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    Wilderness course starts Feb. 19

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    By John Hankins

    The local Sierra Club’s Wilderness Basics Course begins Feb. 19, the popular and premiere hands-on course that will make you savvy and safe in the backcountry on an overnight or day hike, sponsored by experts of the Los Padres Chapter and friends.

    Those friends include people from the Ojai Search and Rescue crews, first aid trainers, navigation mavens, fitness coaches, weather watchers and experts on clothing and gear from local stores which also give discounts to the students.

    Gabe Valdez is a graduate of WBC who never backpacked overnight yet completed two solo trips to the Sespe and Mineral King, writing, “I want to thank you all because everything I learned in the WBC made my trip safe and exciting. I never felt unprepared for any obstacle … I couldn’t have had this life experience without it.”

    Patty Peinado is another grad who said, “I definitely felt fully prepared to go out into the wilderness with friends and backpack after the 8-week course. The staff offers opportunities for day hikes as well as two backpacking trips. Every topic one could possibly imagine is covered…”

    The WBC, which covers Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, does sell out each year, so don’t delay; to sign up or learn more go to:

    Eight classes will be held on Wednesday evenings from 7-9:30pm Feb.19 through April 8, at the Poinsettia Pavilion, 3451 Foothill Rd, Ventura.

    The class lectures are comprehensive with demonstrations and small break-out groups, so everyone gets individual attention on all levels of experience. While there is plenty of practical information, there are also topics on wilderness ethics, wildlife and Leave No Trace practices.

    Students will gain experience by participating in several outings including day hikes, a car camp, and backpacking trips in our local mountains, all of which offer students a choice of difficulties ranging from low-moderate to strenuous, with multiple trip options.

    The course welcomes families and all ages from 18 to seniors. Teenagers 13-17 may take the course if they enroll with their parent or guardian and go on the outings together.

    For questions, call (805) 766-9920 or email, and check out Facebook: [email protected]

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