The wilderness is a wonderful place to learn. Typically, we will backpack one or two days in with full packs and then set up a base camp, from which 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. The general daily round is to have a class in the morning and a class in the evening, with afternoons open for reading, writing, and day-hiking.
The backpacking can be done by beginners. No prior hiking experience is necessary, but you do need to be able to carry a loaded pack 5-10 miles on our backpacking days and have no chronic/debilitating injuries. Minimum impact camping will be stressed. Enrollment is limited to 12 students.
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: snakebite, physical injury, getting lost, lightning storms, etc. In general, we will be away from typical emergency response services, hospitals, and medical assistance.
The instructor has training in wilderness first aid, but is not a health care professional. In event of an emergency, the instructor will do his best to get you promptly to proper care. He will also establish basic safety procedures at the beginning of the program.
Remember that these are academic programs. Learning in the field is very exciting, coursework is extensive, and faculty expectations are high. You should be prepared to work hard with quizzes, exams, and class presentations as part of the process.
Also, we want to have a great time together as a group. Drugs of any kind, 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.
Participants provide their own personal equipment. Group items (tents, stoves, pots) are shared by everyone and organized by the instructor. If need be, you may rent a tent inexpensively from the Sierra Institute. A detailed equipment list will be sent upon acceptance.
Students will be responsible for their own breakfasts and lunches. For dinners, we will divide our group into cooking pairs who, on a rotating basis, will buy, carry in, and prepare a meal for all. More information will be sent upon acceptance.
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.
We can expect warm sunny days, though nights, as a rule, will be cool. Rain should not be abundant in the summer, but it is possible anytime.