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Outdoor Hour Challenge: Pines

October 28, 2008

I’m finally getting around to posting this! 

A while back, the outdoor hour challenge was to study pine trees.  Earlier this month we went to Great Basin National Park in Nevada and hiked up the Bristlecone Trail.  It was freezing as you can see, we were up around 10,500 feet in elevation, plus we just happened to pick the stormiest weekend in months to go.  Just my luck, but we had a great time.  It was a difficult hike for the little ones, over rocky, uneven terrain, but well worth the effort. 

Bristlecone pines that grow along the timberline here are among the oldest living organisms on earth.  It was just amazing to see these ancient trees and contemplate how long they’ve been here.

Here is a portion of a tree that dates back some 2000 years. 

We examined the needles: (and fully intended to bring the nature notebooks and draw, but it was just way too cold!)

A in front of a 3200 year old tree! 

Many parts of the trees are dead, but there are still sections that continue to live.  Signs along the trail list the different ages of some of the trees.  We learned that the harsh conditions up here actually help the bristlecones live so long.  The trees grow very slowly at such high elevations and therefore their wood is very dense and strong, and resistant to rot.  Bristlecones that grow much lower in more favorable conditions live (only!) a few hundred years by comparison.  Adversity actually makes these trees stronger.  That is a good principle we need to remember in our own lives.   

I just love the gnarled and twisted look of these trees!  I took quite a few more pictures, but my computer still hates me and these were the only ones I was able to upload. 

Here’s the trail through the bristlecones heading toward the glacier on Wheeler Peak.  Gorgeous country!

13 Comments leave one →
  1. October 29, 2008 3:09 am

    It looks so cold there already. What an amazing place to visit – as usual.

  2. October 29, 2008 6:45 am

    Beautiful pictures!! I think my favorite is the old tree-magnificent!

  3. October 29, 2008 10:41 am

    Bristlecones are my favorite. We have a couple by our family cabin. They are fascinating and beautiful.

  4. October 29, 2008 11:32 am

    These are beautiful pictures. What a grand field trip.

  5. October 29, 2008 2:46 pm

    I loved the nature lesson in your blog! Thanks! Looks like it was cold, but a lot of fun. You are very brave taking the kids out in that. Impressive!

    Sorry your computer hates you. Ours hated us one day, so I had Shane build us a new one. I couldn’t take it anymore!!! When you are ready, he can build you a new one for you at cost. It’s about $500. We priced out his computer at and it would be worth $2,500+… so it’s a great deal!

  6. October 29, 2008 6:59 pm

    Those are some amazing pictures, amazing trees too….I’d love to get out west one day….we are in the Smoky Mountains, which are beautiful too….not quite as dramatic though

  7. October 29, 2008 7:02 pm

    Amazing trees indeed. I have seen them in California too. I love that they are also called “Methuselah” trees.

    This was a really cold nature study but I love that you are incorporating your nature time with family time traveling.

    Great entry, thanks so much for the link,
    Barb-Harmony Art Mom

  8. October 29, 2008 7:35 pm

    Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. I wish we were hiking there as well! Looks like your kids had a great time.

  9. October 29, 2008 9:15 pm

    I love the photos, especially the last one. What a fun nature study. We haven’t been to Great Basin yet, but will deffinately have to add it to our list of places to visit.

  10. October 29, 2008 9:36 pm

    Great post! Wow, old old trees. Sorry it was so cold!

  11. October 30, 2008 6:55 am

    Beautiful! I have never seen these trees up close, and your photos do a great job of sharing their beauty, both close up and from a distance to give the full story. Thanks for sharing!

  12. October 30, 2008 7:32 am

    It sure does look cold! But the trees are very interesting. I am sure the boys had a great time.

  13. November 2, 2008 8:40 am

    Hi Krisitana,

    Can I use one of your photos for photo of the week?

    Let me know.


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