Course Information

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 in January and ends in March/April. We meet every Tuesday night from 7:00PM until 9:30PM for ten weeks.

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 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!

In April or early May we will have our Reunion/Graduation Ceremony. The venue changes. In the past locations have included Foster Lodge, Lake Morena campground, and Lake Poway. On Saturday, we will have day hikes, a graduation ceremony, potluck dinner and slide shows or speakers. If supported by the venue, students are invited to spend Friday and Saturday night at the campground for a small charge (~$10) and on Sunday morning, 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 the 'reminder' for the 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, folder and compass. Please arrive to the first class at least 15 minutes early.

Explore, enjoy and protect the planet