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Yellowstone Pictures, Gallery 20

These are all from the great summer of 2001 excursion, August 23.  We moved to Old Faithful Lodge from the horrid Canyon Cabins that day, then wandered the basins a lot.

Geese, Upper Geyser Basin, YellowstoneAfter settling in and hanging out in the gift shops for several hours, we set out into the basin.  Some geese were in the Firehole River enjoying the day.

Gizmo Geyser, Upper Geyser Basin, YellowstoneThe little geyser spurting in front of Castle Geyser's big cone is Gizmo Geyser.  It is connected to Castle and plays more as the time for Castle's eruption gets closer.  Here it is only a foot or two high, but it can get to 10 or 15 feet high.  It has four vents, each with it's own personality.  It looks like only one or two of them are going in this shot.

Demon's Cave, YellowstoneI took a stroll to the Black Sand Basin with mom and Jen.  We stopped at Demon's Cave, which is on the left hand side of the trail right after you get to Black Sand Pool, and took it's picture.  Notice the big overhang of fragile sinter over the very hot water.  The main trail is on the far side of the spring in this picture.  If someone were to casually stroll over they could easily fall in.  So, never ever go off the trail (like I was, well not really, there is a path branching off the main trail to look at Demon's Cave, you could tell many people had walked there before).  Even worse, don't use Demon's Cave as natures warming hut while skiing in the winter as one of my friends did before I pointed out that it is an active geyser, and that he would be in trouble if it decided to erupt while he was getting a steam bath.

Opalescent Pool, Black Sand Basin, YellowstoneOpalescent Pool in the Black Sand Basin is a very pretty pool in the right conditions.  It does have an opalescent blue center surrounded by orange algae.  These aren't the right conditions, too much glare.  I always thought of it as a hot spring, but I recently read somewhere that it is a catch basin for runoff from other springs.  I like this picture because of all the "bobby socks" trees.  Trees that are killed by hot spring and or geyser water in Yellowstone will continue to draw up the silica laden water after they die.  The water evaporates and leaves behind a lot of silica in the wood of the base of the tree, kind of partly petrifying it.  For all you darn kids out there bobby socks were evidently some kind of white socks worn in the middle of the last century.

Daisy Geyser, YellowstoneOn the way back from Black sand Basin we caught Daisy Geyser, who is usually a pretty consistent and frequent predicted geyser, at least in  in recent decades.  It is interesting that the interval between eruptions of Daisy can be lengthened if it is a really windy day.  The wind supposedly cools the pool.  Now, if it is windy because of a stormy low pressure system rapidly approaching, that is good for the rare and spectacular neighbor of Daisy, Splendid Geyser.  It likes to erupt (on those occasions when it manages to erupt) when the atmospheric pressure is falling, maybe because it is easier for the water to boil at depth with slightly less pressure on it.

Riverside Geyser, YellowstoneWe sat and waited on the late afternoon predicted eruption of Riverside Geyser.  This particular eruption had some pretty spectacular rainbows in it if you stood in the right spots.  Because Riverside has long eruptions it is easy to photograph.  I want to know why my pictures of rainbows always come out so faint, like this one did.

Funny yet short story:  I remarked to my sister how Riverside should be called Exploding Toilet Geyser.  The cone looks like a toilet, one of the modern low slung ones, and it overflows for quite a while before it explodes in an eruption.  She didn't appreciate my humor.  The next morning I joined a ranger led walk near Castle Geyser, to see if the new geyser lady ranger knew her stuff.  She did.  She was leading the tour to catch an eruption of Riverside, and she remarked how it reminded her of a toilet.  I felt very vindicated.

Grotto Fountain Geyser, YellowstoneMom and Jen left after Riverside's eruption, headed back to eat or gift shop or other silly non geyser related thing.  They missed the best stuff.  Years ago I thought Grotto geyser was kind of boring.  It does have a very interesting cone, but usually only splashes maybe 10 feet high, and it erupts a lot.  It has very long eruptions, hours long, and when I would see it I would be like "there's Grotto again, ho hum".  That was before I saw Grotto start.  This day was only the second or third time I have seen this happen.

You can tell how close Grotto is to starting by watching a small non-descript hot pool near the trail called the Indicator Spring.  The water in it rises and falls say every 20 or so minutes.  Each time it gets a little higher.  When it gets near to full Grotto is getting close to eruption.  Also, the pictured geyser, Grotto Fountain, starts to splash a bit on the same cycle as the indicator spring.  Then, either Grotto Fountain or nearby South Grotto Fountain begin to erupt.  Grotto Fountain doesn't look like much when it is not erupting, it's cone is only a few inches high.  It's height varies from eruption to eruption anywhere from 30 to 50 or even occasionally to 80 feet.  This evening, after a false start or two of heavy overflow and a little splashing, it "started" Grotto by building into this very pretty big jet of water.

South Grotto Fountain Geyser, Upper Geyser Basin, YellowstoneGrotto Fountain was quickly joined by the nearby South Grotto Fountain Geyser.

Grotto Fountain and South Grotto Fountain Geysers, YellowstoneGrotto Fountain and South Grotto Fountain are both playing, but we still have two geysers to go.

Grotto Fountain, South Grotto Fountain, Rocket and Grotto Geysers, YellowstoneAfter a little while of just Grotto Fountain and South Grotto Fountain, Rocket and Grotto Geysers both start.  Left to right it is Grotto Fountain, South Grotto Fountain, Rocket and Grotto.  Rocket mostly acts as another vent for Grotto, it erupts along with it, except for when it occasionally gets very powerful and takes over their joint eruption for a few minutes.  That is called a "Rocket Major" but I didn't see one of those this evening.  Grotto is especially powerful for a few minutes at the start of it's eruption, it can hit 30 or 40 feet high before settling down to it's usual 10 or 15 feet.  After a few minutes of this Grotto Fountain and South Grotto Fountain died down.

Grotto Geyser, Upper Geyser Basin, YellowstoneGrotto Geyser, still going strong.

Grotto and Rocket Geysers, Upper Geyser Basin, YellowstoneRocket and Grotto settle down for their long eruption (anywhere from about one to three hours or, if a "marathon" eruption, as long as 17 hours).  No more Grotto Fountain till next time.  As it was starting to get dark, I started back, by the scenic route of course.

Feather, Giant Hot  Period, YellowstoneI ran into yet more excitement on the way back in the form of a "Giant hot period".  The big geyser cone is Giant Geyser.  Giant can erupt over 200 feet, and erupts for about an hour.  For much of the second half of the 20th century it was nearly dormant, with maybe one eruption per year if you were lucky.  Historically it had been most active when Grotto was not so active, and the energy would shift between the two groups over periods of several years, until a big earthquake in the 50's evidently sent it into it's near dormancy.  In the 90's it finally rejuvenated.  Some seasons it has even been erupting every week or two at times.  Giant only erupts when it has a hot period.  Not all hot periods result in an eruption.  Most don't.  This one didn't, but it was still exciting.

In a hot period the almost constant Bijou geyser shuts off for more than a couple of minutes.  The water in all the springs in the neighborhood of Giant rises.  Giant surges and splashes more than usual.  Mastiff Geyser (the steaming pool to the left of giant) sometimes surges.  It was surging a bit this evening.  Small geysers called the Platform Vents start to erupt.  The one in front of Giant I think is the one informally known as Feather.  Water is everywhere.

Catfish Geyser, Upper Geyser Basin, YellowstoneAlso, during a hot period, some of the more uncommon geysers near Giant sometimes erupt, like Catfish Geyser shown here.  The mound behind Catfish is the previously mentioned Bijou Geyser.

copyright Chris Johnson
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