The Wilderness Basics Course is a hiking, camping and backpacking course offered once a year by the San Diego chapter of the Sierra Club. The WBC starts at the end of January and ends in April. We meet every Tuesday night from 7:00PM until 9:30PM for ten weeks at the Lawrence Family JCC in UTC.
On the Tuesday night classes we have a variety of lectures, demonstrations, videos, and PowerPoint presentations on all aspects of wilderness travel including such items as first aid, different types of equipment, insects, navigation, food preparation, large animal encounters, water filtering systems, staying warm, and weather, to name a few.
We have scheduled day hikes up local trails Saturday and Sunday on the first weekend after the course starts. The main purpose of the day hike is to give you an idea of how physically fit you are in order to help you choose the appropriate camping trips for you. You will be timed and will be able to compare your time to the rest of the class by looking at a graph and seeing where you fit in.
Approximately every other weekend, we will be heading out to different parts of the local deserts and mountains for our weekend camping trips. The first trip will be a Car Camp trip leaving Saturday morning and returning Sunday afternoon or evening. You will have a choice of multiple car camp trips to choose from for that weekend. They range from extremely easy to very difficult, with each leader specializing in a variety of different subject matters such as star gazing, flora, wildlife, Indian, and survival techniques. Everyone is encouraged to form carpools and cooking groups and to share gear.
The next three trips are weekend backpacking trips. The first is Mountain/Desert Backpack, where we travel to Anza Borrego Desert or local mountain areas where we focus on packing, fitting, and hiking comfortably with your backpack. The next trip is Land Navigation backpack, where we will spend the entire weekend practicing our map and compass or GPS navigational skills. Our last outing is Snow Camp. Students will be bused to Mammoth, leaving from the Cubic parking lot on Balboa Avenue at approximately 3:00PM Friday, returning Sunday late evening. The first night will be spent in the Mammoth High School gym to acclimatize to the altitude. The next morning after a complimentary breakfast, groups will venture out on their trips. You will again need to choose the level of difficulty you are comfortable with for either a snowshoe or cross-country ski trip. Groups will learn how to build snow kitchens, snow shelters, igloos, and how to stay warm. This usually turns out to be everyone's favorite trip! There is a separate fee for Snow Camp to cover the cost of the buses, catered breakfast, gym use, etc. which will be collected in March.
In early May we will have our Reunion/Graduation Ceremony. It will be held at the Sierra Club's Foster Lodge in the Laguna Mountains. We will have a potluck dinner on Saturday night followed by the Graduation Ceremony and slide shows or speakers. Students are invited to spend Saturday night at the lodge for a small charge (~$15) and on Sunday morning, enjoy a complimentary breakfast and sign up for optional hikes.
We encourage all students to either borrow or rent their equipment until they get more familiar with all of the different types of equipment available. However you will need good boots for each outing. One of the first lectures is on how to find the correct boot, so please wait until that lecture before purchasing your new boots.
By signing up for class via our website, you gain access to enrollment for the class. Signing up online does not guarantee a spot in the class, you will still need to enroll in the fall and pay for the class to secure your spot. On the first night of class you will be directed to the Advance Registration table where you will pick up your WBC course book and compass. Please arrive to the first class at least 15 minutes early.