The Pinyon Pine

Pinyon pine trees are the uneven pine trees that don’t quite look like pine trees or deciduous, leaved trees. They are native to the canyons and slopes  around and in the Wrightwood area.

pinon pine tree in Lone Pine Canyon

Old growth pinyon pine in Lone Pine Canyon

Singleleaf pinyon pine (pinus monophylla) is found in pinyon-juniper woodland, montane juniper woodlands, Jeffrey pine forests, sagebrush steppe, montane white fir forest, and subalpine woodland. In pure stands below 9,000 ft.  in the high Sierra Nevada, the Inyo and White Mountains, the Tehachapi Mountains, and the Peninsular and Transverse Ranges of southern and eastern California. Its range extends into Arizona, New Mexico and northern Baja California in the southwest and occurs in the dry mountain ranges of Nevada, Utah, and southeastern Idaho on the east.

Pine Family (Pinacaeae). Singleleaf pinyon is an evergreen tree reaching heights of up to 12 meters. When young, it forms a pyramidal or rounded silhouette against the sky, while mature pinyons display a more ungroomed, irregular branching appearance. The cylindrical, bluish-gray leaves are generally one per bundle and 1 to 2 in. in length. The female cones are wind-pollinated. The subglobose cones ripen in August of the second growing season, full of 1/2-inch long, wingless seeds. Pinyon trees produce cones every three to seven years. Trees usually do not start bearing cones before they are 35 years old and do not start producing good seed crops before 100 years.

Dried cones exposing red-brown pinon nuts

Dried cones exposing red-brown nuts

Uses: Traditionally different tribes in California, the Great Basin, and the Southwest U.S. have utilized this tree for fuel wood and the pine nuts for food. The Washoe have made pinyon supple branches into stirring sticks for mixing pine nut soup. Pinyon pitch is melted and applied by different tribes as an outer covering for baskets to make them watertight or used to waterproof and repair pottery vessels. The tree’s large, orange-red to chocolate-brown seeds have been an important food to Native Americans for millennia and are extremely important today. The cones are still gathered in the fall by tribes in California, the Great Basin and the Southwest roasted, parched, shelled, winnowed, ground into a meal, and made into nutritious pine nut soup, mush, and cakes. Another modern way to prepare the pine nuts, is to roast them in the oven in their shells, and then shelled and eaten as a snack. Since the trees produce good crops every several years, each family relies on a series of groves, rotating harvests at different groves — depending upon which grove is the most productive. Since trees can reach ages of more than 600 years, some of the tribal pinyon gathering sites have been visited for many generations. Tools and harvesting methods are purposefully designed to enhance or maintain future pinyon cone production. There are two major harvesting methods utilized today by different tribes. The first method is to use a hooked stick that brings down the flexible limbs of the tree and the green, immature cones are hand-twisted from the branches before they open and disperse their seeds. The hooked stick can also be used to snap cones off the limbs. Sometimes children climb the trunks of the trees and hand pick the cones, while others use ladders as a replacement for the hooked sticks. Harvested cones are placed in plastic buckets, a modern adaptation of the gathering basket. A second gathering method is to wait until the cones open, and then whip the trees with a pole, knocking the seeds out of the mature cones and collecting them from the ground. During this process, dead or dying branches are pruned back, a practice various tribes say is good for the trees.

Wildrose charcoal kilns in Death Valley National Park

Wildrose charcoal kilns in Death Valley National Park

Early Euro-American settlers of the Great Basin logged pinyon trees, for wood, fuel for heating, cooking, and to supply steam engines. Pinyon charcoals were used to smelt the silver ores that became Nevada’s number one industry in the 1860’s and 70’s. In the last three decades, public land agencies chained large tracts of pinyon trees and reseeded areas with non-native grasses, such as crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum) to increase grasses for livestock. Other main uses of singleleaf pinyon include fence posts, Christmas trees, and edible seeds.

Chipmunks help to disperse pinyon seeds

Chipmunks not only use the pinyon nuts for food, but by over-collecting help to disperse the seeds

Many kinds of birds and small mammals feed on the seeds including white-footed pinyon mice, chipmunks, golden-mantled ground squirrels, wood rats, white-breasted nuthatches, Clark’s nutcrackers and chickadees. Black bears, deer, and porcupines feed on the seeds, bark, and foliage of the pinyon pine, while mountain sheep browse the foliage and twigs. The inner bark is a staple food of the mountain pine beetle, as well as the fungus causing pinyon blister rust. Even the pitch, dripping from pinecones is feasted upon by pitch midges, and is harvested for the nests of Dianthidium bees. Saw flies feed on either needles or pollen, while gall midges live in galls that occurs in the needle fascicle.

 

From USDA Plant Guide, PIMO — adapted by W. Feller

 

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San Gabriel National Monument

President Obama, who is visiting Southern California, was scheduled Friday to designate the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, which will cover 346,000 acres in one of the nation’s most heavily visited forests. The mountains northeast of Los Angeles are a popular recreation area. More than 15 million people live within a 90-minute drive.

San Gabriel National Monument

Trail leading south from Inspiration Point

Map of San Gabriel National Monument

Map of San Gabriel National Monument

The peaks of the San Gabriel Mountains frame the Los Angeles skyline and offer hundreds of miles of hiking, mountain biking, motorized, and equestrian trails as well as campgrounds to the area’s diverse residents. In addition to providing drinking water, the San Gabriels’ rivers support rare populations of native fish, while the vegetation found in the monument supports native wildlife and insect species, including pollinators important to farmers. The area is also rich in cultural and scientific history. More than 600 archeologically and culturally significant sites are found within the new monument, such as the Aliso-Arrastre Special Interest Area, which features rock art and cupules that exemplify more than 8,000 years of Native American history. The new monument is also home to the Mt. Wilson Observatory, where Edwin Hubble discovered galaxies beyond the Milky Way and Albert Michelson provided the first modern measurement of the speed of light.

Source – WhiteHouse.GOV

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Devil’s Punchbowl

The Devil’s Punchbowl is a unique 1,310 acre geological wonder where visitors can walk, hike or take a horseback ride on a 7.5 mile round-trip trail through a deep canyon formed by the runoff of large quantities of water from the higher San Gabriel Mountains. See spectacular up tilted rock formations created by layers of sedimentary rocks, or visit the Nature Center to learn about the native wildlife and park history. You can also explore the landscape of Joshua trees, California Junipers, Pinyon Pine Woodland and Desert Chaparral shrubs while observing the variety of wildlife.

View of Devil's Punchbowl natural area

Devil’s Punchbowl scenic viewpoint

More about the Devil’s Punchbowl.

Source – Los Angeles County Parks

28000 Devil’s Punchbowl Road
Pearblossom, CA 93553
(661) 944-2743

Park Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Nature Center Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Closed Mondays

 

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Wrightwalking

Something noticeable about Wrightwood is that when you walk outside your door you are in a beautiful forest setting.  How nice it is that each and every house or cabin is different from one another, with individual character.  Quiet streets, fresh air filled with the fragrance of nature.

Walking a trail in Wrightwood

Nature at your front door

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Mormon Rocks

Mormon Rocks, Cajon Pass

Mormon Rocks – Cajon Pass

Mormon Rocks located about 1 mile west of the Interstate 15 freeway north of highway 138 is recognizable to nearly everyone who has ever traveled the freeway from the Cajon Pass to Las Vegas. These familiar formations appear to welcome travelers to the Mojave Desert.

The sandstone was pushed up by a sub-fault of the San Andreas fault and further revealed by the Mojave Block changing direction in slope toward Death Valley rather than the ocean.

Older maps of the area show the formation as being called the Rock Candy Mountains. Local legend has it that the rocks were named for the Mormon pioneers who camped here after their descent from the pass ridgeline. In actuality, there was no reason for them to camp at these rocks where there was no water here with the nearest spring being only one mile further down the canyon.

Another legend calls the rocks the ‘Chanting Rocks,’ as when the wind would blow across the portholes in the rocks it was said the sound made was similar to a low chanting or singing.

Since the color and composition appears to be the same as the rocks at the Devil’s Punchbowl, 35 miles to the west, it has been suggessted that both were once the same and that with movement along the San Andreas these two formations were split apart. Scientific examination of fossils found between the two show that they are two separate formations.

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Lone Pine Canyon

Lone Pine Canyon, I’ve heard it said, is a young canyon formed by the San Andreas Fault.  Here, looking eastward,  we can see how straight the canyon is. It hasn’t had time to form the meanders and side canyons that it would have if were much older.

599-lone-pine-canyon-j6660-3

On the right side of this picture in the Pacific plate. On the left, the North American plate. Slowly, these two tectonic entities grind together ultimately forming our mountain ranges in their slow swirl.

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Inspiration — Introduction

Everything changes.  Some things don’t change fast though. Maybe daily, or hourly, even moment by moment. Without the inclusion of the work done by man, this photo may represent what things looked like one hundred years ago, or even older all the way up until now.  It would look just like this.  The weather will be different, but it will still be beautiful.

View of East San Gabriel River Canyon, Angeles National Forest

Looking down the East San Gabriel Canyon into a clouded-over Southern California

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3/14/14

Good Morning

I am sorry to say we do not have any snow for snow play at this time.  The weather service is call in for a storm next week so we will see.

This weekend would be a good time to come on up and get in so early spring hiking in all trails are open.  So come on up and enjoy YOUR National forest.

Mike

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3/9/14

3-9-14Good Morning

This may be the last snow play weekend of the year unless we receive new snow.  So come on up and have a great day in the mountains.  The picture above was taken yesterday in the afternoon.

Always make sure you carry chains that fit your car and that you know how to install them. Only play in the snow on Public lands, (stop to see us at Mountain Hardware and  we can provide you with a map and info where the best conditions are currently). Please respect private property and do not play there.   You will also need an Adventure Pass $5.00 per day or $30.00 for a year we can supply that for you. Please remember to always pick up and take home any trash as this will make it nicer for the next visitor.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at Mountain Hardware 760-249-3653 Mon – Sat 8:30am-5:30pm and Sunday 8:30am-4:30pm. We are located at 1390 Hwy #2 in Wrightwood on the north side of the highway and have a large parking area and restrooms

 Mike

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3/7/14

Good Morning

Yes we do have some areas for snow play.  Mostly small patches but the young kids will have fun.  This maybe the last weekend so come on up.

Always make sure you carry chains that fit your car and that you know how to install them. Only play in the snow on Public lands, (stop to see us at Mountain Hardware and  we can provide you with a map and info where the best conditions are currently). Please respect private property and do not play there.   You will also need an Adventure Pass $5.00 per day or $30.00 for a year we can supply that for you. Please remember to always pick up and take home any trash as this will make it nicer for the next visitor.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at Mountain Hardware 760-249-3653 Mon – Sat 8:30am-5:30pm and Sunday 8:30am-4:30pm. We are located at 1390 Hwy #2 in Wrightwood on the north side of the highway and have a large parking area and restrooms

 Mike

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