• Grinding holes in the Sierra Foothills

    by  • September 23, 2015 • Field Trip, Sierra Foothills

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    Looking into the Sierra Foothill’s past

    Generations ago —women would gather at these spots to grind their acorn meats.
    “That’s where they would go get to work. That’s their kitchen — they would keep that very clean,”
    “You’ll find different holes at different depths. Traditionally, they like a shallower hole to pound the acorn flour. The deeper holes maybe they’re just really, really old but they did pound some meat and some of the deeper holes they would even store things in there.”

    Grinding holes

    Grinding holes

    “The holes were always near a source of water— because the ground grits needed to have the bitter tannins leached out of them before they could be turned into flour and eaten.
    It was a communal experience at the grinding station.
    There are holes in the granite at many locations in the high country like these and around the Sierra foothills where springs and streams flowed.”
    ~~quotes by Lois Bohna, an artist and teacher

     

    Granite area in front of an old bark cabin. Next to it are the grinding holes

    Granite area in front of an old bark cabin.  Next to it are the grinding holes

    This spot is near Whiskey Falls in the Sierra National Forest, just up the mountain from my garden.

    Below the garden, about 800 feet is an expanse of flat and sloping granite upon which are another grouping of grinding holes to wonder about.  This is Mono and Chuckchansi Indian country and to think of Indian women gathering here is awe inspiring!

     

    Whiskey Fall, Sierra National Forest

    Whiskey Fall, Sierra National Forest

    Whiskey Falls are a favorite spot to take visiting family and friends.

     

    Trees grow through the hard granite rock

    Trees grow through the hard granite rock

    This expanse of granite lies south and east of the falls and along Whiskey Creek.

     

    Whiskey Creek flows through this section of granite

    Whiskey Creek flows through this section of granite

    The creek flows through steep sided granite cracks and if imagining Indian families here, would be an alarming place to bring small children.  The number of grinding holes here tells that a large group must have made their home here.

     

    Large holes filled with rain water

    Large holes filled with rain water

     

    Grinding holes situated along Whiskey Creek

    Grinding holes situated along Whiskey Creek

    Viewing and wondering about grinding holes just brings home the fact that we have life very easy in comparison.

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    About

    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She also manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.