Ancient Bristlecone Pine Tree
A little while ago I ran across an article on the bristlecone pine forests in the White Mountains of California. Apparently the trees in these ancient groves are the oldest known living things on the entire planet, with the senior citizens dating back almost 5,000 years:
5,000 years old! Some of these characters sprang up thousands of years before the founding of Athens and Rome – just crazy. On top of that the bristlecone pines take on all kinds of wild photogenic shapes, so I definitely wanted to check them out.
I headed there this past Saturday, driving from San Francisco through Yosemite, past Mono Lake, down to Bishop and Big Pine and then up into the White Mountains. I rolled into Schulman Grove in the late afternoon and had time to hike around and scout for good potential sunset shots, feeling really lucky there were some clouds making the sky more interesting. This photo is a blend of three exposures taken just before the sun dropped behind the Sierras.
I set up my tent that night at the nearby Grandview campsite, along with a lot of amateur astronomers who apparently like the area for its high altitude (almost 9,000 feet) and absence of city lights nearby. At the upsetting hour of 4:30 Sunday morning I was up and back at the grove for sunrise photos. I started hiking the Methuselah Trail in the mostly-dark pre-dawn, took a lot of shots, and was back in the car on my way home by 10am.
All in all a really fun trip. If you live in California I highly recommend checking out this forest – just as great, in its own way, as a place like Joshua Tree National Park.