If You were a Native American in the Bear Valley area what would you eat? The Washoe Indians or Wašišiw made this area their home for something like 6000 to 9000 years. These natives spent their summers in the High Sierras. Our local band would travel west down into the foothills to trade and then travel east over the Sierra crest in late autumn to spend their winters at or below snowline in the Markleeville/Woodsford area.
When traveling west, they would trade for salt produced by Miwuk who flooded grinding holes with water diverted from salt springs… hence the name of Salt Springs reseviour which sits just downstream from our area on the Mokelumne river
Read more about these salt springs in this report by the USGS from 2017 https://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2017/5053/sir20175053.pdf
Smaller grinding holes can be found just over the damn in Sky High Ranch 5 miles west of Bear Valley . These were used to grind acorns. These are usually located by water sources indicating either the natives needed water to wash the tannins out of the acorn mush, or they just wanted a cool drink while they ground the nuts.
Take a closer look around our neighborhood. There are many healthy things you can consume. Above, elderberrys grow throughout our neighborhood. They start ripening in early fall and this bunch is just now ripe. Freeze the berrys for a day to help seperate them from the stalks. Elderberry juice is thought to promote overall good health, and to help with flue symtoms. Follow this link to a good juice recipe I’ve tried.
Ripe Pine nuts from pine cones.
It’s raining pine nuts! You don’t usually notice how many of these fall from the sky when it’s windy. They blend into the forest floor. But when noticed on a patio or driveway, there are hundreds per square yard. Peel the nut out of the whirlybird husk. You can then crack open the oval hard net shell getting at the meat inside. But, like sunflower seeds, I just chew on the nut and shell together and spit out the hardest part. Gather many and then dry roast in a pan. They have a wonderful nutty flavor unmistakable as a pine nut just like in pesto.