An Ethel Among Mermans (thornwolf) wrote,
An Ethel Among Mermans
thornwolf

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.

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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).

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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.
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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.
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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.

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Obligatory John Muir-esque photo
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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.
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Omg I did it! Where's the car?
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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".
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skorzy, me, and the Patriarch.
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More later!
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