In 1956, some members of the San Diego Sierra Club started a class teaching wilderness survival techniques called “Basic Mountaineering.” Now, exactly 60 years later, the renamed Wilderness Basics Class (“WBC”) is a San Diego institution. I first learned about this class from Tad, who took the class with his friend Scott in ~1997 (about two years before I met Tad). Ever since then I have been interested in taking it, but there has always been a reason not to. Before having kids I simply did not prioritize it, and after having kids there was no way to take such a class.
The class is held once a year, from January to March. In late 2014, my project at work was winding down, and I decided my schedule would allow me to finally take the class. In November of 2014 I attempted to sign up, but it was full already! I decided then that I would take it the next year no matter what, and I put the day registration opened into my calendar.
Fast forward a year, and I was working on a new project that was keeping me extremely busy, helping to coordinate a trial of a new technology from February to April in China — not really a very good year to sign up! But I had made my decision and signed up anyway. I had Tad’s full support, and the kids are old enough to not require as much of my attention.
The class is held every Tuesday evening for 3 hours, with four major weekend outings. I attended my first class last Tuesday. This weekend the WBC organizers hosted a short day hike for the purpose of assessing us for the outings. I signed up for the 7am Saturday time slot. The hike was held on the first 1.75mi of the longer trail at Iron Mountain in Poway. After completing the course, I decided to keep going another 1.75 miles to the top of Iron Mountain. It was a nice day, relatively cool, and starting at 7am made for easy parking and thin crowds. During the timed portion, I met a fellow WBC-er named Brian. After the timed portion, I hiked the rest of the way up with another WBC-er named Gwen. (I do suspect the mileage; the second 1.75 seemed much longer. I assume this was because it was the steeper part of the hike.)
I completed the timed portion in 29 minutes, which I think is pretty good. Overall, it was a 6.4 mile hike which I did in 2 hours. The first hour was the hike up, covering 1000 feet in elevation. This will be a useful reference for me as I decide which of the major outings to sign up for.
In talking to Gwen and Brian I came to realize that I’m going to need to be able to answer one of the first questions that other WBC’ers are asking: that is, why am I taking the class? I’ve landed on three reasons: 1. Because it’s a San Diego institution, and is something that should be done; 2. Because having a schedule and a group to go backpacking with will motivate me to do so; and 3. Because it’s good for me to do this separately from Tad, and be more on my own and figuring things out for myself. I’m looking forward to it!