After yesterday's activity, it was definitely a good time to leave. But first there was an interval of over 6 hours, so we got to see one final One Burst Grand, steamy and backlit.
Then off to Geyser Hill for a quick visit.
The sputtering under the boardwalk between Pump and Doublet was stronger than when I was there last, and there was steam coming out from both sides. I expect that walkway to close before my return. (And I was right, as we learned on the drive home that much of the area was now off limits. Gotta love the usual NPS overreaction.)
Pendant was drained, and what Micah wants to call Grove Geyser were both erupting to a few feet high. There still hadn't been a Lion eruption, although North Goggles was slowing down.
Ear seemed to have, at least for the short time we were there, settled into some strong heavy boiling. Several of the loose sinter sheet sections had dislodged and that seemed to help lower Ear's water level a bit.
Over by the boardwalk to Solitary was a strange little feature putting brownish, murky water up a foot and onto the trail occasionally.
Will be interesting to see what long-terms changes are visible here when we next visit, and what happens over the winter and into next spring.
On the drive back, did almost encounter a deer running across the road just as we were approaching Owl Canyon Road. Also saw a lot of antelope along the roads between Jeffrey City and Laramie. It must be fall.
Arrived back in the cage at midnight. It wasn't quite as cold as we'd expected, but still down near freezing. After an hour and a half we got the hot period we'd been expecting. It was a strong one, that did not include a Feather restart, instead Feather stayed on for 14m23s. But no Giant eruption. More than a little disappointing.
We'd already planned on getting up at 03:00 to leave for Norris and New Crater/Steamboat. But there wasn't much point in trying to get another nap, so instead we loaded up the truck and hit the road. Driving at that time of night can be interesting, as we found out when we came across a bison jogging north just inside the right late line, just south of the exit from the Firehole Lake Drive. Really glad I was doing Pacman and not strictly staying in my lane. (I figure if I don't see the center line when I should, it's because there's something there.)
Arrived at Norris at 04:00, and learned that a set of strong minors was in progress. It turned out that we witnessed the last of that series. By then it was really cold, but we settled in to wait for dawn and a day of waiting. Some folks who arrived later said that their vehicle thermometers were in the mid to upper 20s.
At around 06:30, suddenly the four of us had a large number of companions, all there to see New Crater/Steamboat. Most of whom I had never seen before, and from the way they were talking, they were there to add another checkmark to their personal lists. The noise level got pretty intense for that time of day.
All this time, there was nothing happening other than a lot of slopping around. It wasn't until 09:30, about 5 hours after we arrived, that we saw the next minor eruption. This was followed almost immediately but several more in quick succession, culminating with an eruption of New Crater/Steamboat at 09:36. That sudden onset was just like the previous eruption we'd seen 10 days ago.
This was a powerful eruption, but what was most notable was how it was still in water phase an hour into the eruption. That's when the North Vent shut down, followed within moments by the South vent. It was absolutely quite out there. Then just as sudden, both vents exploded upward. The North Vent looked almost as tall as the start of an eruption. South Vent was as brown as North for a few seconds,
We got 4 of these shutdowns. Then, finally, the transition to pure steam started. The water columns cleared up, but every time it looked like it was pure steam, they'd throw out some spray.
The drive back was uneventful until we got to the Mary Mountain trailhead. There traffic came to a complete stop for the better part of an hour because of a bison herd near the Kaleidoscope Group. It was really frustrating because we wanted to get back to see what had happened with Giant.
Turns out, not much. A couple of weak hot periods were inferred from the resulting puddles and pools on the platform, or from dry areas. This was interesting news. As the afternoon went on, and there wasn't any event there, it started to look like we might have a chance for an eruption.
After a bathtub, I decided that we probably had at least a couple of hours until the next event. Time to head in and start packing up to leave tomorrow. But as I was riding in, it occurred to me that if Giant was setting up to erupt, it might shorten things up. So decided I should be heading back out in about one and a quarter hours. Besides, I've been consistently overestimating how much time is available between hot periods.
The call that water was rising in Mastiff came in just as I was about to head out. I wasn't sure what to expect, so I packed for a long wait, including light and multiple layers. I quickly lightened my load and headed out. I got to the Cage in plenty of time to see the start of Giant.
The conditions were almost perfect. It was a little windy, but it was in the right direction, away from the platform, and not enough to really to chop off any height. With the low sun, there was a rainbow that was a full arc, and here the wind helped by moving spray well to the north of Bijou.
Again I tried to measure the height. This time I was back on the boardwalk, but not at the marker. That meant, at least, I didn't have to force my way to far to get there (and the decreased crowds helped.) And again I got a disappointing reading: 65%, which translates into about 130feet. The scary thing is, from that perspective, I tried to compare the height to what I remember of big (150+ ft) Grand eruptions from the same distance, and it did look comparable. Not sure what to think about this. Ideally I will try next time (and I do expect a next time or two) to be exactly at the marker and try and catch the maximum starting surge.
And Fan & Mortar erupted in the morning. No one saw it, and we probably wouldn't even have known about it if Suzanne hadn't gone down there to check on it before going to Giant. She noticed that the activity there was even worse than the last few days.
Another day of Giant hot periods about 6 hours apart. With a deadline approaching, it's not welcome.
After leaving Geyser Hill, the night before, it started to rain, and the rain continued for several hours, up until midnight and time to go back out to Giant. But when it quit, the clouds quickly cleared and the sky was bright with stars. This also meant that as we left the hot period a few hours later, it was quite foggy for the entire route.
Next morning got out to Geyser Hill. The debris and wash around Ear was impressive, although for once the NPS was quick to clean up the area, so I didn't get to see al the unnatural debris that was coughed up.
Saw a number of North Goggle minor eruptions, and the grassy areas north of the boardwalk there, as well as the new runoff from Doublet are already developing that Low-Tide Smell as the grasses are being killed. Just north of Doublet itself there was a new, small murky geyser. I confirmed the activity under the boardwalk, which also included a crack to the southwest where a frying pan was breaking out.
Sponge no longer seems to erupt. Pump seemed weak, and the slime mats around it were already drying up. Pendant and Geyser Hill #5 (the feature off in the trees north of Pendant) were both erupting, as well as the slit that broke out after the 1983 earthquake under the boardwalk. Next to the Solitary trail a formerly scummy hole was erupting, too.
Lion is also not been seen since yesterday, but Little Cub seems unchanged.
When out to Giant at 21:00 with the expectation of waiting for several hours for the next hot period. Instead, arrive with Bijou already paused, which lead into a weak 4-1/2 minute Feather and Feather Satellite eruption. This was interesting, as it was starting to fit the pattern that lead up to the last Giant eruption. So went back in to get a nap and return at midnight.
Ended up waiting for four hours, until 02:00, for the next Giant hot period. This was a pretty strong one, where Feather did not have to restart, and Giant did have some, but not a lot, of surging at the right time. Because of the cold, it was impossible to see much on the platform once things got started, especially back through the Mastiff runoff. But with several of the bright lights, we could see Feather and Giant itself.
Because the duration of the previous Fountain Geyser eruption had been reported as 36 minutes, we then went out to check on Fountain and Morning. That longer duration is one of the few signs that Morning might erupt soon.
It was a slow drive because we didn't want to have any close bison encounters. Got there to find that we'd missed Fountain by at least an hour, but at least we confirmed that Morning probably didn't do anything.
It appears Giant has settled into a mode it displayed last interval-- for several days we get a moderatly strong hot period every 6 to 7 hours. In between there may be a bathtub or weak Feather-only hot period. If this is the case, then any hope for a short interval (and for an eruption before we leave) is gone.
But the big news were the massive changes to the northern third of Geyser Hill, which started with a huge eruption of Ear Spring. I was hanging around waiting for the latest Giant hot period, so I didn't get over there until dark. But it was still obvious that things were different. I saw the murky mess in and around Ear. Both vents of Doublet were erupting to several feet. There was an Aurum eruption only a few hours after the previous. And under the boardwalk between Doublet and Pump there was the sound of either a frying pan or a drain hole (hard to tell in the windy conditions). Pump itself seemed weaker.
In any case, will have to visit again in the morning when can actually see things.