Woe, din

July 9, 2010

We walked four miles along a trail through the Bristlecone Pines. Our first surprise was the fact that the beautiful log visitor center with exhibits was torched by an arsonist two months after our last visit in 2008. The man was apprehended, as they say, but the damage was done. We saw bulldozers clearing rubble to make way for rebuilding the center. The fire took out several trees as well. What is it with humans?

Anyway, the trees are remarkable, many of them fat with few live branches but still living on in very dry mountain soil after as much as 5,000 years of life. There are trees there ranging from the estimated 5000+ years of the Methusela Tree to ones less than 100 years old. People in white lab coats say only a few seeds take hold each century. And dendrochronologists in brown workshirts say they have traced ring patterns in living and fallen trees back 8600 years. That would be about 3500 years before the invention of writing. Cool. We saw a beautiful pair of Mountain Bluebirds and a few other bird species. Also many wildflowers.

Before leaving the park we went to “go” at the public restrooms that fortuitously escaped the fire. As I entered I managed to slam the outhouse door on my right index finger and emitted loud, unprintable denunciations of that circumstance that lacked even a hint of pomp. In comic book parlance, I saw stars. The finger bled but appears to be mending without anything broken. To add insult to injury, just as I finished job 1, a gust of wind blew a foul-smelling emanation up out of the pit into my nostrils. Pee ewe! I left feeling battered and besmirched but sated with beauty.

On the drive back north through the dusk to Lee Vining we drove into a storm of large moths that spattered the front of the rental car something awful. There were so many bugs it was like going into entomological hyperspace (see Starwars). Thursday early we spent half an hour scrubbing them off. Dishwashing detergent helped dissolve the grease in their smashed bodies, and the shiny new red Hertz rental Camry looked a little better. This morning we will bird nearby Lundy Canyon.

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