Tuolumne Ghosts


In Tuolumne Meadows, at over 8000 feet elevation, trees sometimes manage to gain a foothold between cracks in the granite, but find meager nourishment and seldom live a normal lifespan.  When young, heavy winter snows put permanent bends in their trunks, a lasting mark of their struggle for survival.


This "ghost" tree here probably lived about 25 years, reaching a height of less than 20 feet. What caused its demise at a young age? It's likely that a relatively dry winter, followed by a long hot summer, took all the moisture out of the shallow soil around the tree, and in the cracks, and it died of thirst.


But it did produce some seed-cones; behind it to the right is probably a surviving child, itself having dropped a few seed-cones and produced the grandchild, a few years old, in the lower-left corner.


Many generations have been watched by another ghost from the past -- that granite boulder which remains where it settled after the melting of the glaciers in the last  ice age more than 10,000 years ago.

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