Part 1, Arriving at the Bristlecone
Pine forest at the foot of the Mummy
I drove to the trailhead quite early in the morning, hoping for a cool hike. Using my old camera, I took several photos while driving north from Las Vegas and then turning west into Kyle Canyon.
This first photo shows Mummy Mountain to the right, with white cliffs on the left as its feet, a large belly, and a pointed nose on its face (from some northeastern angles along highway US 95, it looks more convincingly mummy-like).
In this next photo more of the Spring Range and its highest peak, Mt. Charleston, are visible on the horizon to the left of the Mummy:
Here is a little closer view of the same scene:
The destination for the day is right at the Mummy's feet. The taller, but more distant mountain to the left of the Mummy's resting place, is Charleston peak, 11,918 feet (~4,000 meters). The second highest peak on the Spring Range is a point on the belly of the Mummy at about 11,529 feet. The third? Griffith Peak, 11,060 feet, which we will see from a distance on the next page.
It was 7 AM when I started up the trail. The normal person reputedly takes 3.5 hours for the 6 mile round trip. I took almost 5 hours, I was very slow going up as well as down. But I also did go an extra few hundred yards, descending and coming back over 300 feet (100 meters) to take a look around the Mummy's feet at the Spring Range and Mount Charleston. That diversion took more than a half hour because of taking photos.
From that height and vantage point Mount Charleston was almost hidden behind vegetation:
I scrambled just a little way up the scree slope, until I had a slightly better view:
So, I start my photos at the top of this hike? Yes.
Why? Because I messed up the camera and did not record the many photos looking at and through pine trees on the long way up.
After climbing from about 8,340 feet of elevation (parking area) to about 10,040 feet (1,700 foot rise according to a guide book), I discovered my problem, the disk was not firmly in place in my camera.
So I corrected the problem and started recording photos just as I was about to leave a beautiful pine forest that has given me copious shade for an hour, and I "daylight" over a rise into the bristlecone pine forest at the top, the second bristlecone pine stand on this hike (I will show photos of the first one on the last page).
This is what the contrast between the pine forest and the bristlecone stand looked like from below, it was like moving from darkness into light as I got closer and closer on this east-facing slope, until I entered the west-facing-slope's bristlecone domain:
Why the abrupt transition from tall, statuesque 'normal' pines standing close enough to almost make a tunnel with shade, to the twisted pines standing further apart with branches reaching in every possible direction? Soil, as much as anything I could see. Real pines require soil, bristlecones live on scree slopes, slopes of stone. Look at the top of the ridge in this next photo, notice the soil of rocks, while just a bit lower in the same photo there is real soil, and tall pine trees rooted in them:
This is a typical "soil" in which to find the bristlecones thriving:
In addition to soil, bristlecones also tend to inhabit areas with more sun and wind exposure. They can live where others fear to set a root.
The next page (2) continues this saga by looking at some Bristlecone Pine trees that are neighbors to the Raintree. The Raintree is the oldest living tree in Southern Nevada, over 3,000 years old, and we will get to it on pages 3 and 4. Then page 5 will allow you to descend with me.