While we were staying at Mammoth Lakes, we took a day trip to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, an Inyo National Forest site south and east of Mammoth Lakes in the White Mountains.
There is a Visitor Center just outside the campground in Mammoth Lakes, and it was valuable for good information on what to see and how to see it. The guide saved us a long trip on a dirt road to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest that we would have taken if we listened to our car GPS instead of to him.
That doesn't mean that we avoided all dirt roads. We followed the paved roads east from Big Pine to the Schulman Grove visitor center. There, we saw the orientation movie and listened to a ranger who told us about the bristlecone pines and showed us the different cones on the trees. We happened to be there when the pollen was active, so we saw the pollen sources, the first year cones, and the older cones. We decided to go up (and I do mean UP) to the Patriarch Grove where the largest pines are. This was a 15 mile drive on a dirt road that we traveled at about 15 mph.
It was worth the trip. We walked the trails at the Patriarch Grove and saw the largest bristlecone pine as well as many others. It was interesting to learn that the bristlecone pines cannot compete well with other plants like sagebrush, but they can live very long lives in very poor dolomite soil where little else can grow. They are not flexible but they can live very long lives because they are naturally able to repel insects and bacteria that do in other trees. So they live on the mountains where there is not so much snow to break them.
Because they grow so slowly, their tree rings are close together. Scientists count the rings and can match the patterns of ring widths of live and dead trees to look back over 11,000 years. It was interesting to me that they have used the ring patterns to calibrate radiocarbon dating. They have been used to discover the time when some cave dwellers built their dwellings by matching the ring patterns.
This site was the highlight of our trip.
2015 Bristlecone- Yosemite
Retirement is great. We bought a travel trailer and are exploring National Parks. (Actually, we bought one and sold it and bought a second one better suited to us. It happens...) And I have time to do some woodworking projects and things around the house. And now I have gotten interested in ham radio so there goes any free time.