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Observations for 07 July

I heard the call for Beehive's indicator, but decided that since the actual start hadn't been seen, I had no idea how much time there was to get out of bed, get dressed and get over to Geyser Hill. Actually, I just rationalized it that way because I'd forgotten to have things ready just in case, and was too lazy to get moving. As it was, I might have made it, as Beehive was 8 minutes later.

Getting up for Grand was a bit disappointing. The moon was obscured by a band of clouds. Not what I'd wanted, but as it turned out, by the time I got out to Castle, the clouds were mostly gone, and the few remaining were not going to cause a problem. The rest of the night was clear. It was a quiet night. In front of the Inn, on my bike, I also could hear the bursting from Giantess.

The wait for Grand was one of those where everything else has to erupt first. Not only was Grotto in a marathon, but I also got to see Castle, Daisy, Oblong and Riverside first. Once again, Turban avoided the chaotic activity and fell into a nice pattern where I could predict what should happen next. The eruption of Grand was two burst, both nicely illuminated by a low moon (a penumbral eclipse was in progress, but I couldn't tell the difference).

Wanting to get some sleep, and not expecting anything much to happen, I left the radio off. So the first thing I hear when I turn it back on in the morning was a report that at Fan & Mortar the Bottom vent was erupting and still in a long pause. Figures. Three and a third days is also long enough that it could erupt. So instead of a leisurely start to the day, I ended up zipping down there just in case. Looked good, but what do I know, for quite a while until suddenly the water levels in Fan dropped and Mortar's frying pans started steaming.

Giantess was still active over 30 hours after the start, with some nice Big Sawmill type spikes throughout the morning and afternoon. Geyser Hill just didn't look right with all that activity going on. Giantess also doesn't appear to have had an effect on Beehive. Again this morning there was an interval in the 12 hour range.

The morning's non-geyser entertainment was when someone in a car decided that they wanted to drive up to Old Faithful. I saw them negotiating the little connector between the Inn parking lot and the trail, then make a right to go up the hill. I heard they figured out that they were not on a road, but didn't leave it until they got out to take some pictures of Faithful.

Grand could've had a short interval, but instead decided to try all sorts of tricks. Not only did we have Rift, but a couple of of times Vent came up to overflow on a less than ideal pool. This caused the interval to almost put Grand in conflict with the next Fan & Mortar event. But fortunately, Grand couldn't wait any longer, and I was able to leave the two burst eruption at a civilized pace and still get down to see another failed attempt at an eruption by Fan & Mortar. Like this morning, the water levels never wanted to progress beyond, "looking okay".

While waiting for Grand, a pair of coyotes did make an appearance from the north, then moving up the hill. I'd guess this is the same pair I saw back in May, and are probably the reason this whole trip I haven't seen any marmots on the hill behind Grand.

The next Grand eruption was going to take place after sunset. As with last night, there were quite a few clouds to the south, but like last night, whatever storm that was went right by, and within an hour the sky was clear. But heading out meant bugs. There must've been a fly hatching as there were more than just mosquitoes in the mix, and they were so thick that I had to breath through my nose or ingest more than few as I biked down from the Inn.

The first view of the moon I had was through the steam of a West Triplet eruption, with it casting shadows of the trees by the trail onto that steam cloud. Viewed from my usual spot while waiting for Grand, there was an almost 3-dimensional appearance as the steam caused various parts of the shadows to disappear and reappear. The Grand eruption itself was nicely illuminated, but one burst eruptions are always a bit disappointing.

Beehive made up for that. After the eruption, just as I was going to leave Grand it was announced that the Indicator was erupting. I decided that I didn't want to walk to Geyser Hill and back, but could easily ride the bike to the overlook. I arrived there just moments before the eruption started. I believe that this may have been the first time I'd seen a moonbow in Beehive's spray, which was to the northwest over the river. (And at the start we had the usual idiot with a light, out for the full moon, who thinks he can do a better illumination job than the moon is doing.)

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Observations for 06 July

The plan was to take a few hours nap, then head out to Grand just as the last bit of twilight disappeared. Just not much twilight as there were still quite a few clouds. But unlike the previous nibht, these were scattered and there wasn't any layer scattering the moon when it was in the clear.

A check of the weather radar sites shows a nice storm in Idaho between Idaho Falls and Pocatello heading in a direction that should take it just south of her. So as the night progressed, so did the cloudiness to the south, along with occasional flashes of lightning. But moon did make it between the clouds for the crew who got to see the middle of the night Beehive eruption, and by then it appeared we were going to miss that storm.

But for some reason, just as Grand started, the wind shifted putting my position directly in the line of precipitation. A fairly unusual occurance, as only rarely do I have to make a run for it at the start of the eruption. Like several other eruptions, this one had well over a minute and a half from Turban's start to Grand's. Then Grand wasted the opportunity by denying us a second burst by low moonlight.

I decided getting to Grand by the 7-1/2 hour point would be okay, and so was just turning into the Inn parking lot on my way to the Lower Ham's lot when I heard someone announce the current time and "Great Fountain". Which didn't make any sense, since there's no way to report s Great Fountain start time from there. Then the report was amended to "Giantess" or something that sounded like that. I glanced over toward the Inn and the new Cathedral and saw a large steam cloud rising, so I knew that it must really be Giantess.

I considered turning around and following Scott Bryan, who I passed on the utility road, but decided that going to Geyser Hill via Castle and Sawmill worked just as well. As it was, I could still hear the boiling from the initial bursting as I walked through the trees towards Lion. That bursting stopped around the time I broke into the open. The main burst started almost precisely at the half hour mark. The water jetting wasn't all that impressive, and after only a couple of minutes quickly turned to steam.

That part of the eruption was pretty impressive. The roaring was louder than anything Castle can produce, and a naturalist on patrol reported hearing it over by Grand. Standing on the boardwalk near the Vault sign, I could feel the rumbling in my feet. Turns out the walkway was acting as a sounding board, because standing on the gravel didn't have the same feel. At one point, when there was a miniature rainstorm landing on the walkway down by Pump, I got out my umbrella and went looking for a 360 degree rainbow. Which was easy to find, but there wasn't a sign of a second rainbow.

The weather conditions slowly worstened, and by the end Beehive (a long indicator but almost the interval one would have expected without Giantess), Giantess was starting to have pauses and was transitioning back into water. So it looked like the rest of this eruption was going to be in Big Sawmill Mode.

After all the excitement earlier in the day, a one burst Grand in windy conditions was just ordinary.

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Observations for 05 July

After all the long Grand intervals, I decided that there wasn't much point in going out in the morning at the seven hour mark. I could use the extra hour sleep. As it turned out, the interval was a minute under eight hours, and I arrived no more than a couple of minutes before the start of the eruption. Another two burst eruption, but this time the first burst lasted 10m15s, making it a minute longer than all of last night's eruption.

I finally got around to seeing what conditions are like around the new Visitor's Cathedral, and discovered that they had provided a bike trail bypass around the new junction. That's all I really wanted when I was here last time, I can slow down for the gravel detour. But what I don't understand is, why did they up pull up the old concrete walkway only to replace it with an identical one? Are they planning to do more concrete replacement?

Waiting for the morning Beehive eruption, for the first time in years I saw an eruption of Depression up close. A combination of little time spent on Geyser Hill and Depression's long intervals were the reason. Still need to do the same for Aurum. Beehive itself waited until the mid-day clouds had a chance to form and block the sun for most of the eruption.

Castle started a minor just as I was about to head out to Grand in the morning. The sound gave me a brief start. A few hours later, it had another minor, this one over 10 minutes long.

The midday Grand was another case of waiting for Rift to end, then waiting a few hours of chaotic Turban activity before finally getting a one burst eruption. Time to revert back to normal and get used to a bunch of one bursts.

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Observations for 04 July

So it turns out that the assumption that Fan & Mortar was safe to ignore for the night because of the event it had at sunset was not true. It ended up erupting in the early morning hours with no one around. I might even have heard the start. Like I said in an earlier post, by the time I went it, it was calm and quiet and easy to hear Old Faithful from the Sawmill Group. A little bit farther on, as I was trudging up the hill to Crested, I remember stopping and looking back for quite a bit of time. Some noise down basin caught my attention, but I couldn't place it. There was just general steam down there, but nothing that looked like an eruption of Giant. So I went on in.

I made the right decision to eat breakfast in the Lower Ham's store right when the opened at 07:30. Because Grand decided for no good reason to have an 11.5 hour interval. Instead of a steaming, backlit eruption, we got a warm midday one. None of the patterns I've seen recently seemed to work or matter. An eruption of West Triplet came and went. There were several short Turban durations in a row. At least once we saw water boil up in Vent. Nothing seemed to matter. The eruption itself was a nondescript one burst that didn't even give the appearance of trying for two.

So at that point, there wasn't much to do until evening, at least in terms of large geyser activity. Mike Keller pointed out that Great Fountain would be erupting during the afternoon, so this actually looked like a good time to risk a trip to the Lower Basin. The afternoon itself was a series of thundershowers, but Great Fountain managed to wait until things were generally dry before erupting. Nothing spectacular, and a bit steamy, but there were some nice bursts during the first and third burst periods.

The rains continued off an on, but by the time it was time to head out to Grand, the rains had quit and the clouds seemed to be promising to disappear. Thanks to the cloudiness and rains, it was a bit chillier than would normally be expected in July. But not cold enough to discourage the mosquitoes. Shortly before sunset I noticed that the moon had risen, and was increasing the distance between itself and the clouds as it rose. An announcement of Beehive's Indicator then cleaned out all the geyser gazers. The Beehive eruption itself was easily heard at Grand.

An hour after sunset, about 22:05 or so I notice what sounds like thunder off in the distance to the northwest. By this time the clouds have mostly cleared away, and there's nothing that looks like it could produce lightning in any direction. I hear it several times. It sounds like it could be a thermal feature, but there's not been any changes in the steam clouds. Then it occurs to me-- I'd heard that West Yellowstone was going to have fireworks tonight, starting at 22:00. So what I was hearing was the sound of those fireworks, about 20 to 25 miles away with all sorts of terrain in the middle.

On the next Turban, it had finally been long enough that Grand couldn't hold off any more. It was too dark, despite a near full moon, to seem much more than the steam, but Turban gave the typical explosive start that signals that Grand is having waves. This time, that Turban activity seemed to die down, and by a minute and a half, despite all the steam coming from Grand's pool, it sure did seem like there wasn't going to be an eruption. As it was, it was 1m40s before Grand started. All that Turban activity must've had an effect, as the total duration of the two bursts was only 9m10s. I wouldn't be surprised that if we could have seen the pool of Grand, we'd have seen water sloshing around for about a minute or so before draining.

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Observations for 03 July

Usually leave the radio on on the off chance that I might hear something interesting. Last night, decided that I didn't care what F&M were doing, and whatever happened after the start of a River pause, I would learn about it in the morning. So I shut the radio off and added and hour to the alarm.

That meant that instead of going out in time for Grand and Beehive's early morning eruptions, I got out just in time to miss them. Leading to another day with a huge gap before time to head out. But with the intermittent showers of the late morning, having no reason to be out and about wasn't so bad. Did get down to check out Daisy and the wash zone from the recent Link eruption, and to watch an hour of Bijou pauses. (Easier to recognize unusual behavior when you have some idea of the look of the current normal behavior.)

The Grand eruption in the afternoon was a bit of a disappointment. Other than the first few intervals being shorter than the previous one, the Turban activity leading to the eruption showed no clear patterns giving any indication of when the eruption would occur. Worse, an eruption of West Triplet came and went without either Rift or Grand. Usually a bad sign, but at least Grand did decide after a couple of Turbans to erupt. Like yesterday, we had two bursts, but unlike yesterday, they were short and the total duration barely totaled 10 minutes. One bit of amusement was that because of the storms and general bad weather, the wind was coming from an unusual direction, and all the folks gathered on the benches by West Triplet found out the hard way that Grand can get you wet. A few people didn't learn that lesson and were there for the second burst, which gave a repeat performance.

Beehive turned out to be quite cooperative in the afternoon. The weather didn't improve after Grand, and on the whole, got worse. The only good news was the wind direction, it was blowing away from Geyser Hill, so no need to worry about getting drenched by Beehive. Only getting drenched by the weather. I took a look at some weather radar sites via my iPhone, and saw there was a nice, strong cell headed our way. So as I was deciding if it was time to leave, water appeared in the Indicator. That made the decision easy, as since I was going to head in immediately after, I could risk getting doused. As it was, the rain held off just long enough to give us a nice eruption, one that drenched the people gathered across the river instead of us.

Before the evening Beehive eruption, Plume had a couple of eruptions that varied from the norm. The first, which I didn't see, was a six burst eruption. I was told that the last two bursts were the smaller, minor variety where the height only reaches about 10 feet. The next eruption was a typical five burst. The next one I saw, right after the end of Beehive's eruption, had an unusual fifth burst. It started out looking like a minor burst, staying around 10 feet for a good 10 seconds or so before lifting to a more typical height. The burst also seemed to last much longer than I'm used to seeing.

The rainstorm was pretty heavy for an hour, finally ending before sunset with a nice full arc double rainbow from my cabin door (with a Pipeline Meadows bison below it.) It was then that Fan & Mortar decided to have their first event since the activity of the night before. With the rain nearly over, and at least another hour of light, I decided that I had no excuse not to bike down there. To get there just in time to see a weak restart of the Fan vents. At least didn't have to spend much time down there.

At that point it was only about an hour before it would be time to go out to Grand, and with the clearing skies, decided that I would go out for the nighttime eruption. The moon was shining through a high thin layer, so there was plenty of light, but the sky was gray instead of black and full of stars. I arrived to find Rift in eruption, but with the overcast, it wasn't all that cold either. A couple of hours waiting for a two burst eruption wasn't so bad, especially when the second burst lasted over two minutes.

One thing I like about nighttime are the sounds you don't hear during the day. As I was leaving Grand, walking toward Sawmill, I could hear, but not see, an eruption of Old Faithful. This particular night I also got to hear a new sound. Having seen/heard so many nighttime eruptions, all the various sounds are familiar, and even expected: the gurgling of Turban after the post-eruption quit. The spitting of Percolator, and rumbles from West Triplet. As I was getting ready to leave, standing by West Triplet, I suddenly became aware of a new sound, a liquid splashing I'd never noticed before. Quickly realized it was an eruption of Sputnik. I'd seen it during the earlier eruption waits, but never heard it before.

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Observations for 02 July

I arrived just in time to have to wait a full Grand interval before the next eruption. But Beehive did oblige me by erupting with a less than 12 hour interval just as I was about to head out to Grand. With two eruptions per day, now it's jut a matter of it adjusting the intervals so we can have a few days with both eruptions in daylight.

The day was cool and blustery. I encountered some showers in Island Park which appeared to headed toward the Park, and they did get some showers around then, too. But it never again really looked like we were in for rain, and the wind helped keep the mosquitoes from attacking. The less said about the drive in from West Yellowstone, the better. Let's just say that I saw "animal jams" that involved no animals.

The Turban intervals at Grand were longer than I've been used to 21 to 23 minutes, at least until we had a early overflow and Turban had a short duration. Just before the second Turban, the one that I expected to have an excellent chance of leading into the Grand eruption, West Triplet started. Considering that Rift had erupted at dawn, I took that as another good sign. And it all was. It did take Grand almost a minute to build to the eruption from the start of Turban, with good waves then appearing.

The eruption itself had a nice full rainbow, thanks to a large break in the clouds. When the first burst lasted 10m44s, I was surprised to look at the pool and see water sloshing about. Not only did we get another burst, but it lasted long enough to make it a T2*Q. Vent and Turban did act at first like they wanted to continue, until suddenly Turban shut off and Vent quickly followed. The restart, while quick (about 7 minutes) had Turban taking its time, with lots of steam and noise and very little water in the first minute or two.

Tomorrow the Fan & Mortar window opens, more or less, which should take care of a lot of my free time. Reports today were that it was having actual cycles, as opposed the chaotic activity featuring Angle vent which was featured before the previous eruption. What that means we will find out later...