Aging is inevitable. I’m living in relative youth and I try very hard not to think about the future….too much. Growing older looks scary; nursing homes, lonely apartments, broken bodies and hospitals all come to mind.
Late 2011 and winter 2012 provided ample inspiration for the later years. Whilst traveling to the Mt. Shasta area for a friends wedding a friend and I set out for a day long hike to Mt. Eddie. We took an ambling off trail route that traversed an impressive mixed conifer ecosystem including the rare Foxtail Pine.
Foxtail Pine, at first glance, appears to be very similar to White Bark Pine. A five needle pine species that grows at or near tree line at elevations of 6-9000′ feet. Foxtail’s have a very limited range including the Klamath mountains and portions of the Sierra Nevada range. It is commonly believed that these trees can live up to 3000 years. However, the oldest confirmed Foxtail Pine was found by Tony Caprio who collected a core sample and was subsequently determined to be 2110 years of age (Arno and Gyer 1973).
After gaining the summit of Mt. Eddie, we returned by wandering through a series of lake basins. While taking a swim break at the largest of the lakes a woman came traipsing along the shoreline to our location. Dot was her name and was intrepidly sporting an external frame backpack, river sun hat, chap-stick necklace, a onesy silk dress, new balance Velcro sneakers and some blue blockers. She must have been in her 80’s and she was out backpacking solo style. We struck up a conversation about the area, discussed some route finding issues and once our conversation concluded she headed off. Not down the trail, mind you, but in the opposite direction, cross country over steep terrain, talus slopes and good tree cover. I was totally blown away by her physical condition, sharp mind and intrepid nature. Dot, where ever you are, you’re my inspiration!