Many people, when they hear the name Methuselah, think of the Biblical figure that lived for 969 years. Others such as dendrochronlogists, paleoclimatologists, arborcultrists, or tree lovers would point to a specific Great Basin Bristlecone Pine that resides in the White Mountains in the eastern Sierras.  Whichever camp you belong, Methuselah, the tree, is the oldest tree on record at 4851 years old. It was born long before the Bible was written and before the time when Methuselah lived. We set out the find this very old tree.

Methuselah resides somewhere along the four mile trail, also named Methuselah. Starting at 10,000 feet above sea level, it traverses up and down and through the Schulman Grove. Methuselah’s exact location remains a secret, the park service not wanting it damaged by Instagrammers, other non-caring tourists and vandals. No selfies with Methuselah seems to be the message! We hiked and hiked, stopping on occasion to admire a particularly large or craggy bristlecone. Could this be the one, we asked? 

Each tree has so much character and, in the right light the bark seemed to glow.

This one?

Methuselah must be bigger than this double?

Ot this?

With its many trunks, perhaps?

Or, perhaps this one? It is the most craggily of all we saw.

Disclaimer: this photo was taken a week earlier on a different trail, the Discovery Trail. Perhaps the park service is throwing us off the scent by “mis-naming” the Methuselah trail?

After awhile the search for Methuselah no longer mattered. Each of these bristlecones were totally captivating, old and craggy, interestingly shaped, and beautiful.

We got about half way through the hike when it started to rain and thunder. Kathryn kept saying that we need to leave, hurry back to the visitor center for protection. I kept saying, “just one more shot,” as I moved from tree to tree, rain pelting on my brow. Luckily the rain abated, allowing us to complete the hike in relative safety. Each bristlecone had a unique character, some seemingly from a modern art exhibit and some exhibiting obvious human characteristics.

A ballet dancer, arms fully extended.
Please do not take my photograph!
Roots reaching out to capture a neighboring tree?

Now back safely in our car I pondered Methuselah. I most likely have seen it and may even have photographed it. It doesn’t really matter after spending a few hours with these ancient pines, they are all amazing.

These bristlecone pines sure do have a beautiful view.

Remember, it’s all about the light!