In light of the Trumpocalypse, we'd like to invite our activist members to join the team of Outings Leaders and offer some of their activities as GLS events.Let's have gatherings to make calls/write postcards/knit pussy hats/join a march/volunteer at a community farm /work with a frontline community/anything else you can think of.

If you want to organize such events and #getshitdone with your old and new GLS friends, then all you need to do is start the process of becoming an Outings Leader.

There's no need to go on long hikes or worry about first aid training initially - just be willing to get trained in basic Sierra Club outings principles by doing one of the following:

Co-lead an event with another Outings Leader 

Join the March 19 OLT training


Get in touch with the Outings Chairs

Beth Bittle  callingu2@gmail.com

Paget Valentzas pagetvalentzas@gmail.com

We look forward to having you join us to #getshitdone!

- By Katrina Wehrheim for the Outings Committee

Tree Hugger Culture

By Kelly Walker Sandlin


“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”  These are the words of the great naturalist, John Muir.  The culture of tree huggers, nature lovers, hikers and conservationists call this Scottish immigrant a Founding Father.  He started the Sierra Club; and we quite literally follow in his footsteps.  It’s hard to put any kind of exact date or time period to the origin of this culture, since walking the earth is as old as time itself.


In a modern framework, we can trace its American origins to the rise of cites and the mechanization of the industrial revolution after the Civil War.  Prior to that time, Americans, unlike Europeans, still considered the wilderness to be a savage place, fraught with danger.  This is likely due to the fact that Americans were not at all far removed from their pioneer roots.  They had not quite forgotten the very real dangers posed by settlement in a land peopled by hostile natives who were not at all happy to be abused by the interloping white men.  

Escaping the foul stench of the filthy cites, their tenements black with coal smoke, became recognized as beneficial to physical, mental and emotional health.  Those with the freedom and means to do so began visiting the surrounding countryside, and the concept of vacation was born.  Tony Perrottet says that the first wilderness guidebook was published in 1869 and it was written by a young minister by the name of William H. H. Murray.  He described the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York and the benefits of visiting the lakes and forests.  It became a bestseller and people began to take the new rail line to visit this lovely region.  It is ironic that it took the technology of railroads to help New Yorkers escape from the technology of industry 

The National Park Service was founded in 1916.  When the environment and the national treasure of our parks and wilderness areas are in jeopardy, those who work as stewards in these amazing places may even defy the current presidential administration’s gag order and speak out against attempts to privatize or profit from the destruction of public lands. So, the American nature movement may be about one hundred and fifty years old but it remains relevant and energized in the face of today’s threats and dangers.


I became a volunteer Outings Leader for the Sierra Club in 2006.  I have been a lover of the outdoors and an active life for as long as I can remember.  We have many things in common, but first and foremost, we love to be outside.  We would rather take a hike than go to a bar.  We spend our free time exploring the beauty of nature in its many forms.   We skip the all inclusive resorts and pricey shopping trips to jewelry stores.  We favor climbing mountains and trekking across vast green high alpine meadows decorated with stunning displays of wildflowers and pricey shopping trips to REI.  We are less likely to watch television reality shows and more likely to read a book or go out and see a foreign film. We are the people that spend time in parks, the people that set up telescopes to look at the stars from our yards and set up spotting scopes to look at birds by the Delta.  We wear sturdy hiking shoes and sensible clothes, and are often accompanied by a backpack with some sort of hydration system on board.  We come from every walk of life, but we share many values.  Many of us feel the same about our health, and consider good nutrition, hygiene and plenty of fresh air and exercise to be the keys to a good life.  We are likely to be involved in social justice work and care about all types of people and causes.  We tend to be less interested in money and possessions and more interested in experience.  We believe that we only have one planet, and that we had better take good care of it.  


There is a long history of activism within the outdoors community.  The Sierra Club history tells of the time that John Muir guided President Theodore Roosevelt on a visit to Yosemite’s wilderness in 1903. As the party gathered around the campfire, Muir made his case for the preservation of Yosemite Valley.  In the end, Teddy Roosevelt created five national parks and numerous national monuments, sanctuaries and forests. Besides the Sierra Club and its political activities, there are more radical organizations such as Greenpeace, which has blockaded whaling vessels and nuclear power plants.  There is Earth First with its logging road blockades and tree sitters, and more recently its work at Standing Rock to defeat the DAPL pipeline project which is the latest horror that the United States has visited upon the sovereign Sioux nation.


The fire ring was very likely the first gathering spot of humanity.  It remains a tradition for American campers in campgrounds across the nation, although in recent years, campfires have been forbidden in wilderness areas due to danger of wildfire.  John Muir and company used to dress up in elaborate costumes and perform skits around the campfire.  We do that to this day, and call it the Sierra Club Follies.  We also prepare for a trip or a hike in certain ways, making sure to take appropriate clothing and footwear, food, and plenty of water.  We learn to read the signs of changing weather.  We speak a common language of trees, rocks, flowers and animals.  Many of us undergo extensive Wilderness First Aid and Wilderness First Responder training.  We all learn to give the right of way to the hiker on the downhill side of a single track trail and to pick up garbage if we find it along the way.  We gather information in the form of hiking books and maps to make sure that we don’t get lost in the backcountry.  We help other hikers or campers if they are in trouble.  We take care of the Mother Earth, and care about those who share it with us.

Most importantly, we take others on outdoor adventures, and let them see a granite dome, smell the wildflowers, hear the wind through the trees, and feel the icy cold water of a glacial lake.  We want to give them a chance to appreciate the outdoors, to instill a love of nature, to find connection to something greater than ourselves, and to encourage stewardship and guardianship of the land.  We want children especially to understand the value of conservation of natural resources, for they shall inherit the Earth. If they don’t get the message of interconnectedness of all living beings, then there is little hope for its future.  This planet is in danger more than ever, in so many ways, and we need all of the help that we can get.  

We were fortunate to land a group site at Van Damme State Park for three nights over the Memorial Day weekend, arriving Friday May 26th and leaving Monday May 29th. Van Damme State Park is three miles south of the town of Mendocino, where the Little River crosses Highway 1. The greater part of the park lies on the inland side of State Route 1 and includes ten miles of hiking trails along the Little River and campsites rated by the Guardian as one of the ten best on the West Coast. 

Activities include hiking, bicycling on a paved road, kayaking through sea caves, diving for abalone, watching salmon spawn, and visiting the historic and picturesque town of Mendocino. 

This year ,the Memorial Day camping trip to Van Damme State Park trip filled in less than 48 hours.   You can still sign up on the waitlist.  http://www.glshikes.org/event-2476511/RegistrationsList

If you were unable to register for this trip, don’t despair … there are three more trips planned this summer.  Stay tuned:

4th of July at Butte Lake in Lassen National Volcanic Park, July 1 - 4

Labor Day at King's Canyon, Sept 1 - 4

Family Camping at Mt. Diablo, Sept 22 - 24

Volunteer Social

On Saturday, March 4, 2017, 14 dedicated volunteers met to socialize and eat pizza while envisioning GLS in 2017.  The urgency of activism in the Era of Trump turned out to be the overarching theme around which much discussion was centered.  Still, the importance of providing opportunities for people to get outdoors to experience the healing, restorative powers of nature was not overlooked. 

A number of attendees registered for the upcoming OLT training in hopes of offering a variety of activities beyond hikes to membership.  People signed up to help with camping trips, the summer picnic, and the December holiday party.   The Outings Committee received suggestions about sharing information and improving communication between leaders and prospective leaders.

Kudos to Beth Bittle and Susan Fracisco for producing a fun and productive meeting.  Thanks to the members who braved wind, hail and high winds to attend.


Thanks to our wonderful volunteer hike leaders, we've already had a number of amazing hikes this year, led by Marian Stainbrook, Russell Hartman, Paget Valentzas, Beth Bittle and Sylvie Hessini. Marian, one of our most prolific hike leaders, started the year off with a bang by leading four hikes in two months, including a dog-friendly hike, and taking beautiful photos as well. If you're interested in becoming a Hike Leader, get in touch with Paget Valentzas or Beth Bittle at outings@glshikes.org.

The Governing Committee

Have you ever wondered how all of the wonderful hikes, camping trips, social events, website and newsletter of GLS happen? It's a joint effort between you, the GLS members who volunteer, and the Governing Committee. The Governing Committee is a small, hardworking group elected by the membership to lead GLS and ensure the smooth running of the Club.  It maintains the GLS website and Meetup site, handles membership of close to 500, produces newsletters, organizes at least 3 camping trips a year as well as a summer picnic and a holiday party, trains outings leaders, and provides outings that include hikes, environmental, educational and social activities.  Additionally, the Co-chairs are the official spokespersons of Club, the Secretary keeps minutes of meetings, and the Treasurer is charged with handling the Finances.

We would like to introduce you to our current GovCom and look forward to meeting you on a hike, outing, or camping trip soon. Please feel free to reach out to us via email or in person with suggestions on how to improve your experience with GLS. If you are interested in volunteering or joining a future Governing Committee, even better! We look forward to an amazing 2017 with you out in nature!

Beth Bittle

Co-Lead and Outings Chair

Beth is an avid hiker and traveler who enjoys exploring new places and meeting new people. She's excited to share her love and knowledge of the outdoors to get people interested in being out in nature. Beth also serves as a National Sierra Club trip leader. This is her second year serving as Co-Lead of the Governing Committee.

Contact her at: chair@glshikes.org

Susan Fracisco

Co-Lead and Outings Chair 

Susan has been a GLS Member for three years, this is her first time volunteering for the Governing Committee.

Contact her at: chair@glshikes.org

Paget Valentzas

Outings Chair

Paget has been an active member of GLS since 2001.  During that time she has acquired the nickname "Tam ma'am", been introduced to amazing places in the Sierra, learned how to use a compass and guy lines, bought a tent that comes with coffee slings, and made a lot of friends.

Contact her at: outings@glshikes.org

Pam LoPinto

Treasurer and Activism Chair

Pam joined the group when it was still "Committee to Form GLS" in 1985. The group was mostly men and was trying in earnest to have women get involved. Pam was on the first Governing Committee in 1987 and served as Membership Chair. Our roster grew to 1,200 members, with about half being women. Pam led hikes, camping trips, and events regularly, but has been sidelined in recent years due to injuries. GLS is still near and dear to her and this is her third time serving on GovCom. She assumed Angie Romagnoli's duties as GLS Treasurer.

Contact her at: treasurer@glshikes.org

Becky Skaife

Membership Chair

Becky is a longtime GLS member who joined the Governing Committee to give something back and help the club to thrive. This is her second year volunteering for the Governing Committee.

Contact her at:membership@glshikes.org

Kris Anderson

Website, Newsletter and Secretary

Kris has been a GLS member since 2012 and credits the club with introducing her to the great outdoors and the joy of hiking and camping. She is a strong believer in building community and sees volunteering for the Governing Committee as a positive and fun way to do that while at the same time supporting the mission of the Sierra Club. This is her second year volunteering for the Governing Committee.

She would love to hear from you if you can contribute writing, photography, or design to the website and/or newsletter.

Contact her at: newsletter@glshikes.org

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