04 Aug 2020 Trip Report – Upper Geyser Basin
This is the second half of my trip report/field journal entry for 04 Aug 2020. You can read the first half where I cover observations at West Thumb Geyser Basin here.
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When at my car at West Thumb Geyser Basin, I debated just heading home, but I was curious to see what things looked like in the Upper Geyser Basin. I decided to spend a bit of time at Oblong. Soon after reaching cell range again, I received the text that Beehive was in eruption. It was doubtful I’d get to see it due to the closure of the interchange. Turning onto the old road in as the by-pass for the interchange triggered a few vague memories that tried to surface of a time before the change in the roads in ’73. But I left them in the past as I navigated my way around to the lower store. Beehive’s last steam was seen, and the crowd watching was down to the last people leaving.
The bathrooms at the gas station are closed. I’m not sure if that’s for the season or for COVID. You have to use the ones in the store now. I headed out toward Oblong and took notes along the way.
1402 | Tilt’s Baby is empty and dry.
1412 | Rift is ie and Spasmodic ie.
I took documentation photos of the Sawmill Group. No real change was seen, unfortunately.
Small seeps behind “Nifty Geyser” continue to carve channels into Oval Spring. In looking at photos, There appear to be four or five seeps all in a line.
1418 | Belgian Pool looks hotter than before. No outer rim of orange around the edge of the main vent and the orange microbes over the now sealed second vent appeared lighter. Plus, a lot of gravel had entered the pool, but there wasn’t any sign of what caused that. Lazy bubbles rose in the open vent. Crystal Spring looked the same. It seemed Slurp Geyser was attempting to erupt, but basically, the vent was full of water.
1421 | Bulger Geyser minor – steam from Bulger’s Hole, but no water was seen.
1424 | After taking a few photos of Rift Geyser in eruption, I noticed that the small geyser referred to as “Delta” was in eruption. Apparently, this is one of the “Sputniks” – vent D. This was a good angle to capture its location. Also, no water was visible in Grand Geyser’s vent – it erupted at 1301.
1429 | Economic Geyser appears cooler than before, and perhaps there’s less cycling happening. The overflow channel looks like there are dying/drying microbes in there.
1432 | Chromatic Pool is firmly in control of the energy/water here. It’s overflowing nicely and has fewer microbes in the pool than I’ve seen in many years. I noticed Riverside Geyser was erupting and entered that into Geyser Times. I also noticed gazers at Oblong Geyser standing and looking intently at it. Guessing it was having at least a push. Solstice Geyser is off.
1440 | Arrived at Oblong Geyser to find Ben Vander Ley, his brother and another friend there. I joined them in this vigil.
1502 | Push by Oblong (but it may have started at 1500).
1508 | Stronger push that lasted about a minute.
1510 | Increased overflow closer to the boardwalk was noticed.
1519 | Oblong overflow started.
1528 | Daisy (Radio call)
1534 | Oblong Push (heavier overflow and heavier boiling from two points in the pool – especially the left point). Duration a little over a minute.
1602 | Oblong Push. Duration about 2 minutes.
1605 | Heading back to the car to make it back to Cody before dark.
1619 | Water was back in Grand’s crater, but still well below overflow.
1621 | Bulger minor – steam from Bulger’s Hole, but no water seen.
Blooming on the path from Sawmill Geyser to Geyser Hill:
• Clover (almost done0
• Richardson’s Geranium
• A few orange Paintbrush
• Purple asters
• Yellow monkeyflowers (almost done)
• Flowering onions (almost done)
• Elk thistle (almost done)
At Geyser Hill, time wasn’t going to allow me to walk the whole loop, so I chose to walk the upper half. A group of Boy Scouts waited for the next eruption of Old Faithful at Ear Spring. I visited with them for a bit and let them know about Ear Spring’s “recent” eruption. They said they had noticed the boiling in Ear move from the front edge of the crater to the middle (or the back of the vent) while waiting there.
Pendant Spring has a lower water level than on my last visit. However, it is still continuously sloshing out of the crack between the sinter layers.
Beach Spring still has standing water well outside of the main sinter ring around the vent, so it must still have larger boils.
Aurum Geyser was dry and “cannoning” – post-eruptive.
1647 | GHG-16 – next to Doublet was actively bouncing water, but no good splashes were seen. Doublet Pool was in the middle of its thumps.
GHG-17 showed no visible difference from my last visit. Still gently overflowing and lined with light orange microbes. It seems someone threw in a chunk of geyserite into it.
Sponge Geyser had some nice overflows.
1650 | GHG-13 is splashing up a few inches! I stopped to capture it with still photos and videos for 15-20 minutes. It now has a well-defined crater. The water level cycles up and down in the crater, with the greatest splashing happening when the crater is full. These cycles happen quickly. While not timed, I would guess they took 20-30 seconds to go from one stage to another. Most splashes are about 6″ in height, but the largest splashes look about even with or slightly higher than the boardwalk. No drops of water hit the boardwalk while I was there, and the splashing never entirely quit other than for a second or two at the lower water level. The vent never drained of water. Also, there’s another small area near it that had fewer microbes and looked hot. No sizzling or evidence of anything surfacing.
Soon I turned to head toward my car parked at the lower store. There, I heard a cacophony of birds in the trees. I paused for a bit to figure out just what species that was. Finally, one sailed toward me and looped back to the tree. Tree swallows. I wonder if they’re gathering together in preparation for migration. There were 40 or so in there.
In the car, I savored the fresh watermelon I brought with me, refilled my water bottle, and headed back to Cody. Driving was easy and moved along well. I stopped briefly at Isa Lake to capture some photos. I realized the grasses have triggered hay fever when seeing some in bloom here.
1811 | Passing Lone Pine Geyser, the vent was empty with no steam, and the platform was dry. Nearly 8 hours since the eruption.
1850 | Elk seen at Pelican Creek – no other cars, so I stopped for a photo.
It was a warm day – 66 degrees at the top of Sylvan Pass when driving in. Driving out, I noted the temperature was 72 degrees. In Cody, it was 81 degrees. I pulled in at twilight – when the sun had gone down, but the stars were yet to show. This is one of my favorite times of day. Grateful for the day, the warmth, the sunshine, and the insights into small changes showing themselves and the time to document them.
Be Outside • Take Notes
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