How often do you come across another living thing that is older than the recorded history of your own family tree? Older than the discovery of the Americas. Older than the ruins at Mesa Verde. Older than the Abrahamic religions, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Older than the Great Pyramids of Giza. Dating all the way back to the mid-to-late Bronze Age — or Babylonia — some 4,000 years ago.
How many cycles of drought, floods, fires, and blizzards have they seen? How many civilizations have risen and fallen around them while they’ve been alive? If they could share anything from their experiences, what would it be?
I’ve been intrigued by the ancient bristlecone pines since reading about them decades ago, but this was the first time I’d ever seen them up close and personal. The day we visited, it was borderline hot; the air was as still as a tomb, and the only sounds were our own footsteps and labored breathing — and tiny chirps from the little birds flitting among the branches.
The bristlecone groves were not as grand and looming as the redwood groves in the Avenue of the Giants and Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park, but they had a much more wizened and solemn presence. All four of us went on the Bristlecone Cabin Trail (along with a short section of the Methuselah Trail), then a little later my sister and I hiked the Discovery Trail. Below is a video of the Bristlecone Trail that I found online:
Is it worth a visit? Very much so, but plan for it to be an all day event so you hike all three trails that are available.