hiking the oldest trees in the world

While acclimatizing to altitude in preparation for an ascent of 14,000ft+ Mt. White in California we spent two days hiking photogenic Ancient Bristlecone Forest – Inyo National Forest – out of Bishop.

The Schulman Grove Visitor Center is situated way up at 10,000ft.

The oldest known live tree in the world is dubbed “Methuselah”. But the exact location is top secret. The Methuselah Trail passes within site of this tree. But you must guess which it is.

An even older one, nicknamed “Prometheus”, was cut down in 1964.

bristleconebranch.jpg
Great Basin Bristlecone Pine – Wikipedia

Studying weird, warped trees is one of the great highlights of hiking the Sierras.

1332829474_3a3b36442e.jpg

1332835848_384ca0567e.jpg
Patriarch Grove – my favourite of the established day hikes

all my photos of hiking Bristlecone – flickr

Nature Ali (Alison Sheehey) also has a nice Bristlecone page:

I am on a quest to discover, identify and photograph all of the conifers of California. Part of my quest led me to the oldest living tree on earth. Estimated at almost 5000 years old, the most ancient of bristlecones are considered one of the oldest continuously living plants on earth.

But watch out, they are surpassed in age by the 11 to 12 thousand year old creosote bushes (clones of the original bush) in the nearby Mojave Desert. Amazingly many of the oldest living things on earth occupy a very small niche in central and eastern California.

Ancient Bristlecone Forest – Inyo National Forest

BEWARE Devil’s Club when hiking

Devil’s Club (Oplopanax horridus, Araliaceae) is a large shrub native to the Pacific Northwest coastal forests of North America. Also known as Devil’s Walking Stick, it grows to 1-1.5 m tall normally, however instances exist of it reaching in excess of 5m in rainforest gullies, with the erect stems covered in short, stout spines. …

club.jpg

The brittle spines break off easily and contain a chemical that may cause dermatitis. The fruit is considered poisonous, …

Wikipedia

Photo is George negotiating the Devil’s Club near Whittier, Alaska. (Unfortunately he lost his shirt on this scramble.)

devils-club.jpg

We were extracting spines for days afterwards.

Buttes, Mesas and Tepuis

The buttes and mesas of the Colorado Plateau remind me of those other “islands in the sky” — the tepuis of South America.

tepuis.jpg
tepui art – CanyonsWorldwide.com

I’d really love to climb Roraima in Venezuela:

• bordering Venezuela, Brazil & Guyana, Roraima is remote
• it’s in the world’s largest national park — Canaima
• the highest tepui at 2810m (9219ft)
• 6-day, 5-night round trip trek to the summit
• no mountaineering skill or gear needed
• the impressive Prow of Roraima was not climbed until 1973
• unique dreamscape at the top: weird rocks, gorges & gardens
• a full day needed to explore on high
• many unique species found only atop tepuis
• inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World
• same trip visit nearby Angel Falls, world’s highest 979m (3212ft)

Our Roraima information page.

hike Negro Bill’s Canyon, Utah

My interest was tweaked when I kept seeing an unusual little day hike on “best hikes in Utah” lists.

The name is surprising too: Negro Bill’s Canyon. (I will lobbyinglobby for a name change to Mitt Romney Canyon if he wins the Presidency in 2008.)

It’s popular for a number of reasons:

  • very close to Moab, Utah
  • running water year round
  • many refreshing stream crossings required
  • leads to impressive Morning Glory Natural Bridge
  • offers more shade than any other hike in the area
  • abundant wildlife
  • Despite the plentiful poison ivy, this is a very popular hike for those owning dogs and/or children.

    Ultimately, it’s a nice change from the dry, hot desert environment outside the canyon. And 3.2mi (5.15km) is a nice distance for a short walk.

    morningglory.jpg
    Morning Glory Natural Bridge … or, more accurately, …

    This is not a natural bridge, but it is a very large alcove arch. Robert Vreeland measured the span of this arch and reported it to be 243 feet in Volume 5 of his book series, Natures Bridges and Arches. This volume is now out of print. Jay Wilbur of NABS has confirmed this measurement.

    Natural Arches

    Falls Trail, Ricketts Glen, Pennsylvania

    Brian Burgit recommends a wet and wild day hike. Looks great.

    Falls Trail: difficult hiking

    The full loop of this trail is 7.2 miles if hiking both the upper and lower sections. To see most of the waterfalls, a 3.2-mile loop can be taken by going on Highland Trail and the Glen Leigh and Ganoga Glen sides of the trail.

    The trails follow along 21 beautiful waterfalls ranging in heights from 11-feet to 94-feet. The scenery is well worth the effort, however, the terrain is rocky, can be slippery, and descends steeply on both the Ganoga and Glen Leigh sides.

    The Falls Trail is closed in the winter except for properly equipped ice climbers and hikers.

    details – Pennsylvania State Parks – Ricketts Glen Trails – PA DCNR

    rickets.jpg
    wallpaper

    wild flower hiking

    I love wild flowers but could not name a one.

    I need to hike with Kris Light, editor of the East Tennessee Wildflowers website.

    Kris has a big site which includes favourite wildflower hiking destinations, index of names, photo galleries and more.

    Don’t be fooled by the name of the website. Kris lists over 1000 different wildflowers, fungi, and “critters” from Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Utah.

    Know that timing is everything when it comes to wildflowers.

    You need plan your hike for one of the peak weeks of the season. This takes some research.

    Check out EastTennesseeWildflowers.com.

    coneflower_bee1.jpg
    photo – Coneflower with Bumblebee