Today was our third day around Independence CA on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We have used the Independence Inn as our base. Neither of us have been to this area before. Most of the day was oriented around the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest.
To get to the Bristlecones, we drove along US 395 and passed Palisade Glacier, the southernmost glacier in the US.
The drive continues along two other isolated roads. The first is a state road which is usually closed in winter. The second is the road leading to the park which also just opened recently. The turn off from US 395 is in Big Pine, CA, at an elevation of 4000 feet. When we reached Schulman Grove, we were at an elevation over 10,000 feet. (We were not at the summit of the area.) Luckily not all of the road was along steep cliff drop offs.
These trees are the oldest recorded living things on earth! Some of the trees have been dated back more than 4500 years. Bristlecone pines grow in only 3 locations; here, Bryce Canyon and Great Basin in Utah. They grow in dolomite soil at elevations over 9000 feet. The harsh conditions are part of the reason they thrive here-others are not able to.
The discovery occurred in 1953. Since then, research is ongoing about the trees and how they continue to evolve, how slowly they decay, and if weather climate change will affect their future.
We hiked two trails totalling about two miles. Not a great length but given the altitude and the elevation climb in the hikes, we were satisfied.
This wraps up our eastern Sierra section pretty much. We will come down the Tioga pass north of here in two weeks when we leave Yosemite and head for Park City and the Grand Tetons but that will not entail any lingering. The mountains are beautiful and we include a few more shots as a parting gift to the area.
We have tentatively decided to use major roads to get to Kings Canyon-Sequoia National Parks tomorrow and forego using Shermans pass, another winding road over the mountains that would make the trip 30 miles shorter and at least 30 minutes longer. We have many more mountain roads in our future.
Just a side note: Some of you may know but in case you did not, if you click on any one of the pictures, you normally will get a full screen view and it shows more detail.
Happy Mothers Day to all!
Ed and Chris, May 13, 10 pm
PS. We celebrated Mothers Day by going to Mass and a post Mass breakfast sponsored by the Knights of Columbus at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help church in Bishop CA. Chris was also given a rose. Her breakfast was complimentary.