Ancient Pines

Discussion in 'Gymnosperms (incl. Conifers)' started by Luke Harding, Oct 30, 2008.

  1. Luke Harding

    Luke Harding Active Member

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    I'm heading to California next week and taking in the sights of Yosemite while there. I want to head south to the White mountains to see the Pinus aristata var longeava. If heading from Yosemite, how do I get there and then find the trees?
     
  2. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Well, in theory, over the Tioga Pass (the 'back' entrance to Yosemite, about 50 miles from the main entrance to Yosemite) to Lee Vining (10 miles further on), south down the 395 to Big Pine (about 60 miles), turn east there on the 168 to Westgard Pass (15 miles), and take the minor gravel road from there up into the pines in the White Mts (about 12 miles).

    In practice - depends on whether the Tioga Pass is still open or not. You may be lucky, you may not; the average closing date in recent years has been 13 November:
    http://www.monobasinresearch.org/data/tiogapass.htm
    There's a webcam you can check to see the current state: http://tenaya.ucsd.edu/tioga/ (can't see as I type, it's still the middle of the night there!)

    If it is already snowed up, then it is a very long journey round to get across the Sierra Nevada over a lower pass - and the chances are, the White Mts road will also be snowed up anyway making the pines inaccessible.

    PS Pinus longaeva ;-)
     
  3. Luke Harding

    Luke Harding Active Member

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    Cheers. I think I'll take my chances with the snow. I'm bound to find something interesting even if I don't get as far as the Ancient Pines.
     
  4. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    If you can get to Westgard Pass but can't get to the higher levels in the White Mts., there is a nice mixed forest of Pinus monophylla and Juniperus osteosperma at lower altitudes in the first part of the track from Westgard Pass.

    Another place well worth a visit is Onion Valley on the east side of the Sierra Nevada - continue south on the 395 from Big Pine for another 25 miles to Independence, and take the minor road west from there; climbs to near the tree line, nice rich mix of pines with stunning Pinus balfouriana subsp. austrina, P. monticola, P. flexilis, P. albicaulis, P. jeffreyi, etc.
     
  5. Luke Harding

    Luke Harding Active Member

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    Thanks for the instructions.
    Had a great time but as you said, the snow ment that the passes were shut. Hiked up into the mountains and saw some amazing Pinus lambertiana and P. flexilis but didn't get as far as the P.longaeva.
    Did manage however, to get horrendously lost! My 5 planned hours if hiking got a little extended due to a glitch on the map I bought. After 15 hours (!!!) I managed to find my way back to camp in Yosemite valley by which time it was 3am. Quite difficult without a flashlight. Lots of moonlight and a mobile phone light saved the day. Doing the 4.5 mile trek down from Glacier point in the dead of night is not something I'd recommend!
     
  6. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Ouch! Good you made it back OK without going off one of those famous Yosemite cliffs or anything!
     

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