14 July ~2012
I went off trail last weekend, up through a Subalpine Fir and Englemann Spruce forest, trying to get to a stretch of alpine tundra that I spotted from a satellite photo. It was tough going because of all the downed trees.
My GPS kept me on course, and eventually me and the dogs walked out of the trees into an open expanse of grasses and wildflowers
At the lower end of the open area we came across a gorgeous grove of 1000+ year old Bristlecone Pine, situated on a dry slope above a valley. Some of the trees had a strip of live bark growing up to a green crown. Others were dead but still standing. I have since read that Bristlecone are so sturdy that they can remain dead standing for hundreds of years before winds bring them down.
Three rainstorms came over while we were up there. The first two I weathered in my tent, taking a needed nap both times, since I was out late dancing the night before.
The third rainstorm hit when we were on the way back down through the Spruce and Fir. One lightning flash hit very near, followed by a boom of crackling thunder a split second later. The dogs gathered around me, figuring I would keep them safe. The thought flashed through my head that I hoped we all would survive this. Lightning that close is not something you ever get used to.
I will return to the grove someday, hopefully in calmer weather. It definitely felt like I had came across a very sacred place.