By John Hankins

Contributing Writer


The local Sierra Club’s annual Wilderness Basics Course beginning Feb. 7 promises adventure, friendships, confidence, beauty, inspiration, knowledge, tasty food and hardy health.

The club’s ethic is showing people local forests, open spaces, mountains and rivers in a safe and comfortable manner, and club membership is not required to participate.

Now in its ninth year, the program runs from Feb. 7 to March 28 with conditioning hikes, car camp and backpacking in prime locations in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Classes are Wednesday nights at the Poinsettia Pavilion, 3451 Foothill Road in Ventura. Outings are on weekends.

The course is geared to a wide variety of experiences, ranging from novice to knowledgeable, out-of-shape to out-of- sight. It’s for everybody, from teens to seniors, singles, couples and family members.

Last year’s classes had a Camarillo woman sign up with her daughter; a Santa Barbara student; a hiker who “wants to take it to another level;” an empty-nest couple; retirees; a man who wanted to follow his backpacking son; another who “wants to get to know the area;” and many who cited simply getting outside in the fresh air.

Teresa Norris took the club’s WBC course in San Diego and became so enthusiastic she went on to become a leader. Then when she moved to Ventura County in 2004, she volunteered to help create the popular class there.

“Taking WBC helped me update my gear and lighten my load. When I did that, my trips became more enjoyable and I could hike faster too,” she said, and perhaps most important, “I made some of the best friends of my life.”

Course content chairwoman Alisse Fisher said that all WBC hike leaders are trained in first aid and have knowledge of local flora and fauna; the speakers are experts in gear, safety, food, fitness; and the club’s new outdoor book has the latest information.

Early bird prices are available until Jan. 24. More information and registration are available at or, by emailing, or by calling 805-524-7170.