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Observations for 08 June

Friday was a wasted day, and pretty much covered in an earlier posting, except for one thing.

In years past, Grand would often undergo an interval mode shift sometimes between late April and early June. Just this time of year, actually. These mode shifts would mean that intervals would suddenly increase or decrease by a sizable amount, and often accompanied by dormancy or reactivation of Rift and West Triplet. In the last few days, I've noticed that Grand has stopped having short eruptiion intervals, even when all the signs say it should and could. Also, with last night's eruption, I've now seen in the past few days several eruptions where West Triplet did not erupt with Grand, and Percolator was quiet, too. (Actually, last night West Triplet came up to about a foot below overflow, blipped for less than a minute, then dropped.) This may be a simple fluctuation in behavior, or signal a shift in activity.

Unfortunately, in all those mode shifts, the burst count never seemed to be affected, good or bad.And just having mentioned out-loud the possibility means things are going to revert.

And nothing to do with geysers

At the bottom of one of the boxes of Yellowstone stuff that sat in the closet the last few years was something that I'm going to have to list on eBay under "Paper Memorabilia & Ephemera"

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Grand Frustrations

Maybe I should have gone out to the middle of the night eruption. At least I'd almost certainly not had others around, and the wait would have been shorter and the weather nicer.

How annoying? Well, nothing in particular, but just the way all the little things added up.

Start with a West Triplet delay that doesn't want to seem to end. Hours of Percolator quiet and Turban just killing time. The weather is overcast, cold and blustery. I forgot my water bottle. Add in all the stupid human activity. Down by West Triplet is a large, extended family whose kids earlier were running wild, including one poking at the runoff with a stick, who are now singing loudly. On one side is are some geyser groupies who know just enough to be dangerous, and are willing to share that limited knowledge with every touron who wanders by. So you get to hear the same mangled information over, and over, and over and over. Then there's the guy biking who can't leave his whole kit behind, but at least he's walking the bike and not wearing Lycra. Can't forget to add in hearing two hours of some twit keying their radio mike. I thought the NPS chatter was annoying, but this stupid twit found a way to exceed them.

On the other side I've got this fat, pontificating blowhard leading a class passing along gossip, misinformation, mangled facts and his opinions as if they were facts to his ignorant students. It pushed me over the edge when he tried to portray Splendid's 1997 activity as somehow related to road removal (did you know 25% of pavement in Yellowstone has been removed over the last few decades, and that buildings downbasin were removed as part of the 1970 UGB road relocation? That old photos show Old Faithful had a much bigger cone?) Got as far a way as I could from that pompous windbag.

Then to top things off, you've got the geyser groupie who thinks calling in Grand before it actually starts (with an inaccurate watch, no less), is going earn him the bonus points to get that 10th Level Gazer award he so desperately craves. (A Grand start is when the surging becomes continuous and keeps rising, not when you see the first boil. Sheesh.)

No dogs, though. The only thing left to make this day complete is for there to be a group of idiots at Grand this evening with bright lights and too much booze in them.

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Observations for 07 June

Once daylight arrived, it became obvious how close we came to getting snow. All the ridges and slopes around the Upper Basin down to Observation Point were dusted white.

One thing I left out of the Giant report is that I'm almost certain there wasn't an Oblong the whole time I was there. In those conditions it's possible to miss it, but I'd like to think I wasn't that out of it. I did notice Riverside and Daisy,for example.

So after this morning, the rest of the day was boring. Went out to see Grand do it's West Triplet-delay/Big Sawmill thing a couple of times, but otherwise it was catch up day. The wind at the morning's Grand made me appreciate how nice 37° can be when it's dead calm. The evening's eruption was just as bad.

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Thursday is Giant Day

It may have been really stupid, but it was worth it.

So the evening Grand had to be a long interval in the cold and snow, one I should have bailed out on. But it finally did just about the time the sun set somewhere behind all the gray. With the exact time of Grotto shutting down not known, only the report of it off at 17:40, I was estimating that the window would be opening around 23:00, and I wanted to be there. So after Grand finally got around to its one burst eruption, I headed in and quickly dressed in just about anything I've got to keep me warm and dry.

It turns out I had plenty of time. Spent the next 4+ hours waiting for nothing to happen. At least it was calm and only occasional snow sprinkles to keep things damp. It was only towards the end, when it was time for the next Grand, that I considered bailing out. And even then, I've said I want to see a start from Grand.

The hot period finally started at 03:23. I'd call it "ns", because, magically, Feather was suddenly erupting to full height. In the dark, you realize that hot periods are really pretty quiet, and not all that steamy, either. But this time Mastiff almost immediately began surging in the 5 foot range. Over the course of the next few minutes, it would surge up and then die down, with each iteration a bit stronger than before. With the help of our strong lights (I think my MagLite's battery needs replacement), and the slight breeze from the north, it was easy to see what was going on on the platform most of the time.

By 03:31, Mastiff was in eruption, continuously throwing water higher than Giant's cone. This continued to build and quite suddenly it was noisily throwing water to about 50 feet. Visibility was finally deteriorating because were also getting some good strong action from Catfish. (And maybe Bijou, It was getting hard to see, and too much going on.) All the while, Giant was completely dead. At the time, it seemed like much, much longer, but just 2m30s later Giant finally surged a couple of times and then took off, and up.

Not much to say about the start of the eruption, other than shining our lights straight up we could see the entire water column. At the same time, Catfish went into a powerful steam phase, becoming the loudest performer on the platform for the next several minutes.

My digital kitchen thermometer said that the air temperature at that time was 37°, which was much warmer than I expected, since that was the temperature when I was out at Grand.

After about a half hour, I'd had enough. I'd been a long night, and besides, I wanted to see what a nighttime Giant steamcloud looked like from other parts of the basin. From Grand, there's no mistaking it for a measly Grotto or Oblong, and even at Crested Pool I thought I could hear Giant.

And this makes the third Thursday eruption in a row. I sense a guru geyser gazing pattern developing.

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Observations for 06 June

Getting out to Grand and seeing what appeared to be a still erupting Grotto was not what I was expecting. On the other hand, based on the weather forecasts, I was expecting rain or even snow, and instead the moon was visible. It was still erupting after the latest one-burst Big Sawmill eruption, when I last saw it at 05:00.

Seeing Grotto still erupting when time for the next Grand was both annoying and a relief. A relief because that storm was finally coming in, and it was wet, but not cold enough to snow. Annoying because when it does finally end, I know I'll be out in the snow phase of the storm.

Finally, at 17:40, there's a report that Grotto is off. But for how long? I last saw it at 13:00, so it could be as much as 4 hours, or as little as 1/2. Split the difference, and it appears I'll be headed there after Grand for a long night of nothing happening.

That also means that the duration was around 40-42 hours, giver or take a lot because no one saw the start or end.

Other Geyser Times

06 June 2007

  • Rift 10:09ie d>46m10s, 22:32ie

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Observations for 05 June

It appears that Grotto went back into another marathon before midnight. From 02:30 to 04:30 the platform at Giant was chaotic and week, and there was no sign of any hot periods in the hours before I got there, either.

Shortly before midnight Castle had one of its interrupted majors. After about 6 minutes of water, it shut down for about 5 minutes before resuming activity.

F&M-1 05Jun2007

F&M-2 05Jun2007

Fan & Mortar, 13:00 05 Jun 2007

While I was semi-comatose from the night's activity, Scott Bryan saw a large steam-cloud down basin that turned out to be the first eruption of Fan & Mortar in nearly two years. He got down there in time to see the end of the water and noted that the splash zone extended well beyond the walkway.

As the day progressed, the weirdness continued. Dome became active. Little Squirt was also observed earlier in the day. Beehive had a one day interval, and I saw two indicators during the eruption. (No photo, unfortunately.) At least the afternoon Grand got in before the thunderstorms hit.

Grotto was in marathon all day, from when I first saw it at 00:00 to 22:00 when leaving the fourth Grand of the day (a whole 5 bursts).

Other Geyser Times

  • Dome 11:33ns

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Observations for 04 June

Having Grotto shut off around 07:30 meant an afternoon of waiting for Giant Hot Periods in between showers. Only in the last observed one did Mastiff show any potential. As of 19:15, Grotto had yet to start, but Grotto Fountain appeared to be getting close.

Other Geyser Times

  • Rift 23:46 d=57m13s
  • Giant hot periods
    • 13:06 d=8m46s
    • 16:19 d=3m32s
    • 18:57 d=6m20s

And nothing to do with geysers

The trees between Oblong and Giant perfectly block the view of Grotto and Giant from the whole distance from Grand to Oblong. It's too bad that someone didn't take the opportunity of the fires in 1988 to do, what's euphemistically called, "scenic vista enhancement".

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How Trouble in Yellowstone Starts

Spend enough time paying attention to Yellowstone in the news, and you will hear reports of people having gotten themselves into spots where they need professional extraction. When I hear them, I can't help but wonder, how did they get there in the first place. Today I got a lesson on how that's done.

So I'm at Grand this morning, sitting and minding my own business when one of Xanterra's finest interrupts my reading by asking if I can answer a question. That being, "does the powerline trail go all the way to Midway?" I tell him not only don't I know that, but i'm not taking responsibility for answering him in any case if he's going to go off established trails. Is retort is something to the effect that "but the powerline is an established trail." (If he knows that, then why's he asking me?)

He makes some comment about how he's seen me out here a lot, and because of that assumed that I knew things about the Park. I reply that I know things about the geysers, and if he wants trail information, the proper place is the Ranger Station or Visitor Center. He said he already asked them, and they didn't know, either. (You'd think he'd take that as a sign? And not just ask some guy sitting on a bench?)

So off in a huff to the goes to the north to enjoy a hike along the scenic powerline. I hope he has a good time, and we don't hear about him over the NPS radios or on the news.

What happened here, it seems, is that he kept asking for answers from people he thought knew more than him, yet when those answers weren't the ones he expected, he reacted negatively and just kept going ahead with his plans. Now if he'd asked me why I though his hiking there was bad, I could have pointed out that the powerline is deliberatly place to be out of sight as much as possible, and that the linemen use powered ATVs to service them if necessary, and that wires and poles don't care what sort of terrain is underneath and between them. They aren't designed for human hiking. But that's okay, by the time I make this posting, I figure he'll have figured both out, and not had to be rescued in the process.

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Observations for 03 June

The middle of the night Grand eruption ended up being the early morning eruption, thanks to Rift and West Triplet. As expected, all the clouds were gone by midnight, and with the almost full moon, there was no excuse to not go out. The wait and eruption were saved from becoming a total fiasco by the eruption being extremely unusual. The time between the start of Turban and the start of Grand was 2m56s. This is longest such interval that I've witnessed since the early 1980s. Turban started out sounding vigorous, and stayed that way the whole time. Due to the fog and low light, it wasn't possible to see either Vent or Grand's pool. But despite poor seeing, it seemed like the pool's fog was not thinning as usual.

With such a delayed start, it's not surprising that Vent started only 47s later. It appears that although Vent's start is keyed off the initiating geyser, it'll take an even greater interval to get a "Vent before Grand" start. In 1983, Mary Ann Moss witnessed one such, but Grand took over 7 minutes to start. In the past I've noticed that these extreme starts result in shorter Grand eruptions (total water and duration), but that may be the case here as a 10m10s single burst resulted in Vent and Turban quitting.

The mid-day Grand gave us the second unusual eruption in a row. First, it was only the second heavy overflow type delay that I've seen this trip. Grand finally boiled up a meter or so, then went calm again. It looked like we might actually get a "boop", which I haven't see since the mid-90s. But about 10 seconds later Grand started for real.

Where this morning's eruption featured a long time between the start of Turban and the start of Grand, this featured the reverse. It took Turban a minute to start, no where near a record, but Vent's vent didn't overflow until 17 seconds after that. Vent itself didn't start erupting until 3m12s, which is the opposite extreme from this morning.

Stopped by the Giant group in preparation for the start of a new Giant Deathwatch, and caught a weak bathtub (water visible only if you looked for it) and then a Grotto start. It took so long from the start of Grotto Fountain that I thought this might e one of those Grotto Ftn. only eruptions. And when Grotto did start, it seemed weak.

The afternoon/evening/twilight Grand eruption was notable only for the lack of any reason there was almost a nine hour interval, and two deer that wandered through. Earlier Grotto started what appears to be a maratthon, at least it was still going 3-1/2 hours later.

It was pointed out to me that some information in my description of the 31 May eruption of Giant was in error. It's quite normal, post-marathon, for Bijou to be dead even hours later, and only reactivate after the first hot period. And even then, it may not be continuous.

Other Geyser Times

  • Rift 02:20 d=37m53s, 12:17
  • Grotto Fountain 13:10ie d>21m26s, 17:39
  • Grotto 13:33, 17:50 (still ie 21:20)
  • Giant Hot Periods (not complete)

    • 10:19 d=6m16s
    • 15:49
    • 17:21, d=2m02s
    • 18:45, d≈5m30s

And nothing to do with geysers

Behind the Inn, parked in a "handicapped only" space was a van with several bikes on the back and a kayak on top.

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Observations for 02 June

Having a one Turban wait at 03:00 is nice. It's just enough time to settle in and appreciate the cold, but not long enough to get cold.

A 9m10s one burst eruption of Grand, on the other hand, isn't nice, especially on a full moon night when the slight breeze is blowing the steam to the north and West Triplet hasn't started erupting yet. The only excuse Big Sawmill has is that it took 1m25s from the start of Turban to get going. I really do miss the good ol' days when a first burst of that length was disappointing because it meant you probably were only got to get a second.

So of course the next eruption interval from Grand has to be a long. A long that doesn't fit any pattern, that erupts over half an hour after West Triplet ends, and that has no Rift. The pattern of Turban eruptions was chaotic up to the point where it had what I call a Type 3 delay (I think that's what I called it. Ishould've checked my notes back home better): On a fairly short interval, Turban has a strong, short eruption (around 3m30s) without any indication that Grand wants to erupt. That is followed by an even shorter interval (around 16m30s) and Grand usually erupts on one of the next two Turban intervals. This time it took four.

As if in compensation, the first burst was less than 8 minutes long. And as if to compensate for for that, the second burst lasted 2m20s, negating any chance of a third. Then, despite Vent and Turban quitting, the afterplay was fairly strong for a few minutes.

Giant is back to having hourly weak to medium strength hot periods, but as this is only at two days since the previous eruption, I'm not going to get excited until Monday morning.

Beehive erupted, not-unexpectedly to anyone who's paying attention, in the afternoon before the thunderclouds rolled in. I heard Beehive from within my Lodge Cabin for almost two minutes before someone gave out a radio call. And even then, they backdated the "ie" time by a minute.

The transition from early Spring to early Summer sure was quick. A suddenly noisy and gray sky is something I associate with July and August.

Another summer characteristic of the thunderstorms was their persistence. When it came time for Grand, they started up again. Out at Grand, the sky to the north was partly blue, and to the west it looked like the current shower would be the last. Except this continued for well over an hour. IT was as if the storm was just sitting directly overhead. That the lightening all seemed to be between one and two miles away seemed to confirm this. At least it was a short wait at Grand, and it even gave a bonus burst after a first lasting over ten minutes.