Yesterday we went on another Bristlecone Pine quest on the West Tavaputs Plateau. The Forest Service is apparently aware of up to 5 communities of bristlecones in that area, but they're cagey about the locations, and to respect their policy, I’m not being specific either.
Before we reached the peak that was our destination, we began seeing bristlecones somewhere above 9000 feet. Here is the destination peak framed between two bristlecone pines:
This group of trees was much larger than the one we found last weekend, stretching along the ridge top for perhaps half a mile. There were numerous trees with quite a few young ones:
The area also included Englemann spruce, Douglas Fir, limber pine, and ground-hugging shrubs such as birchleaf mahogany and wild roses.
After passing the bristlecones, we continued along a “trail” – or what our family lovingly calls an “old horse trail”, meaning it’s not fit for mountain goats!
I got off and let my horse follow Steve while I struggled along in deep sand on a steep mountainside. I also documented my view of the fall I anticipated taking at any moment. It’s steeper than it looks:
But as it turned out, I made the audacious passage without incident and came out the other side. We continued to our planned destination, leading the horses up a very steep path to the top. There, we found this deer head, skin still attached, with antlers.
The views were nice,
,but we didn’t stay long on that barren peak. The wind must have been blowing 40 mph. I was afraid to stand up. Mischief was buffeted so hard now and then that he staggered a step to the side. And he weighs 900 pounds! Here he is getting a much-deserved treat:
We started out near noon at about 50 degrees. Up top, the temp couldn’t have been much above 40. Pretty chilly, when the wind was factored in.
Our total ride was about 4 hours, 12 miles, and 2000 feet.