Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Walking to See Waterwheels

My original plan for the weekend of August 6, 2011 was to attend the Ancestral Health Symposium at UCLA.  The symposium was described by Loren Cordain. Ph.D., author of The Paleo Diet, as “The Woodstock of Evolutionary Medicine.”  Alas, I could not get a ticket to as it sold out long ago. 

So I did the next best thing. 

Actually, I did something better than sitting on my rear end for two days.  I took a walk in the mountains.
About 30 years ago, in August, I took a week-long trip hiking in Yosemite National Park.  Part of the hike took two friends, with whom I was attending chiropractic college, and me into the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River. There are multiple cascades and waterfalls along the trail leading from Pate Valley and past Glen Aulin towards Tuolumne Meadows.  The falls are all pretty impressive but one, Waterwheel Falls, took me by surprise as it is like no other I had seen.  This video link says it all.

I have gone back two times recently only to find a beautiful canyon with water flowing over granite, but no waterwheels.  This year, with snow pack at about 200% of normal and the most recent snow fall in late May, the likelihood of seeing waterwheels again was too much to resist.  I had planned a backpacking trip in the southern Sierra Nevada, much closer to home, but after a Yosemite ranger told me by email that Waterwheel Falls was booming, I changed my plans.

I took off for Yosemite at 5AM, spent the night in my tent in Tuolumne Meadows (a 32 degree F / 0 degree C night I might add) and headed off about six miles to Glen Aulin the following day.  On August 8th, I walked the additional 3+ miles down the canyon, past California and Le Conte Falls to finally see waterwheels once again.

I spent the day sitting just off to the side of the falls on a giant slab of Sierra Nevada granite, reading in the shade (A Movable Feast by Ernest Hemingway, which was full of words as true and honest as the river and falls).  For lunch I had some great buffalo pemmican, Tanaka Bites.  This high protein, low fat food is made in South Dakota by Oglala Lakotas from the Pine Ridge Reservation and is a great alternative to the chew-toy leather consistency of beef jerky or the grain-and-soy-plus-sugar-disaster of most other power or sports bars.  I admit the Parisian bistro food described by Hemingway was a little more appealing but for trail and camp food, Tanaka is a Paleo diet-followers friend.

Spectacular sights, like those along the Tuolumne River, are yours for the taking if you are fortunate enough to enjoy good health.  Staying healthy is to some degree a matter of good fortune but it  is largely a matter of your own choices.  Lack of exercise, a diet that strays from your genetic roots, poor sleep habits and poor stress management make these types of sights off-limits to many people.

Stick close to your body’s genetic blueprint, eat a Paleo diet, move, sleep well and keep a sense of community and you are far more likely to be able to have the energy and ability to get out and see wonderful sights and sounds.

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