Find us on Google+ Rick and JoAnne's RV Travels: Really Old Pine Trees

Monday, October 21, 2013

Really Old Pine Trees


October 17, 2013

On Thursday the Shutdown ended which meant that we could visit some of the previously closed sites – For instance the Ancient Bristle Cone Pine Forest which was about a 45-minute drive from our campground. We had no idea what to expect. What we found was a 25-mile journey up a typical mountain road (sharp turns, big dips and steep inclines) along Hwy 168 and White Mountain Road to Schulman Grove - named after the Dendrologist (look it up) who found this spot. Actually, after spending most of our time in and along the Sierra Nevada Mountains it was interesting to get a view of the Owens Valley from the White Mountains which form the eastern boundary of the Valley.

The visitor center was still closed but we were able to walk a couple of the nature trails and view some of the oldest living things on the planet. The trees here are between 3 and 4 thousand years old. Actually, the oldest is a tree named Methuselah, which is 4,841 years old. We did not actually see Methuselah as its exact location is kept a close secret. Believe it or not in 1963 the forest service gave a researcher permission to cut down an even older (4,900 year old) tree! So what was going on in the world in the 4th millennium BC? This was the beginning of writing and the Bronze Age. The world population was about 10 million. 

Why, you may ask, are the bristle cone pines in this spot so old? Basically, they are resilient! They have learned to adapt to a very harsh environment and in the process have become resistant to the insects and diseases typical bristle cones pines would be subject to in more favorable environments. Who would have thought that some old trees would be so interesting? 

JoAnne surmised that being a tree would be a hard life and boring. Stuck in the same place with the same view your entire life. And while you have lots of company sometimes your friends die and fall on you. Not to mention freezing in the winter, heat stroke in the summer and bruising winds. Then there is man…well you get the idea. 

More Pictures here.

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