Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Getting High With Some Really Old Guys

We drop to 4000 feet coming into Bishop, leaving the cold clouds of Crowley Lake behind us. Pulling into Highlands RV Park, we see Sue out front! Although she has her camera, and is facing the mountains, I'm sure she's really out there to greet our arrival! So nice of her :-)

They're already heading south with John and Pam, but we'll catch up with them in a couple days.

Another tree blocks our satellite, but there's cable so we watch the Steelers win (yay!) and get set up. The weather is warmer here and we watch the first half of the Sunday night game outside before the wind comes up and sends us back inside.

Monday morning we're back on Hwy 395 in the Jeep, south to Hwy 168, and east into the White Mountains. It's 64 degrees when we leave the basin and start climbing. And climbing. And yet more climbing.

The low-growing shrubs turn the landscape over to hundreds of acres of Pinon Pine and Utah Juniper at White Mountain Road. Short and rugged, and very green, you can see them for miles in all directions. They stay with us until about 8500 feet. Still climbing.




The road enters a rock canyon that changes colors at least four times before we come out the other side, above the tree line. Barren and brown, this is inhospitable terrain. At 10,000 feet we reach the Visitors' Center for the Ancient Bristlecone Forest. It's 36 degrees.


Informative and comfortable visitors center
A small amount of snow remains in the shade, there are six or seven cars in the parking lot. The warmth of the Center is very welcoming, so we take some time to peruse the exhibits. We watch the 20 minute video about these unique and very hardy pine trees - the oldest living things on the planet.

Her first snow
The fact they live in such a brutal environment makes their longevity more incredible. Even after death they resist bugs and decay, their carcasses dating back over 9000 years! Some have been dead since Europeans first set foot on this continent, and they remain nearly the same as the day they died.





I'm feeling the elevation, (did I mention we're really high here?!) just being at the Center so the four mile hike to see Methuselah (the oldest living specimen they've found here) is out. Instead we enjoy those we can see from where we are, while the winds pick up and the temps continue to drop.

The drive back down provides views of the Great Basin and the Sierras (again, guard rails would be nice), and we lose count of how many times we say "Wow!" 71 degrees back at the "bottom" - 35 degrees difference seems so extreme to me!

 


A late lunch at Schat's Bakkery is sort of a requirement while in Bishop, and our sandwiches are very yummy. 

Errands, chores, and Monday Night Football round out our Monday.


15 comments:

  1. The ancient Bristle-cones appear as contorted sculpture alive or dead, incredible survivors to their harsh environment. I was blown away by the ones seen at Cedar Breaks NM. Us humans struggle at their 10,000 ft altitude. I'm already cold in southern 5000 ft Utah.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Their gnarliness is like art - love them. We hope to see the other ones in NM and AZ in our travels. We're down to 3700 and while windy, the temps have risen to the 70s again - but not for long :-)

      Delete
  2. I've visited the area many times and still have not made it to the Ancient Bristlecones or Devil's Postpile! Those trees are incredible in their old age and their beauty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are great hikes at both areas - you guys would love it :-) The diversity of this area is amazing, so much to see!

      Delete
  3. Boy am I glad we chose to visit the Bristlecones when the temp was in the high 80's down below. We had the perfect day to be at 10,000 ft. The snow sure makes it look cold. How neat that Tessa got see her first snow:) The Bristlecones sure are gorgeous:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The wind made it feel even colder, but the trees are so amazing it was worth the little discomfort.

      Delete
  4. You are right. Those are really some old guys. We hate to park in the trees regardless of their age. Terry goes bananas when we can't get satellite.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It will be less "critical" when football season is over :-) But for now, it's definitely satellite over trees!

      Delete
  5. Those bristlecone pines are just amazing. So beautiful!! Old guys is right. Great pictures! I had no idea there would be snow there. Looks like a beautiful drive back down to no jacket temperatures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When we were at the top we were looking nearly straight across at the snow covered peaks of the Sierras - amazing to see, but so cold! Our mountain drives have been incredible, but glad we're staying at lower altitudes :-)

      Delete
  6. Tessa's first snow! How cute. ;-) We didn't have time to visit the Bristlecones when we were in Bishop (next time!) but we were in awe of their ancient splendor when we hiked amongst them in Great Basin NP. The visitors center looks so cozy, and you had such gorgeous views on your trip back down the mountain!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We fell in love with them and hope to see them in other places now! Missed you guys last night, but know you are packing in a lot before you have to get moving :-)

      Delete
  7. We didn't make it to the bristlcones when we were in Bishop, but we did visit Schat's!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Went to Schats every time I've been there over decades, but this was the first visit to the forest - so I understand the priority :-)))) Next time you need to see those trees though!

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete