PrimalCon Lake Tahoe 2013 – A First Hand Account

PrimalConAs I mentioned in my previous post, my wife and I were lucky enough to attend PrimalCom Lake Tahoe 2013, otherwise known as caveman fantasy camp :-).  Here you will find a first hand account of the PrimalCon experience.

Weather Side Note:

Before I continue, I will mention that the weather forecast leading up to this weekend called for some pretty cool temperatures, particularly in the morning, and while Mark Sisson himself was a bit concerned that people may not enjoy themselves because of the weather, things turned out quite nicely.  As Mark said at one point, part of the Primal lifestyle is about adapting, and I think most people adapted quite well and/or were at least prepared for the colder weather.  There was the exception of a couple of gentleman from Australia who had spent some time in Hawaii before coming to Tahoe and definitely did not have sufficient attire for some of the colder periods of the day :-).  I will say though that when I stepped outside on the first morning and I almost slipped on a patch of ice, I was taken a bit off guard, I mean that is even cold for Vancouver (mainly rain in winter for us).

PrimalCon Lake Tahoe 2013 – Day 1 (Thursday Night):

We checked into the hotel at Camp Richardson about midday on Thursday and the place looked pretty dead at the time.  We walked around the grounds to get comfortable with the area and then headed back towards town for some food.  We picked up some hard boiled eggs at a local organic grocery store.  We then went for another little walk to kill that last bit of time before the start of the first night’s dinner and social mixer.

Lodging Side Note

The lodging was very rustic, similar what you would find in a cabin…a real cabin.  Very small room, with a small restroom and no TV or internet availability in the rooms.  It was very clean though.  As I previously mentioned, it’s all about adaptation, and for caveman fantasy camp, this was close enough for me to sleeping in a cave 🙂

We then made our way to the social mixer.  We were really looking forward to meeting some like minded people so we were right on time.  We were a bit worried that we would be the first ones to know, you’re supposed to be fashionably late and all right? However, it was already nice and busy with attendees.  We choose an inviting looking table and sat down with a lovely lady that we made friends with for the duration of PrimalCon Tahoe.  The night progressed well, and Mark made his first appearance greeting every table one by one.  Unfortunately, the food was about 2 hours late; however, no one really seemed that upset and we all managed to adapt just fine as the staff brought out some jerky, nuts, and water to hold us over until dinner.  Then…wait for it…the first buffet dinner of the weekend arrived full of salads, cooked veggies, mashed sweet potatoes, and the best meatloaf I have ever had.  It was magical, or maybe I was just really friggin’ hungry, either way I munched down 2 full plates of food.  I should also mention that all the beef for the weekend was 100% grass-fed Wagyu style beef.  So good!  I can’t tell you how nice it was to be on vacation and not have to ask any questions about the food and just eat; and boy did I eat!

PrimalCon Lake Tahoe 2013 – Day 2 (Friday)

This was the morning we woke up to ice on the ground…Yikes, but no worries, we threw on a couple extra layers and were on our way.  We started with some snacks and primal smoothies for breakfast and then the morning was filled with free choice presentations.  There were so many to choose from it proved a bit of a challenge trying to balance attending the presentations with trying to get some time with Angelo, resident PrimalCon massage therapist/American Ninja Warrior, and the free chiropractic active release therapy sessions.

The first session we attended was a talk from future physician Mr. Bryan Barksdale about ketogenic diets as treatment, and prevention, for neurodegenerative diseases.  He also spoke a bit about some other lifestyle factors for prevention.  This was a very interesting talk as it is something I have been researching a fair bit in the past little while (ie. neurodegeneration and prevention via lifestyle, not specifically ketogenic diets though).  Very informative.

The second session we attended was Primal Play with Darryl the Fitness Explorer, who kicked my ass in a few of his drills, although he had about 30-40 pounds on me and I am certain some tricks up his sleeve.  But no matter, I beat him later in the weekend at sprinting :-).  Regardless, he was very creative and his “play” theory is very fun and challenging for those of you who do not like structured gym exercise, or who simply want to change/add some things to their fitness routine.  Remember, in real life we don’t have to lift barbells and dumbbells, we have to lift unbalanced things, move in unbalanced ways, throw things, crawl, jump, push, pull, carry other people, climb, fight others, etc.

Next on the schedule was a buffet lunch full of salads, veggies, burgers, bacon, and guacamole.  I could have done with extra bacon and guacamole but portions were controlled for these 2 things.  I was disappointed with this but I totally understand given the fact that they are the 2 best foods on earth :-).

From lunch at the Camp Richardson boat house we jumped on the shuttles and went for a decent length hike to Angora lake.  It was a very picturesque hike, and when we reached our destination of Angora lake, some individuals partook in 12 foot cliff jumping into some very cold water.  Based on me wanting to avoid hypothermia I decided to skip this activity :-).

We then headed back to camp for the keynote presentation by Mark and Robb Wolf.  We were able to get back to camp on the very first shuttle so we had some time to get in a few minute conversation with Mr. Wolf.  This was probably one of the highlights of the trip for me.  We didn’t talk about anything important, just random chit chat, but it was pretty surreal speaking with someone who ideas, blog, and book changed your life.  Mark and Robb’s presentation was simply a question and answer session and was very informative.  While the majority of the presentation was nothing new to me, it was still very enjoyable since, for some reason, Robb is just a super interesting person to listen to.  Very engaging.

Next came the second buffet dinner of the weekend.  We had fish, left over meat loaf from the previous night, and a whole bunch more salads, veggies, etc.  Just absolutely fantastic food for being on vacation.  We finished up dinner and went back to our hotel room and passed out for a great sleep, sufficiently worn out from the day.


PrimalCon Lake Tahoe 2013 – Day 3 (Saturday)

Saturday morning was a few degrees warmer than the previous, but not by much.  At least it was above freezing so no ice :-).  We once again started the day with snacks and primal smoothies, and then headed in the shuttle buses to a beach on lake Tahoe for stand up paddle boarding.  I have to say that this activity was another one of the better experiences for us at the retreat.  We do like paddle boarding very much and only get to do it once in a while back home in Vancouver (where it is quite wavy).  Joining us in this activity was Mark Sisson himself, and pretty much the majority of the participants.  We were very pleased that the weather turned out to be pretty good, and the sun co-operated enough for some of us to take off our shirts and get some needed Vitamin D!  While we were waiting for the shuttle to take us back to camp, we were chatting a bit with Mark, got some pictures with him, and he offered to drive us back to camp in his rental car.  This was another one of the really cool experiences we had at this event.  Just having an everyday conversation with one of the main contributors to my huge lifestyle change, while he was driving my wife and I around :-).

Once back at camp, we fed our faces with our second lunch buffet of the weekend which consisted of the same foods mentioned above.  Oh ya, and some very delicious palm oil roasted banana chips! Next, we got shuttled to the sports fields where we had the option of participating in ultimate Frisbee, a running clinic, or an exercise class.  There were 3 rotations, and we opted out of the ultimate Frisbee portion due to interest in other activities.  Personally, what we learnt here was just a good reminder for me of what I was already doing, but for other participants who aren’t as obsessed with exercise and form as me, it was definitely a great opportunity for them.  My highlights for the afternoon were talking with Angelo about planches, and challenging him to see who could accomplish it first.  I will be sending him a video once I am able to do it, and I am certain I will beat him regardless of his ninja warrior past! It was also fun speaking with Sarah Fragoso and getting some gymnastic ring tips from her.

We finished the rest of the evening and night off with a sunset cruise of emerald bay, dinner with provided red wine, and a camp fire with some more wine.  This night probably had the best dinner of the weekend with grass-fed Wagyu style prime rib, and I swear the fat melted in your mouth like butter!


PrimalCon Lake Tahoe 2013 – Day 4 (Sunday Morning)

Sunday morning was our final chance to get in on the free choice presentations.  We decided to do some parkour with Tracy Barksdale co-owner of BAM Academy and then I got my opportunity to ask the olympic lifting coaches (Adam Lambert and Nesta) for some tips.  Luckily no one else was interested in this class at the time so I had them all to myself.  After that, I jumped into the Primal Play session with my wife and pushed a car for the first time!!  Then we had our final buffet lunch, said our goodbyes and went on our way; but not without taking a zip-lock bag full of banana chips with us for the long drive :-).

PrimalCon Lake Tahoe 2013 – Overall Impression

Overall, I had a fantastic time at PrimaCon Lake Tahoe 2013.  It still seems surreal to me that I was able to meet some of the most influential people in the past couple years of my life, and share that experience with the most influential person in my life (my wife).  While there were a few hiccups throughout the weekend, I would definitely suggest attending one of these events if you are primal/paleo/ancestral, or want to get started.  Who knows, another PrimalCon may be on my list of to do’s in the next few years, unless Mark wants to hire me and then I can just work at all of them 🙂


The Barefoot Golfer

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