Ancient Bristlecone Pine forest, California - Ref: 213-18-11vm3

I wasn't supposed to be here.
I had flown into Las Vegas to the news that the federal government had gone bust! - I knew what this meant to me - all the national parks would be closed.

Bishop, California became the base for me to make the best of a bad situation, and as I had been to Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest once before I thought it would be worth another visit-if the access road wasn't bolted shut!

Before heading out I found out about a grove much further on from where I had discovered one before. That would be my destination.

It was about an hours drive up into the Iyo Mountain Range from Big Pine in the Owens valley. The park road access was open but the park headquarters building was all shut up. This is where the Schulman Grove is - named after the man who discovered the importance of 'rings' in tree trunks. From there it got interesting, another 12 miles on a narrow unpaved road climbing and climbing.

I was now way above the tree line at 10,000', all around was the barren landscape - or moonscape may be more appropriate.

Coming around a corner, this landscape became dotted with several Bristlecone pines standing stoically all alone against the harsh elements that would pour down on this landscape over the years. I had made it to Patriarch Grove.

To me it was the most awesome landscape I had witnessed in many a year. The tears welled up as I moved closer and found a place to stop.

Only two hours were available and with the shale underfoot and at an angle of 45 degrees keeping one's balance was hard enough - let alone keeping camera gear secure. I shot as fast I could with my Bronica SQA and Fujichrome.

Absolutely brilliant!