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Bulger's Hole 11 July -- 18 August 2011

In the extended section of this posting are a series of images taken of Bulger's Hole from 11 July through 18 August, showing
how it has changed over the weeks due to its eruptive activity. In most cases a series of three photos were taken from three
different locations along the walkway in an attempt to show more detail.

Continue reading "Bulger's Hole 11 July -- 18 August 2011"

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The Beehive Tree

Twenty-some years ago, when it was still alive, this was known as the "Beehive Tree". On the far side there was a clear view of both Geyser Hill and down basin as far as Daisy.
A number of people, including me, would sit here when Beehive might be due. t was shady in the afternoon, unlike many other places you might want to wait, and back then the NPS generally didn't herd people down to the overlook when the Indicator started. If you got there early enough, you could also park your vehicle nearby in the Inn parking lot.

Of course as in so many places, new trees have come up to block the views, but what killed it? It's been suggested that the water from Old Faithful runoff on the right, has percolated under the walkway and has drowned its roots. It may also be that all our sitting at its base exposed the roots enough to make it susceptible to that runoff, too.

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Observations for 2011 August 18

In the morning, Grand refused to take advantage of the West Triplet eruption window, and waited for the next one. It appeared that it might be a while, with West Triplet's water level invisible, when we got Grand. During the eruption, West Triplet's water level rose, so that once Grand ended, West Triplet began. At the same time, Rift was steaming heavily, more than seemed normal for the cool but warming conditions. As it turned out, West Triplet had a nice, normal eruption and nothing was heard from Grand.

On the way out, I saw something in Tilt that needs to be taken into account. As I walked up, the water over the vent was palpitating for about 20 seconds, when suddenly it stopped and the water level dropped about an inch. The flow from Crested quickly filled it back up, but maybe the assumption that observing the pool drained (especially partially drained) implies that there was an eruption.

Turns out that yesterday I didn't miss Beehive, it just went shortly after I went in, and everyone else either missed it or were preoccupied with Fan & Mortar. Since that one I saw in the afternoon was a short interval, it didn't seem surprising that the next interval compensated by going over 16 hours. Was considering having breakfast, but also knew that, based on past experience, that was certain to cause an announcement of the Indicator between the time the meal was ordered and the time it arrived.

Saw that eruption of Beehive from the overlook, which might be the first time this trip. I've really come to not like that place, because of the times when the Naturalists practically herd people into the area, making it packed. But his morning a few people showed up, and then the population didn't increase much until the time of the eruption. Beehive itself didn't drench anyone, as the main rain plume was toward Blue Star and the Lodge Cabins.

So it was mid-afternoon when time to go out for one final Grand eruption. First thing I see from Castle is an eruption of Uncertain with Sawmill. Okay. Going to be that sort of wait.

The Turban eruptions leading up to it were boringly regular in terms of both duration and interval, which was different from most of the waits I've had. Then West Triplet opened the eruption window, handing the activity off to Rift instead of Grand. At that point I expected to have to wait a few hours for both Rift to end and for Grand to put in 3 or 4 Turban eruptions. But shortly after West Triplet ended a nearly hour long eruption, Grand's pool looked really good, and as Turban started, not only were there waves on the pool, but Vent started to overflow. And haven't had a Vent Delay this trip…

Didn't get the delay, but an actual eruption. And when Grand quit at around 7 and a quarter minutes, I really thought I was going to get a multiple burst eruption on the order of 3 or maybe even 4 bursts. But following the second burst, Grand showed water in the pool briefly, then quickly drained. For a total duration of 8m49s. How disappointing.

Then Rift quit for a duration of only about 45 minutes. Could've done that any other time the past couple of weeks...

Then Bulger had a major eruption, and for the first time, I saw steam from the Hole but no water.

[Server was down for two days because of a power failure, and the computers not needed were the ones to restart.]

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Observations for 2011 August 17

The night time Grand turned into an exercise in frustration as it also turned into the dawn Grand. When you get an eruption of West Triplet resulting in Rift and not Grand at the 10 hour mark, you know it's going to get even longer. There was also considerable frost on the walkway, indicating that this night was even colder than the previous. And it all lead up to another one burst eruption. As I was walking away, I did notice that not only was Bulger having a major eruption, but that there was a patch of steam rising above the Hole. So went back from Sawmill and by dawn-light, watched the eruption.

One thing I didn't see was Beehive. I probably missed it in all the noise and steam coming from West Triplet and Rift and even Sawmill. I know that I did hear Old Faithful at least once during the night. Also knew for certain that Fan & Mortar hadn't erupted during my wait. So unless it went before midnight, it would be the center of attraction for the rest of the day.

Around noontime I figured the best place to wait for Fan & Mortar was at Grand. Even though a bit early, could actually see something, and maybe Grand would cooperate for once. As it turned out, got out to Grand in time to see West Triplet in eruption. About the same time, the call from Jim Scheirer that an event was possibly starting (splashing in Main Vent) went out. I figured I could wait for the Turban eruption after West Triplet ended, as that would be the end of the early window. Then I could head down to F&M, and if there wasn't an eruption, probably miss only a single Turban eruption at a time when it Grand wasn't going to erupt anyhow.

As it was, this wasn't one of those usual events that piddle around and make you wonder why you are down there. There was a River pause that lasted less than 20 minutes, little Bottom Vent activity and when vents restarted, they didn't have that "is it good enough" look. During that time, I'd left, gotten my bike and stopped along the trail at a spot where Turban and Grand are easily visible. Once I got that Turban time, I went on down the trail.

I arrived to extremely good looking activity from Fan. Best I'd seen this trip. I barely had time to get ready, getting on my rain gear, when the eruption started. I wanted to try making a video, but I'd ran out of time, and the wind was making things too wet for me to want to expose my phone to it. The wind was fairly steadily blowing toward the bridge, so north of Spiteful was fairly safe.

Afterwards it was back to Grand, where only had to wait one Turban interval before a nice two burst eruption. So unlike the last few days, there wasn't an interminable wait in a huge crowd.

Later in the afternoon got over to Geyser Hill for Beehive, and from there could see that Castle was in late-to-heavy steam. The wind was still fairly strong, and in the same direction, but it didn't vary so if you got wet, it was because you wanted to get wet.

The next Grand eruption was going to be after sunset, especially when I got out there and saw Rift erupting. It simply became a matter of waiting the next few hours out. The one burst eruption was nicely lit by a rising gibbous moon, helped by having the breeze blow the steam to the northwest.

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Observations for 2011 August 16

As expected, it was clear and cold. It looked like West Triplet had ended recently, which was actually good news, since that made it more likely that the next eruption may precede Rift, but would also be the primary Grand window. That next eruption was during a Turban eruption, and Grand erupted on the next Turban. A nice two burst, although the first was so steamy I couldn't see much until I moved past West Triplet near Rift. The second burst was visible in that gap, and while the sky behind was starting to turn blue, the moon provided the lighting. And as expected, Rift started shortly after the eruption's end.

This morning I also thought I detected that tang of forest fire smoke in the air.

Starting at noon, Grand could have gone any time, but didn't. Instead it had a 36 minute Turban interval, resulting in an over 11 hour interval

Despite it being over three days since the last Fan & Mortar eruption, there never was a real attempt at any sort of eruption event.

Found that when a raven lands on the back of my truck, it makes a bit of jolt.

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Observations for 2011 August 15

Headed out to Grand to sprinkles that slowly turned into actual rain as I hurried to get to a place where I could pull the rain-gear out of the bottom of the pack. So of course the precipitation was mostly over within a Turban interval.Over the next few hours the clouds slowly thinned, letting the moon to shine through, to finally disappearing completely. But by the time Grand did erupt, there were hints of a new band off to the west. As for the eruption, was nice to have consecutive two bursts for once.

Castle was in heavy steam as I was tying up by bike. I figured the eruption was about 25-30 minutes in. Once I got the rain-gear on, and the showers died down, the sound of the steam-phase was impressively loud, especially the deep bass rumbles that you normally have a hard time hearing in daylight due to all the other noise.

Took my time getting back to the cabin. About fifteen minutes after I got there, I could hear rain against the roof.

The radio call for Beehive's Indicator came out during another set of showers. As I'd just awakened, I figure there wasn't any reason to not go over there. At worst, I'd be back in the cabin for a few hours drying out. As it was the showers weren't much, and there was a nice, growing area of blue behind the buildings. But not growing fast enough for Beehive. The sun finally came out as I was walking back. From the maps it looked like there's be a couple more before time to head out to Grand.

The cloudiness continued for the afternoon Grand wait, but the rain never materialized. It just got windy and stayed cool, especially when the clouds blocked the sun. During the wait we got an Uncertain eruption during a Deep Drain Sawmill eruption. Since West Triplet appeared to have erupted well before Grand could erupt, it looked good that Grand would use the next window for it's eruption, and that's what it did. Another one burst, but a short wait for once.

The afternoon cleared, but it also got windy, so that when I went out at sunset, it felt more like September than August. West Triplet was showing water, so I expected, and got, a shorter interval. But West Triplet never erupted during Grand's one burst, which surprised me. Not sure what that means, but do expect that there's a good possibility of another short interval.

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Observations for 2011 August 14

Turns out the forecasts were right. There was no precipitation, and the sky was mostly clear. And the earlier clouds had kept it from being as cold as the night before. Too bad I wasn't out there much.

Grand started during that short time that it was hidden behind the trees below Castle. I did get over there in time to see West Triplet just start, and to finally get an eruption with a second burst.

Sawmill had been erupting as I passed by, but by the time Grand's eruption was over and I could return to enjoy Sawmill by moonlight, it had quit. Looked like it was going to be one of those nights, when Castle started.

As I gathered back up my stuff and headed over there, Castle kept having long pauses, as if it was going to have the minor eruption end before I got over there. But that didn't happen, and after many more such pauses, the change over to continuous water happened around 12 minutes in, and shortly after it was definitely going into steam.

The moon was really too high for any moonbows. I could see one, at the base of the cone,with a hint of red and yellow, if I was well below Castle. But it was really too low to be more than a hint.

The morning was quite a contrast to yesterday. Instead of the thick fog, it was so dry that there wasn't any dew on the benches at Grand. Since Rift had gone after the last eruption, we had a similar situation to that of the last few days, and once again, Grand waited several hours for West Triplet to appear. For another one burst eruption.

During the wait several deer appeared on the hillside behind Grand, hidden in the early morning shadows. I took photos, but can't find them in those photos even though I know they are there.

Splendid Geyser runoff

Splendid Geyser runoff

Splendid Geyser and runoff channel

It was such a nice cool day that I decided that a visit down basin was in order. Saw an eruption of Daisy from the south side. Went around over to Splendid, which is in sad shape. The runoff channels to the north which were so well defined when it was last active are now just gravel depressions between the grass. There's no runoff from Splendid that I could see, and what little water there was seemed to be more the result of the sputs between it and Comet.

Then went over to see how much grass was growing on Giant's platform. Just as I passed Grotto, which was in weakly eruption, Rocket started up. So I went back to get a few pictures of it, then proceeded onto Giant. On the walk back, about seven minutes later, Rocket took off again. This time seemed higher and more vigorous than the previous. Since I took still photos during the first, I took motion for the second.

In the afternoon, Castle skipped the minor eruption and went straight to slopping. When I headed out to Grand, about 15 minutes after the close of the Castle window, there was a huge crowd lining the walkway, spilling onto the boardwalk out to Crested. All during the afternoon there would be inquiries on the radio from someone in the Visitor Cathedral asking about it.

Once again Grand didn't take advantage of the early West Triplet window, forcing us to wait an extra couple of hours. At least it was a two burst eruption, and it even tried for a third. The pool stayed high for at least 90 seconds before finally draining. After that, it was just a matter of waiting to confirm that Rift was going to erupt,

Sturgis motorcycle idiocy is in all its full glory. One thing I've noticed is that all the obvious motorcyclists are older than I am, or at least look like they are a lot older. Where are the younger riders? Aren't they interested in an annual reenactment of Easy Rider (but without the happy ending)? Or just not dressing up in that way? Does this mean the whole Sturgis get-together is going to die off in a few years? If that's the only way to get rid of all the noise they make, then so be it.

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Observations for 2011 August 14

In the morning fog was about as thick as I've seen it. As my crude panorama shows, it was impossible to tell what was going on over on Geyser Hill. Out at Grand the benches at the ends were not visible from the middle. On the boardwalk itself, over by Rift, there was a thin layer of ice. About a half hour later, with the sun finally above the trees to the east, the fog began to dissipate enough that we could finally see an eruption of Daisy.

Being dead calm, there was still plenty of steam during the Grand eruption. West Triplet erupted early in the interval, so we had to wait for the next window, which Grand promptly took, with West Triplet starting during Grand. Unfortunately, the string of one burst eruptions continued.

Fan & Mortar erupted again overnight. So while it's having shorter intervals, it's doing so such that no one can really see it, even if they are actually there.

Again in the afternoon what could have been a short wait stretched out. Since I went back to sleep when I came in, I hadn't heard that Rift erupted on the West Triplet that started during Grand. West Triplet could have erupted well before it did, which resulted in Grand having an interval well over 9 hours. An eruption that could have also happened before the high clouds came in. As it was, got another short one burst.

Despite the clouds, the forecasts are for no precipitation and even a clear night. I'll find out how accurate that really is when I get up after midnight for the next Grand.

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Observations for 2011 August 12

When the big thrill is seeing a full moonbow in West Triplet's steam, you know the overnight Grand could have gone better.

Once again I came out in time to see West Triplet lead into a Rift eruption. So knew it was going to be a wait. But didn't expect one that long. At around the ten hour mark, got a Turban interval that was down to 16-1/2 minutes, which i took as a sign that an eruption would take place on the next Turban eruption or two. So was a bit surprised when at 13m52s into the next interval Turban started. It was a short, vigorous eruption, which is usually a sign that we've had a bit of a delay, and that Grand wouldn't erupt for at least two more intervals. Just after the moon would be setting, of course.

So when there wasn't any overflow by the 20 minute mark, I wasn't surprised, but curious as to why Turban still hadn't started. Then about a minute later I could hear the runoff pick up. By 27 minute mark, it was a torrent, and the steam over Grand's pool looked like an eruption was imminent. But that all died down a few minutes later, and all ended up getting was a Turban interval well over 32 minutes. Most definitely this was a real delay.

So was a bit of a relief that it was only a two-Turban delay. Could have been worse. The eruption could have been better. When Grand quit at a bit under nine minutes, I expected at least the reward of a second burst, but once a minute passed, it became obvious that one burst was going to be it.

During the wait, around 02:45, suddenly a Ranger car turned on its lights and siren near the Lower Ham's store. This was moderately unusual, as in years past there often wasn't anyone on duty that time of night, and even then rarely have I seen them use a siren at night unless was to make an actual stop. This car kept going, out to the intersection and northwards. The whole time the siren was on, and I could still hear it echoing well north of Biscuit Basin. I assume it was some sort of medical emergency at Madison, or perhaps someone had just provided some fresh meat-loaf for the Lodge.

With Rift out of the way, figured there was always the possibility of a short interval. So while the longer wait made it feel that way, it really wasn't. Grand waited for the end of the West Triplet window, well after West Triplet had quit. If it hadn't been on that Turban, I figure we'd have had to wait another couple of hours. The eruption duration 12m11s, made of for this morning's short, but it still would have been nice to have some pauses in there.

On the other hand, the timing of the eruption was great for the next one. Tonight is the full moon, and the window opens at sunset. This is one of my favorite times, with the full moon rising over the trees behind Rift and the Sawmill Group (as seen from the benches).

A radio call brought some good news: that Rift had started at shortly before the six hour mark. This was good news because I was expecting Rift anyhow, and getting it out of the way early meant that Grand would have one less excuse to have another ten hour interval.

As it was, it needed it. It was another one of those intervals where Grand never showed signs of interest until two Turbans before it finally erupted. Was nice by moonlight, but a second burst would have been even nicer.

During the wait, I finally got to see another eruption of Bulger's Hole. I noticed that Bulger had started a major eruption, and got down there in time to see the hole start to show water. The activity seemed more powerful that three weeks ago, and the vent still makes sounds as it drains. Also, I noticed that the water appeared to be clear as it rose, but turned murky only as the eruption started. Which, I believe, is to be expected.

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Naturalist Landis Ehler

Over the years, despite my growing and deserved distain for the National Park Service, I've always advocated "respect for the uniform", that gazers should defer to Naturalists whenever possible. For example, if a Naturalist makes a misstatement about some geyser or activity, keep quiet about it until you can privately correct them. But respect has to be mutual, and I hear too much that tells me that the NPS does not respect those of us who care about the geysers and the area.

Today after the mid-day Grand we had example of why it can get so frustrating out in the basin. After Grand had finished, we saw four bicycles being walked from Grotto. It's so rare to see any Naturalist actually out in the basin beyond Old Faithful. Fortunately, today there was Naturalist Landis Ehler out at Grand and so he could take care of this. So we thought. My response would have been to ask then to return back the way they came, but I've grown accustomed to people just being directed to head toward Castle. So figured that was what he told them.

I was at Sawmill when they passed through the junction, headed toward Geyser Hill. I pointed out that the bike trail was the other way, and they should be headed that way. They grudgingly changed direction. As far as I was concerned, by attempting to continue on their way, they were the ones not showing "respect for the uniform", and by insisting they follow the rules, I was.

At Castle they met up with the rest of the group, and started talking amongst themselves about how horrible it was, and how maybe they don't allow strollers either and about the "grumpy guy." . I should have kept my mouth shut, but their attitude annoyed me into a response. For example, one of the group, not part of the boardwalkers, also lied about how they'd already been Geyser Hill, so they couldn't have been headed there.

By then Naturalist Landis Ehler had also arrived, and took their side, saying that "I've already taken care of it." I pointed out that he didn't because they didn't listen to him. If he'd "taken care of it", I wouldn't have had to point out they weren't headed to the bike trail. But he wasn't i interested in any of that. I later learned form other gazers who were both at Grand and Castle, he seemed more interested in "making contacts" with these folks, talking up their visit, the evening program and other things that would be more appropriate for people who hadn't just screwed up.

So I think the real problem here is the combination of double standard in the application of the rules, coupled the feelings of being ignored, at best, by the NPS. It's tiresome to keep seeing people screwing up, and knowing that there's nothing that anyone can really do about it except in rare occasions, like this one. Only to find out that even on those nothing was done, because of a lack of will to confront. Also to know that it's more important to suck up to people who might file a complaint, than it is to someone who wants to see the rules enforced. Someone who could also file a complaint instead of just posting to a rarely read weblog, by the way… But Naturalist Landis Ehler's behavior is just another symptom of a larger problem, and maybe part of that problem is "respect for the uniform" when the uniform isn't even trying to earn that respect on its own.