Posted on

Observations for 31 May

This morning Fan & Mortar could have erupted in daylight with no one around. I'd been up since 05:30, and not hearing anything from that part of the basin, decided I had to know what was going on. I got down there about 06:45 and found the area deserted. Fortunately the marker was still in place and the walkways showed no sign of wash. But still, at over 5 days, with a large crowd of geyser groupies in the area and even an expert or too in attendance, you'd think that one of those folks would have comet at dawn.

The weather was no excuse. There'd been no rain overnight, and it was pretty calm and relatively cloud free (at least compared to this past week). As it was, everyone got lucky as F&M appeared to be in a garbage mode, a mode that persisted all morning.

Tilt Geyser blowout

Tilt Geyser blowout

Tilt Geyser blowout

I didn't check Tilt on the way to Grand as I usually do, so it wasn't until walking back that I noticed that it had cleared out the red scum and muck which had been choking the vent. I think I checked it yesterday, so that would put the eruption, such as it was, overnight. While standing there and taking photos, the pool pulsated for a minute or so, then dropped well below the rim.

With the relatively nice day, and since I was already down at that end of the basin, I also decided to check out the Giant platform. Wasn't quite as dead as I'd expected. At first I thought the water standing on the platform indicated something might have happened, but later evaluation by myself and some others was that Mastiff and Giant are just really splashing hard, enough to keep the puddles in front of them wet and full. It probably means that Giant just might erupt in September.

Overnight Grand had a short interval, and followed that up with one that was just within my window. So glad I'm not going to be here anymore to fight with it. The morning eruption was probably under the best conditions I've seen this trip, with sunlight most of the time, and even a second burst. It started only about 40 minutes after the end of Rift's eruption, so it might even be said that it appeared in the proper West Triplet window.

By having the morning eruption go on a short interval also meant that there was now a chance for one more daylight eruption, at sunset.

Once again, Beehive erupted at almost the same time as Grand, this time starting during the second burst. That also meant that once again, there were several hours of nothing to do. Fan & Mortar did fill that gap, either.

The weather stayed fairly nice until the time for Grand approached. By the time I got out there, it was already sprinkling, and I spent the wait under an umbrella. Once again, Grand erupted about 2.5 hours after West Triplet.This was a little long, as indicated by West Triplet starting during the first burst.

At that point I made a mistake. The first call of a possible event at Fan & Mortar was made. I considered just heading in and getting ready to go home, but the idea of missing an eruption down there just didn't appeal. Even though I know that those things never give me a break or cooperate. This was no exception. Spent another hour and a half in the rain. The only thing of interest is that once Fan's vents started to die down, Upper Mortar started having splashes, the kind that can possibly build into an Upper Mortar initiated eruption. But after a couple of good meter high plumes, it died down and it was time to bike in in the dark.

Posted on

Observations for 30 May

Started out the day by seeing a coyote nosing around my cabin. Then out at Grand saw the first elk of the season, when a couple of them wandered through over by Economic.

The morning itself was dry, but overcast and windy, making it much more miserable than it needed to be. I decided that I didn't need to be out until 8 hours, and arrived just at the end of a West Triplet eruption, so everything worked out. Grand did wait almost 2.5 hours, which makes for a bigger window than I'd like, but still one about an hour wide.

Fan & Mortar didn't erupt overnight, so they could have been the timewaster of the day. Turns out they cooperated in their not erupting. Made two round trips down there, the first from the cabins in the morning after Grand, the second, from Grand right after the eruption. In both cases arrived for Bottom Vent activity which led to normal looking activity from the Fan vents. So the middle of the day was free to do nothing much, but at least not spent out in the showshowers and wind.

We finally got a Beehive eruption. There was a rumor that it erupted last night at or before midnight, so it appears that the reason it was missed yesterday was because it had also erupted shortly before dawn.

That evening Grand I mentioned was post-Rift, which is a case where the West Triplet window doesn't really apply, at least for now. In the past there used to be a period post-Rift where Grand wouldn't normally erupt, and with some observations, it might be determined that that's still the case.

On my back from my morning attempt to make yesterday's posting, I saw something new: someone who'd driven onto the pedestrian walkway/emergency road to get to the OF entrance road. Another reason I take the trolley to work instead of playing in traffic twice a day.

Posted on

Observations for 29 May

Not much to report. Another dreary gray day with not much going on. Beehive either erupted during the night, or can have intervals much greater than 24 hours, as it wasn't seen during daylight.

After the long wait at night I got out to see another long wait. Coming to the conclusion that the 7 hour interval was unite an outlier and needs to be ignored when going out in poor conditions. West Triplet is providing a couple of eruption windows, the first with its early interval eruption around 7 to 8 hours, the second about 1.5 to 2 hours after the stat of an eruption. West Triplet itself is erupting with intervals of around 2.5 to 3 hours.

If the NPS were a flexible organization, and there were people around to make the changes, it would be easily possible to adjust the Grand predictions based on this information, reducing the current (and wrong) 4 hour window to a smaller one hour one. It just requires someone to see West Triplet erupt.

(The current Grand window is from 6.5 to 10.5 hours, which means that the first half of the window the NPS provides to the public is not only useless, but actually making it harder for visitors to see an eruption. Right now, there's no one with any authority or motivation to get that window changed, either.)

Posted on

Observations for 28 May

So after multiple intervals of 10 hours, and none shorter than 8.5, I decided no reason to be out any earlier. I was looking forward to going out in the dark and experiencing a dawn (as long as it wasn't raining, like it did overnight). So I get out to Rift in eruption and an empty crater. So it appeared that Grand finally took advantage of the early West Triplet window instead of delaying for two hours like it had been doing earlier this week.

That's what can be really annoying at Grand, the inconsistency. The length of the interval is irrelevant (at least once it gets up to 8 hours). But the range, jumping from ten hour intervals down to a seven and then probably more tens, is what gets frustrating. It leads to a lot of two or three hour waits, unless you are willing to forego those short intervals. (which is fine if you are letting others do your waiting for you…)

So for the mid-day eruption, came out early, and of course Grand erupted two hours after West Triplet for a nice 10 hour interval. And almost like yesterday, Beehive's Indicator started right as Grand was ending. So at that point, I had nothing more to do, and with rain heading in, too.

Went out to the evening Grand at a break in the rain. But first I had to dodge a small herd of bison who were moving through the trees next to the Lower lift station. Then, when I got out to Grand, I noticed a coyote nosing around the rocks behind Rift. Apparently I didn't bother it.

Right as I got there, West Triplet started. I hoped that this was a good sign that it would be a short wait, at worst getting the eruption in a couple of hours for a nice 9 hour interval. Instead, that time came and went, and then the rain returned. Finally, West Triplet started at the ten hour mark, with Rift joining in at midnight. At least Grand didn't wait the full two hours, just an hour and a quarter.

The rain also had stopped by then, and at least it was a two burst eruption. Might actually have been better to delay one more Turban as the moon came out right after the end.

Posted on

Observations for 27 May

After a clear night, it was a gray, overcast morning. No rain, but the threat was there. While waiting I heard that West Triplet had started at the 7h30m mark in the interval, so I figured there might be a chance that this could be a short interval. No such luck. Once again, it took Grand two hours after West Triplet to erupt.

Geyser Hill was reopened. There didn't seem to be a mad rush to get over there. Depression still erupting about every two-and-a-half to three hours.

For the evening eruption, Grand took the opportunity to delay just long enough to completely avoid the intermittent sunshine coming through the clouds. During its eruption, it appears that Beehive's Indicator started and so did Beehive.

There is nothing quite as creepy as the lock-step over-reaction of neo-Victorian bureaucrats. This year it's all the little signs advertising "bezerk gunmen welcome here" on all the building doors that just reinforces that feeling.

Posted on

Geyser Groupies

A geyser groupie is someone who has developed a liking for geyser activity, and has spent more time in the park than your average visitor. They've spent enough time to know a few things, to have witnessed an usual eruption or two, and to have met a number of people who spend a lot more time in the park. It's also a pejorative term.

One of the reasons for my antipathy to geyser groupies is the asymmetry of the relationship. I've been going to the park, often spending weeks or months at a time there, for three decades now. Your typical geyser groupie will spend a week or two a year, and maybe a holiday weekend. During any season, there are lots of weeks and several holidays, so there is a constant turnover of groupies. Many know of me or remember me, but to me they are just part of a faceless blur that's made little impression on me over the years. (Those that have made a positive impression usually graduated from being groupies…) So I am constantly being greeted by people who I don't recognize or whose name I don't know.

Another asymmetry is that groupies are almost useless to me, but I can be useful for them. My not having visited the park for a number of years, and having radios, seems to have broken them of the habit of greeting me with "When did Grand erupt?" But the radios also demonstrate an asymmetry in which I refuse to participate.

It used to be that if you really wanted to see one of the more unusual geysers (even one as common as Beehive), meant that you had to put some effort into waiting and in waiting in adverse conditions. Now days I see too many people who seem to appear out of nowhere at the announcement of "river pause", or "indicator" or "water in Mastiff". These are groupies who are letting others do their waiting for them, only scurrying out when a wait can be minimized. (Nothing wrong with that, I scurry as much as anyone. On the other hand, I've waited more than most anyone.)

Fortunately, and perhaps I shouldn't mention it, but despite this ease of geyser gazing, the number of people out and about in less than ideal conditions really hasn't changed. Your typical geyser groupie keeps regular business hours, never to be seen on a cold morning, a damp evening and especially at night. One way for a groupie to earn some respect is to go out in those conditions, and not in a herd, either.

Here's what I don't like, and what has triggered this little diatribe: I've been plopping myself at essentially the same spot at Grand for close to three decades now. The reason for that is that it's where I've found I can best take my observations at day and at night, and be consistent. It's "my spot" and I'll be damned if I'm going to be driven away from it.

So what seems to happen far to often is that a second person or a friend sits down there near me to strike up a useful conversation. Which is okay, sometimes it's nice to share information and such, especially with people I've known for a long time. But then some geyser groupies sees us there, and settles in too. That in turn attracts other groupies, and various hangers-on, and suddenly I'm in the middle of a noisy bunch of people who are more interested in gossipy socializing than in the geysers, and many of whom I don't even know.

This last Tuesday was the worst, especially for so early in a season. The only people I really know of that bunch are Jim and Tara, and they start to appear at just as I make a quick check of the WTriplet water level (which I forgot to do while I was dodging bison just to get there). I return and not only have people usurped my location, but there are various tourons who've attached themselves to that group. I had to blow up, because quite frankly, these people are too oblivious and having too good a time to realize what they are doing.

To those of you who claim you've tried "to be my friend" and failed, here's some advice: sit down and shut up. I realize quietly sitting is as hard for most two-year-olds as it is for most groupies, but you'd earn some respect if you did. Here's some more: sit-down and shut up and wait in the rain. Not a storm that catches you off guard during a long Grand wait, (which you are at only because there nothing to see in the Lower Basin) but actually going out in less than ideal conditions.
Or,how about being out and about before I, or anyone else, gets to a location? Show that you are actually interested in geysers as a phenomena, not as an excuse to socialize.

So I'm going to hurt some people's feelings with all this. Guess what? I no longer care. I've tried being nice to people who haven't been nice to me, I've tried to avoid them, and I've tried to be less than friendly, and nothing has worked. So if I develop a reputation that causes geyser groupies to want to avoid me, then I'll say that I've succeeded in this year's project. (And those others of you who want to also avoid the groupies, and I know who some of you are, you are welcome to join me any time, just don't become like them in the process.)

Posted on

Observations for 26 May

Put together an overnight eruption of Fan & Mortar and a bear closure of Geyser Hill and you get a number of people standing around with the look you get on an old dog whose food dish has been moved from the spot it's been in the last few years.

So Fan & Mortar did erupt overnight, and based on the amount of water still on the walkway at 08:00, I'm guessing just before daylight. Castle had a dawn minor, and Grand appears to have had another long interval.

For me the morning was one of watching GeyserHill from the parking lot, working on a project and watching a woodpecker trying to work on the tree next to the bike rack. (Whenever people would walk by, it would fly off, only to reappear a few minutes later. So there must be something to like there.) The weather itself was nice, a little breezy at times, but a great improvement from previous days.

The early afternoon Grand eruption was a pretty unspectacular 1 burst which this time was only an hour and a half after West Triplet.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to go out for the middle of the night eruption of Grand. The day had become overcast, and before sunset (which couldn't be seen), there was even a sprinkle or two. I decided that maybe I should stay in, when I noticed the moon was visible. SInce I could at least get out with some light, decided to go out.

It cleared as I waited, but it was really steamy. At one point, I heard a bison or two grunting away over by Calida. There was other wildlife out and about too: drunken Amfac louts were making noises, but I never saw any until after the Grand eruption. Even Sawmill had quit by then, so they were going out only for exercise.

The eruption of Grand was spectacular in its own way. Rift had just finished when I arrived, so no need to worry about West Triplet. Finally there was a Turban that had all the right sounds for an eruption, and Grand's pool looked steamy than before. But the Turban eruption just kept on going, with no Grand. Finally, at 3m18s, Grand took off. It was so steamy over toward Turban that I couldn't see what Vent might have done.

With that long to get started, I was half-expecting a short one burst, so not surprised when the first burst ended after only 7m36s. This had to mean a second burst, which I did get. After it ended, I could hear Vent blasting away, a sign that the pool was probably trying to refill and a third burst was possible. It took 1m13s before that finally happened, and once it was over, so was Vent and Turban. SoI would have liked to have seen exactly what they were doing back in that steam, it was still enjoyable.

Posted on

Observations for 25 May

I woke up at what might have been the 9 hour mark if Grand hadn't yet erupted, but with the snow and cold and such, it seemed like I wouldn't get out there by the 10 hour mark. So I stayed in, and Grand had a second interval longer than 10 hours.

I've seen several eruptions of Depression the last few days, including a couple of intervals of about 3 hours. Quite a change from my last visits when one Depression eruption per day was about it.

Bison at Grand

Bison at Grand

Bison herd at Grand

The walk out to Grand was delayed for a bit by a herd of bison that probably numbered over one hundred. For at least an hour they came down from the hillside behind Grand and Rift and crossed over to the flats to the northwest.

Turns out the bison delay didn't matter, as once again Grand waited two hours from the start of a West Triplet eruption before itself erupting. And once again, there was a considerable period (75 seconds) between the start of Turban and the start of Grand. At the 9m30s mark, Grand had a false pause at least 5 seconds long. So it was a bit surprising that both Vent and Turban didn't quit with Grand.

The odds of walking up onto an eruption of a geyser measured in days is low. The odds of that happening the very first time you walk up to that geyser are even lower. So when you walk up and see what appears to the activity which may lead to an eruption, your first assumption should not be that you are going to see an eruption. Especially when an eruption would lead to an unusually short interval when compared to recent intervals.

So some advice I don't expect to be followed: not only find out what the geyser has been doing recently, but also at least spend a few minutes determining if it really is going to lead to an eruption before you begin a radio play-by-play.

I may or may not have a full Geyser Groupie rant later in the week. That was just a sample.

Posted on

Observations for 24 May

Woke up to a winter wonderland, as the photos show. There was about four inches of wet snow on the ground, and about as much slush on the roadways. The boardwalks had a little layer of slush at the bottom making them extremely slippery.

Also during the wait for Grand an eagle perched on one of the dead trees behind Grand for about an hour. (No photo, as the clouds and sleet and my camera wouldn't have shown anything.) A bison herd also passed through on its way to Geyser Hill.

The big surprise though, was that West Triplet was in overflow but not erupting. For about ninety minutes I watched have about five minute long overflows with 12 to 19 minutes intervals. Finally, the overflow increased in intensity and upwelling began to appear over the vent. After a couple of minutes of that, a burst finally occurred.

The activity appeared no different from what I've seen the last few days. WIth its start, West Triplet was quickly joined by Percolator. The eruption lasted a bit less than 31 minutes, again nothing unusual, and Percolator quit with it. Rift make no attempt to start, as only once did I even see a whisp of steam form it.

At the end of the Grand eruption West Triplet's water level was near the point where it could erupt, but I didn't stick around long enough. A few hours later I came back and it appeared that both West Triplet and Rift had erupted while I was gone.

The evening's eruption of Grand was a bit of a disappointment. I was hoping for another West Triplet overflow, but all we got was a normal eruption followed by the two hour wait until Grand. All while waiting in windy snow showers. And because it had warmed up during the day, it wasn't sticking but was just getting everything wet.

So the West Triplet overflow may have been some fluke, for reasons unknown.

So after I did yesterday's posting, I noticed a couple of rangers park over behind the Lodge and head over to Geyser Hill for a while. Then later I saw one carrying a new signboard over that same way. The next morning, on my way back from Grand, saw one finishing a patrol. Perhaps the fact that prints would be visible in the snow kept people out.

Posted on

Observations for 23 May

Woke up to a light overnight dusting of snow and watching an eleven hour interval of Grand from my cabin window. I had been planning on getting up around then, so I didn't have to endure the wait, but it did mean there'd be no reason to go out for a while if the weather remains nasty.

Outside my cabin door I found not only my footprints from earlier in the morning, but a new set of elk prints. So that noise of some sort of commotion outside wasn't entirely a dream.

The day started out looking like a continuation of yesterday, but as it progressed, it got nicer. The wind died down and the clouds disappeared, even though it was still cold. (The light snow which was in shadows took hours to disappear. It wasn't until after Grand's afternoon eruption that the clouds came back in. But by that time, there wasn't much reason to be out.

I made a sweep down basin, visiting all the features which weren't going to merit a visit in yesterday's conditions. Got suckered into some early interval chaos at Fan & Mortar: Lots of Bottom Mortar activity accompanied by Lower Mortar splashes and Upper Mortar rumbles, and big splashes from Fan's Main Vent. All during that time, Fan would start steaming like it was having River Vent pauses. Then suddenly it all shifted to Gold erupting and everything else quiet. If I hadn't known that it was less than a day and a half since the last eruption, I would have been disappointed. As it is, I still wonder what it is that makes that same sort of behavior seem so important to an eruption when it occurs later in the interval.

Otherwise saw a nice steamy Castle and your typical Daisy eruption. The Grand eruption surprised us with a second burst, since the first was over 10 minutes long. The lead-up Turbans were all the same, bland and average, so it was an uneventful wait in relatively nice weather.

I found out that the responsible party for the lack of bike racks is not the NPS, but for once we can blame Xanterra I've already voiced my disappointments to my contact within that organization.

Over on Geyser Hill, located below Lion, is a fresh elk carcass. There've also been bear sightings, so the prudent step was taken to close Geyser Hill last night. Today it was still closed, but the closure wasn't being enforced. By the time I was heading out to Grand, it seemed like there was a small but steady stream of people visible over there. When Beehive's Indicator was announced while waiting at Grand, and number of geyser groupies were seriously considering running over there for the eruption. Word was getting around that the closure wasn't being enforced.

Which is all fine and good, but I also am fairly certain that they'd have screamed for sympathy if they'd been caught. It seems every few years gazers and other such hangers on need to be taught the lesson about the application of the rules, and we must not have had a volunteer for the case-study recently.

As for the NPS, what's the point of having a restriction if you aren't going to enforce it (seems like the Feds so that a lot, doesn't it?). If they can't or won't enforce their restrictions when they are so publicly flouted, then they need to use a different policy. How about posting signs like the current ones, warning of the bear activity, and basically telling people, "beyond here, you're on your own." That might actually keep more people out.

Yeah, I know, the first such incident and the idiot (or idiot's estate) sues, and wins. But I also don't like the idea that those of us who follow the rules are punished (by not seeing Beehive up close), while those who break them get rewarded. (Again, seems like a common policy with the Feds.)

(And as I post this, it's starting to snow again…)