The Bristlecone Pine

On dry mountaintops in the western United States grow earth's oldest living inhabitants, the bristlecones (Pinus longaeva, Pinus aristata). Many of the trees living today were seedlings when the pyramids were being constructed and mature in the time of Christ.

Earth's oldest living inhabitant "Methuselah" at 4,767 years, has lived more than a millennium longer than any other tree. Bristlecone pine groves are found at elevations up to 11,000 feet (3352m). Trees located in Methuselah Grove are in an area where trees reach 3000 - 4000 years of age. Very old trees are typically squat and gnarled, with many dead branches and large areas of exposed wood. In this grove, scientists have found several pieces of deadwood lying on the ground for more than 7000 years.

On a few of our road trips my daughter and i tried to get to the Bristlecone Pine areas in the White Mts. and at Great Basin National Park. In each instance the high mountain roads were closed due to snow. Two winters ago my fearless companion Pancho and i headed for Wheeler Peak in our rental car only to be turned back by another snow closed road. Next time we'll try earlier in the season, November maybe instead of Feburary. The pilgrimage to the Bristlecones remains very high on my bucket list.

"Timberline Traveler"
"It has been said that trees are imperfect men, and seem to bemoan their imprisonment rooted in the ground. But they never seem so to me. I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do. They go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far!" - John Muir