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Bristlecone Pines Trip

19 Jul
Bristlecone Pines Trip

San Diego – Last weekend i took students from City College on a landscape field trip to the ancient Bristlecone Pines in the White Mountains of California just east of Bishop.  We had some unexpected adventures but in the end, we all seemed to have had a great outing.  I’ve not had a chance to work with all of my files but here are a few of the photos I took during the trip to give you an idea of where we were and what we saw.

The first night we stayed in Lone Pine so we could get up to Whitney Portal the next morning.  It had been closed with snow when we were here in the Spring for the Landscape Class so this was a chance to finally get to see it for some of the students.  One of the more interesting areas at the portal trailhead is a waterfall that the USGS maps label as a rapids.  I’ve done a lot of white water rafting and must tell you, if this were a rapids then on the 0-5 scale for rapids, this would have to be a class 8 or 9!!!

Most of the time photographers work to create the “cotton candy” water rendition but i was fascinated by the cauldron of bubbling water in some of the pools along the waterfall path and here is a detail shot at very high shutter speed to capture the fury of the water.

The waterfall quickly becomes a delightful creek that flows down through the Alabama Hills and into what is left of the Owens River.  Here, just below the waterfall, other streams from the melting snow on the flanks of Mt. Whitney also feed the creek

From Whitney Portal we wound our way back down to the Highway (395), turned north to Big Pine and from there headed east and north up into the White Mountains and the UC White Mountain Research Station at Crooked Creek.

This is a facility for research scientists and other educational groups.  It is simply a gorgeous facility though as with all of the State’s educational facilities it is in dire economic straights and research groups are not using it as much as normal for their high altitude research projects.  In fact, this was the first time I’ve been here when there were no other groups staying on site.

We got up early the next morning to catch the new moon and dawn on the higher peaks around the Patriarch Grove.  The full moon really illuminated this view of the road into the Research Station where we stayed.

The White Mountains appear white because of the white rock on the summits of the higher peaks.  Here is an early morning view looking more or less east from one of the higher saddles where you can really see the white rock.  When the sun hits it just right the mountains glisten in the light.

The Bristlecone Pines are often are found near the limits of the tree line, surviving extremes of winter that other trees cannot handle.  And here where there is little, if anything, to break up the winds, some of the more spectacular wind and sand sculpted trees are found.

The mountains in the background of the shot above are the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevadas that run down the spine of California and include Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the continental U.S.

in addition to the whole trees, this weathered wood presents some interesting tonal and texture studies.

These ancient organisms can reach 4,000 years of age.  It puts things in perspective to think of what events have transpired while these trees held watch from the mountains here and in Colorado.  The common name (Bristlecone) comes from the unique pines cones.

Here is a close up shot so you can see the bristles on the cones that give the tree its name.

Well, there are more images to process from the trip and much is happening to catch up on so it is time for me to wrap this up and get after it.

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Posted by on July 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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