Thursday, December 4, 2014

Trilobite Hunting

Good morning, world!  This is the view that greets us during those enchanted few minutes during a sunrise.

Today my aunt and uncle are taking us fossil hunting in an area full of trilobites, small horse shoe crab-like creatures.  The pugs and Polly get to come with us, and we soon find ourselves piled into a very capable SUV with giant tires and bouncing down what could optimistically be called a road.  Murray doesn't like all of the jostling, but Otis is quite content with me holding on to him for dear life as we bounce and scramble in and out of huge ruts and over large rocks.  

After getting out of the car, it is a short walk to our hunting site.  The ground is covered in broken bits of rocks of every color.  Not really sure what I am looking for, I spot something that looks promising.  


My aunt confirms that I have found part of a trilobite fossil and indentation.  Soon everybody has a small stack of rocks to pass around, mostly containing bits of trilobites.  This is what my aunt and uncle call "trilo-trash", a smattering of remains with incomplete parts.

This is very rare and exciting, but I am still not sure why.
Polly disappears every few minutes, turning up on the opposite side of the hill while Murray and Otis get bored after half an hour and find a sunny spot to slump down in.  These rocks are clearly inedible so they don't see what we are so happy about.

When it is time to leave, fat little Murray is tired and his paws hurt so I give him a lift back to the car.  

On paved road once again, we wind higher and higher into the mountains, until we are at 10,000 feet above sea level.  A pit stop gives us a commanding view over the whole mountain range.  

Way off in the distance on the other side of that mountain is Death Valley.

The road hasn't ended yet, so onward and upward we go until we reach the Ancient Bristle Cone Forest.  What an amazing place!  Many of the trees are over four thousand years old!  Their wood is so dense that it doesn't decay but rather weathers away over time.  

One inch on this cross-cut piece contains over 100 years of rings.  

This tree is the oldest of the bunch, having started as a seedling around 4,500 years ago.  That would be about 2,500 years before Christ was incarnated.  

It is hard to comprehend something that old still being alive.  It may look worse for the wear, but there is still green on the left side and it is still producing pine cones.  

Every body else seem to be doing okay, but I am sucking wind in such thin air.  The trail climbs up and up, and I feel all woobly as I force each leaden foot in front of the other.  Downhill seems like an excellent idea, so our excursion is at an end and we go back home to clean up for a night out on the town.  

Several hours later, we are sitting in a Japanese restaurant in Bishop with plates full of delicious food.  What a perfect end to a perfect day.  

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