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Observations for 30 August 2014


After last night’s short wait, the hope was to have another one. So arrived in the dark. There’s been a shower earlier, based on the wet areas in the cabin area, but it was also relatively warm for the time of day. Got out to the Grand area to find West Triplet in eruption. Which was followed by an eruption of Rift which lasted about 40 minutes. During this time, the clouds built up, and as dawn started, we got some quick showers.

The Turban durations were all pretty short, as were the intervals. But there was no real pattern to what was going on that I could see. As the wait progressed, the showers turned into pretty steady rain, the wind picked up, and seemed to get a lot colder. Finally, after over nine hours Grand couldn’t hold off any more. Fortunately, the rain had stopped by then, and while it was way too steamy, the wind from the north helped make some of the one burst eruption visible.

About a Turban interval before Grand’s eruption I did see a couple of elk wandering past Churn. That was about the time that there came an announcement of activity in Fan’s Main Vent. There hadn’t been anything from those geysers since yesterday afternoon, so this could be promising. So headed down that way for what never really developed into anything of interest.

Later that morning the weather turned nasty. First there was a hailstorm followed by heavy rain. But all that let up, so that when the second announcement of event activity at Fan & Mortar was made, it was possible to ride the bike down the basin without getting wet.

But as soon as I arrived, that changed. The rain started, and never let up, getting really heavy at times. During this, the activity from Fan’s vents slowly progressed towards an eruption. Over at Mortar, the activity of Lower and Bottom Mortar fluctuated between the latter pouring out water to being quiet. There was also steaming in the frying pans. It seemed like it was going to be hard to see the eruption, but the wind helped here again. When it became obvious that we could really get an eruption, I headed from the front of the geysers to well north of Spiteful. From there there was an excellent view of the activity, as well as the start of the eruption.

Because of the wind, it seems that Fan never really drenched the walkway, but it was still powerful and high. Saw several rocks thrown from the Main Vent, while the activity from East Vent came and went. I don’t remember that much variability in it’s activity in previous years.

The Fan & Mortar eruption came just as the Grand eruption window opened. Once the second period of activity wained, I decided to head in that direction. Biking in a driving rain was getting me soaked, and everything was steaming. Almost immediately I noticed too much steam in the Grand area. Thought I saw Vent in action, but hard to tell. Then, behind Oblong, I saw a nice spike from Grand itself.

And that was the total of what I saw of that eruption. By the time I got to the Castle bike rack, things there had quieted down, so I just kept on getting wet and heading back to the cabin.

As the time for the next Grand eruption approached, the rains restarted. First it was hail, then a heavy rain. I was able to get most of the animated radar map for the previous hour, and it showed that we were on the southern edge of a cell system that extended to the west into central Idaho. If the system were a few miles farther to the north, we’d probably not get any rain at all. So I prepared to get cold and wet. I figured the odds were that I wouldn’t have a long wait, and this way I could easily skip the middle of the night eruption, especially if it was also raining then.

Headed out while it was light. Got to Grand where Rift was erupting. Only had to wait ten minutes for a one burst eruption which was actually visible in the gray and dimming light. By the time the eruption ended, it was dark enough I needed light to unlock the bike. Of course it was the trip out and back where I got wet. Waiting was no problem at all.


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Observations for 29 August 2014


I realized just in time that I’d miscalculated when to go out to Grand. So I arrived in the dark just in time to catch a long Turban eruption. That was followed by a long interval, and an explosive Grand start. If I’d kept with the earlier estimate, I’d definitely have missed it.

At around the 8-1/2 minute point Grand slowed down and for about 15 seconds just played around. Usually it seems that it picks back up after one of those slowdowns, but this time it did quit. A car in the Inn parking lot illuminated the area nicely during the pause, but you could see someones shadow pass in front of the lights before it went off. Then Grand’s second burst started. And kept on going for almost 2-1/2 minutes. So it was nice to have the second burst, but it would have been even nicer to have gotten a third.


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Observations for 10 August 2014


Went out at dawn with the hope that Grand would have a really short interval this time.The full moon was low in the west, and about an hour from setting. Cold and clear, and fog forming at the north end and over Geyser Hill. Unfortunately, Grand wasn’t quite ready. Turban had a couple of very long eruptions(over six minute duration) with long intervals (around 23 minutes), so the eruption finally came about ten minutes after the moon had set, and the sky was starting to brighten with the dawn. But the slight breeze was from the north for once, so watched the one burst eruption from the Vent side.

All this trip I did not see any bison, and just the one elk when I was driving in. I did finally see a couple of elk on the drive out— Just before the last curve before the entrance station becomes visible there were two elk, one with a nice rack of antlers, standing in the middle of the road as I approached.


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Observations for 09 August 2014


Earlier in the evening, for the Beehive eruption, the sky was clear. By the time it was time to go out for the middle of the night Grand, there was a high, thin layer of clouds. The moon was still quite visible and bright, but it wasn’t casting shadows and the lighting was indistinct. But it was good enough to clearly see the two burst Grand we were treated to after less than an hour of waiting.

The morning was foggy. There was a dense bank at the north end of the basin, starting around Grotto or so, while the area around Grand and Geyser Hill was fairly clear. The sky was completely clear of clouds, but they did start forming as we waited for Grand. It was a short wait, and Grand was nicely backlit by the rising sun.

Afterwards, there wasn’t much to do, so I was persuaded to go to Artemisia for a while. Had been there for a while when a figure appeared. The illegal camper was shaking out his wet tent and rearranging his pack. He made no attempt to hide what he was or what he was doing. Then again, why should he? Nothing would have happened if we had tried to report him, so why bother?

After a couple of hours of nothing happening, I finally went in. Artemisia did erupt after another hour.

The afternoon Grand was a pleasant wait. After the week of steady to intermittent rain (usually at the wrong time), it was nice to experience what seemed more like a typical August afternoon. Waited through a short Rift eruption, one that lasted about 25 minutes. Then we had the call for Beehive's Indicator. When Grand erupted, there was a low rainbow at the base of the water columns. Of course a cloud appeared during the eruption to block that out.

It was a bit of a surprise when the first burst ended. At first it behaved like the usual slowdown, where Grand looks more like a really big Tardy erupting. But it was so early in the eruption that we knew there had to be a second. What was a surprise was that the second was short, and instead of draining, Grand’s pool slowly refilled. At times it looked like it might drop again, but by then the sun was back out, and we got a wonderful third burst.

It was dark and the nearly full moon was high for the next Grand eruption. It was warm, with people wandering all over the place, or so it seemed. But during the entire two burst eruption, no one tried to illuminate the water column, which I didn’t expect. After the rains of the previous week, it was a nice ending for the trip.


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Observations for 08 August 2014


Came out to Grand just before midnight. The clouds were gone, and it wasn’t too cold or damp. We had the place to ourselves for an hour when, as in the morning, we heard Beehive. Distinctively loud.

At the same time, Grand was approaching an opportunity for an eruption. It had had a short, vigorous eruption, then a short interval with a weaker, but longer eruption, so it should try to erupt. Which it did, but only after waiting over a minute after the start of Turban. The second burst was shrouded in steam, but the top was visible above all that.

In the morning, the basin was pretty much fogbound to the north. If Oblong had erupted, we probably wouldn’t have seen it. We only had a Turban interval wait, but during that time a coyote passed us on the boardwalk, and continued on to Spasmodic. I don’t know if it actually went behind us on the walkway, or got on by the prediction sign.

The eruption itself was almost impossible to see in all the fog and steam, with no air movement at all to help visibility. It was easier to see Vent backlit by the sun, and Vent was nice and high.

What started as a nice clear, foggy day turned into a cool clear day, and then the thunderstorms came in.

The rest of the day consisted of a couple of unmemorable eruptions of Grand. Both were one burst. The day ended with a post-sunset eruption of Beehive, which was quite nice as by then the weather had cleared and the column was straight up.


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Observations for 07 August 2014


For the morning eruption, Grand reverted to type, giving us a long one burst eruption just before sunrise. During the eruption, Suzanne remarked that she thought she was also hearing Beehive. The interval would fit. So I went down toward the Sawmill Group and confirmed that Beehive was just finishing its eruption.

The weather was gray, but the forecast said it would be nice until noontime. So took advantage of the situation and headed out to see Imperial Geyser. Haven’t been there this century. One reason we left early was to avoid the parking fiasco at the trail head. Got there and found “Road Closed” signs across the entrance. Even though someone had move some of them, and there were cars back in the parking area proper, decided to go on to Ojo Caliente and bike in from there. This added about 10 minutes of driving, and 15 minutes of biking.

Trail out is easy, with only a couple of muddy spots. The bridge at the falls is out, and will be pleasantly surprised if the NPS replaces it any time soon. But there are several ways across the creek coming down from the plunge pool, so crossing wasn’t an issue.

The activity from Imperial is impressive. The side vent would have eruptions of varying length, then short pauses. When coming-out of the pause it seemed like some of the biggest burst occurred. I would guess a few were over 30 feet. The flow coming out, and the mud pot activity at the west end of the crater were as I remember them.

Didn’t cross the runoff to get to Spray. There seems to be one place a person could jump across, but didn’t want to risk it, and from there I couldn’t see any trail through the thick trees between that location and Spray itself. It seems that Imperial’s runoff where it joins Spray’s is much wider, as I remember crossing around there.

All this time we were the only people out in that area. On our way back, we finally met an huge tour group between Imperial and Fairy Falls. From the falls, there seemed at times to be a continuous stream of people walking towards the falls. By this time, also, the sky was starting to look nasty and about to rain. And few of these people were carrying anything, let alone rain gear.

At one point we saw another deer a few yards off the trail in the thick, young trees. Finally, as we approached the bike rack, the rain started. Despite all the people we’d passed, there was only one family group of bikes besides our own. The ride back was moderately unpleasant with a steady rain the whole three miles.

Also unpleasant was the parking situation at the other trail head. Not only were the signs gone and the lot full, but there were dozens of vehicles parked along the road. On the Till Geyser side many were parked perpendicular to the road, down into the ditch and runoff channel. An ugly sight, but one I’ve come to expect these days.

Got back to the Upper Basin to learn that Grand had erupted about 30 minutes earlier. If we hadn’t had to detour to Ojo Caliente, and take all the extra time that took, probably could have gotten back for the eruption. On the other hand, it was in the rain, and getting soaked for Imperial made a bit more sense.

In the evening, walked up on Grand. Was looking at Rift, which was just starting, when suddenly Grand started. Just the latest of a series of short intervals of the last few days.


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Observations for 06 August 2014


Missed another nighttime Grand due to the weather, so got an early start on Grand based on that double interval. It was one of those starts were Turban goes on for well over a minute before Grand joins in.

During that eruption got an announcement that there was an even at Fan & Mortar. Not just the usual single blip from the Main Vent, but frequent splashing in Main along with high surging Lower Mortar and small, short eruptions from Bottom Vent. When the Fan vents did turn on, for a couple of minutes it looked like we might get an eruption, but then Gold turned steamy and the wheezing, knocking sound started. One that, to me, signifies nothing is about to happen.

In the early afternoon got a short Rift, followed by a wait of several hours for Grand. Nothing much to get excited about, other than it was adding to my new one burst streak.

The early night eruption of Grand, however, was different. The sky finally cleared out and the moon was bright and low to the west. Didn’t have to wait one Turban eruption interval before Grand started almost immediately after Turban did. The first burst lasted only 8m10s, which would probably have been a record for short one burst eruption. So fairly confident that there’d be a second burst. It was a long one, 70 seconds long, so figured that we’d seen the eruption. So the third burst was a distinct surprise following a pause that lasted almost a minute. For this eruption, Grand had reverted in behavior by about twenty years.


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Observations for 05 August 2014


Another wet night. I could have gone out to Grand in the night. I set the alarm to get up for it, but I looked at the weather map and decided not to go. Waiting out in the rain in the dark is not any fun. I can’t see and I can’t really hear. Taking notes without getting the notebook soaked is a chore. Once you settle into a location and position, you don’t want to move for any reason, as that will get you wet. So you end up cold and damp and tired.

So woke up to another gray wet day. Was hoping that unlike the other day, the NPS might provide the overnight Grand time, but they didn’t. So figured the fourteen hour mark was good enough. Got out to Grand and the area was quiet, as if Rift had gone a few hours ago and put all the rest of the spurs to sleep. The Grand prediction board was completely erased, with nothing written on it. I was not surprised that the NPS would live down to my expectations.

The Turban intervals were all long, well into the twenties, with the first one being over 24 minutes. The durations were also long, and got shorter as the wait length increased. The same thing happened with the Turban eruption durations. They started out well over six minutes, while the one that preceded the Grand eruption was less than four. I suspect we got out to Grand not long after the first overflow, which would make the previous Grand interval something at or over nine hours long. Really glad I didn’t go out at night if that’s true.

We ended up with a seventeen hour double interval, which fits. After the previous short Turban eruption, we got a vigorous Turban start. It was hard to tell through the steam and fog from the occasional showers, but Grand’s pool appeared to stay full with waves. It was nearly two minutes before Grand finally started.

Having the first burst end at 7m49s was a pleasant surprise. This was so short that we were either assured to have another burst, or we’d just witnessed one of the shortest, if not the shortest, Grand eruptions ever. Grand gave us that second burst, and despite the weather, we could see the jets nicely. The second burst was short, less than half a minute, which was another relief, as too often it seems that when there’s a short first burst, the second burst goes on too long. But as far as I could tell, Grand didn’t even attempt to fill for a third. We ended up with a total length of 9m02s.

Walking back from Grand was when Castle started to erupt after having a minor earlier Since by then the rain had stopped, we waited around for the steam phase, or the next minor eruption. The steam was as noisy as always.

After lunch back in the cabin area, the rain had stopped so made a visit to Geyser Hill. Was my first time over by Giantess, where I was surprised to see that Infant was well above its shelf. We’d intended to stick around by Beehive, but by then the rain had returned, and getting wet was a low priority. So we weren’t back in the cabins long before the call of water in the Indicator was heard. The eruption was white on bright gray background, but the jet out of the cone was as impressive as always.

After a wet afternoon, an unwelcome surprise was Grand erupting as we were just leaving the Lodge area. With the rain, didn’t want to get out there any earlier than necessary, and 5h59m seemed way too early to start getting wet. But did get as far as Castle during the eruption, where we could see that it didn’t have a second burst.


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Observations for 04 August 2014


The night was calm and clear,and not as cold as it could have been. But it was still steamy. We walked up on what appeared to be the start of Turban erupting, although for a moment had the sinking feeling that Vent was in there too. If it really was the start, then we saw a short, vigorous Turban. That the next Turban eruption was long and quieter, and Grand erupted after the second interval does support that. As said before, it was steam, so not much to see of the one burst eruption. That makes nine in a row for me.

Woke up to a surprise. It was cold and gray and damp, and had rained a bit. From that point, it got worse. The weather radar showed a slow moving region of rain, and we were at the leading edge. Rain was going to last for several hours.

Out at Grand, while the rain was steady, there was no wind, so once a person got properly situated, it was possible to stay dry without fighting for it. We went through a short Rift eruption at the end of West Triplet activity, then two cycles of Turban having long then short eruption durations. And then we got my tenth one burst eruption in a row.

Thanks to the rain, stayed indoors most of the day. Did come back out for the evening Grand. Beehive had also not been observed during the night, and so now the Indicator made its appearance. Things worked out much better than they could have. People had the chance to abandon Grand right at the start of a Turban eruption, head over and see Beehive, and then come back and catch Grand two Turban eruptions later. And the sun actually made an appearance for both eruptions. Or at least for the first half of Grand, which had another one burst eruption.

Having Grand erupt when it did also made me feel better. According to both the weather radar (internet access was working by then) and the sky itself, we were about to get dumped on. But the expected downpour never happened.

I went through the little data I have on two burst eruptions, and it appears that first bursts last between 8m30s and 9m40s. There aren’t any longer, and all the longer first bursts are the only bursts. This seems to fit, as in many of the one burst eruptions, there’s usually a slowdown, and an attempt to stop, during that period of time.


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Observations for 03 August 2014


Last night’s Grand eruption was so early that the odds were that the next eruption would take place before dawn, and I wasn’t looking forward to that. So I decided instead to rest up after yesterday’s hike and get a good night’s sleep. Was not surprised to learn that not only did no one see the early Grand, but the NPS never bothered to announce the time recorded by their monitor. Since it seemed that the interval overnight wasn’t a long one, I decided that 13 hours (two 6h30m intervals) would be a good time to go out.

Got to Grand and found that the prediction sign had nothing on it,other than today’s date. Turban itself was acting a bit different, in that it was having medium length durations, and several cases of low pool waves before obviously dropping. The eruption itself was nice in the sunset, and lasted well over 11 minutes. Surprisingly, Vent and Turban didn’t stop. During the eruption, it took four tries before they finally were able to understand the Grand start time.

Now this leads to another radio rant: Here’s the one time that the NPS can return the favors that everyone else does for it. The one time that the monitor time would have been useful. And they blew it. This is why I want nothing to do with providing them times, because they provide so little in return for all the help gazers have given them. Let ’s not forget the times when Grand has a long interval, and all of us at Grand get to hear, “Has anyone information about Grand?” I really don’t care that they are busy and miss things. There are ways to alleviate that problem, that I’ve detailed in the past, but they’ll never suggest any, and if gazers tried to impose any, the NPS would balk. I just wish more gazers would ignore them, too.

In the evening, walked up onto the end of an eruption of West Triplet, and Rift starting. Wasn’t paying close attention, so didn’t notice that it was a short Rift eruption until well after it had ended. At most, the eruption lasted twenty minutes. But it had its eftects, and Grand waited for two hours before it finally erupted. The series of Turban eruptions was of the variety where the durations keep getting shorter until Grand goes after a very short eruption.

There was just enough light to see the waves on the pool, and to see Vent overflow. Then Grand had a boil, Turban started explosively, and finally Grand jetted to start the first burst. Grand has been having slowdowns between seven and nine minutes into the eruption, and this was no exception. I thought the burst had stopped, but it picked back up. Unlike the old “false pause”, these slowdowns usually don’t even have a sharp jet to conclude them. So we ended up with a one burst eruption lasting less than ten minutes. For me, that’s now seven one burst eruptions in a row.

During the waits for Grand, did get to see something different. The first time there were two deer on the hillside behind Grand, and for the evening there was one. Not sure if it was one of the earlier two or a third. In any case,that’s more deer seen in this one day that I’ll see in several years.