Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Bryce & The Ancient Bristlecone Pine

©Bert Gildart:  In addition to world-class scenery, Bryce Canyon National Park has other dramatic features that may not be so well known.  For one, antelope roam the open meadows of this lofty park, and they are a delight to watch as they zip from one location to another.


Wildlife in Bryce is diverse and includes antelope


But Bryce also hosts one of the world’s most interesting of vegetation species, the bristlecone pine. The tree is the oldest of tree-like organism and dendrochronology — or tree dating — places individuals near 5,000 years of age.

In Bryce, park literature says they grow only along the rim and the oldest here are but a mere 1,600 years old.  Research also says that that many resource managers are reluctant to reveal the location of the trees.  “Unfortunately,” they say, “the selfish tradition of collecting anything unique has caused many agencies who protect Bristlecone Pines to keep secret the age and location of their older trees.”

BristleCone3 BristleCone2 BristleCone4

L TO R:  Though most species rot after death not bristlecone pines, which only seem to grow more bizarre as they weather, like stone.  Bristlecone pine cone; more bizarre formations.

To some degree that seems to be the case in Bryce, though park literature details a few locations, so my images are not revealing anything new.  For instance, literature says you can see them from along the Peekaboo Trail, the trail which Janie and I hiked several days ago.

By virtue of age the tree is inspiring, but the species has practical applications.  Tree rings of known ages are compared against environmental conditions enabling botanists to evaluate environmental conditions that may have existed long ago. They do so by measuring the relative size of growth rings, and by knowing that certain favorable climatic conditions create greater space between the growth rings.  Years ago I learned much of this in college botany courses.


Bristlecone pines backdropped by Bryce Hoodoos.


In part the tree’s longevity is due to the wood’s extreme durability. While other species of trees that grow nearby suffer rot, even after death bare bristlecone pines can endure, standing on their roots for many centuries. Such exposure as they begin to die back creates unusual forms, which certainly added to the timelessness that seems so inherent in Bryce.

Though bristlecone pines grow in many other areas, my search for them has not been as successful as it has been in Bryce.  And now, we’re off to the Grand Canyon, which is linked geologically to Bryce.




*Cowgirl Poet Gwen Petersen


(You can order our new books (shown below ) from Amazon — or you can order them directly from the Gildarts. Bert will knock a dollar off the list price of $16.95, but he must add the cost of book-rate mailing and the mailer, which are $2.25. The grand total then is $18.20. Please send checks to Bert Gildart at 1676 Riverside Road, Bigfork, MT 59911.)


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