Explore the Methuselah Grove
Text and photography by Don Bain
A visit to the ancient bristlecone pine forest in California's White Mountains
begins with a dramatic climb from the desert in Owens Valley at 4,000 feet
elevation to the Schulman visitor center at 10,000 feet. This high in the
mountains it is always cool and may be cold even in mid-summer, but the air is
dry and the sun is usually shining. After visiting the small museum and
information center, most people take the self-guided nature trail.
Below are four panoramas from this and other trails in bristlecone country,
which I shot on October 21, 1997. Click on the images below to take your own
tour, complete with details about what you're seeing.
In case you're wondering, the tree shown in the NOVA program is not the
Methuselah Tree. To protect this venerable old tree, the U.S. Forest Service
refuses to give its location or identity within the Methuselah Grove—as does
the scientist who recently discovered an even older bristlecone than
Methuselah. But rest assured that some of the trees you see in these panoramas
are among the oldest living things on Earth.
G. Donald Bain is director of the Geography Computing Facility at the
University of California at Berkeley, where he combines his two chief
interests, geography and computer graphics. In 1994 he founded the Geo-Images
Project, a Web site featuring photography for geographic education (see GeoImages.Berkeley.edu). Since then his work has focused on virtual
reality panoramas, over 2,100 of which can be seen at