Wilderness Basics Class

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!

 

  

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About Erika Lawson

Hi I'm Erika, with a "k"! I am blogging from El Cajon, CA, just east of San Diego. Right now I'm blogging about recovering from cancer (I'm cancer-free, wahoo!), hiking/camping, and daily life as a working mom. But who knows what I'll be blogging about next...
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