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Observations for 30 July 2014

After yesterday’s showers, I’d expected the night to be a bit warmer, but there were enough patches of clear sky that it had cooled down enough that fog was starting to develop. Having Rift and West Triplet to pump moisture into the local air wasn’t helping, either.

It appears that for now, Rift activity needs to be factored into Grand’s. Rift’s intervals have gotten much shorter, and in every case I can remember, it has resulted in about a two hour delay before Grand even tries to erupt. This night was no exception. as we arrived to find it in eruption. It was about two hours from the end of Rift until Grand erupted, including a couple of short-long cycles in Turban intervals at the end.

Following the one burst eruption, Castle started its own eruption. Then we were headed back to the cabin when surprised to hear Penta erupting. Based on the width and appearance of the runoff channel, the eruption had started well before Grand. But in the foggy night, we just hadn’t heard it.

While heading out for the next eruption of Grand, were surpassed to see that Artemisia was erupting. The interval was almost exactly 24 hours. If one were superstitious, that person would heard out there tomorrow morning shortly before the same time.

West Triplet started shortly after arrival, and the expected steam from Rift began to appear. The steam increased as West Triplet quit. But instead of a full eruption, Rift only sputtered for about 6 minutes. It didn’t even put out enough water to reach the walkway. But it did seem to have the same effect as a normal length eruption.

Took advantage of the fact that there was little to do, and that Oblong hadn’t been seen all morning to wait down there. First wait there in years. Rewarded with a nice big eruption, but it also reminded me why I’m not big on either it or Fountain. Those big, crashing surf like swells are nice, but in small doses.

But on the way back, we got to see Rift in eruption, for about a 3-1/2 hours interval.

In the evening, got a nice one burst eruption of Grand, with West Triplet starting right after. Didn’t stick around to see if it resulted in a fourth Rift eruption of the day.

Then, to finish the day, well after sunset, got the call that Beehive’s Indicator was in eruption. Mis-interpreted it as being the start, so was in the trees between the cabin and the bridge when the eruption began about 6 minutes later. Got over to a place where it could be seen, and was quite nice. It was rapidly getting dark, but there was no wind and the water column was rising straight up.

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Observations for 29 July 2014

Awoke to gray sky and wet ground. But it was still warm, and according to the weather radar, the rain should be decreasing. So headed out to Grand.

Out at Grand I checked the weather radar again. In the last twenty minutes, a new cell of rain showers had developed and was headed my way. As rainstorms in the geyser basins go, it wasn’t much, but did require deployment of rain gear and umbrella.

The first Turban eruption after I arrived was another one of those short but vigorous types. After about 30 seconds, I wouldn’t have been surprised if Grand, hidden somewhere in all the steam, had started. Instead, this eruption heralded the eruption of Grand two Turban intervals later.

Without much wind, Grand was shrouded in its own steam, although the occasional spike would climb about the mass of steam. This mass didn’t dissipated quickly, so the second burst out of it. The second burst was long, but not enough to be considered official.

Coming back from Grand, we heard the call for Beehive’s Indicator. Despite the gray skies, it was as nice eruption seen from Geyser Hill. In part that was because the walkways were mostly empty, and I was able to move around a bit. The wind also never shifted the downfall onto the walkway.

After breakfast, the rains had stopped, and it was turning into just a cool gray morning. I haven’t been to Artemisia and wait for an eruption in years. But with no one knowing what it was up to, or when it erupted last,it seems like a good place to waste some time. I figured there were two possibilities— I’d see an eruption, or after a couple of hours, head back. I didn’t consider the possibility that when I got past the trees at Grotto I’d see a huge steam cloud at Artemisia.

Since we were almost there, we went on to Artemisia to at least see the eruption and its end.

For both the mid day, and the early evening Grand eruptions, there was no wait at all. And we even got two bursts with the first eruption. But that also left a lot of free time, which ended up being used with non-geyser activities like playing games.

One item of interest is that Grand has been getting benches wet with daytime eruptions, something I haven’t seen in a while. It doesn’t take much of a wind shift to get the benches down by Rift and West Triplet wet, but today the wind actually caused me to have to use my umbrella in my usual spot. There’ve also been some nice base surges rolling off the starting water column when the wind is right, too.

Updated: 2014 July 31 07:40

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Observations for 28 July 2014

After last night’s disappointment, and because of the lack of sleep from the long interval in the morning, made the decision to skip the next Grand eruption and get some sleep. Even if I had gone out to Grand, based on when it erupted and my usual behavior, I would not have seen the Fan & Mortar eruption that occurred an hour later.

Woke up in the morning to a different sky. While the previous days had been cold, dry and sunny, this morning was just cool, because it was overcast. The overcast did clear after a while, but later in the day built into clouds which occasionally would emit water droplets.

When finally did get up and about, it was to go over to Geyser Hill. It was over 19 hours since the previous Beehive eruption, and there was nothing better to do. As it turned out, Beehive wasn’t much interested in erupting either. Finally gave up and returned to the cabin to get some things done. The eruption finally took place on a 22 hour interval, but with nice conditions that allowed most of the walkway to remain dry.

By the time I had returned to the cabin from Beehive, it was time to head to Grand. The wait started out hot and humid with a bit of a breeze. By the time the nearly ten hour interval was over, it was cooler and overcast. During the wait we were treated to several short Turban durations, in which Grand never really looked good. Each of those cases It finally erupted on Turban after such an eruption, which does not normally fit the pattern of alternating short and long (and good and bad) eruptions. At least the eruption had two bursts.

After that, there wasn’t much to do, and the weather discouraged any playing around or little side trips. The threatened rain never appeared, but we did get some heavy wind gusts accompanied by sprinkles.

By the evening, the weather the chance of precipitation was certain, but it was warm and there was little to no wind. I got out to Grand in time for an eruption of West Triplet, which lead into an eruption of Rift. A Rift interval of just over 9-1/2 hours. Not what I wanted to see. Fortunately, it was a short eruption of Rift, only about 40 minutes. Shortly after Rift had quit, Turban had a short, vigorous eruption. This time, unlike some recent waits, Grand had a one burst eruption two Turban intervals later.

During the wait for Grand, did get to witness a bit of a miracle. The broken bench was replaced. But as always with the NPS, it seems, when you want to compliment them, there’s always a disclaimer. This time, while they may have replace the bench and removed the orange cones in a timely manner, they didn’t do a good job of cleaning up. That evening there were still piles of rust and plastic shavings under the bench next to the supports.

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Observations for 27 July 2014

After seeing Grand illuminated, went out in the dark with the hope that the interval would be short and we’d be able to illuminate Grand with one torchlight. But after a couple of Turban eruptions, it became obvious that it was too light for the torchlight to matter. Then it became bright enough to see, but the steam from the runoff started to obscure vision. When arrived at the benches, they were still wet from condensation, but as the day brightened, the walkways and benches were covered in enough frost to make the walks slippery. Finally after a 9-1/2 hour interval (and a three hour wait), Grand erupted as the sun was above the trees behind it.

That the eruption was so late actually made for a nicer eruption. It was dead calm, and the sun was high enough that the entire water column was backlighted. The duration was also 11-1/2 minutes, so if we were going to have to see a one burst eruption, at least it lasted long enough to justify not having a subsequent burst.

For the first three minutes of the Beehive eruption, the breeze was blowing parallel to the walkway, so no one got wet. Then the breeze turned into the wind and it started to shift. First the folks by Plume got soaked. The shift continued, and moments later the downpour was coming directly at the walkway, 90 degrees from its previous direction. Fortunately, that didn’t last long. Because most of the eruption was without wind, the column was nice and tall against the clear, deep blue sky and the falling water to the left of the cone impressive by its closeness to both the walkway and the cone.

Both Rift and West Triplet were in eruption when I arrived for the afternoon Grand wait. West Triplet ended shortly after, and Rift about ten minutes later.

Like yesterday, the Grand wait in the early afternoon was interrupted by another event down at Fan & Mortar. Unlike yesterday, that event wasn’t very good. Just at the time the announcement was heard, Turban had one of its shorter eruptions, indicating Grand might be trying to erupt in about 40 minutes. One thing to consider in the future is that those who left Grand were able to get back to it for the eruption, 37 minutes later.

The plans to illuminate the next eruption didn’t happen. Suzanne and I were walking up to Castle when we saw the start of the eruption. The interval was 5h52m. Other gazers were closer, but no one was there for the start. The eruption then only lasted 9m32s, and we didn’t even get a second burst.

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Observations for 26 July 2014

After the Beehive eruption, which I heard from my cabin as getting ready to go out to Grand, it was time to actually go out. I went out to with Suzanne. The sky was not dark because of all the stars, and the Milky Way near the horizon looked like the lights of a distant town. It was dead calm, not even the slight breeze going downstream. Because of this, was able to see Grand’s eruption from the northwest. Using Suzanne’s new light, we were able to see all the details of the eruption, including Vent starting. Then the wind shifted and our stuff got a bit wet. Grand lasted almost exactly 10 minutes, and was another one burst eruption.

At dawn, the walkways were frosty, and the ones at Grand were icy with droplets from the previous eruption. We could also see the shadows where our stuff got wet. But we didn’t have to wait more than ten minutes before the eruption. It was one of those where a little breeze would have actually helped. The jets were hidden by all the steam from the various runoff channels. The pause before the second burst was short, and not enough time for the steam to clear and allow us to see much of the actual eruption.

There was an actual wait for the noontime Grand, and it was entertaining in a perverse way. Shortly after most people had arrived and settled in for the wait, it was announced that there was splashing in Fan & Mortar’s main vent during a pause. This situation lasted for quite a while, so when the pause ended most of the people there started abandoning Grand. After another Turban interval, I was the only one of that group left at Grand. It was mildly frustrating, as Grand was obviously in a mode where all the Turban eruptions were the same— about 5-1/2 minutes long with 20 minute intervals. When that changed, we would quickly get the eruption.

As it was, Fan & Mortar looked almost good enough to erupt, but they didn’t, and Turban didn’t change during that time. The allowed all those who had earlier abandoned Grand to return with time to spare. Finally, we got a short, powerful Turban eruption that drained Grand down. Grand followed up with its own eruption two Turban intervals later.

This eruption was against a clear, deep blue sky with a wind that cooperated. So much so that the people down by West Triplet and Rift got a bit of a shower near the start of the eruption. Grand also cooperated by having a short burst. It took Grand what seemed like a long time to bring itself to start the second burst. The pool slowly refilled while sloshing around. Then the burst just kept on going, so we ended up with an eruption that lasted for a bit over 12-1/2 minutes.

I finally got to see Beehive when I heard the radio call while I was in my cabin. Here the wind also cooperated, as for the first three minutes or so, none of the walkways got wet at all. It wasn’t until late before the people who wanted a geyser shower got their wish, and even then they had to be at the corner by Plume.

Since it was also my first visit to Geyser Hill, I got to see the dormant Plume. What surprised me is that the front vent is splashing around at depth, but hight enough that some of the jetting is visible. An interesting switch, since the water jets of the eruptions used to come from the other vents, especially the vent at the other end of Plume’s crater.

Got out for the next Grand eruption around sunset. Based on the window, it was decided that the eruption was going to be illuminated by five very powerful lights. Grand cooperated and it was completely dark by the time it erupted. It was impressive to be able to see Vent overflow and Grand’s waves before the eruption even started. With that many lights, the entire column was illuminated the whole time. The only disappointment was that we didn’t get a second burst.

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Observations for 25 July 2014

Walked up on West Triplet in eruption. Fortunately, this time I didn’t have to wait. Turban started, and almost immediately it had that sound that said something was happening back there. After a minute, I could hear the boiling and surging from Grand, kicking off the eruption.

The eruption itself lasted almost 11 minutes, and surprising, Vent and Turban did not stop afterwards.

After getting back to the cabin, I spent some time getting caught up on the previous day’s events and other little tasks. So while I was in bed at 05:00, I was still not asleep. It was then that I could hear this vague rumbling coming from outside. It could have been Old Faithful (or a car) but duration and tone said it was Beehive. I noted that time,and then finally fell asleep. Turns out I was right.

Unable to sleep in, so went down to Fan & Mortar, and got fooled by the Bottom Vent splashing. Wasn’t aware that it’s quite common when the Angle Always On mode pauses briefly.

Once again, the wait at Grand consisted of every Turban eruption duration being shorter than the previous, along with longer intervals until Grand finally erupted. Like the previous eruption in the dark, Grand took about a minute of waves and pouring out water before it finally erupted. The duration of the eruption was just under twelve minutes.

During the wait, the wind started up again, but as the day progressed it wasn’t anywhere near as gusty as yesterday, and with the cool temperatures, made for pleasant waits.

The evening Grand eruption was quite similar to the previous two, in terms of eruption behavior. Another one burst eruption that started with Turban and which took Grand almost a minute to join into. West Triplet also started during the one burst Grand eruption.

To bring an end to the day, was awakened by a radio call for Beehive’s Indicator, just before my alarm was set to wake up for Grand’s next eruption. Didn’t go out to Beehive, so I ended up hearing a second consecutive eruption from inside my cabin.

The road crews were busy on the bike trail. Unfortunately, I don’t think they’ve done anything lasting. They dumped gravel in along the high edges and tamped it down, but the only place they’ve actually put asphalt was in a hole in the middle of the trail at Castle. In other places, the steep drop-offs are still there, especially up by the Inn.

And the latest bit of weirdness is the missing bench at Grand. Seems a few days ago, one of the new plastic benches on the northwest side fell over. That’s the direction in which most of Grand’s spray is directed, especially at night, and the supports just rusted out. Looking at the other nearby benches, they are probably going to follow it in the near future. So for now there are three orange traffic cones over the places where the base for the supports were attached to the walkway.

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Observations for 24 July 2014

Coming in during the day wasn’t too bad. Only had to wait about 15 minutes at the West Yellowstone entrance, and the drive was mostly at the speed limit, or close to it. The only problem was about a mile and a half backup starting at the Seven-Mile Bridge, cause by people stopping for a single elk. But by the time I got there a ranger was making sure people weren’t blocking traffic completely.

But what did make the drive in slower than it could have been, especially with the speed limit on I-15 in Idaho being raised to 80mph, were the two construction zones. First I had to wait about 10 minutes at the reconstruction of the Ashton Grade. That I expected. The road was so torn up when I went through there for the 4th of July trip that I figure I’ll still be dealing with it over Labor Day. But they are also repaving the last twelve miles in Idaho up to the Montana border. They will be finished in a few days, but I had to wait about 20 minutes. And of course after these stops the traffic flows at the speed of the slowest (and least considerate) RV in the line.

It was a cool, clear, cloudless day, and incredibly windy. The kind of wind we got back in 1988 on a regular basis, or associated with an incoming thunderstorm. The wait for Grand was interesting, as the Turban intervals were moderately long, and each eruption duration was shorter than the previous. With the start of West Triplet, I figured that it had to go on one of the next two opportunities, or it was going to be a 9 hour wait. As it was, it had a sub-ten minute one burst eruption on the second chance.

I watched West Triplet after Grand, because it seemed like a good time for Rift to start. The activity was weak, with many of the bubbles collapsing as they became visible, and the water just welling up with only occasional splashes. Finally, the upwelling stopped without Rift making an appearance.

For the evening, I walked up on a wet West Triplet runoff channel. A good indication that I’d probably have to wait for the next West Triplet opportunity for Grand to erupt. And as it turned out, Grand did wait long enough for the sun to set and it to start getting dark. At the end, Vent and Turban didn’t just quit, but we were treated to a period of Vent blasting away and Turban even more vigorous than usual. It would be nice if that activity actually meant something interesting might happen, but I’ve never see any indication that it means Grand might try for another burst.

And there are now traffic cones where one of the Grand benches used to be. Seem the support columns on that bench rusted through and it just collapsed one day. Expect to see more of that, and then the question is how long will it take the NPS to replace them? (A little preventive maintenance in the form of paint on those metal parts of the current would help, but I’ll be surprised if that happens.)

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Observations for 06 July 2014

It was already light when I came out for the next Grand eruption. Rift was also well into eruption. At the same time, West Triplet was having deep drain steam-type minor activity. The first Turban eruption I saw was short and vigorous, and I wasn’t surprised when next eruption didn’t have as much overflow but was longer and calmer.

It took a little bit for Grand to start following Turban, but. like the night before, the little breeze was helping make it easier to see the pool. The sun was just coming over the ridge, so the tops of the jets of water were nicely illuminated. One of the few times I wish I’d taken some video of the start of the eruption. It would also have been a perfect time for a second burst, but despite the ten minute duration, I finished off my trip with nine Grand eruptions, and ten Grand bursts.

Since Beehive went in the middle of the night, it was time to head on home, as nothing of interest was going to be happening any time soon.

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Observations for 05 July 2014

It wasn’t necessary for Grand to wait an entire West Triplet interval before erupting. I arrived at midnight, just as the crescent moon was setting. There was a long wait for the first Turban, and then West Triplet started. The next five Turban eruption intervals were undistinguished, and pretty much the same. Finally there was a duration almost a minute shorter than the previous interval, and Grand finally erupted two Turban intervals later. It was during Grand that West Triplet started again. I didn’t stick around to see if we got Rift.

The morning eruption reverted to pattern. I only had to wait one Turban interval. And this, my sixth eruption of the trip, as the first one with more than one burst.

With little to do during the day, I went down basin for the latest Fan & Mortar call. Not just because of boredom, but also because it was the first call in which there was evidence that a single splash from the Main Vent was going to constitute the entirety of the “event”. There were a few times when the activity from Fan’s vents look encouraging, but those lasted for only a minute or so.

Also checked out Daisy and Splendid. The latter shows no change from any visit during the past few years. So if reports of “surging” are accurate, they aren’t resulting in any additional water leaving a mark on the surroundings.

The next Grand wait was a bit different from previous ones. Each of the Turban intervals were well over 21 minutes, but none were coming close to a delay. West Triplet preceded another one burst Grand eruption. At least it was over 10 minutes long.

I wanted to get some bison meat loaf, so went over to the Lodge at the usual time, about an hour after the latest Old Faithful eruption. There was still quite a line, so decided to wait another 15 or 20 minutes. Came back the second time, and while there wasn’t a line, there were at least half a dozen people waiting to complete their order. Seems about a third of the trays at that station were in need of refilling. Quite a contrast to previous years, where at that point in the Old Faithful interval, the trays would be full and I’d be about the only person in the serving area. I gave up and dug into the snacks box.

The quarter moon was high and bright when I went out around 22:00. With two hours to go, I had a good chance of seeing my fourth Grand eruption of the day. First couple of Turban eruptions were long and undistinguished. Then, with an hour to go, got a relatively short and strong Turban eruption. A little calculation showed that there was enough time for at least three more Turban intervals before midnight. It turned out that the next Turban eruption came after very little overflow, and despite the long duration, much of the activity was barely audible splashing.

So Grand went right as expected. At the start, what little wind there was was pushing the steam away. So the initial surges were nice and impressively visible in front of the steam. The moon was still high and bright, and if you knew where to look, it was possible to see a faint moon bow. And it was another one burst eruption.

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Observations for 04 July 2014

With Grand erupting before midnight, it mean that I’d be heading out for the next eruption before dawn. It was dark when I biked down basin, but when Grand erupted a Turban interval later, it was more that light enough to see the one burst eruption. It was also a fairly warm morning, so the steam and fog wasn’t quite as thick as it usually seams to be.

For the next Grand opportunity, as predicted Beehive’s Indicator started around the same time. And Grand didn’t wait to give people time to get from Geyser Hill. The pool came up quickly and Grand seemed to forego the 30 seconds or so of waving and boiling. The eruption duration was short, less than 10 minutes. Afterwards, waited around for West Triplet, which seemed especially reluctant to get started. Grand also took its time in starting the afterplay.

The final one burst eruption of the day was both a bit more unusual, and a bit more typical. I got out while West Triplet was erupting. I won’t surprised to see Rift start shortly after. But I was surprised when Rift abruptly quit less than 25 minutes from its start. At the same time, Turban had a long interval. Not long enough to be a Delay, but much more than the usual 20 minutes.

On the third Turban interval after the long one, Grand had the first low-pool waves I’d seen this trip. (Not surprising, actually, as all the previous waits had been short, or in the dark.) Instead of dropping, though, the pool kept rising. So it was at this point that the sun disappeared behind a cloud, just as Vent started to overflow. The duration again was less than 10 minutes, and Grand showed no indication of wanting to even try to have a second burst. The water was out of sight within seconds.