We’re at 10,000 feet.
48 Degrees Fahrenheit.
A cold breeze from the east.
Colette questions her decision to wear shorts.
I am a wise newlywed husband (wearing pants this morning).
I keep my fool mouth shut.
We’re at the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, high in the Inyo National Forest in the eastern Sierra Nevadas. Home of the oldest living organisms on earth.
We left Bighaus parked down at a fabulous boondocking spot just outside Big Pine on 168, and it’s a good thing – the twisting winding drive with some single-lane spots and a 5,000 foot elevation gain may be one of the primary reasons why so few people visit the groves.
To date, the oldest living tree on earth has been Methuselah, dated at over 4,700 years. But wait – the ranger informed us as we were leaving that the “tree ringers” just discovered an older tree, but they haven’t released the exact age yet. Talk about dinosaurs in the land of living man.
The Methuselah trail is a 4.25 mile loop with multiple up and down elevation changes, starting at 10,000 feet. If you’re not in good shape and aren’t acclimated to the elevation, make sure you take your time. And plenty of water and snacks. We’re both in good shape and it took us about 2.5 hours with photo stops.
The payoff is worth the effort though. Sweeping views of the Nevada deserts to the east, and the Sierras to the west, twisted gnarly pines abused by centuries of harsh weather, and no sight or sound of human to be had.
We had hoped to spot Methuselah, but the Forest Service has deliberately left it unmarked for fear of vandalism – it’s really sad that we have to worry about things like that in this day and age. We’re pretty sure that we spotted it though, based on general coordinates and photos on the Internet – but we’re not sharing either!