September, 1998: My trip to the White Mountains of California to see the Ancient Bristlecone Pines. Some of these trees are over four thousand years old. Also includes a few side-trip pictures.

Click on a thumbnail pic to see it in full size.
Valley View. A view from Monitor Pass down into the (Owens? Walker?) Valley. I set out on Sunday morning at a leisurely pace, and was here by early afternoon.
Mono Lake. Just a quick snapshot from the viewpoint where 395 descends down into the Mono Basin.

I stopped at Mono Lake and spent enough time on the drive that I ended up staying overnight at Mammoth Mountain, rather than going all the way to Big Pine. I had a wonderful dinner at The Matterhorn, went to bed early, and got off to an early start Monday morning.

Mountains! The eastern Sierra, viewed from just off US 395.
Lots of mountains! I liked the way the sunlight was going.
Even more mountains! They go on and on. There's a small valley in there that I'll have to see someday...
On my way up. A view from the road leading up into the White Mountains, after the turnoff just before Big Pine. If I remember right, this is near the 5000 foot level.
Further up. Perhaps as high as 7000 feet now. Less sage, more brushy vegetation.
Much higher. Another 1000 feet or so. You can see the eastern Seirra off in the distance.
Pines! A stand of trees at Schulmann Grove, at 10,000 feet in elevation. I got there fairly early, but I took this picture in the afternoon: at 9:30 AM, the sun was playing tag with the fog and clouds that were blowing past, and it was cold! The light was not very good for pictures at this time either. I put on all my layers and found a thermometer; it read 32 or 33°F, at least 30° colder than down in the valley.
Miscellaneous bristlecone pines. This was still early, while the sun was hiding. The main thing you can see in this picture is the dolomitic rocks that form the white soil of the White Mountains. Bristlecone Pines are one of the few plants that can grow in it.
Brr. Me, wrapped up in five or so layers and still cold. The temperature had climbed to almost 40F by this time.
Not everything up here is a pine. I believe this is a Mountain Mahogany. (I will be quite embarrassed if I got it wrong...)
Death Valley. The trail offers incredible views down into Death Valley. I believe the white area is part of Saline Valley.
Spring in September! Indian Paintbrush blooming along the trail. At 10,000 feet, spring comes late in the year.
Ancient Bristlecone Pine. This one is clearly quite old. Just how old, I have no idea.
Stark against the sky. More ancient trees, limned by clouds.

I had a few hours of sunlight left when I finally got back down to the valley, so I went south on 395 to Lone Pine, the ``Gateway to Mt. Whitney.''

Foothills. Interesting rock formations in the Alabama Foothills, just east of Mt. Whitney. (The watery-looking spot in the top center of the picture is actually the moon, which was out early that evening.)
More foothills. Same rocks, slightly different view. This shot finished out the roll, as well as the sunlight.