The world’s oldest-living trees sit in California’s Inyo National Forest in an area of the White Mountains known as the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. Core samples taken from some of the Bristlecone Pines in this area have determined some trees are more than 5,000 years old despite a relatively small size for their age. Enduring thousands of years of high-altitude harsh winters and other adverse growing conditions, these trees grow just millimeters per year. Because of this, their wood is extremely dense and resistant to things like insects, wood rot, erosion and fire that kill other trees.
The other bonus is that these trees sit at high elevation with one of the darkest night skies in California.
This past weekend, I took the trek up to the forest with fellow photographer Stuart Palley to get shots of the trees (both dead and alive) under a bright Milky Way night sky. I was amazed at how clear the night sky was and just how well the Milky Way showed up on the camera. With the help of an LED flashlight to light the trees and some advance scouting work during the day, we were able to get some pretty neat shots of the trees and surrounding area.