This tree is between 4500 and 5000 years old. The primary reason that Bristlecones eventually die is from erosion, over the millenniums, of the soil off of their roots. They simply die of thirst.
This night image was taken in the Methuselah Grove. The oldest living thing on the planet lives there. It's 5065 years old. That's right. That tree sprouted at the beginning of the Bronze Age.
This is one of my favorite places on the planet. Walking there puts everything in perspective. The prayer 'I am small and I need your help' comes to mind. If you are ever on the east side of the Sierras near Bishop, it's worth the side trip.
Not so fun fact: While driving up the last few miles to take these nocturnal images in 2008, I got a call from my poor demented mother from a psych ward. She was very frightened. The people at the high end assisted living/nursing home where she lived (The Villas at Sin Vacas in Tucson) had sent my mother to the psych facility, because a) they had no room in their own locked ward and b) because Mary walked around too much for them and was underfoot. I got back to Tucson as soon as I could, got Mary out of the psych ward, and moved her, with the help of others, to Crossroads Adult Care Homes, where she lived another two and half more years and was taken very good care of there by its staff. Thanks, Wendy.
I wouldn't send a dog I didn't like to Sin Vacas. Neither should you.
It'll be five years soon since Pamela and Mary Jenks died. Five years. Seems much longer ago than that.