Sierra Club Nature Course

People of all fitness levels who want to learn how to explore the local backcountry safely and confidently are invited to enroll in an eight-week Wilderness Basics Course offered by the Los Padres chapter of the Sierra Club.

Eight classes will be held from 7-9:30 p.m. Wednesdays from Feb. 24 through May 4 at Church of the Foothills, 6279 Foothill Road, Ventura.

Topics will include hiking techniques, backpacking equipment, outdoor clothing, wilderness ethics, first aid and safety, weather, water filtration, cooking, and navigation with map and compass. Day hikes, a car camp and backpacking trips in the local mountains will put those lessons to practical use.

Students will receive the book “Walking Softly in the Wilderness: The Sierra Club Guide to Backpacking” by John Hart, handouts about the topics discussed and a compass. Participants must supply all other equipment, which may be purchased, borrowed or rented from local sporting goods stores.

The class is open to anyone in reasonable health and older than 18, although teenagers 13-17 may take the course if they enroll with their parent or guardian and go on the outings with that person.

To help participants get in shape, instructors will lead physical conditioning hikes in the local mountains.

Prices are $160 for Sierra Club members and $175 for nonmembers; a couples rate is $285 for members and $315 for nonmembers. Students are $135 with student identification.

This is the seventh year the course has been offered.

“Although I felt comfortable spending hours hiking outdoors from dawn to dusk, venturing into the realm of overnight backpacking seemed a major jump that I did not feel comfortable making on my own,” said Arturo Hernandez, who took the course and is now a hike leader.

For details go to the website

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