While driving 2 hours on dirt roads in the dark (and questioning our sanity) on the way to the trailhead we had no idea we were driving over a mountain peak covered with the oldest living things on the planet. The Bristlecone Pines have been dated to the days of the EGYPTIANS- over 4000 years ago! They are small, unassuming trees with very dense trunks the color of golden caramel and garnished with slight sprigs of green. Even when they die- the wood does not decompose- it's almost petrified.
We arrived at the trailhead just before dawn and enjoyed a spectacular sunrise over a lanscape like the moon. It reminded me of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire only so, so much higher. Hiking at altitude is always challenging and this was no different. Even though there is 'only' a 2000' gain- the trail teases you by going up and DOWN- only to go UP and down again.
Since it's a research station for the University of California, there is a road all the way to the top. Technically, it's an 'easy' trail and very good road although you wouldn't want to drive your Lexus.
The summit was in dense cloud cover and we debated about turning back. We decided to continue as long as we could clearly see where we were going. We made the summit in a fog bank and strong winds, then quickly decended.
The payoff was beautiful weather on the way back and a tame heard of juvenille Bighorn Sheep! We also saw plenty of marmots and a view of Mt. Whitney in the distance.
A successful hike, but the hardest road I've ever traveled.