Yellowstone September 13, 2012 – Geyser Day

On this morning, I awoke in a cloud of smoke at the Norris Campground, but once I drove out of the smoke cloud I found myself in a brilliant bluebird day morning, without a cloud in the sky.  I drove slowly through the Hayden Valley looking for wildlife.  There was a crowd at the Grizzly Overlook in the Hayden Valley.   I saw my dad’s pickup there, but there was no where for me to park, so I kept on going.  I sent him a text “Saw ya at Grizzly Overlook at sunrise but couldn’t park.  Good wolf watching?”  The reply I received was “4G 2W 1Bcarcass great live action” (that’s 4 grizzlies & 2 wolves on a bison carcass).   Well!

My morning was more mellow, to put it mildly.  But, that’s okay.  Mellow is good, too.

The light of the rising sun caught in plums of steam from vents along the Yellowstone River as it meanders through the Hayden Valley

I drove the lower loop of the Grand Tour slow and easy, not feeling very ambitious on this day (in part due to a migraine and in part because I’d been pushing pretty hard for several days).  I detoured off the main road to take the Firehole Lake Drive.  When I arrived at Great Fountain Geyser, I found that I was within the predicted eruption window and the water level was high, so I stopped.

Morning at the Great Fountain geyser along Firehole Lake Drive - Yellowstone National Park

After a short time, a Ranger arrived.  I said “I’ll take your arrival as a good sign.”  He replied “We’ll see.”  He walked down the road and returned a few minutes later.  He explained that he had taken a thermometer to take the temperature of a runoff channel.   He connected that thermometer to a notebook computer and, based on temperature of the runoff water, was able to extrapolate the time of the most recent eruption.  I had missed it by more than an hour.  Bummer. It was so pretty in that late morning light…

Morning at the Great Fountain geyser along Firehole Lake Drive - Yellowstone National Park

Based on the chart calculations, he predicted the next eruption would be 8:24 that evening, give or take two hours either direction.  Hmmm….  well….  If it popped an hour early, that would be a sunset eruption.  Something to keep in mind…

In any event, I was now in the mood for geyser gazing, so I headed to the Upper Geyser Basin, loaded my backpack with a couple pb&j sandwiches, and hit the boardwalks.

I started out on the bike path, headed for Daisy Geyser and/or Riverside Geyser but soon realized that there wasn’t much point in that.  I had just missed them both.  However, Grotto Geyser was playing and a dedicated geyser gazer had a good feeling about Rocket Geyser, so I joined her there for a while and enjoyed visiting with her.  I kicked myself later that I didn’t introduce myself and learn her name.

In time, we gave up on Rocket and moved on to wait a guaranteed show – Grand Geyser, which has been on a roll with intervals less than 6 hours between eruptions. Grand Geyser did not disappoint.

Following the Grand Geyser eruption, I moved over to Beehive. Beehive is not a predictable geyser but the dedicated geyser gazers with whom I had been chatting had a good feeling about it, and that’s good enough for me.

I should have hung out at Lion Geyser for a few minutes on my way to Beehive. I almost missed it running back and wasn’t able to place myself in the ideal spot from which to photograph its eruption. I still enjoyed Lion’s roar, though.

Lion Geyser, so named for the roaring sound of it's eruptions...

Had I been in time, I would have preferred to stand where Heart Spring beautifully adorns the foreground in front of Lion.

Lion Geyser and Heart Spring

I returned to Beehive Geyser and it wasn’t long before the Beehive Indicator erupted, signalling that a Beehive Geyser eruption was imminent.

After enjoying Beehive’s eruption, I mosied back to the parking lot, stopping to enjoy the sights along the way.

Spasmodic Geyser

Crested Pool

Then I decided to do something unheard of. I stopped and cooked a real meal while the sun was still up. I had the best pork chop I’ve had in a very long time at the Whiskey Flats picnic area before returning to Great Fountain Geyser, with fingers crossed for a sunset eruption.

Well, a sunset eruption was not to be on this day. However, the fountain was beautiful in the twilight as steam drifted lazily against the pink painted western horizon.

When there was just a little light remaining, I said to the lady next to me “Do I see a dome of water there?” She replied that if I did, my eyes were better than hers. Splash! Yep! I was right. Eruption with just enough twilight light left to see it by.

Twilight Eruption of Great Fountain Geyser

After enjoying Great Fountain’s twilight show, I moved down the road just a bit to White Dome Geyser, above which the stars were twinkling while a bit of twilight red remained on the western horizon.

stars twinkle over White Dome Geyser at twilight

A clear night, twinkling stars… the situation was ripe for a star trails to cap off a day of taking it easy and engaging in what my cousin’s daughter cheerily calls “happy waiting” (that’s how she defines being patient).

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