Thursday, October 6, 2016
A Quick Trip to the Magic Grove near Mount Washington
Jules joined us and brought along the telemetry gear to try and hear the collared bighorn ewe. We didn't hear it from down in Spring Valley, but we did hear it later in the day.
The traditional first stop up the road is the Wheeler Mine, where water comes out of the old mine and we can still see some of the mining structures. I'm not quite sure what this structure was used for.
Then we drove up the tight switchbacks up to near the top of Mt. Washington. We hiked the last 150 meters into the clouds.
Then we went down the other side to the northeast to check out a grove of bristlecones that has been dubbed the Magic Grove. The name isn't on any map, but it's stuck locally.
The moving clouds lent a very different air (double pun intended!) to the grove.
Wildflowers were scarce, but we could see there remains, like this Silene acaulis. In the summer it has brilliant pink flowers.
I found this four-trunked tree interesting.
Recognize this tree? It's on the Great Basin National Park quarter. It's a very cool looking tree from every angle.
The clouds were moving so fast. Thunderstorms were predicted for later in the day, so we knew we couldn't stay too long.
One of the cool things about bristlecones (and there are a lot of cool things!) is that often times the tree roots are above ground. These roots are so old that the ground has eroded out from around them, leaving the roots in air. This is an example where the biology can be used to help date the geology.
The bristlecones had some cones on them, so the life cycle continues. Those bottlebrush needles can live for 40 years!
On the way back down, the clouds lifted enough that we could see the marvelous patch of aspen on the other side of the canyon. A wildfire in 2000 burned part of Lincoln Canyon, making some great bighorn sheep habitat and regenerating a lot of aspen.