Trip to LA, Fort Churchill and The Ancient Bristlecone Pines

Last weekend Duke and I drove to LA on Friday and back on Monday. We took interesting detours both coming and going to do some site seeing. On the way down we stopped at Fort Churchill State Historic Park. It is located on the Carson River about 50 miles south east of Reno. Fort Churchill was built in 1860 and abandoned in 1869. It was on the pony express route and guarded the route west against Indians. The adobe buildings of the fort are in ruins but it is still very interesting to see what is there and to visit the museum.

On the way home we detoured to The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in the White Mountains east of highway 395 at Bishop. The views from the road and the visitor center which is at about 10,000 feet are stupendous. The bristlecone pines are amazing and fascinating. Many of the trees are more than 4000 years old and still living. They are the oldest living things on earth. Some of the dead trees on the ground can be dated back 10,000 years.

What I found particularly fascinating is that they have been able to use the wood from bristlecone pines  which can be precisely dated using tree rings to calibrate radiocarbon dating. This all happened in the 1960’s and as a result of the recalibration many archaeological dates have been corrected. Many artifacts found in Europe were actually much older than originally thought. As a result scientists have reinterpreted their theories of cultural diffusion. This also means that the dates we learned in school in the 60’s were wrong.

From the bristlecone pine visitor center a dirt road heads north to the trailhead for climbing White Mountain. Duke and I are thinking that climbing White Mountain is something we might like to do next year. Here are my pictures of the bristlecone pines, the interpretive trail and our car on the road to White Mountain.