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California Adventure Pt. 2 - Bristlecone Pines - This is a tree post - The art of Thornwolf — LiveJournal
California Adventure Pt. 2 - Bristlecone Pines - This is a tree post
Took a hike through the Methuselah Grove through the bristlecone pine forest. I'm a graphic designer, which means I lead a very sedentary lifestyle. Before meeting skorzy I didn't do much "outdoorsy" stuff mostly because the opportunity never arose and I didn't know HOW to camp or where to hike or much of anything, so this hike was a first for me. Fortunately due to where I live I was already acclimated to a 4500 foot elevation, but going from my computer desk to a 4 mile hike in a desert mountain range at 10,000 feet was honestly something I never thought I could do, but I did! And I didn't complain :) Now that I know what 4 miles feels like, the rest of the "hikes" on our trip weren't as daunting.

Bristlecones are the oldest singular living organisms in the world, ranging between 2000 and 4000 + years old. The tree known as Methuselah is approximately 4,789 years old, and his location is heavily guarded because they obviously don't want people trying to take pieces of the world's oldest tree.

While walking through I couldn't help but think that the entire forest looked like something eski would draw, with all the swirly trunks and whatnot.


First I just wanna show you the Palisade Glacier. Yes it is a glacier. Glaciers are just permanent ice structures, not always giant looming walls of ice. Yes it used to be bigger (boo climate change).


The start of the Methuselah trail. They had little stops along the way with numbers on them but they were almost always stupid things like "Bristlecones and you" and "Struggling to survive" and "Close your eyes and pretend you're a tree" stuff. The first 1/2 mile was totally uphill and after this part I was almost regretting committing to it. I like strolling, not clambering uphill, and again, I wasn't previously conditioned for a hike this long, but fortunately the rest of it was just soft ups and downs. If I can do it, you certainly can do it.

I love the textures in this tree. I took some really up close shots of the bristlecone bark textures for artists to use, I'll upload them on DA sometime this week for free use.

The cool thing about bristlecones is that the older ones are mostly dead, but only a small strip of bark that holds the deadwood together keeps the tree alive. They grow so slow because of the harsh climate that they're bound to die off in parts, but their wood is near impervious to bugs and rot that it can grow upon its dead self and stay alive for thousands of years even in short growing seasons. It's almost poetic.


Obligatory John Muir-esque photo

About 2.5 miles in, I started to get really tired. This photo was taken after I nearly stumbled and fell down that impossibly steep scree slope. Those rocks will cut you, oldschool! We stopped for lunch and afterwards I felt just fine and powered through the rest of the trail.

Omg I did it! Where's the car?

Next we took the 12 mile dirt road to Patriarch Grove where the largest bristlecone can be found.

This is not the patriarch but it is quite possibly the most photographed bristlecone ever. We call it the "rockstar tree".

skorzy, me, and the Patriarch.

More later!
13 comments or Leave a comment
kylogram From: kylogram Date: September 19th, 2010 06:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh man, this is fantastic!
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: September 19th, 2010 07:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay :D I'm glad you like it, I totally thought of your FA journal entry and just had to show you.
foxfeather From: foxfeather Date: September 19th, 2010 07:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
So gorgeous!! Thank you for sharing. :) I always enjoy California so much gratuitously through you ^.^
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: September 19th, 2010 07:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
;D not a problem, I'm so glad you like my posts!

I love this state so much because, as you'll see even more in my future posts, there's so much climate difference that can be experienced without even leaving the state, and everything's within reasonable driving distance.
eski From: eski Date: September 19th, 2010 07:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I MUST visit this place! O__O
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: September 19th, 2010 07:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
You. Would. Love. It. :D
gatcat From: gatcat Date: September 19th, 2010 07:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ahhhhhhh. :>
iisaw From: iisaw Date: September 19th, 2010 08:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
keesh From: keesh Date: September 19th, 2010 11:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
You go girl!

Beautiful and quite amazing place. :)

furtech From: furtech Date: September 20th, 2010 06:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Great trip report! I've wanted to visit the bristlecone grove for a while, but haven't made the time. Is it totally illegal to collect seeds? I've been trying to find them online, but no one has the Pinus longaeva seeds (like the ones you just visited), just the pinus aristata variety.

Again, great trip reports and pics!!!

PS: Can you email me your shipping address? I want to get your jello to you. My username at gmail dot com
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: September 20th, 2010 07:27 am (UTC) (Link)

And I imagine it is indeed illegal as it is illegal to collect anything from the forest (although really I doubt anyone would notice a couple of pinecones that have fallen off, or rocks, or basically anything on the ground) but I do believe the visitor center sells grow-a-tree packs. I'm not sure what species though now that you've brought it up.
xxbalaaxx From: xxbalaaxx Date: September 20th, 2010 08:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
OOH I must see this place. Ive been scouting natural places to drive to since I moved here..must see them ALLL!!! I love your photo posts :D!!! Also the next to last picture is awesome, the moon behind it, as subtle it is, creates such an interesting dynamic in the composition C:.
was1 From: was1 Date: September 21st, 2010 02:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Funky cool trees!
13 comments or Leave a comment