News from the Field: Day 3--White Mountains and Bristlecone Pine Preserve

Following our first night at White Mountain Research Station we breakfasted, made our lunches for the day, and met with Connie Millar of the US Forest Service. The late winter storms appear to have abated, and we enjoyed a beautiful, sunny day in the mountains. After an initial discussion with Connie at the Research Station, we headed up toward the Shulman Grove Bristlecone Pine Preserve, located high in the White Mountains at 10,000 feet. En route, we explore some of the geology of the White Mountains. Approaching the preserve, we are greeted by the forest service dozer plowing the last of the snow off the road. The highlight of the day is a demonstration of dendrochronology (age dating using tree rings) and its role in addressing questions of recent climate change. At the Shulman grove, we took an exciting hike around the oldest living organisms on the planet, the ancient bristlecone pines, including the famed "Methuselah", whose age is estimated at nearly 5,000 years. We explored ideas about the science of using trees to understand climate change and patterns in global climate change. After an exciting (and exhausting) day in the mountains, We returned to White Mountain Research Station for great dinner.



    May 12th
 
Connie Millar of the U.S. Forest Service meets the group for an introductory discussion of climate change
Jack Firestone and Chris Bottorf at the Westgard Pass Road entrance to the Preserve
En route up to the preserve, we stop to examine recent lake and river sediments in the foreland of the White Mountains.
Tabitha Lucas and Daniel Moss gaze at the outcrop in the early morning light, with the skyline of the Sierra Nevada in the background
A stop at the appropriately named Grandview Overlook, John leads a discussion of Sierra Nevada geology and an overview of glacial features.
At the pinyon pine forest in the White Mountains, Connie explains the principles of dendrochronology
And shows us the workings of an incremental tree borer, while the group looks on
Daniel Moss, Jack Firestone, and Esther Hunt examine the tree core
And Jack counts the tree rings for himself
The group shares a sunny lunch under the pinyon pines at the Grandview site
The group starts off through the snow for the bristlecone pines, growing on a stark White Mountain landscape
Esther Hunt is prepared for any kind of weather!
The beautiful bristlecone pines
The first bristlecone is attacked--by tree huggers, artists, and scientists!
Connie shows Megan Patterson and Preethi Veerlapati how to recognize the male and female cones of the bristlecones
Connie shows us how to estimate the age of a baby bristlecone pine
The twisted wood of the dead bristlecones, left in place for thousands of years, is equally dramatic
Megan Patterson, Daniel Moss, and Lauren Jones show the dramatic whorled grain of an ancient bristlecone.
At 10,000 feet, we come across a dangerous wild animal, the feared White Mountain jackalope!
Working in solitude, a bristlecone-laurel-crowned Daniel Moss works on his field notebook. We can only imagine what's in it!
Adam Ganson takes a break in the notch of an ancient bristlecone
And Preethi Veerlapati, Megan Patterson, and Dan Kastner, find a perfect bristlecone bench
At the end of a long day in the mountains, our crew collapses in exhaustion!
On the way back, a view of the Sierra crest--in the rearview mirror!