slight "event" at 3.5 days seems like a long-shot.

Then came the report that the vents had gained strength, and were looking good. I decided that I would hate myself if I at least didn't start making an effort to get down there. I threaded my way through the crowd gathered for an Old Faithful eruption, and then encountered a herd of Boy Scout who were all over the trail. But despite that, I made good time getting down basin, and my bike speedometer said I got up to 22.5 mph going down.

As I passed Oblong, the reports were such that I was expecting to see the start from my bike. But as I passed Grotto, there was still no eruption. I made it by about 30 seconds to spare. The High Vent was huge, but the other vents weren't as big as I'd have expected. Then the surging in Main Vent started, and the eruption was on.

The wind was all over the place. From well north of Spiteful to the bridge, no place was safe. Since I arrived with so little time to spare, I wasn't fully prepared for the eruption. My pant legs got soaked, and I resigned myself to getting dry later. Because of the wind and the lack of preparation, I also didn't try to get any photos, but there were some nice circular rainbows.

As the eruption wound down, the sky to the south-east started getting blacker. As it was the start of the Grand window, and because I didn't want go back and forth to the cabin in a rain, I headed over to Grand. The rain started as I walked over from Castle, and I was headed upstream in a continuous line of wet people headed in. I arrived in time for an eruption of West Triplet to start, but the rain didn't last long, that time.

The eruption of West Triplet lasted over 40 minutes, and as it ended, Rift started. Estimating that the earlier eruption started at 04:30, the eruption at 15:22 meant about an eleven hour interval, which is much shorter than I'm used to. Rift was still erupting over two hours later when Grand finally erupted.

That eruption took place just as another storm was threatening to douse the basin. It came on the third Turban after a Vent-type delay. After a week of no such delays, not it seems most every interval is having one. The eruption itself was unremarkable, a 10-1/2 minute one burst with Vent and Turban continuing. I took off without waiting to see the afterplay, and got back to the cabin just as the sprinkles started.

On the way back it was noted that Dome was active. Not sure what that means.

The last few days the Firehole River has dropped about a foot from where it was when I arrived last week, and it has also gone from muddy brown to clear. The level is approaching what I would consider more normal for early July.

July 19, 2011

Observations for 18 July

While the moon was out for my early morning trip, there were also high thin clouds cutting down on the light. The weather map showed some sort of storminess to the east which we'd somehow missed. But was calm (and mosquitoes out!) so was easy to hear first Oblong and then Castle finally have an eruption. That was the first in about 30 hours, and for the first ten minutes ago it acted like it was going to be another minor. The sound would completely cease for about 5 seconds, then Castle would have another noisy surge.

One thing I hadn't had so far this trip was a short nighttime Grand wait. Being out there for 3 or 4 hours is not only tiring, but usually means that I don't get as much sleep as I probably need. (Yes, sitting in the cold takes effort.). So it was a bit of a relief that I only had to wait two Turban intervals for this early morning's one burst eruption.

There was a plane circling the area, waiting for an Old Faithful eruption. At the same time, Grand began to show signs that it might erupt. As Old Faithful started, I mentioned that I hoped that Grand might hold off long enough that they'd see Grand in the rear-view mirrors (if any). And that's exactly what happened. As the plane disappeared to the north, the several minutes of waves finally resulted in Vent beginning to overflow. And given that Grand had a two burst eruption, it was an all-around nice eruption.

I really need to remember that I do have a camera with me. Otherwise I'd have a picture of the bison that walked within 20 feet of the boardwalk right after the Grand eruption. It proceeded on directly toward West Triplet, only changing course when it encounter the steam from the eruption and the water. It showed a bit of agitation from that encounter, then calmly continued on toward Spasmodic.

On the walk back, saw an eruption of Tilt for the first time this trip. (That's "Tilt Geyser", not "Tilt's Baby", by the way). Have seen the vent empty several times, so it might be fairly frequent, on the order of several times per day.

In the evening it seemed unlikely that Grand would erupt before sunset. Turns out that right about sunset West Triplet started. After that, when there still would have been quite a bit of light, there was a delay and so Grand waited two more Turban eruptions and ended up erupting just before any light was gone completely. A second burst, if it had happened, would have been hard to see.

July 18, 2011

Observations for 17 July

Grand seems to have fallen into a nice little routine. There's an attempt at erupting at around the 6.5 hour mark, then it waits the three or so hours before it's time for the next eruption of West Triplet. The resulting eruptions a one burst that's just short enough that a second burst is possible but unlikely.

At least that's what we got in the morning.

Castle's predicted time came and went, and all it did for the rest of the day was slop.

Mid-day decided that might Iwant to do the Geyser Hill death wait for this visit, and instead got Beehive's Indicator within 15 minutes. Was quite windy, and no matter where I tried to be, the wind seemed to be coming directly over Beehive. So picked a spot and hunkered down when the drops came, which was mostly in the last minute or so of the eruption.

In the evening realized that if Grand didn't go short, that would put the eruption just before sunset, which is great time for an eruption. I hadn't had one at that time of day yet. Just as long as it didn't delay so long that it was dark. Arrived to find a wet West Triplet and Penta in the middle of a long eruption. The Turban activity proceeded as usual this past week, then we got an appearance of water in Vent and a slight overlfow. Fortunately, long Vent delays are uncommon, and this one was just three Turbans. When it came time for Grand to erupt, the pool filled early and stayed up, flooding the formations. Conditions might have been a little better, as the rainbows were a bit hard to see, but definitely there.

In years past, when Grand actually had multiple bursts and one burst eruptions were rare, some of us would jokingly start yelling or asking for Grand to stop. Because we knew that the subsequent bursts were the best part of the show. This evening it was Mike Keller's daughters who were making the "stop" pleas, and they were rewarded with just that at around 9m30s. Perfect time for a second burst, which we also got.

July 17, 2011

Observations for 16 July

With Rift having erupted well before Grand, I thought that if there was any chance of an early eruption, this might be it. So headed out early, but not too early, As it turned out, with the full moon, it was an interesting night, no thanks to Grand.

When I arrived just before midnight, I was greeted by Percolator. This is the first time I've noticed Percolator unrelated to current activity by either Rift or West Triplet. It's annoying at night because it makes just enough noise to make listening for other features a bit harder. And the steady breeze didn't help the hearing situation much either. But I did hear an eruption of Old Faithful just fine, perhaps because I was downwind.

As usual, I took the first couple of Turban intervals to check out the Sawmill group. Nothing much of interest, although Sawmill was erupting, At midnight West Triplet started, but Grand show inclination to erupt with it.

So I had just settled in when I noticed a new large cloud, an eruption of Fan & Mortar had started. I'd had the radio off, but a quick check showed that no one was down there, and there are people who do leave the radio on all night.

In the other direction Bulger started an eruption. After a minute it was apparent that it was a major,and time to go down and see what sort of activity was going on in Bulger's Hole. I got there just in time to see the water start to fill, and was rewarded with a nice 3m38 long eruption by MagLite. The bridge is still intact.

I settled back in to waiting and in quick succession got eruptions Riverside, Daisy, and Churn. Then a long series of indifferent Turban eruptions, with both intervals and durations showing not variations or even hinting of any eruption possibilities. Mixed in was an Oblong, which is always impressive by moonlight by the size and height of the steam column, and its distinctive sound.

After a few hours I was suddenly not alone. I saw a small shape running across the runoff sheet between Grand and me. Got out the MagLite again, and it was a coyote quickly trotting off to the north. That's the first time I've ever encountered a coyote out there at night, and a bit surprised one would come so close to me.

It was finally time for another West Triplet eruption, well over three hours since the previous one. By this time Turban had finally shortened its intervals to about 16 minutes, and the durations were oscillating between a bit over 3 minutes and about 4-and-a-half. Turban started the eruption, and unlike several other eruptions the past few days, it was obvious that Grand was quickly going to join in.

Nice by moonlight, with the breeze pushing the steam away, it would've been a nice to finally have a second burst. (Since I arrived, there have been only a couple of two burst eruptions, one when I was distracted by Bulger's Hole.) West Triplet joined in, and I also got to get an interval on Daisy.

Also during the wait I noticed a large, noisy steamcloud down near the river at the base of Grand's middle runoff channel. In years past I remember there being active features down there, but due to its position, it's difficult to evaluate what might be going on down there.

It turned out that the West Triplet I saw start preceded a Rift eruption, so mid-day's wait was another one of those where it's just a matter of waiting for West Triplet to recover. A less than 10 hour interval, again without much to distinguish any of the Turban activity. Followed by another one burst Grand. At this point I've seen sixteen eruptions and fourteen of them have been one burst. I'm beginning to believe that in a few years I'll have seem my last multi-burst eruption.

During the three hour wait Bulger did absolutely nothing. The formations were dry and gray the whole time. Seems like a long time without even a minor. Over in the Sawmill Group there was a Tardy cycle that came and went.

Went out for the next Grand at sunset, and walked up on West Triplet in eruption and Grand in heavy overflow. The overflow turned into a delay, and West Triplet ended shortly after. Castle erupted, but it appeared that none of the crowd came over toward Grand. For the next three hours we got the usual long Grand interval.

Because it was bright from the moon, were about a dozen at around midnight, when we finally got another West Triplet. Grand showed signs of life, but Rift started at midnight. Fortunately, Grand showed that it could erupt with those other two also erupting. The evening was dead calm, and so Grand put out a nice base surge that rolled almost to the boardwalk. But that calm also meant that it was almost impossible to see the eruption, especially with al the steam being produced to the southeast. But the pause for the second burst was just enough time to clear out the worst of it on the northern side, and we got a nice, huge backlit burst. That made up for all the waiting around we'd just had.

July 16, 2011

Observations for 15 July

The morning Grand was sort of the same wait as the night before. Gtand waited for West Triplet, but this time, instead of sunset, it was the moon that set just before the eruption. (Well, the sky was so light that it didn't matter, but still…) The eruption itself was another long one burst.

A few hours later we got a Beehive with a nice wind direction for once, meaning that I didn't really need to bring the umbrella. (The difference in brightness of the sky above and below the rainbow is natural phenomena called "Alexander's Dark Band", and is because the light that should be there is forming the rainbow(s).)

The afternoon Grand eruption was all around disappointing. Instead of following the Grand eruption, it waited 6 hours. Given that the Rift eruption only lasted about an hour, it was disappointing for not only Grand to wait four more hours, but for West Triplet to start erupting right after another long one burst eruption.

Today was the first of this visit in which there wasn't even a hint of possible rain.

Was walking past Sawmill after a recent Grand eruption and heard a girl say, "it smells just like Granma's house". Which is more than I ever want to know about "granma" and her hours."

July 15, 2011

Observations for 14 July

After several relatively short intervals, with and without Rift erupting, decided that I should try to get out for the morning eruption as early as seemed reasonable. The day also looked like it would starting out just like yesterday. Except it went from one extreme to another. Grand had a delay overflow when I got out there, and then proceeded to delay close to four hours, finally erupting one hour into a Rift eruption. At least the weather was mostly dry. (We did get some droplets from a mystery cloud a couple of times.)

The evening wait was another long but eventful one. When I went out, there was a nice large gray cloud to the south. Looking at the weather maps, it appeared that it was a small cell, and the center of it was due south. So I figured that while we'd get some rain, we'd avoid the worst.

I was right about that. Most of the time it was sunny, even when raining, and there was often a nice full double rainbow.Only once did it get intense enough to be annoying.

Towards the end of the rain, suddenly there was yelping from coyotes up on the hillside behind Rift and toward solitary. The first I've heard this year. Unlike other times, this noise didn't stop, and after a bit it became apparent that they were moving down the hillside. Finally a pair appeared over in the Sawmill group, still yelping, and headed for the bridge. Which they crossed and passed on over toward the interchange. The noise continued for a good half hour. Never heard anything like that before.

The geyser activity during the wait was the usual, a Daisy and an Oblong, and the unusual, an eruption of Penta. Until the previous one I saw, this one did not last more that 45 minutes. All during the wait I never noticed any activity from Bulger, neither major or minor eruptions.

Grand itself just sort of sat there. Unlike in the morning, there were never any delays or failed attempts to erupt. West Triplet was empty the whole time, still not having recovered from the Rift eruption hours ealier. Finally when West Triplet started to show water, and once the sun had disappeared behind the ridge, was when Grand erupted.

It was another one burst, a long 12 minute one punctuated with a couple of false pauses at around the 10 and 11 minute marks. Right after the eruption, West Triplet started, and I noticed the moon rising. Time to go in.

July 14, 2011

Observations for 13 July

After the short overnight interval I thought there was a chance of another short interval. But I wasn't expecting to be in the parking lot thinking I should be heading out when Grand started. The only thing short intervals do is make it harder to get sleep. In this case, it really wasn't even worth the effort of zipping on out.

That also messed my plans, such as they were, for the day. I was expecting various waits on Grand and Beehive to be split up by an hour or two available for other things.

By the time to go out to Grand, the weather radar map showed a small cell headed this way. Sure enough, for one Turban interval we got pelted with a strong wind with lots of rain and a little bit of hail. Fortunately, the first Bulger major eruption took place before that, and during that time Bulger's Hole only filled and drained.

After the storm, we got a second Bulger major. This time the Hole did't pay around with filling and dropping,but almost immediately began bubbling. The eruption itself lasted 5 minutes, and ended a little after Bulger did. The bridge is still there, but I'll be pleasantly surprised if it lasts long.

So Grand erupted under relatively calm sunny conditions, and proceeded to give us another one burst eruption.

The weather was nice and clear with a bright moon for the next eruption. Grand had a chance for a four-Grand day, but only managed to have three intervals in just less than 24 hours. Grand had to wait for the eruption of West Triplet to finish, it appears. The Grand eruption started 2m23s after Turban. After the first couple of minutes, the steam over Grand's pool just didn't look right, even though Turban wasn't all that vigorous. The slight breeze pushed the steam away, allowing for a beautiful pair of bursts.

While waiting for Grand, saw a couple of Bulger major eruptions, but in neither case did I see any sign of even steam coming from Bulger's Hole.

July 13, 2011

Observations for 12 July

After the rain last night, I expected it to be foggy, and I was right. From what I could tell in the cabin area, it was clear and cloudless, with bright stars,. Just as I approached the front of the Lodge, I heard an eruption of Old Faithful start. I couldn't seen much in all the steam. When I dropped down the hill in front of the Inn, I was in the think of the fog. Out at Grand I could barely make out the lights of the Inn.

I arrived at Grand just in time for the end of another Rift eruption. Through the fog, I heard an eruption of Riverside, but that was as the day slowly brightened. Over at Bulger there were occasional minors. When Beehive erupted, I could hear it easily, but all I could see was a thickness int he fog over Geyser Hill.

As with yesterday, it took Grand several hours before I finally recovered from Rift. This time the one burst eruption, instead of being around 11 to 12 minutes long, didn't even reach 9 minutes.

After that, it was a bit of a surprise that by 10:30 there was a noisy storm moving in. Inside the cabin there were quite a few times that the whole cabin shook, and the echoes seemed to last close to a minute. We even lost power for several minutes. The storm took 4 hours to go though, but fortunately I was able to spend it all indoors. As the time to go out to Grand approached, the rained died down and the sky began to lighten.

Expected a short interval, but got a longer one instead. Grand waited until well after the end of an eruption of West Triplet. The only real item of interest was that Churn erupted twice during the wait.

I also think that Bulger's Hole erupted during the storm. The bridge at the front of the vent hole seems narrower, and there were rocks strewn about, including one on the end of the bridge, that I didn't remember seeing there earlier today.

Got out to Grand before midnight to discover that Rift had not only erupted, but had also finished. A good sign. The sky was mostly clear, and the few clouds didn't obscure the bright moon. In the next half hour I got to see Oblong, Daisy and Castle. The last one seemed to have attracted a sizable contingent of yelling morons, but fortunately they stayed there well into the steam phase and never came over to bother me.

After about another hour, I heard Bulger erupting, and it became apparent that this was a major. I went over and found that the Hole was filing up. Unfortunately, it never erupted. As it was now time for Turban I started heading back, and caught the start of Grand.

A steamy eruption, but clear enough that seeing Vent start was easy. A disappointing eruption, it being another one of those less than 10 minute one burst eruptions.

July 12, 2011

Observations for 11 July

Today started out as a continuation of yesterday. I decided to forego the middle of the night Grand eruption and instead catch up on sleep, Besides the night was supposed to be cloudy and I didn't relish a three hour wait in the dark. As it turned out, I wouldn't have had much wait at all.

Woke up around 06:00 and I was just starting to post the photos and report on yesterday when the call for an event at Fan & Mortar came in around 06:30. So I finished up and header over to the store parking lot to continue on down basin on the bike.

I arrived to nice, consistent activity by the High and Gold Vents. Within a few minutes the Angle vent joined in, and unlike yesterday's event, the activity did not show any sign of weakening. Instead, it steadily increased until around 07:10, by which time we had the High vent erupting to about 4 meters, continuously. By the only question was how would the eruption start.

Since my phone has video capability, I shot some shaky footage of the start. It began with extended play by Upper Mortar for about 10 seconds. Just as it looked like it might die down, Lower Mortar showed water, and at almost the same time water gushed out of Fan's Main and East vents.

Fan & Mortar Fan & Mortar

Fan & Mortar eruption, 2011 July 11
The conditions were ideal. Because of the overcast, the night wasn't as cold as it could have been, and the sun had been up long enough to remove any other chill, and to provide excellent lighting. There was absolutely no wind, and surprisingly, no mosquitoes. During the eruption I never needed to use my umbrella or raingear, and with the steam cloud going straight up, all of the rainbows were easily visible.

Following that, decided time to head out to Grand, just in case it pulled a short interval. A guess as to the eruption time based on overflow pretty much matched the time from the monitor. Except it turned out to be a long wait. One with Rift ending and Grand still not showing any signs of trying to erupt. When Grand did erupt, we got an eruption like yesterday, one nearly 12 minutes long.

During the wait we did see an eruption of Churn. Not sure why, as Sawmill was active. Bulger was having minor eruptions, but no major eruptions, and the people who watched it for all that time said that the hole never showed any signs of activity.

So after that, it was time to head in. Knowing that there wasn't much going on until evening (except for the possibility of Beehive), I took the opportunity to perform other chores, like take a nap.

To get to the Beehive eruption, one had to negotiate another bison gauntlet. This time the three of them were bedding down over by Little Squirt and Silver and Bronze, but just close enough to make me hesitate before quickly passing by. The Beehive eruption itself was well behaved for the first half, until the wind shifted. I tried to hunker down next to the railing under my umbrella, but after a bit I gave up and moved on. Rather than run the bison gauntlet a second time, I took the opportunity to walk around Geyser Hll.

The sky had clouded up by the to head out to the evening Grand. It was extremely windy, but I did get out there before the first shower started. Nothing too much, about ten minutes long with a little hail mixed in.

Grand erupted about 15 seconds before the delay would have officially started.As it was, it was just a short one burst, and I was able to head in while it was still a little light, and before the really heavy rain (and thunder and lightning) started.

The rock wall at Aurum may be intended to hide the monitor's wire, but it seems to instead call even more attention to itself. Surely a better job could be done here, and in several other places where the monitors and their wires are obvious. Of like at West Triplet, exposed.

July 11, 2011

Observations for 10 July (Part 2)

Before I got checked in, I did get to see a nice Beehive from the overlook, and Castle had another minor eruption.

So when I headed out for the evening Grand eruption, the first thing I saw when I got out to the bikerack at Castle was Rift in eruption. By the time I got over there, it was obvious that West Triplet had been quiet for a bit. This gave the false hope that the end of Rift might be soon. While waiting, Sputnik was quite active, with some of the eruptions as much as 1 meter high.

About the same time it was noticed that there were a couple of bison to the north, near the boardwalk by Wave Spring. The slowly moseyed along and one of them settled down right next to the boardwalk near Shoe Spring. This did not deter visitors from using the walkway, getting close-up pictures of the bison, and in at least one case, stepping off the boardwalk to be part of a picture. The bison, fortunately, ignored them all.

When I passed through, I also noticed that the Sawmill Group had nice high water levels, and about 45 minutes later it was noticed that Penta was in a full eruption. With Rift still going, I took the opportunity to head down to see it between Turban eruptions.

That's when things got interesting. On the way back from my second visit, I saw Bulger start After about a minute or so, it had all the indications that this was going to be a major eruption. I hadn't seen any minors before that.

It was hard to tell with the lighting, but it seemed that the amount of steam in the hole had increased, and I thought I saw water. At 3 minutes into Bulger's eruption, it was obvious that the hole was full to about 15cm below the rim. The water stayed at that level for about 30 to 45 seconds, then dropped.

About 30 seconds after that, the hole refilled, and five minutes into the Bulger eruption, the water on the left side of the hole started bursting.

Bulger's Hole Bulger's Hole

Bulger's Hole in eruption
The eruption lasted about 2 minutes. Most of the activity was forced through the small hole that has recently formed in the sinter shelf about the hole. Though there it seemed that there were thrown a number of rocks by the milky white water. The steam made it hard to tell what was going on inside the hole itself, but there were definite small bursts in the area where I first noticed the start of the eruption. Bulger itself continued to erupt for another 45 seconds or so, with a total eruption duration of 8m07s.

In the middle of all that, Turban started and was quickly followed by an eruption of Grand. While I missed the start of Turban and Vent and the end of Rift, we did get a nice second burst and an eruption of Daisy. Seemed like everything was erupting at once.

After that, I decided to stick around the Sawmill Group, to see if there might be more Bulger related activity, and to get a duration for Penta. During the second visit to Penta, I noticed that Spasmodic actually seemed higher than before, and wondered if this might be one of those very long Penta eruptions.

After 49 minutes, which seems short, Bulger had a another major eruption. Once again, after about 1.5 minutes the hole showed water for about 30-45 seconds, drained and refilled. This time though, there was no eruption.

But there was an eruption of Churn. Again, not surprising with the long Penta duration, which at this point had been erupting for about 90 minutes. All of the features in the Sawmill Group were high. Oval was having periodic pulsations, and Sawmill was bubbling nicely in a high pool.

There was a second Churn 27 minutes later, and about 4 minutes after a kind of false start where Churn bubbled and surge up to 0.5 meter for about 15 seconds.

By that time Penta had been erupting for over two hours. The bugs were starting to get nasty, and it had been a long day, and I decided that Penta could quit on its own, so I headed in.

At Penta before Grand I got to see the naturalist who seems to be this year's Dixy. There several people sitting along the boardwalk, with their feet on the old paving stones, watching the eruption, as we have all done at some time or another. He requested that they stop doing that. Next, he went on down to Grand, and seemed to be studiously avoiding notice of the bison to the north. Finally he couldn't ignore it any longer, and went up there to keep an eye on things.

After the Grand eruption, the bison were on the move again. Since the bison were wandering near the boardwalk, he kept herding all the people there toward Sawmill, instead of just waiting calmly for them to pass. The bison just followed their usual path at the base of the hillside. The last I saw of them they went behind Spasmodic and headed into that swamp. Dixy hung around for a while, then followed them toward Geyser Hill.

July 10, 2011

Observations for 10 July (Part 1)

I got through Pinedale with about 4 minutes to spare.

Never have really cared for coming in from the South Entrance, so decided to try something different this trip. Even though it would be longer drive, come in via US 191, go over Teton Pass and then head for Ashton via state routes in Idaho. Encountered new and different things because of that.

Only active construction was on the the whole portion of US 20 in Montana, all 12 miles of it. Even though they were striping the lanes on a Saturday afternoon, were using pilot cars and letting traffic stack up (almost a mile long line westbound.) On one stretch of 191 were replacing large culverts under the highway and routing traffic on temporary diversions.

But the real fun began when I approached downtown Pinedale. Suddenly the streets were lined with people and there were old horsedrawn wagons and other paraphernalia. On a side street I noticed what  looked like a rendevouz of mountain men. Suddenly realized that there must be a parade today. The time was 10:56, and right after I got through the gauntlet, I noticed in the rear-view mirror that a police car with flashing lights was now blocking traffic. My timing could easily have been much worse.

In Victor, Idaho, was a gathering of "classic" cars. One of the traffic lanes was coned off and all sorts of cars were parked along the curb, but I didn't see signs of any impending closure. All the rest of my way through Idaho I noticed old cars (including one that probably needed a tow) in the oncoming lanes.

Shown on the map north of Victor are a series of braided streams. Because of there is still heavy runoff from the mountains nearby, there were several miles of flooded roads. Only a few inches deep, they had posted 25mph and you just rooster tailed your way through. (I found 15mph worked better.)

The drive in this morning had further entertainments. As I passed the Mallard Creek Trailhead turnout, just north of the Upper Basin, at around 06:00, I noticed that there were a couple of motorcycles there. Interesting, as not a place you normally see motorcycles that time of day. Then I noticed why. Next the the pavement was a green pop-up tent. I guess the morning patrol had not yet passed that way.

The Grand this morning seemed like an appropriate greeting. A Grand initiated one burst that lasted 12m03s. Then Vent and Turban paused for about 14 minutes, tried and failed to restart, waiting another 7 minutes before their activity began.

After that, visited Daisy to see how bad Splendid looked. Water is no longer finding its way over from Comet, so there are no runoff channels to the north. I didn't get around to the south side as there were three bison lying down from north of Daisy to near Bonita to near the south trail.  When Daisy erupted, it got the attention of the first one. That bison got up and started moving, only to stop in the middle of Daisy's runoff. There it left a rather liquid opinion and then move over to join the other two.

Fan & Mortar had a nice event around noon-time, but this early in the interval it wasn't surprising that nothing much came of it. I went down there earlier in the day, and got to see a new Stupid Bureaucrat Trick. There was an official Suburban parked well south of the Pit of Eternal Stench, in a gravel patch surrounded by trees. I guess someone out performing their official duties wanted to be in the shade, or got the genius idea that a vehicle wouldn't be as noticeable over there.

Sat and watch an interval from one major eruption of Bulger to another. The interval was about 1h40m. Didn't see any activity, but noticed a few things. It's hard to see in the photo, but off to the left, at the edge of the sinter sheet, was a patch of steaming ground. Also, it appears the dripping from within the hole is due to water from a major seeping into the sinter, as it was strongest after the end of the majors and almost gone at the start  I would guess that it also is more in the mornings than in the afternoons when the water would tend to evaporate. So, for the first time in years, will be keeping an eye on Bulger and noting eruption times.

Finally got checked in in time to head out for the evening Grand eruption. What happened out there will be in part 2.

July 02, 2011

Webcam update

Lately the NPS and those folk operating the camera seem to be changing something about it weekly. I gave up trying to keep up for a while.

It appears to be back for now, but at a reduced size. Instead of hacking around with the display files again, made a change to the URL. If you add "?scale=2" to the end of the URL for either page (Full page or Camera only) it will double the size of the view.

I probably won't change the view on the left of this page, so just click on it to get to the camera page.

Also, for now it looks like it can take over a minute for the image to appear, so be patient.

As for the still camera view, that hasn't changed since October, and at this point I wouldn't be surprised if it never comes back.