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Posts Tagged ‘Bristlecone Pine’

Wednesday we went on a long bumpy drive on gravel and stony roads. We headed south on Fish Slough Road for about 20 miles, stopping to marvel at petroglyphs pecked onto boulder rock piles. (I marveled more than Dave.)

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We then turned west into Chidago Canyon and found reddish rock formations eroded into all kinds of weird shapes. One item of unknown origin is the bas relief of a miner carved into the stone.

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We popped out of there and drove upwards into the Benton Range. Dave took over the driving at the point the road got very narrow and rocky. We ate lunch looking out over the White Mountains and then Dave navigated the Rav down what was called “…a definitely 4-wheel drive road”. We then bumped home along 19 miles of Casa Diablo dirt road: wide and relatively smooth, but too bumpy for me. I was ready to sit for awhile. So we did.

When both of us had updated our blogs, we drove into Bishop to upload them on the public’s dime. The public with WiFi was behind the Visitor’s Center, listening to two Indians joke back and forth and lots of ducks in the little stream nearby. Two of them (the ducks) came up to our car to see what we had to offer, but a dog scared them away. Successfully uploaded, we returned to camp and found out – YES! – the federal government was going to reopen. Maybe we’ll get to visit Devil’s Postpile yet.

Since the federal government was re-opening, we figured that the Visitor Center at the Ancient Bristlecone Forest in the White Mountains, would be open.  On yet another cloudless, sunny day, we drove the long, windy, but paved, road up and up. On a narrow, one-lane section of the road, we squeezed over to let the Lazy Daze belonging to Ron and Mary go by. They had just spent some time with Jim and Gayle. Small world. Then 4,000 feet, 6,000, 7,000, 9,000 feet. The views just kept getting better. To the west, the Sierra Nevada. To the east, 2 or 3 mountain ranges in Nevada.

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We reached the Schulman Grove just short of 10,000 feet. The visitor center was not open. The bathrooms were unlocked but were an unholy mess. I guess there’s more involved than employees unlocking the doors and installing toilet paper. We ate lunch and decided to go on the 4.5 miles loop on the Methuselah Trail. However, we wouldn’t know which Bristlecone Pine was actually Methuselah. As the brochure states “Since anonymity is its best defense against souvenir hunters, the Methuselah Tree is not marked, signed or identified in any manner.” (That’s sad.)

The trail loses, then regains 800 feet, so I was surprised when we started out by climbing. There was quite a bit of snow on the narrow trail and I was very happy to have both of my hiking poles. There were Bristlecone Pines all over and we navigated carefully to compose our images and not lose equipment or hiking poles down the steep slopes. On the entire trail, we only bumped into one other hiker; a dog came barking and bounding along the trail, eating snow and having the time of her life followed by her young owner. They disappeared ahead of us.

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The trail periodically traversed shady cool snowy areas, then sun-warmed desert hillsides. This was another amazingly constructed trail that never went up or down at an extreme slope. The snowy parts were all pretty easy to navigate. We started the hike around 1 pm and time flew as we clambered around the spectacular trees. As we circled around and began west to the top, I kept expecting the sun to permanently leave us in deep shadow, but somehow that never happened. The sunlight filtered through the trees and lit everything up. We ended up back at the top, tired and exhilarated. What a great hike. The road actually continues higher up to the Patriarch Grove, but that will have to wait for a future trip. We were ready to return to camp.

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