Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Twisted Forest, Dixie National Forest, Utah

While I was looking through tourist information on our trip to Cedar Breaks, I found a reference to the Twisted Forest, a grove of bristlecone pines, and some general directions to it in the Dixie National Forest. I was intrigued--I love bristlecones. So we braved a Forest Service road that started near Brian Head with the van. The road was in great shape, and I hooted with excitement as we drove across the slopes at Brian Head ski resort. We wound our way around the mountain, through beautiful aspen groves, past empty campsites, over a big, muddy puddle, and arrived at the Twisted Grove trailhead 3.5 miles after leaving the pavement. A sign, overhung by a bristlecone pine, greeted us.

As soon as left the trailhead, we entered Ashdown Gorge Wilderness. We also had stunning views of what awaited us: old growth bristlecone pine on orange and white substrate. How cool was that!

Some of the bristlecone pines looked very strange, and not that healthy. I'm not sure what's going on with them.

Many showed stripbarking, or only a small strip of bark alive keeping part of the tree alive, while the rest was dead. This is a common strategy for bristlecone pines to live longer. The sign said that at least one tree in this grove was over 2,000 years old.

We did find some younger ones. We'll have to revisit this tree in a few years and see who is taller. (Note what Desert Boy is carrying. He read so much this summer!)

We kept going until we reached the ridge (this brought some tears from Desert Girl, who really didn't want to hike the half-mile trail). I left the kids with water and snacks and walked the ridge to explore some more. I found all kinds of neat trees.

This one was barely hanging on. Brian Head Peak is in the background.

This one was dead but had such an interesting shape.

I must love the neat twists, as I took a lot of photos of them!

The lighting wasn't what I considered ideal, but I tried to work with it.

A storm was moving in from the east and we could hear some distant thunder, so we couldn't stay much longer.
 This sure is a place I'd like to return to. You can find more info about the Twisted Forest here.

On the way back we walked up to the top of the chair lift at Brian Head.

It was crazy seeing the slopes without snow. Hopefully we'll be back this winter!

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