Thursday, May 14, 2015

Geysers and Birds Make Me Happy.

We'd planned to hike to the top of a mountain on our last trip to Yellowstone, but the weather didn't cooperate.  Sometimes one just has to roll with it...  We spent an alternately foggy/rainy/snowy day wandering the geyser basin at Old Faithful.  We arrived just moments before Old Faithful erupted actually.  Wonderful timing.  We'd watch it erupt--from a distance--a second time that afternoon.
Old Faithful Geyser
Mountain Bluebird
After stopping in at the visitor's center to check the eruption predictions we formed a plan of action that would culminate in watching Daisy Geyser erupt in about an hour and half.  With that time we took a loop through the boardwalks, stopping at Anemone Geyser first since it is probably my favorite minor geyser.  Anemone is small, but consistent and has very dramatic action given its scale.  The pool was completely empty when we approached it.  Soon though it starts to fill from the hole at the bottom until its quite full at which point it start spouting and spraying several feet high.  After a short bit of this the writhing action of the water subsides and it all drains back down into the hole with a very satisfying slosh.  It fills and drains in a manner that consistently makes me think of a bathtub--though its about a million times cooler than that.  The process repeats about every 7-10 minutes.  Sometimes I watch it several times in a row.  Only once on this trip though.
Anemone Geyser in its empty phase.
My video above missed the fill-up phase, but catches the rest of the action fairly well.
Some of the fabulously intricate sinter formations along Anemone Geyser
After Anemone we continued on the boardwalk past the Beehive and Lion Group and further past Grand and Riverside Geysers to the junction near Grotto Geyser.  It was less than one mile from Old Faithful to Grotto, but with so many things to see along the way--birds, flowers, bubbles, steam, spray, sinter--I was worried an hour wouldn't be enough time to get out to Daisy before she played.

Yellow Monkey Flowers love the warmth and moisture provided by the springs and geysers.  They frequently cluster around such features making something pretty even prettier, if you ask me.
Clear or bright blue pools are generally the hottest.  The hotter the water the less thermophiles live in it.  The less thermophiles the less color.  Each thermophile has its own range of acceptable living temperatures--some up to 200 degrees F.  There is a really helpful graphic on page 127 of this Park Service document which helped me wrap my mind around these amazing lifeforms.  
The reds, oranges, and greens happen at relatively cooler temperatures, from about 100 degrees F to 140 degrees F.   Frequently these colors rim the edges of blue or clear pools as the water is hottest as its coming out of the earth at the heart of the feature and cools as it spills out and runs off away from the source.
Goggles Springs
Spasmodic Geyser
Brain-like sinter formations along the edge of Spasmodic Geyser.
Belgian Pool
Belgian Pool
There is a Savannah Sparrow hidden in that grass, right about center.  Through some birding miracle we were able to watch the little brown thing long enough to actually ID it!  We almost never ID sparrows on account of their tremendous similarity.
Grotto Geyser
 We actually got to Grotto and the nearby Daisy Geyser with plenty of time to spare.  So, we backtracked a bit and continued down the trail to the ever lovely Morning Glory Pool.  Matt and I both adore this pool so deep and colorful.  The wind was right during our visit, too, blowing the steam away to reveal the small aquamarine blue patch deep in the heart of the spring.  This blue is so dazzling.  Its our favorite part.
Morning Glory Pool
Morning Glory Pool
Morning Glory Pool
Morning Glory Pool
Morning Glory Pool's brilliant bright blue patch is visible in this shot.  Its just peeking over the yellow lip, on the far wall of the spring.
 After our visit to Morning Glory we made our way back the boardwalk surrounding Daisy and waited a while for its predicted eruption.  Some Killdeer kept us entertained while we waited.  They were almost constantly peeping.  One gave herself a little bird bath in a geyser run-off channel.  What a nice warm bath that must have been.  Daisy was almost perfectly "on time" when she started to erupt.  We were once again mislead by the action of the neighboring Comet Geyser which sputters increasingly as Daisy is preparing to do her thing with significantly less warm up dramatics.  We're watching Comet and all of the sudden there goes Daisy.  I think this has happened to us every time.
The geyser basin around Daisy with Splendid Geyser spouting on the right.  After the eruption of Daisy this pool drops by what I would estimate to be at least a foot or two.  The pipes are all connected!
Killdeer
Daisy Geyser erupting with two little people in frame on the left for scale.  It was just the four of us watching this eruption.
Daisy Geyser
Daisy Geyser
It started to rain with increasing heaviness as we walked back toward Old Faithful.  We had to take an alternate route back from what we'd planned when a bison decided to take over the path.  There were two paths though so we took the other.
Sometimes one just has to roll with it...

2 comments:

  1. I love nature! We don't have anything like the geysers you guys have. But the nature we have makes me happy. Last week we went into the woods at our normal hiking place and the mosquitoes drove us almost out of the woods. It was the least pleasant experience in the woods I have ever had. This week we went back armed with some organic bug spray and though they were still there, they didn't touch us. Much better. :)

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