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Bristlecone Pine at Moon Rise | by Jeff Sullivan (
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Bristlecone Pine at Moon Rise

Long exposure of a bristlecone pine with clouds moving overhead, as the rising moon approaches over the horizon.

The exposure for this shot was 60 seconds at f/4, ISO 2000.


This year White Mountain Road was in the worst shape that I've seen it in. I mention on page 86 of my California landscape photography guidebook that "Flat tires are not uncommon on the unpaved section of White Mountain Road past Schulman Grove," and I discuss having a tire patch kit, air compressor and cans of tire repair goo (Fix-a Flat) on hand to deal with emergencies. I used all of that multiple times as I visited the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest this year.


I had brand new tires on and got a flat on the road to the Racetrack in Death Valley, the following day I got one on White Mountain Road, and upon descending to Bishop I had a third one, all within 48 hours. The patches and tire repair goo weren't working all that well, so I barely made it to Bishop, and I had the SUV towed across town to a tire shop to get a whole new set of tires. It turned out that set of new tires on the vehicle when I bought it looked like all terrain tires, but weren't. I didn't recognize the brand, but the tread looked like all terrain, they were rated m/s for mud and snow, and they said AP that looked enough like A/T, so I didn't look them up. That was a mistake that could have stranded me. The tire technician showed me the difference: even with an aggressive-looking "off road" style tread, the street tires had 6 plies and were very flexible, even in the tread. The true all terrain tires had slightly thicker blocks of rubber, but the real difference was ten plies of steel belts and very very stiff in the tread area. A rock will deflect and push into the tread of a street tire, an all terrain tire is much more likely to ride over it. The third flat that I had received on the older tires was a bubble between the belt and tread that eventually failed when I reached town, so deformation of a weak tire against a rough road can cause structural issues and failures in a tire that aren't limited to immediate punctures.


Public service message: this is NOT the Methuselah Tree, as is often mistakenly or falsely reported alongside photos of this tree on the Internet. The location and identity of the actual Methuselah Tree is kept secret, so it will not be vandalized, or damaged through too excessive visitation.

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Taken on October 11, 2017