Going to the high country? Eat your liver & onions first.

Today may be #NationalPiDay, but it’s also #ThrowbackThursday. With apologies to my vegan and vegetarian friends, I dig back into the winehiker witiculture archive to bring you a post I originally published in September 2006:

“Going to the high country? Eat your liver & onions first.”

Happy #ThrowbackThursday!

~winehiker

Winehiker Witiculture

So you want to ramble the ridges, shred the bowls and bag the peaks? And you want your body to deliver peak performance under more extreme environmental conditions than you’re used to at sea level? And you want to impress your friends, too?

Ever hear of “hypoxia?” Some call it mountain sickness. Call it what you will, it’s the effect of reduced atmospheric pressure at altitude coupled with an insufficient supply of oxygen to the body. Every person can have different symptoms when suffering from hypoxia; some of the common symptoms are lightheadedness, dizziness, and reduced vision. When your purpose is to enjoy some backcountry beauty on foot, ski, or bike, you don’t want your body to fail. So how do you compensate for reduced oxygen and air pressure levels? You make sure you give your body what it needs before you go to the high country.

It’s been documented…

View original post 315 more words

Seredipitous Sunday Links

What’s the happiest you’ve ever been?

Studies show that happy people catch fewer colds, that happiness can buy success, and that optimists live longer.

I’m happy to believe these things. In fact, my first 2006 post to this blog, back on January 1st, sums it up in a little poetry.

Imagine being unbearably happy!

Imagine being unbearably happy!

Fellow hiker Tom Mangan over at Two-Heel Drive yesterday asked, “What’s the worst jam you’ve ever been in?” The story he refers to, about two experienced hikers who still managed to get wildly lost, is, fortunately, one that ends well.

Tom prods me a little in that post. But then, he’s one of the lucky few who’s already heard my bear story. Around a campfire, no less!

I didn’t quite take the time yesterday to recount my 1976 episode with that pesky black bear in Yosemite. Someday I’ll transfer that cautionary noveletta from a campfire tale to the written word. Today, however, I thought I would follow Tom’s formula but switch gears a little to inquire, dear reader, about your happiest moment.

Yes, we’re getting back to the point of this post: a call for your response to the question, “what’s the happiest you’ve ever been?”

Don’t think too hard about this one. After all, you’ve been happy at least once in your life, right? So go ahead and share your happiest moment here by adding a comment, dear reader – kinda let’s me know you’re actually reading this stuff. Not that I need validation or anything remotely resembling it. (But it might make me happy.)

Hey, maybe your words will make another reader happy, too.

~winehiker

My two cents on the Harvard resveratrol study

And you thought mice ate cheese.

And you thought mice ate cheese.

By now most folks have heard last week’s news about the Harvard Medical School and National Institute of Medicine studies that highlight the extremely beneficial effects that red wine has on the health of mice. Researchers at these institutions have determined that high doses of resveratrol, which is found in the skin of red grapes, is the ingredient responsible for lowering the rate of diabetes, liver problems, and other fat-related illnesses.

It’s good to see these studies on resveratrol yielding the results they do. Yet while I don’t mind being scooped by other wine bloggers about this story, I haven’t yet seen any substantive dialog about how Americans will respond to it. Will people who don’t drink wine start drinking wine? Will white wine drinkers switch to red? Will we – wine drinkers and otherwise – just take a resveratrol pill instead? Heaven forbid we all decide we should someday take our wine in pill form when “quality of life” demands that we should each enjoy a real glass of red wine instead – for all the right reasons.

I humbly submit that only a grape can truly represent wine in pill form.

~winehiker

How to be a good calculaholic without a 12-step program

I know I’ve got a problem. For untold years, I’ve been searching for a way to solve my problem. Until now, I thought the only way to do that was to simply throw more money at my problem.

Fortunately, the enterprising folks at Health A to Z have furnished me, and the rest of us who need it, with a way to calculate the yearly cost of our alcohol consumption.

Compute your yearly calculaholism.

Compute your yearly calculaholism.

Of course, as many of my readers already know, I don’t drink wine — I merely taste wine. (A lot of it.) But even if you’re budget-conscious, I still maintain: don’t spit — swallow!

~winehiker

From sexyhotbeauty: Ten Easy Steps To Getting Started In Hiking

Today’s guest post, albeit a “stylized” one, which you’ll readily notice if you click through. My conclusion? When all else has you in conniptions, hire an experienced guide. Like me, for instance.

Ever dreamed of hiking but do not exactly know where to start? Don’t worry. You are not alone. You are one of the many who have chosen to embark in the process of staying fit by means of hiking. But good hikers haven’t reached that level literally and figuratively overnight. They were also briefed on some basic things every hiker must know.

read more | digg story

I want a bionic spine

I’ve been taking a forced break from blogging over these past few days due to a recurring neck injury. It’s been difficult to hold my head up (without support and Advil) for more than about 2 hours without more pain and fatigue.

So, I’ve been doing the right thing by babying it while I wait for the chiropractor to fit me in to today’s schedule. You know – things like lying down a lot, applying ice, limited yoga.

And no blogging.

When I can sit down again to stress-free writing, I’ll follow up with some photos and a tall tarantula tale from Sunday’s Henry Coe hike.

~winehiker

An Arachnoid Prediction for Friday the 13th

The harmless Hairy Mygalomorph

The harmless Hairy Mygalomorph.

Sunday morning, I’ll be meeting a few of my fellow hikers for coffee prior to embarking on the long and winding East Dunne grade out of Morgan Hill. From our coffee rendezvous, it will take one full hour to motor down Highway 101, up 10 twisty miles of East Dunne blacktop, and over the high ridge to the Henry Coe State Park Visitor Center.

It’s a fine drive, if you like narrow, tortuous mountain roads. When we finally get to where we’re going, we’ll have quite an expanse of state park acreage to revel in. This park is, after all, a hiker’s dream: it’s home to more than 250 miles of trails and ranch roads, deep wooded canyons, large lakes, and rolling meadowlands in its over 87,000 acres. Not to mention the little apples of the big berry Manzanita trees. (Yes, they actually are trees here in this park.) Nor the bobcats, coyotes, turkeys, mountain lions, turkey vultures, and javelinas.

Yep, we two-legged varmints will be in good company. We’re going to hike for nearly six hours Sunday, but we’ll only see a fraction of the park. If we were to spend a week, we’d still only see a fraction of it. It’s that big. And it’s anything but flat.

No matter – we’ll still soak in quite a bit of the park’s ample freedom. Our hike will take us to the site of an old mineral springs resort and to the park’s most popular swimming hole a mile farther along. Not sure we’ll swim, being that it’s now October and the nights (and probably the creek) are chilly, but the brave among us might dip a toe in for a brief exciting moment. Along the way downcanyon to the Hole, however, we’ll enjoy 13 creek crossings and survey what’s left of Madrone Soda Springs Resort, a creekside health spa that thrived during the horse and buggy era.

There’s not much left of the resort these days. The buildings and the dance pavilion were dismantled during World War II; the wood was trucked to the Central Valley where it was used to build houses during a time when wood was hard to come by. All we’ll see are a few concrete steps, fragments of the foundation, a stone cooler built into a hillside (no wine stashed in there, though – I’ve looked), and some of the larger remnants that have washed downstream.

After we arrive at the confluence of Coyote Creek, we’ll wander over to the natural pool at China Hole, which is deep enough to dive into during the early summer months – not that I would do that with my boots on. The Hole has a small, sandy beach and lots of big flat boulders for picnicking, sunning, and snoozing. In early Fall, this creekside oasis should be a great place to enjoy lunch. That is, if the ticks aren’t swarming like they did this past January.

After lunch, we’ll get serious. Needless to say, any time you venture downcanyon to a streambed, there’s only one way to go, and that’s up; the hike back up over Middle Ridge is an honorable one. It won’t hurt, however, to pause every few breaths just to enjoy the views, to the south and east, of untold distant blue ridges.

I’ll make what should be an easy prediction: now that it’s mid-October, we’ll see at least one marauding tarantula. (After all, Coe Park just held its annual TarantulaFest last weekend.) If we do see one, I hope to share a photo or two with you of the furry little bugger crawling up some lucky gal’s arm.

[Editor’s note: my prediction bore true! See my follow-up trip report.]

~winehiker

It’s our fault

Choosing bonehead technology over trees. Where are we headed from here?

Choosing technology over trees.
Where are we headed from here?

I’ve been reading some of the posts on Cutter’s blog. In one of them, Whose fault?, Cutter, with reference to a Nature Conservancy study, examines why there’s been a nine-year decline in visitation to our National Parks. He raises such questions as “Are we distracted too much by toys and technology?” and “Is it a case of today’s generations going soft and lazy?”

Says Cutter:

“We’ve become afraid of the outdoors. And worse, we have no patience for it. In the process, we’re driving out our natural need to remain connected to the outdoors.”

I have heard — yes, even felt — that siren call of the outdoors for so many years that it’s almost hard for me to grasp that most other people don’t hear it. So Is Cutter’s pronouncement true? Sadly, I feel that it is. Just look at today’s trends — we as a global society tend to admire style over substance, as if being fashion-conscious rates higher than exploring our natural surroundings.

As parents, it’s our fault — we’ve failed to honor the relationship with Nature that we once enjoyed as kids. We’ve failed in our commitment to pay it forward.

Nature giveth. Nature also taketh away. Which is why we need to remain connected to Nature.

But time accelerates. It’s not a case of “need to” — we MUST. We must place less emphasis on our supposed need for toys, set them aside often, and realign ourselves with what’s really real out there. We must honor the real and the tangible (the real rock.) We must continually strengthen our natural connection with our one-and-only Mother Earth, and do it as a matter of course — as part of our educational system, and as part of educating each other, young and old.

It’s either that or hurtle pell-mell toward oblivion because we can’t persuade enough of the next generation that this planet — whether in the macrocosm of global warming or the microcosm of local disappearing species — is worth saving. If we as a society choose to lose our connection to Nature, the consequences are deeply foreboding.

Tell your friends to “go take a hike.” Better yet, take them by the hand, and lead them. I can help

~winehiker

Going to the high country? Eat your liver & onions first.

So you want to ramble the ridges, shred the bowls and bag the peaks? And you want your body to deliver peak performance under more extreme environmental conditions than you’re used to at sea level? And you want to impress your friends, too?

Ever hear of “hypoxia?” Some call it mountain sickness. Call it what you will, it’s the effect of reduced atmospheric pressure at altitude coupled with an insufficient supply of oxygen to the body. Every person can have different symptoms when suffering from hypoxia; some of the common symptoms are lightheadedness, dizziness, and reduced vision. When your purpose is to enjoy some backcountry beauty on foot, ski, or bike, you don’t want your body to fail. So how do you compensate for reduced oxygen and air pressure levels? You make sure you give your body what it needs before you go to the high country.

It’s been documented that beef liver is chock-full of iron, but it also contains Vitamin B12, a vitamin that has been proven to combat anemia. These are just the very building blocks your bone marrow needs to create more red blood cells. And extra red blood cells are precisely what you’re going to need (not just want) as you work your body up there under the clouds.

Wait a minute – you don’t like beef liver, all smothered in sauteed onions, mushrooms, and gravy with garlic Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, a little fresh chopped >BAM!< Italian parsley?

Liver and onions!  Mmmmm... tasty.

Liver and onions! Mmmmm… tasty.

What, did you think a plate of steamed broccoli was going to get you up that high rocky windswept slope?

The answer is: eat all of the above the night before you venture to the high country. Don’t refuse it because you think you won’t like it – eat it because you’ll immediately enjoy the beneficial effects the very next day at altitude.

(Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do in order to do what ya wanna do. It’s kinda like crawling that 500-foot sewer pipe in the Shawshank Redemption: freedom awaits when you emerge from the other side.)

OK, so you’ve never had a good plate of liver before. There’s a right way to prepare a liver dish and a wrong way. If you grew up in an English/German-influenced family like I did (boil it some more – there’s still some flavor in it!), then you’ve probably experienced the wrong way: high heat, done in 90 seconds, tougher than a biker’s beard after a mudstorm. If you want a good recipe for beef liver, ostensibly because you want to beat all of your friends to the top of the mountain, then leave a comment, and I’ll be sure to post it online here for all to raid their supermarkets for.

See you at the top!

~winehiker