by Vicky Hoover and Sarah W. Heim-Jonson
One hundred years ago, the first Sierra Club outing took place in the Yosemite Valley. Pack mules hauled in stoves, pots and pans, bedrolls, clothing and groceries - members didn't carry backpacks. Single men and women camped in separate areas. Women wore long skirts; leggings and bloomers were required. The cook staff baked pies and breads using several stoves that required two mules for transport.
How times have changed. These days, lightweight backpacking stoves replace heavy cooking equipment, women and men share tents and there's no dress code.
But John Muir's fundamental purpose in starting the Outing Program remains the same: to give people personal experience in the wilderness, educate them about endangered areas and inspire them to take action.
Activist outings, the newest kind of Sierra Club national outing, focus on combining outdoor adventure with a big dose of advocacy. And as activist outing alumni Rebecca Mirsky notes, "It's easy to be overwhelmed by bad environmental news. The truly wonderful thing about activist outings is meeting with people who inspire you with their dedication, optimism and humor."
2001 schedule of activist outings
Roof of the Great Basin, White Mountains
JUNE 23-30 (TRIP #01101A) $460
This trip through spectacular country on the California/Nevada border will highlight the California Wild Heritage Campaign. Veteran leader Vicky Hoover will guide participants on a four-day backpack into the heart of the White Mountains, including a one-day ascent of the 14,248-foot White Mountain Peak.
Restore Hetch Hetchy
JULY 8-14 (CENTENNIAL OUTING FEATURED TRIP #01102A) $355
This trip will remind participants of one of the earliest fights of the Sierra Club. Leader Lee Kintzel will guide hikers on a moderate backpack starting at the headwaters of the Tuolumne River in the northern reaches of Yosemite National Park, traveling along the river's canyons and domes. Participants will learn what can be done to restore the fabled Hetch Hetchy Valley, lost to a dam infamous in Sierra Club history.
Saving Muir's Giants
JULY 9-15 (CENTENNIAL OUTING FEATURED TRIP #01103A) $495
Leaders Cal and Letty French and Joe Fontaine will guide a tour of the historic Sequoia National Monument recently designated by President Clinton. Hikers will learn what is necessary to ensure true protection for these awesome ancient giants.
Traversing the Bitterroots
JULY 27-AUG. 3 (TRIP #01125A) $695
Activist Bill Evans will lead participants on a moderate seven-day backpack trip across the Bitterroot Mountains in the greater Selway-Bitterroot ecosystem of northwest Montana and central Idaho. Famous conservationist and wilderness guru Howie Wolke will accompany the group and share his experiences with gray wolf and grizzly bear reintroduction into America's wildest unprotected wilderness.
Exploring the Canyons of the Dirty Devil River
SEPT. 25-OCT. 5 (TRIP #01104A) $495
This trip will include moderate-level wanderings through the Dirty Devil River watershed west of Canyonlands National Park in Utah. The area typifies the dazzling but delicate unprotected redrock landscape that sorely needs wilderness designation.
Blue Skies over Big Bend
NOV. 4-10 (TRIP #01105A) $395
A November backpack through Big Bend National Park in Texas will illustrate the threats posed by air pollution to the park's soaring landscapes. Rich Schiebel will lead this journey back in geologic time, featuring flora, fauna and unforgettable sunsets.
Chilcotin Ark, British Columbia
AUG. 5-14 (TRIP #01106A) $1,295
Leader Bill Evans will guide hikers into the Chilcotin Ark, a Canadian wilderness landscape in need of protection that covers more than three times the area of Yellowstone National Park. Participants will experience part of this exquisite, healthy ecosystem that includes the Fraser River, Coast Range and Chilcotin Ranges. The trip will be an epic adventure. Participants must have wilderness skills.
A May trip, Buffalo-Smoke Wild, Nevada, is already full.
For more information: Contact Vicky Hoover, activist outing chair, at (415) 977-5527 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For a trip brochure and application form, or to sign up, call the Sierra Club Outing Department's 24-hour voicemail at (415) 977-5522, or visit the Outings website.
Photo (top) courtesy Philip Greenspun.
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