The North County WBC consists of 4 fun-filled weekend outings (1 car camp and 3 backpacks) plus a “evaluation hike” to assess your readiness for Snow Camp, all of which are required to complete the course.
The main course outings occur every other weekend. You’ll leave your house early on Saturday, and be back by mid to late afternoon on Sunday (in desperate need of a bath). In every case, hikes with a range of difficulties will be offered so you can find something that matches your physical condition. Usually, you’ll have several choices at each difficulty level so you can pick the outing that has features which sound the most interesting to you. Descriptions will be passed out in class the week before you select your outing.
The four outings require that participants be in good physical condition and have the ability to hike carrying approximately 30 pounds of weight. It is up to the discretion of the trip leader as to whether a participant’s physical condition is sufficient for the trip.
We usually offer a make-up trip for each of the outings for the people who were not able to attend. Make-up outings are offered the weekend after the main trip. There will also be a make-up evaluation hike.
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To help get you in shape for the weekend outings, we also offer a series of optional conditioning day hikes. Conditioning hikes are for your benefit to gain experience and stamina, and are not a required part of the course. These get more difficult as the course goes on in order to build up your abilities. Each day hike may last from a couple of hours to all day long. If you haven’t done much hiking, or haven’t hiked lately, they are a real good way to get yourself into shape.
1. Evaluation Day Hike
The idea is to give you an idea of where your fitness level fits in relative to the rest of the class so that you can pick hikes of the right intensity level for you. You’ll need to meet a minimum time of 55 minutes to be able to go on the Snow Camp. But please do the evaluation hike even if you do not plan on going to Snow Camp. It helps you (and the leaders) make sure you are a good match for the other outings you go on.
2. Desert Car Camp
No backpacking, just day hikes. This means you can bring the big cooler, the hibachi and steaks, the 15 pound Coleman cabin tent – what ever you can fit in your car (that doesn’t violate the “no sound generating devices” rule). During the day hikes you get a chance to practice you map and compass navigation skills. This is also a good opportunity to have the leaders look over your equipment, if you have any question about how it will work for backpacking.
Desert Car Camp is designed to introduce you to living outside and sleeping in a tent. This will be your chance to try out some new equipment near the safety of your car. You will get your first map and compass training, and visit some beautiful places in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
3. Desert Backpack
More desert beauty, only this time you’ll be carrying everything on your back, including your water – 12 to 16 pounds of it. So think twice about that change of underwear and that novel you’re reading. Most of these trips take place in our own Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. You’ll see more stars than you ever knew existed.
4. Mountain Backpack
Again you’ll toting everything on your back (or hips to be technical), only this time you won’t have to carry all your water. We’ll be traveling through the high desert or the Laguna mountains where water is usually available, so you’ll get to see some different methods of water treatment. Dress warm – last year it snowed on Mountain Backpack (no extra charge).
5. Snow Camp
You get up really early for this one, drive to Palm Springs, then take a tram car almost 6000 feet up to the base of San Jacinto. From there we’ll all hike in a couple miles, make camp, and try to survive the night (heh, heh, just kidding, no really). You’ll need 4 coffee can lids to make snow stakes to keep your tent earth-bound, so start collecting them now! This trip can be variable. You could be hiking in your shorts, or be moving through a snow storm. At this point, you’ll be ready for anything.
The optional, and great fun, WBC Reunion weekend is all about celebrating another successful course all while enjoying fresh mountain air, day hikes, food, and good company. The reunion is held at the Harwood Lodge on Mt. Baldy in the San Gabriel Mountains, about 2 hours north of Escondido.
During the day, leaders will organize hikes to explore the local area and at night everyone enjoys slides and videos from the class trips. We all pitch in for potluck dinner Saturday night and enjoy a cooked-to-order omelette breakfast on Sunday morning.
Students who successfully completed the course will be presented with their certificate and patch. If any student is unable to attend the Reunion, their WBC graduation certificate will be mailed to them after the Reunion.