LEARNING IN THE FIELD
Backpacking sessions are planned to stimulate your learning. Typically, we will hike to a base camp where we can explore, establish class routines, and immerse ourselves in the place and our work. We will give our studies considerable effort while still preserving a certain amount of free time for personal exploration. We will be self-reliant, carrying texts and all our food and gear.
The backpacking can be done by beginners and we will not be backpacking every day. No prior hiking experience is necessary but the backpacking will be strenuous. You need to be in decent shape, able to carry a loaded pack 5-10 miles on the days we do backpack, and have no chronic/debilitating injuries. Minimum impact camping will be stressed. In between backpacks we will resupply where you can do laundry, buy food, pick up the mail, etc. Enrollment is limited to 12 students.
Be prepared to work hard with writing assignments, projects and class presentations as part of the process. Also, we want to have an enjoyable and cohesive time together as a group. Drugs and alcohol, or inappropriate personal conduct, are not part of the Sierra Institute experience. The Sierra Institute reserves the right to dismiss anyone who is a danger to the land, herself/himself, or other group members.
We work hard to provide a safe learning environment in the backcountry. The wildlands classroom, however, is different from studying on campus. You need to be aware of the normal risks of backpacking including, but not limited to, physical injury, flashfloods, lightning storms, cross country travel, snake and tick bite, etc. In general, we will be away from typical emergency response services, hospitals, and medical assistance. Your instructor will have training in wilderness first aid but we are not health care professionals. In event of an emergency we will do our best to get you to proper care. We will also establish basic safety procedures at the beginning of the program.
Participants provide their own personal equipment. Items such as tents, stoves, pots are shared by everyone and organized by the instructor before the program. A detailed equipment list will be sent upon acceptance.
If you are a beginning backpacker, seek advice from someone with experience before you purchase any equipment. Quality is important. If you have any questions or problems, let the instructor or the Institute know and we will gladly respond as best we can.
You will be responsible for bringing your own breakfasts and lunches for the backpacking trips. Dinners will be coordinated by the instructor for the first backpacking section and prepared by students composing cook groups. Dinners will be organized and prepared by the student cook groups for following three backpacking sections. The instructor will round out an odd numbered cook group and be generally helpful. A food suggestions document and other instructions regarding food related topics will be sent to students upon acceptance.
Between hikes each cook group will be responsible for organizing and purchasing its food cooperatively for the next trip. Expect to spend approximately $15/day for food. Actual amount will vary depending individual food preferences, including in-town eating preferences during re-supply time. Plan to bring extra money for emergencies (such as ice cream addictions!).
Days will be mostly sunny and warm. However, it does rain in the Sierra and nights do get below freezing even in summer, especially at higher elevations. Snow is possible. Come prepared for these variable conditions.