Walking Amongst Immortals

by ahanagata

  There’s a place where you can walk among immortals, a place where you can stand where Prometheus stood. They are the world’s oldest living (non-clonal) organisms. Imagine being surrounded by a forest that still grows and predates the pyramids of Giza. They have seen the coming and going of countless droughts and floods, governments, technologies, and even an Ice Age. I suspect most will stand when we are dust. While not as imposing or physically impressive as the giant sequoia; when you walk amongst them you get the feeling that you’re walking in the godswood.

  The grove that the 4,600 year old Methuselah tree calls home is located within the Inyo National Forrest. There was an older tree dated that was around 4,900 years old, though it was cut down when the core sampling tool broke off in the tree; and that was the end of poor ‘Prometheus’. Since only a few trees have been dated, it’s very likely that there are older trees standing in the grove. Due to the fact that many humans are child-like idiots, the exact location of the Methuselah is kept secret so she’s safe from the vandals. That and the markings on the tree will lead you to the treasures of the Knights Templar…so I’ve heard.

  The Bristle Cone trail itself is a mere 2.8 miles, though you can take this all the way to the only glacier located within the borders of Nevada and that’ll clock you in just below 5 miles. Though these are not difficult treks, the grove is close to 10,000 miles above sea level and it’s not uncommon for people to get altitude sickness. If you’re feeling nausea, dizziness, fatigue, pins and needles, drowsiness, a rapid pulse or swelling in the face and extremities you might have AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). Do not take an aspirin and lay down, continued exposure to altitude will just worsen the sickness and could lead to more severe symptoms or worse. If one persists at altitude and has AMS, pulmonary edema or cerebral edema which can be fatal are a real possibility. The threat of AMS occurs any time you get above 8,000 feet, this is 2,000 above that threshold. The good news is there are 3 sure fire cures for AMS they are: Decent, Decent and you guessed it Decent. The best way to deal with AMS is to prevent it. You can do this by not doing anything strenuous the first night at high altitude, and stay hydrated. This means staying off the booze or anything else and dehydrates you. If AMS is a worry, consider spending a night at 8,000 feet to acclimatize your body, then go up to the 10,000. Once you get much past 10,000 feet, your ascents will have to be much more regulated. Lucky for you, going to see the Methuselah’s will probably not require such planning.

  Camp spots seem to be at a premium though we found a great camp spot away from the main cluster overlooking the Sierras. When I woke up that morning, I drank my coffee in awe. Though I will mention you can only get to some camp spots with a truck or 4 wheel drive. If you don’t have access to a truck, you can still go and have a great time; but there will be fewer camp spots you can access.

  Water is not available up there, so you’ll have to bring all you intend on drinking. To be on the safe side, bring at least a gallon of water per person per day. The dry air will most likely keep you in guzzle mode. Since AMS seems to be exacerbated by dehydration, I wouldn’t cut corners on the amount of water you pack in. Careful planning is required if you intend on backpacking more than just an overnight. If you want to backpack more than one night you might want to consider using your car as a base camp where you keep water and do multiple shorter hikes in the area.

  The most important things is keep your eyes open, this isn’t the grand canyon but it’s no less impressive and awe inspiring. Though it doesn’t front kick you in the face like some other treasures of the world. While visually beautiful the Methuselah’s are a more cerebral adventure with a feel more akin to a fine art museum rather than a giant Chinese wall or that big guy in Rhodes. If you’re Vegan, it’s meatless and it’s fine for all fitness levels; so you’ve got no excuses go walk amongst the Immortals.

  Remember kids, it’s a National Park, meaning Federal rules apply. Don’t pack steel and walk into park buildings which are federal buildings. Be sure to check the fire restrictions, there’s often a ban on fires above 10,000 feet; so you might have to gas stove it and dress warmer at night.

  Bienvenue Savages! Live Wild. Eat Well.

  P.S. I lied about the Vegan part, the trees are actually made out of leather and baby seals.


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