Last Updated 24-NOV-2008

Day 11, Ancient bristlecone Pine Forest, Northern end of Death Valley National Park

Moderate drive day of 250 miles.

Of the many scenic wonders found within the Inyo National Forest, one of the most amazing is the ANCIENT BRISTLECONE PINE FOREST, 
located between 10,000 and 11,000 ft. in the White Mountains, east of the Sierra Nevada. These trees (Pinus longaeva) are the oldest 
known living trees on earth. Here in the White Mountains, the ancient trees have survived more than 40 centuries, exceeding the age 
of the oldest Giant Sequoia by 1,500 yrs.

We entered Death Valley NP through Big Pine because Ken wanted to drive through Owens Valley when it was clear and since it was snowing 
in the mountains we decided to do that another time.  We passed tarantulas along the way, and watched the Eureka Dunes in the distance.

Drove to 2000 year old Ubehebe Crater, one of the largest explosion craters in the area.  Becoming a volcano expert on this trip!

Eric Schat's Bakery, Bishop, to buy bread for lunches--sheepherder's and cheese.  This is a famous bakery and folks from Los Angeles 
(300+ miles away) packed the place.

Furnace Creek Ranch lodging for 2 nights
These small cabins are smaller than our Master bathroom and from the 1940's. The A/C did work and it had a small refrigerator and it was 
1/3 the cost of Furnace creek Inn, a mile away.  So we were happy with it since the other choices are quite far away.  And their pool is 
fed by a warm spring and was quite refreshing.  Mary took a dip at sunset and it was fun to listen to the foreigners.  They have a neat 
museum and had local rocks and minerals on display in addition to historical stuff. First time we ever stayed at -178 feet!

The 49'er Cafe for dinner was nice for a rueben and giro.  After dinner we drove to a spot near Furnace Creek Inn to look at the stars.
It was quite dark and stars went from horizon to horizon!  Although we could see a glow to the East--Las Vegas!

View from our balcony at Sierra Lodge at Mammoth Lakes

Views along US-395 Between Mammoth Lakes and Bishop

Stopped about a mile north of Big Pine at a information Kiosk.  This was located at US-395 and CA-168

They had the Roosevelt Tree which was planted July, 23, 1913. The sign went on to say - This Giant Sequoia is reported to have been planted
to commemorate the opening of Westgaard Pass to Automobile traffic in honor of President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt.

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

The weather to the west did not look good.  My hopes of seeing Mount Whitney, The highest mountain in the lower 48 was gone.  Now, I was
worried that we would see snow where we were heading.

Views along the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest National Scenic Byway

The oldest tree, nicknamed "Methuselah", is more than 4,750 years old, and is not marked to ensure added protection from vandals.
The grove lies in the Inyo National Forest, between (10,000-11,000 feet) above sea level.

Too much to type...  So, I left the signs in !

Mary catching her breath at 10,000 feet !

Cool trail

Probably over a hundred and only 10 inches high.

Mary adding a rock to the pile

Poor guy to die at 49.  I looked it up and he had a history of heart issues.

Where the visitor center burned down.  Took 2.5 hours to respond.

By Mike Bodine
Register Staff

Fire has destroyed the visitor center in the Bristlecone pine forest, sending sadness and shockwaves throughout the Owens Valley and beyond.
Calls first came into Big Pine and Forest Service fire departments at 8 a.m. Thursday morning that the Schulman Grove Visitor Center in the
Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, located 24 miles east of Big Pine on White Mountain Road, at an elevation of more than 10,000 feet, was 
on fire. By the time tankers and engines arrived on the scene at 10:30 a.m., the center was a total loss, according to Inyo National Forest
Public Affairs Officer Nancy Upham.

One of the highest elevations on the trip. 10,050 feet.

I just love those drop-offs !

Sierra Viewpoint.  Would have been great if it was not snowing !

Narrow stretches along the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest National Scenic Byway

Grandview.  Our last look at the Eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Range and US-395 which we have spent the last week exploring.

Our first Tarantula along Big Pine Road.  This was definitely the way to come into Death Valley as it would be many hours before we
would see another person...  Too bad it was not longer!

Not in the park yet and not in Death Valley.  Coming down from over 10,000 feet into Eureka Valley.

At the south end of Eureka Valley is the Eureka Sand Dunes.  Would love to see them but I am not sure if the rental truck
would make it down and back. Some day we will come back as the dunes are famous for the "singing" and "booming" sounds they make when wind
blows over them; these dunes are over 600 feet tall (the 2nd tallest in North America).

Also, home to three species of plants and seven species of beetles found nowhere else in the world.

Death Valley National Park sign.  But its really not true.  The road is NOT in the park and it won't be for many miles.

Mary filming the desert....

Love this sign.  No help for 40 miles in any direction...  Too bad we can't make Maryland look like this !!

Going up over the Last Chance Range thru Hanging Rock Canyon

This is the reason that this area is not in the park--Crater Camp which is a large Sulfur Mine.  GPS shows the location

Looks safe to me

Sulfur... Would have loved to bring some back but felt the airport explosive detectors may pick it up.

Crankshaft Junction. (El. 3,911 ft)  Welcome to Death Valley and now we are in the park. Still, we have over 4,000 feet to drop.

Interesting place..  With scrap steel prices high I am amazed that someone does not come along and "cash in" ?

I love it..   We just came across the 75 miles of "no services" and did not even think about it.

Ubehebe Crater

The Ubehebe Crater system contains several volcanic craters, cinder cones and ash hills, all relics from an explosive steam eruption about
2,000 years ago, when rising magma met an underground lake. The explosion spewed shattered rock over a six-square-mile area, in some places
to depths of 150 feet. Ubehebe is by far the largest crater, 2,400 feet in diameter and 500 feet deep, and presents a very colorful spectacle
with variegated, buckled strata around its sides and grey-black ash on the rim - especially pretty at sunset or sunrise. 

Very windy here too.

Looking to the north across the valley we just drove

Looking east to the mountains where Scotty's Castle is.

Scotty's Castle

We made a quick stop for restroom breaks.  Did not pay the $$$ for the tour as we are too cheap !

Very interesting history of a man named Walter Scott, also known as “Death Valley Scotty”, who convinced Chicago millionaire Albert Johnson to
invest in his (fraudulent) gold mine in the Death Valley area. By 1937, Johnson had acquired more than 1,500 acres in Grapevine Canyon, where
the ranch is located. 

91.2 degrees...  Amazing that it was snowing a few hours ago.

Oh no... Its 5pm and rush hour !

Sea level ! And the road goes downhill !

Furnace Creek

Furnace Creek elevation sign -178 feet below sea level

Home for 2 nights and our street.  We had Internet here but I had to walk up to the General Store area to get a good connection.

Furnace Creek Pool and some of the hotel type lodging.

Various modes of transportation at the museum.

Good selection of junk food at Death Valley 

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