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Explore the Methuselah Grove
Lone bristlecone
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As the Discovery Trail rounds the corner of the hill to the west slope it leaves behind the white dolomite (a kind of limestone), and the bristlecone forest abruptly stops. Many of the bristlecone pines in the White Mountains grow in groves that are strictly limited to a particular rock type, usually dolomite.

Past the edge of the grove the trail runs across an outcrop of rusty red quartzite, an ancient metamorphic rock, with a single spectacular bristlecone pine growing on it. This rock type has the same ecological role as dolomite: reducing competition and fire danger to the few hardy trees that will grow on it. Across the valley the rock type is sandstone, and no trees at all will grow there, only sagebrush. On this cold autumn day cloud shadows were racing across the hillsides.

The paved road ends at the Schulman Grove, but White Mountain Road, visible in the bottom of the sagebrush valley, continues north along the spine of the range for many miles. It passes a side road to the Crooked Creek Research Station and ends at a gate two miles short of the Mount Barcroft Laboratory at 12,000 feet. Both belong to a series of high-altitude research laboratories run by the University of California. Along the way there are a number of groves of bristlecone pines, including the Patriarch Grove, before the road climbs permanently above timberline. An old jeep trail, now used as a hiking trail, continues to the summit of White Mountain Peak, at 14,246 feet the third highest mountain in California.

Discovery Trail Discovery Trail   Lone bristlecone Lone bristlecone   Methuselah Grove Methuselah Grove   Patriarch Tree Patriarch Tree

Photo credits

Explore the Methuselah Grove | A Tree's Secret to Living Long
Build a Tree-Ring Timeline | Illuminating Photosynthesis
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