Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Twisted Trunks: The World's Oldest Living Things

As my kids and I were flying around the Eastern Sierra last week, it came up that they hadn't visited the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. It's an amazing place, and given the heat of the Owens Valley that week, an elevation of 10,000+ seemed like an even more attractive place to be.

In addition to being interesting for their exotic shapes, bristlecone pine trees are very long-lived. One nicknamed "Methuselah" was measured via a coring tool to be 4789 years old in 1957, so it should turn 4842 this year. In 1964 another specimen "Prometheus" was determined to be over 4000 years old, but the coring tool broke, so permission was given to cut it down. It turned out to be at least 4844 years old when it was killed.
We reached the Patriarch Grove after sunset, but we still had enough light to get some shots.

My daughter found this unique "wooden arch" etched into one of the tough old trunks.

The next morning we woke up in BLM's Grandview Campground at an elevation of roughly 9000 feet, and we found a scorpion outside the tent... right next to our shoes!