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You asked and we delivered.  In response to membership interest and thanks to the initiative taken by our fabulous leaders, we will be offering 5 camping trips this summer.  In addition to the traditional Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day Trips, we will also be venturing to Channel Islands National Park and participating in Lassen Volcanic National Park's annual Dark Skies Festival.  To learn more, read on:

Memorial Day at Calaveras Big Trees

Friday, May 24 to Monday, May 27

Imagine camping amongst thousand year old giant sequoia trees in a cool, High Sierra campsite located at a 4,000-ft elevation. The scenery is gorgeous, the giant sequoias spectacular, the fragrance of pines and incense cedars glorious, and the wildlife abundant.  You access to over 6,400 acres of forest, the Stanislaus River, two groves of giant sequoias, hikes, lava fields, a visitors center and museum.

A bit further afield you have access to the high Sierra with many hiking options including the Pacific Crest Trail.  Depending on weather we might encounter snow still at the higher elevations and beautiful wildflower displays at lower elevations.

So come and enjoy the camaraderie of your fellow Rainbow Sierrans.  There is sure to be good food (potluck!), great hikes and some lively evenings around the campfire.


Channel Islands National Park

From May 31 to June 2, twenty intrepid Rainbow Sierrans will participate in an amazing camping and hiking experience on Santa Cruz Island, the largest of the Channel Islands, with an optional unique sea cave kayaking opportunity!   The island is rich in cultural history, magnificent landscapes and unique flora and fauna. Over 600 plant species, 140 land birds, 11 land mammals and a handful of amphibians and reptiles call the island their home. The island fox and island scrub-jay are exciting finds, as they are unique to the island.

Trip dates:  Thursday to Sunday, July 4–7, 2019

Let's Celebrate the July 4 Holiday in the Eastern Sierras!

Registration will open: May 4, Saturday at 7am.

Price for Rainbow Sierran members: $60

Trip Leader: Jenna Slovis

Join our group camp for 25 people at Green Creek Campground (elevation 7,500 ft outside of Bridgeport, CA).  Although our site is primitive (vault toilets), it is one of the sweetest group camps in the Eastern Sierra. We will have wonderful access to the best of high country hiking and cool mountain lakes. You might even find yourself venturing further to check out a real-life ghost town or natural hot spring.  

Camping and Dark Skies Festival at Lassen Volcanic National Park

Thursday through Sunday, August 1-4, 2019    

The Rainbow Sierrans are excited to return to Lassen for a long weekend of hiking, stargazing and swimming in pristine (okay, sometimes freezing) mountain lakes. This scenic and geologically interesting park offers a wide variety of hikes of various lengths, some through areas of geothermal activity, such as Bumpass Hell, many others scaling peaks and wooded areas, offering numerous swimming opportunities. This special Rainbow Sierrans camping trip coincides with the annual Lassen Dark Skies Festival: two days of talks, stargazing with astronomers, and workshops and other star-oriented activities. Hike during the day, learn about the night sky after dark, and hang out at camp and on the trail with friends from the Rainbow Sierrans. What could be better? Hope you will join us!

Labor Day at the Lake:  Lake Tahoe Group Camp Friday- Sunday, August 30- Sept 2.     

Join us at beautiful Sugar Pine Point State Park (along the western, quiet shores of Lake Tahoe about ten miles south of Tahoe City on Highway 89)  The Sugar Pine Point area has been a favorite for locals and visitors for over two hundred years, and the Rainbow Sierrans have enjoyed several summer camping trips here as well.

The park offers incredible views, a historic estate, the tallest pine trees in the world, peaceful camping, and wonderful hiking opportunities.

Stay tuned for more information to come later this summer.

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Gear Gyrl with Sylvie Hessini

Question: Have you ever navigated a steep, rocky, precarious, downhill, single track trail…. trepidation creeping in?  Did you feel somewhat apprehensive when faced with a cold, fast running stream with stepping stones erratically interspersed, especially while carrying that heavy backpack?

Answer: Hiking poles….. !

This review will cover some important details to consider when choosing a pair of hiking poles.

1. Single or Double?  Choose a pair of hiking poles or a single hiking staff.

2. Find the right length. You’re looking for a 90 degree bend at your elbow when pole tips touch the ground.

3. Choose features. Adjustability, foldability, shock absorption, weight and locking mechanisms (for adjustable  poles) are just some of the features and options that will guide your choice.

4. Learn tips for using poles. Knowing a few handy tips, like how to use poles to cross streams and navigate obstacles, will get you on your way.

Materials for the pole shaft will affect the weight and performance of the poles. 

Aluminum is more economical and more durable.  A pair usually weighs between 18-22 ounces.  Under high stress aluminum may bend, but is unlikely to break.

Composite poles feature shafts that are either entirely or partially carbon.  These poles average 12-18 ounces per pair. They’re good at reducing vibration, but can splinter or break.  Something to consider if you’re hiking in rugged, remote areas.

Some hikers like to adjust the length of their poles based on whether they are trekking uphill or downhill.  Poles may be shortened for uphill sections, while lengthening them for the downhill.

Most poles use one of 4 types of locking mechanisms.

External lever lock, also known as flicklock.  This is one of the easiest mechanisms to adjust, especially with gloves on.

Twist lock uses an expander and screw setup that is strong and durable.  However, some folks have a hard time getting these to tighten properly.

Push-button lock allows the poles to snap into place and lock with a single pull.  This is used predominantly with non-adjustable poles.

Push-button lock combined with one flicklock adjustment, allows for a light weight option that is still adjustable.

The lightest poles have the least adjustment mechanisms. Go as light as your budget will allow.      

Outfitters like REI will help you to get properly fitted with the poles most suited to your needs and budget.

Happy Hiking!

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Hike Leader Highlight                                      

Meet Heather Lamb ~ 

I grew up in Santa Rosa and Irvine, CA.  I've also lived in the SF Bay Area, Washington state, New Mexico, northern Virginia outside D.C., Florida, and moved back to Santa Rosa three years ago.

Hiking, especially in this gorgeous part of the world we are lucky enough to live in, makes me so happy. I love how Rainbow Sierrans makes hiking a way I can also find and spend time with a supportive and active LGBTQ community. I found the Rainbow Sierrans so welcoming and laid back when I first hiked with them.  I was inspired to become a hike leader because I wanted to see some hikes offered up in Sonoma County.  So I learned right away what I needed to do to become a hike leader, and lead some hikes closer to home!  

As a leader, it is convenient that I can schedule my hikes/events around my own schedule, and at pretty places I want to share with the group!  I've been happy that people have been excited enough about Sonoma County's beauty to drive a bit and explore for a nice hike up here!  I love the appreciation people express after a hike, and I love seeing relaxed smiles on people's faces during and after a good hike and feeling I played a small part in helping that happen.  Being able to get out on these hikes has filled some important gaps in my life (hiking time and LGBTQ community), and I hope that because I and the other leaders are leading hikes and activities, we are creating an opportunity for the community to fill gaps for each other too.  And, of course, I always enjoy the company and conversations!

It's been about a year since I went on my first hike with the Bay Area chapter of Rainbow Sierrans and I have been leading or co-leading hikes for about 6 months. I hiked a bit with the Loma Prieta chapter many years ago when I lived in San Jose.

When Heather isn't working or leading hikes she enjoys landscaping and gardening spending time with her son, and lately she's been spending lots of time on interview preparations and job completing applications

 The Song that’s giving her life right now is "Whatever it Takes" by Imagine Dragons.  Feeling inspired by fighters she knows who never gave up, some who gave it all.

Replying to the question of a favorite hike, camping area, or backpacking trail she said, "I loved Sonoma Coast in the sun, I want to try again to get a group out there on a sunny day! I have enjoyed Pt Reyes and Desolation Wilderness for backpacking.  I like camping pretty much everywhere I go with my son. I loved Yellowstone a couple of summers ago. It's very hard for me to pick favorites!"

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Conservation Corner                                          

Keeping Air Clean in Camp

Camping in California’s outdoors should be an experience that puts us in touch with wilderness, wildlife and clean air. But for those like me with respiratory illness, the clean air part can be hard to find. Wood smoke from campfires contains toxic pollutants, a serious threat to the health of all humans. I believe that if people were made aware of the toxicity of wood smoke they would want to avoid it. Burning wood produces carbon monoxide, organic gases and particulate matter, which can cause permanent damage to lungs and hearts. Research has linked some contents of wood smoke to cancers.

For many years I have not been able to go car camping because of the smoke. There seem to be no smoke-free campgrounds in the state. My choice has been to backpack to wilderness areas above 10,000 feet where fires are not allowed, or forests where fires are sometimes prohibited. Now that I’m old, I want to find places to get out in nature that are close by and don’t require backpacking.

In my search for such a place I spoke to a volunteer at China Camp State Park in Marin County. She said that there are no smoke-free campsites there and, “That will never happen. Campfires are too much a part of the camping culture.” She added that in that tinder-dry forest adjacent to densely populated residential neighborhoods, she thinks all campfires should be outlawed. She suggested I try environmental campgrounds like the ones at Point Reyes where campfires are not allowed. Unfortunately fires ARE allowed on the beach just west of the campsites, so Point Reyes must also be crossed off my list.

In my quest for smoke-free camping I also wrote to the state and national parks departments and the Sierra Club. Melanie Peters, Natural Resource Specialist at the National Park Service, sympathized, adding, “some national parks in California are encouraging bonfires rather than individual campfires and promoting efficient methods of building and extinguishing fires to reduce smoke.” She said she would forward my suggestion about smoke free zones to managers.

Brian Cahill of State Parks said, “…air quality in our parks is a concern and we are actively studying this issue.  It will take time for the changes you seek. But I am pleased to mention that the only new campground we have designed and built in the last 30 years, is designed with air quality in mind.  Check out the El Moro Campground at Crystal Cove State Park.  Both wood and charcoal fires are not permitted anywhere in the park.” While I’m thankful that the state has created a smoke-free campground, Crystal Cove in Southern California is not a place I’m likely to camp.

The national Sierra Club office referred me to local chapters, as if this is not an issue anywhere else in the U.S., but at least they gave me an email address.

These inquiries took place last August when wildfires were raging throughout California and the West. Even if I’d been able to find a smoke-free campground, finding a smoke-free environment in the Sierra was going to be difficult. So my friend Ruth and I decided to camp at the ocean. We chose Andrew Molera State Park in Big Sur, thinking that if we arrived on Sunday we could find a campsite on the west end of the campground where the westerly winds would blow others’ campfire smoke to the East. That strategy worked, which makes me think it would be an easy strategy to employ on an institutional level. Parks departments could just remove the fire pits at the west end of campgrounds and post them as smoke-free.

I’m not asking for all fires to be quenched, although I think a no campfire policy would ease the great risk of wild land fires that we now face in this state. I’m just asking for some accommodation for folks who suffer disability associated with respiratory illness.

Would Rainbow Sierran  be interested in jumping on this bandwagon? I think air quality is an issue about to explode and we could be on the front lines.

Environmentally yours,

Molly Martin

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 From the Chairs with Paget Valentzas and Anita Bowen

Hello Rainbow Sierrans,

One of our goals as co-chairs is to find more ways for us to give back and protect our earth as an organization.  There is so much devastating news regarding the environment it is sometimes really hard to stay engaged.  Because of this, we   would like to offer you ways to engage in meaningful environmental work and do it within this amazing community.  So keep an eye out for upcoming opportunities which we will list in all the usual places alongside hikes and camping.

One of the things that is giving us hope is the kick ass youth movement that is currently rocking this world.  Teenagers are engaging in massive protests all over the world and confronting their politicians because they feel that their future has been sold out from underneath their feet.

We encourage everyone to watch this talk by Swedish 16 year old Greta Thunberg who is one of the leaders of this movement.



Anita and Paget

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