Alabama Hills & Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

The Alabama Hills are such a unique place found in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains and in the shadow of Mt Whitney! The rounded contours of the Alabamas are a incredible contrast with the rugged peaks of the Sierra’s.

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Starting with silent pictures, Hollywood has loved the landscape here. It was close to them and the scenery was stunning. A perfect area to represent the ‘Iconic American West’ in their films.

The first movie totally filmed here was The Roundup (1920), a silent Western starring Fatty Arbuckle! Over the years all of the Hollywood studios have filmed here. The Alabama Hills have appeared in hundreds of movies and TV shows beginning in the 1920s and continuing to now, mostly American Westerns – although for many films, they have stood in for India, the Middle East, the Gobi Desert, China and even Africa in two Tarzan Films. Sci-fi producers have found the Alabama’s “out of this world,” for movies like Star Trek V and VII, Deep Space 9; and a perfect landscape for the backdrops of Tremors, Gladiator and Dinosaur. Countless documentaries, product commercials for TV and print have used the areas unique rock formations and valleys as a palette for their products.

There was some filming happening while we were there but not in our immediate location. However we did get to see some signs of ‘the old west’ come through! They offer trail rides through the hills, what a fabulous way to see them and feel as though you could almost be in an old western movie! Maybe John Wayne would ride around the next corner!

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Alabama Hills are also well known for dozens of  natural arches. The most well known, and widely recognized in film, is the Mobius Arch. It was an easy, and gorgeous, walk in to the arch!

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As with other areas there were many wildflowers blooming also. A wonderful contrast to the natural colour of the rock!

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Our next day trip from Bishop was to drive to see the Bristlecone Pine Forest. From Bishop we went south to Big Pine, then went east on Highway 168 through the Owens Valley, to the White Mountains.

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These Great Basin Bristlecone Pine trees grown at elevations of 9800 to 11,000 feet!

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On the way up into the mountains we stopped to enjoy the view and discovered all the lichen blooming! It was a beautiful carpet of undisturbed nature! I made sure I left it that way!

As it was still early in their season, the road was only open until the Sierra View overlook, at 9271 feet!

 

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When we got there I spoke to a photographer who was just leaving with his drone! He said the pictures he got from that elevations were outstanding, I can only imagine! It was spectacular with just my camera!

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Further along the road is the Methuselah Grove, the location of the  ‘Methuselah’, a Bristlecone Pine that is 4,848 years old! For many years, it was the world’s oldest known living non-clonal organism, until  the discovery in 2013 of another bristlecone pine in the same area with an age of 5,066 years!! ‘Methuselah’ is not marked in the forest, to  protect it from vandals. Not sure we will ever get to see that marvel as our time in the US is limited to the winter months.

It was time to turn around and head back down the mountain, to the valley floor. The Owens Valley, at 4000 ft,  is such a gorgeous area with the majestic mountains framing both sides!

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I loved this ranch that had all these hides drying on the fence post and the White Mountains in the background!

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Next trip we explored north of Bishop. Convict Lake, Mammoth Lakes, June Lake and Mono Lake!

Until next time…….

 

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