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Bristlecone Pine
The Bristlecone Pine is the oldest living thing on the planet earth. Others my argue otherwise, but for longevity, this is it. Bristlecone Pines are found throughout the west in higher elevations, and is a plant that should be respected. They are a pine with a sparse foliage. Some parts seem to die off while others continue to grow, or show signs of new growth may appear. The tree does not look like a Christmas tree, it is kind of ratty and a lot of twisted wood is visible. The oldest known Bristlecone Pine recorded is called Methuselah, and is located in the White Mountains bordering California and Nevada and just north of Death Valley.

Methuselah is approximately 4,200 years old. How do they know this? The same way we can tell the age of any living tree, by counting the rings called dendrachronology.

Samples of the rings are counted on different limbs and can be traced back to the precipitation history, based on old dead wood from the region. What the scientists do is find an old dead tree and get a ring sample. Scientists can get samples from old charcoal from ancient fire pits that the American aborigines left behind. This wood can also be carbon dated, which can be quite accurate. The ring patterns from the living Bristlecone Pine are compared to the ring patterns of other trees that are living in the region. The scientist establish a pattern that common in both plants and set a resent date. From there the scientist work backwards by finding trees either living or dead, and find the common rings that can establish a date. The scientists continue to find older specimens that can be linked to younger specimens. this overlapping effect can take the rings over several centuries, and with the dead trees, can become several millennium. Once this ring date capered is created they can take any Bristlecone pines tree ring sample and establish an age for that tree.

Most of the Bristlecone pines in the White Mountains are around 2,500 years old, however Methuselah is the hands down oldest. If you ever visit the White Mountains to see the oldest living creatures, you will not be told which tree is Methuselah. The rangers are worried that someone may want a sample of it or might do something stupid. So her identity is anonymous. These are truly interesting trees to see.

Getting There-
Las Vegas to Bristlecone Pine, Deer Creek

There are two ways to get the Bristlecone Pines of Deer Creek. Take US-95 north to either Nevada route 157 or 156 west (left) to Mt Charleston. Head west until you come up to Nevada route 158. This is Dear Creek Road. It is also known as Angel's Pass.

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