pork chops and biscuits
Undaunted by the rain, B and G have planned to fish the Firehole River while we head back up to Norris Geyser Basin to explore the back basin.
They choose a point of entry and will walk the river. We will meet them on the road again at a given time. Unfortunately we don’t have cell reception to coordinate times, so they end up waiting for us for a good half hour. I imagine they hated the thought of the fish they might very well have caught in that time.
At some point they came upon a hot spot fed by a stream, similar to the one below, for some relief from the cold. Wonderland indeed!
We head off, bumping into the White Dome Geyser along the way… we are about to head back to the car, our backs turned on the geyser already when another car pulls up, its inhabitants pointing vigorously. We nearly missed it! White Dome puts on a glorious display against the stormy sky:
Engulfed by the warm steam
Back at Norris Geyser Basin we find its most famous geyser which was not about to erupt on this day – some facts to try to illustrate the extraordinariness of this park:
“Steamboat Geyser, in Yellowstone National Park’s Norris Geyser Basin, is the world’s tallest currently-active geyser. During major eruptions, water may be thrown more than 300 feet (91.44 m) into the air.
Steamboat’s major eruptions last from 3 to 40 minutes and are followed by powerful jets of steam. Steamboat does not erupt on a predictable schedule, with recorded intervals between major eruptions ranging from four days to fifty years. The geyser was dormant from 1911 to 1961. Minor eruptions of 10 to 15 feet (3–5 m) are much more frequent. After an eruption, the geyser often vents large amounts of steam for up to 48 hours. Cistern Spring, located nearby, will drain completely during a major eruption of the geyser; the spring refills within a few days.
The last eruption of Steamboat Geyser occurred on 3 September 2014.
My snapshots of the back basin this day:
Pork Chops Geyser surrounded by the exploded rocks
The Porkchop Geyser is relatively new as far as geysers go. It was a rather quiet, erratic geyser until 1985 with occasional eruptions between 15 and 20 feet high. In 1985 though, it began to erupt continuously spouting 30 feet high from its 3-inch diameter vent. The burst was especially surprising because of its 100°F temperature, which is well below boiling. Also, the water was full of silica. The geyser’s spray built up into a large ice cone nearly 8 feet high. It was draped with translucent silica gel. Then, on September 5, 1989 in full view of visitors, Porkchop exploded. Rock and debris were launched up to 220 feet away. Now it’s only a bubbling, seething pool with temperatures reaching between 98 and 162°F and a depth of 2.5 feet. The geyser measures 13×18 feet and was named in 1961 by geologist Don White because of its porkchop-shaped crater.
Vixen Geyser resting after a bout of spitting
The Vixen Geyser is known for its temperamental, spit-fire disposition. In fact, that’s why Yellowstone National Park’s second superintendent P.W. Norris named this feature “vixen.” The geyser’s temperature rises to 195°F, yet its eruption schedule is erratic to say the least. Intervals can last from minutes to hours; its eruption duration can go for seconds to 50 minutes and the height of its stream can soar anywhere between 5 and 30 feet. Researchers have noted two “typical” kinds of eruptions. One displays minor activity every few seconds with occasional splashing and spouting up to 15 feet high mixed in. Major eruptions are rare and unpredictable, but when they do occur they can last up to an hour with water shooting up to 30 feet. After either type of eruption, the crater drains, leaving a gurgling sound in its wake. Vixen erupts from a round, cylindrical vent stained a pinkish color by iron oxides deposited with silica.
After meeting up with B and G again, we popped in at Biscuit Basin a little further up on Firehole River. Biscuit Basin forms part of Upper Geyser Basin, home to Old Faithful, but has its own parking. It would have been a hearty walk up from Old Faithful itself.
Sapphire Pool – the colour is out of this world and I can hardly believe my eyes!
As we approach the bridge over the river, where B and G are waiting patiently for us – and a jolly good thing they had to wait too – along came trotting…
… a coyote! It paused at the bridge (spot B and G) and then toddled off crossing the river a little further on. Clearly those humans on the bridge were not to be trusted!
Feeling satisfied after that sighting, we drove into West Yellowstone, the little town at the west entrance, for supplies and lunch.
The day ended with a spot of fishing at the campsite for B and G and our first sighting of a blue bird.
Will day 3 bring sunshine as promised…
Thought for the day… a beautiful video about the wolves in Yellowstone NP: