Yesterday I finally got to visit several groves of Giant Sequoias in Yosemite National Park, including the Rockefeller grove, which is hidden from the general public and not on the map...
As part of the deal I promised my guides that I would not reveal Methuselah’s location or photograph ( nor theirs). After what happened to The Senator Cypress in Florida earlier this year, we have to do all that we can to protect these old timers from… us.
What I found most amazing about the oldest grove of trees in the world is that, amongst the younger trees who are only a few hundred years old, or a few thousand, were also the remains of trees that had died before the pyramids were built, still standing carcasses of trees 10,000 years old, like a scene from a Tim Burton Movie, and the young trees that are just sprouting up in the midst of them.
I would love to come back again, on a moonlit night, and let my imagination wander.
Unfortunately my photographic skills were not at their best, and the 4 mile hike at 10,000 ft altitude didn’t provide me with many photos worth sharing. As always, Rachel Sussman has taken the best photos of all when it comes to the worlds oldest living things.
When Pepita and I arrived in Nevada last week with our cargo of scientific equipment and spare parts for the Robot, I noticed our route went right by the proposed location for the new 10,000 Year Clock, as well as the home of some contenders for The Worlds Oldest Living Thing, the Bristlecone Pine.
Would I be too early in the season, and blocked by snow from communing with the Ancients?...
Partially obscured in this photo is an 80,000 year old fellow named Pando. can you see him despite the trees?
Before I had heard of Rachel Sussman and her intriguing quest to photograph the oldest living things on the planet, I had an inkling of my own to do the same.
So last week when I found myself not far from what might well be the record holder, I snatched up the opportunity to commune with such ancient wisdom., and left a few hours later better off for the excursion.
The question remains, on the grade of old-timers on the planet, is an 80,000 year old the oldest? Or just old for an Aspen Clone?...
Continuing with the discussion an whether or not a tree could live for ever if it wasn't killed by an outside force, eg Climate Change, asteroid impact, or Western Businessman in need of a new desktop; I would guess that the real question is: does all life have an off switch?
I took this picture of a definitely dead Juniper in Arches National Park in Utah. Later I drove right past an area with one of the contestants for the title of the worlds oldest living thing, the bristilecone pine.
On the way to Yosemite Bill, Mark, Kyle and I got into a heated debate on the above question, my opinion being 'No". I was out numbered in the vehicle, and had to conceed a defeat when the woman in the Kiosk at the entrance to the Park sided with them.
In the park we did find an example of what we thought at one time to be;
The World's Most Massive Living Thing
I got the below from a great website about botanical issues;
"Prior to the discovery
of ancient bristlecone pines and creosote bush rings, the world's record for
longevity went to the magnificent giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron
giganteum) of the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada. The greatest
authenticated age of a giant sequoia, derived from counting annual rings on a
cut stump, was nearly 3,200 years. Although it may fall short of the world's
oldest, the giant sequoia has the undisputed record for the world's most massive
living thing. The largest tree, named General Sherman, is 272 feet (83 m) tall
with a massive trunk 35 feet (11 m) in diameter and 109 feet (33 m) in
circumference at the base. Even more remarkable is the fact that at a point
120 feet (36 m) in the air the trunk of General Sherman is still 17 feet (5 m)
in diameter. It has been estimated to contain over 600,000 board feet of
timber, enough to build 120 average-sized houses. In fact, a single giant
sequoia may contain more wood than is found on several acres of some of the
finest virgin timberland in the Pacific Northwest. The trunk of General
Sherman alone weighs nearly 1400 tons. By way of comparison, this is roughly
equivalent to 15 adult blue whales, 10 diesel-electric train locomotives, or
25 average-sized military battle tanks."
My Name is Eric and My Job is Scientific Exploration.
That means I'm lucky enough to join expeditions to excavate sunken cities, climb volcanoes, find missing bombs, and Sail old research vessels, while searching for the mysteries of the natural world.