Looking at the weather predictions for the next few day, I decided that today would be my only real chance to be out for a nighttime Grand eruption. Besides, Castle was also predicted for the same time frame, and there was even a chance for Beehive. So worth the effort. But what kind of interval to expect. Decided to compromise on getting up at the 7 hour mark.
The night before a small herd of bison was hanging around the Lower Ham's parking lot. (Such that when I arrived at the end of Grand, I thought I might have to wait to get to my truck. So when I pulled into the parking lot in the dark, it occurred to me that I might need to take that into consideration when I biked out. I know there was a least one bison out there somewhere, as I could hear it snort both when I left and when I came back.
It turns out that I wasn't out long, either. When I arrived in the parking lot, I thought I heard a thumping type sound, but dismissed it as Sawmill. Walking up it was obvious that Sawmill wasn't erupting and hadn't erupted recently. West Triplet was erupting, and hoped that it was the reason that the Grand area looked so steamy from Castle. Nope. I arrived during the post eruption pause, and thanks to the steam, I had to finally hear the deep rumbling of an empty Turban vent to be sure.
Wasn't a complete waste of time, as Castle did start as I crossed the bridge going out, and was going into steam on my way back.
The bison herd that hanging around last night was still in the area in the morning, all spread out in the meadow between Castle and Old Faithful. I noticed that it looked like some of them were headed towards crossing the river and invading the Sawmill Group. So I headed out for Grand a bit earlier than I would have normally, but I was also hoping for a short interval. As it was, most of the bison went elsewhere, although about six or so did wander downriver past the Scalloped Springs and Witches Cauldron.
Next morning's Grand was a classic example that the Rift delay can come before the eruption of Rift. Based on Rift's intervals, I was hoping that Grand would get in a eruption and then we'd get the West Triplet and Rift eruptions. We did, but about two hours later than it could have. West Triplet was erupting as I arrived, and quit shortly thereafter. At about that time, Rift was steaming heavily, and it looked as if it was going to start, but didn't. The next Turban interval was a little over 24 minutes long, a sort of half-hearted delay. After that, there was nothing more to do than to wait out a series of mediocre Turban intervals until it was time for the next West Triplet.
After Grand's second burst, the pool refilled and stayed up and sloshing for about a minute. Too long, it turned out, and we had to settle for two nice bursts, the second one much higher than the first. After that, it was West Triplet and Rift, as expected.
While waiting for Rift, I notice a large bird circling overhead. Too big to be one of the osprey (one of which came over Grand yesterday with its catch). Binoculars showed it was an eagle. I never saw its wings move, but it kept circling higher and higher until once when I looked away I couldn't pick it back up.
Oblong had been full since first observed in the morning, and by the time Rift started, that was close to seven hours. So I decided to take advantage of having nothing to do to put in an hour when an eruption there was likely. My hour was about up when we got the eruption. There were some audible thumps, but nothing that I felt, and the height of the surges did not match the impressive activity I've seen from Grand. So it was time to trudge back to Castle and get my bike and take care of more mundane activities, like eating. I had just unlocked and mounted my bike when the call came out that water was visible in Beehive's Indicator. Great timing. So I walked back to Sawmill (which was in a Deep Drain mode eruption) and over to Geyser Hill. The wind was ideal, no one on the walkway got wet. That also meant I was able to station myself right in the shadow of Beehive's water column to get a nice backlit eruption. Then it was back to the bike. Again.
A few hours after Beehive, the clouds came. No rain, other than a few droplets on the windshield, but it was a definite mood change from the previous days. While waiting for the evening Grand, I got to swat my first mosquito of the season. I'd prefer that to be the last, but know I won't get that lucky unless it rains for the next few days.
That evening Grand eruption took place shortly after sunset. It wasn't as annoying as those far too many times when it seems to wait and erupt on the first Turban after sunset, because the clouds obscured the sun. It was dead calm at the start, so we got a huge base surge at the bottom of Grand's water column. There was till enough light to see the full height of the second burst, too. (For the first time in years, the one burst eruptions I've seen this trip constitute less than 50 percent of the total. Toss in a couple of threes in and I might even get to 2.0) Grotto was still active as I left, meaning it was twelve hours into a marathon eruption. I want it to be still erupting at dawn.