Hiking Team: Dave Miller, Rosie Miller
Date: July 14, 2022
At around 10,000 feet, we left the Bristlecone-Glacier Trail and hiked onto this incredible interpretive trail of some of the oldest trees on planet Earth. These uniquely shaped and colored ancient pine trees have learned to survive in harsh weather and bad soil. The high winds at these high elevations have twisted the trees into almost human-like forms and shapes but beautifully sculptured, colored, and polished. The trees slow growth makes the wood very dense and provides resistance to insects, fungus, rot, and erosion. There were many interpretive signs in the grove and Rosie, and I posed with the Oldest Tree in the World, a bristlecone pine tree that was 3,200 years old (born in 1,230 BC). Scientists took five cores from different sides of the tree to obtain a complete sequence of its growth rings.
Park rangers described this national park as a place where you experience desert heat down in the basin and alpine cold all in one day. We were about to experience the worst of that real fast.
Rosie & I wanted to leave the grove and continue hiking 500 feet higher to the Wheeler Peak Glacier (which is predicted to melt and disappear in 20 years), but we saw dark clouds coming over the mountain peak. I have never seen Rosie hike faster than I did that day as the storm approached. We descended the two miles to the trailhead in record time and hopped into the truck. At the 10,000-foot elevation road sign, ice pellets hit our windshield and strong winds buffeted the truck. I drove slowly and cautiously down the winding mountainside. At 9,000 feet the pellets turned to slush and thankfully, at 8,000 feet the slush turned to rain. It was still treacherous driving down the wet road past the overlooks of the great basin far below. Back at the campground our small travel trailer was slammed by high winds and rain throughout the night. That was to be only the third day it rained during the 43-day trip. The stormy night caused us to miss an incredible night sky galaxy viewing.