the ancient bristlecone pine forest

The ancient bristlecone pine forest national park is located just an hour from Bishop, CA in the desolate White mountains. The squat and gnarled pines represent some of the oldest living things on the planet with the oldest clocking in at over 4,500 years!

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Found at altitudes well above 10,000 feet, the pines are uniquely equipped to deal with barren, alkaline soils, thriving in large forests where not another tree is to be found.

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The trees are nothing if not survivors. During their multi-thousand year lifespan they must cope with extremely dry desert conditions in summer followed by severe snow conditions in winter. They must also deal with hundreds of fires, droughts and landslides that occur frequently in the region (given the timeframe we’re talking about).  Only an impressively small part of a tree needs to survive for the plant to recover.

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What’s more, the mountain itself is eroding at the pace of one foot per thousand years so the trees are constantly struggling to re-right themselves, a battle often lost given their shallow root systems designed to capture surface moisture.

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Well, that’s about all I gleaned from the info-boards. Now go and check it out for yourself!

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