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 John Louth of the US Forest Service. After an initial discussion with John at the Research Station, we headed up toward the Shulman Grove Bristlecone Pine Preserve, located high in the White Mountains at 10,000 feet. 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. We then drove further into the White Mountains, to the Patriarch Grove, a remote bristlecone pine site situated at 11,000 feet.  After an exciting (and exhausting) day in the mountains--including two flat tires on the way home--we returned to White Mountain Research Station for great dinner and a little R&R.

    May 24th
Debby and Liz start off the day with a little Tai-chi...
While Lily, Ryan, Matt, and Emily start off the day Hoosier-style.
John Louth, an interpreter with the U.S. Forest Service, is our host for the day.
A stop at the appropriately named Grandview Overlook, John leads a discussion of Sierra Nevada geology and an overview of glacial features.
En'Yeto enjoys the beautiful morning sunshine.
Lily, Emily, and Sam at the spectacular Sierra overlook.
The group looks on studiously, while John Louth gives us some background on dendrochronology.

Matt tries his hand at an incremental tree borer, while Lily and Ryan look on.
Renee and Michael check out the core.

Emily and En'Yeto try to count the tree rings...
Then we head up to the Shulman grove--the bristlecone pine preserve at 10,000 feet.
Great spot for a lunch break!
At the Shulman Grove, John shares some natural history of the bristlecone pines--the world's most ancient features.
We start off on the Discovery Trail
On the trail, the group stops for a break by one of the oldest bristlecones in the reserve.

Mia, En'Yeto, Emily and Josh walk through the Cambrian quartzite at the Shulman Grove.  The bristlecones won't grow here!
After our visit to the Shulman grove, we head high into the white mountains--with the weather threatening--to see the Patriarch Grove
The twisted wood of the dead bristlecones, left in place for thousands of years, is equally dramatic
Mia and Renee do an interpretive dance on the theme of the ancient bristlecones.
The barren dolomite slopes look dramatic against the darkening sky!
The group bundles up for the big hike!
Kat and En'Yeto are glad they brought their winter clothes!
The boys--Matt, Ryan, Sam, Josh, and Michael--enjoy the view from the high point of the Patriarch Grove

A spectacular view of the Sierra crest on the return trip!
After a rough ride down a long gravel road, Renee and Liz advertise our dusty van.
Nothing better to do in the evening, the evil cosmetologist Mia decides to do a makeover on Lily's hair...

Lily pays Mia for her hard work--with a kiss! 
Renee is so jealous, she decided to die her hair green!