Way back in 2001, I went on a road trip through the Mojave Preserve, Death Valley, and parts of Arizona, but the first stop I make was the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. I have looked through my archives, and it seems that the only photos I have remaining from this trip are from the Bristlecones. As sad as it is to have lost all those photos, I am glad to have the Bristlecone series. My visit was a wonderful experience, and I have been meaning to go back ever since, but I just haven’t found the time.
Bristlecone pines are the oldest known non-clonal organisms on Earth, with some that are more than 4,000 years old, and the oldest is more than 5,000 years. The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is just one of a few groves of these mind-mindbogglingly old trees. The age is amazing enough, but what struck me while I was hiking through the groves of trees was how many different shapes they took on. The trees in one section of the grove would be twisted and gnarled, while on the next hillside they would be straight and tall. I got the impression that the trees around me were dancing, like the trees in Narnia.
I visited in September, and there was hardly anyone else there. I only stayed one night at the Bristlecones, fully meaning to come back some day. If you are planning a trip along the 395 corridor, I highly recommend a stop at the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest.