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Observations for 02 August 2014

The previous report seems to be incomplete because I was joining a small group going to Shoshone the next day. Didn’t want to get trapped out at Grand for a long interval and not get a good night’s sleep. So we took off at dawn for the trailhead, and biked to Lone Star. From there was what seemed like an easy three hours to the basin itself.

The good news is that there has been some trail improvement since my last visit two years ago. Near the approach to where climb to the north side of Grant Pass starts there is now a real walkway over squishy ground where there used to be lots of logs and muck. Deep ruts near there have also been filled in. It also seemed like all downed logs had been removed just recently, as we encountered only one, and saw lots of freshly sawn logs. But the best thing is that now there are stepping stones over at the fords over Shoshone Creek where the NPS never bothered to replace the bridges. Unfortunately, didn’t notice them (or realize their use) until had already taken the shoes off. But didn’t have to get our sandals wet this time, and on the return trip didn’t have that ten minute mosquito infested pause for changing.

Also, just before the climb to the pass, saw a couple of cranes on the ground. They wandered across the trail and then into the trees at the base of the slope.

Arrived to find not just Little Giant inactive, but Double Geyser showing signs that it’s been a long time since it last put out any water. All the activity had transferred to the new feature near Little Giant that broke out a few years ago. That feature was also quiet when I arrived, but a few minutes later started erupting. We saw several later eruptions from a distance during our visit.

Farther down the trail stopped for breakfast at Minute Man Geyser, where it, Shield and Gourd were all active. By the time breakfast was over, it looked like Shield and Gourd were finished, and Minute Man wasn’t going to be active much longer either. The intermittent spring down in Shield and Gourd’s runoff channel is now an orange-brown hole, surrounded by sinter that’s starting to crumble from being dry so long.

Union Geyser hasn’t changed since the last visit. The small tree next to south cone is getting bigger.

The Boiling Cauldron sluiceway actually looks longer than I remember it. It’s like the walls that make it up have gotten longer. The small geysers near it on both sides were not active, with Pectin down about a foot and splashing away.

There’s a set of new features north of the main open area of the West Group. It looks like some older features that have become more active, along with some new hot ground filled with blowouts and collapses. This area is producing quite a bit of water.

Many of the usual geysers on the west side were active. Saw a Bead Geyser eruption early. Lion Geyser was erupting about every 63 minutes, and watched a couple of them. Velvet Geyser was erupting about every 10 to 12 minutes, except when it stalled the start. The berm is not as sharp as it was in my last visit, and the outlet is wider, probably because more gravel is being washed down the runoff and there not much left to replace it. But the west slope is still providing a source.

Downstream from Five Crater and below Shield and Gourd, easily visible from the west side is a feature whose behavior hasn’t been noticed before. It’s an intermittent spring, rising and falling a couple of times a minute. But what makes it interesting is that it’s perched only a few inches above the creek, and has a distinct outlet. So with each surge, there’s a waterfall of water cascading down into the creek.

The bugs weren’t bad at all in the basin. It was on the walk out that they started getting annoying. It seemed that as we walked, the varieties kept changing. For one stretch, we got mosquitoes. Then they’d disappear and be replaced by deer flies. Past those and we’d get these huge buzzing flies which rarely seemed to land. It kept getting worse as the afternoon progressed, and the mosquitoes were really bad as we untied our bikes at Lone Star.

That evening, I did go out for a Grand eruption. A short wait for another one burst eruption, but the start was nicely ghostly in the quarter moon. Looking forward to having the moon more and more each night this week.