Standing as the earth’s largest and oldest living monuments, I believe these symbolic trees will take on a greater significance, especially at a time when our focus is directed at finding better ways to live with the environment, celebrating the wonders of nature that have survived throughout the centuries.
—Beth Moon, 2010
Giant sequoias, adorned with old man’s beard lichens, speak of centuries of growth. There is tranquility in this ancient forest. Only seventy-five old growth groves in the world are left. Known as the ‘Land of Giants’, Kings Canyon National Park (above) and the Sequoia National Park lie next to each other. John Muir, a naturalist and early preservationist, believed in the beauty of these forests and worked hard to conserve the area for future generations.
High in the White Mountains of the Inyo National Forest live many wind-swept, gnarled bristlecone pines that are more than 4,000 years old. The effect of the altitude, and the overwhelming sight of these strange, contorted trees was astounding; a ghost forest seemingly at the top of the world. A forest ranger that I had been in contact with kindly met me and offered to show me around. Arriving at the Schulman Grove, he advised me that the oldest trees would be found on the Methuselah trail, a four mile hike through a canyon into the grove. Their growth stunted by lack of water, these trees live in extreme conditions and have an astonishing capacity for endurance. Their longevity comes, in part, from the nature of the wood, which is extremely durable. A bristlecone pine can virtually last for centuries. And although the ranger showed me the oldest tree in the grove, I did not take a picture of it, honoring his wish to keep the location of the tree secret.