Ancient Bristlecone Pines

11 June 2020

Methuselah Trail (4.5 miles, +900/-900 feet).

Half Cookie and I were supposed to go to Rae Lakes today.  But a late storm rolled in and it looks like tomorrow evening it will be 20 degrees with winds gusting to 70 MPH.

It will still be there next time!

So we decided to head to Mammoth instead to do some day hiking.

On the way up today, we took a side trip I’ve always wanted to do.  Opposite the Sierra in the White Mountains stand the oldest living things on earth: Ancient Bristlecone Pines!  Almost 5000 years old, these trees cling to cliffs at high elevations in poor soil and their gnarled bodies project the weight of all the centuries of their existence.

A short way before the trailhead we stopped at the aptly names “Sierra View.”

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Half Cookie checks out the Palisade Glaciers

Soon we were at the trailhead and communing with the ancient ones.

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Wow!
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Poor soil means sparse trees, which protects them from fire
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Admiring the view
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A lone treelet
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Only a few hundred years old…
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That salt flat is Deep Springs Lake
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If they could talk!
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A sign at the visitor center says this tree is 6 years old

It was a wonderful hike and also wonderful drive through the mountains on a dramatic road to get there.

Unfortunately the rest of the day didn’t go so well.  We booked a place in Mammoth on VRBO, but we showed up and there was no way to get into the booking!  After many phone calls, we finally figured out that Mammoth was not allowing renters yet due to COVID, but no one ever told us our booking wasn’t valid.  So we headed over to Lee Vining and grabbed a room at the Yosemite Gateway Inn for 3 nights.

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