Newsletter, Winter 2021

Gear Gyrl with Sylvie Hessini

Getting Out in Nature in times of Covid-19

Many of us are missing our diverse and lively group of hikers, campers and friends, while we navigate the pandemic.  Most of us have been sheltering in place and staying close to home. We’re fortunate to live in an area rich with outdoor resources and the temperate weather to allow us outside throughout the year. 

Options for getting out in nature abound! Various shoreline parks ring San Francisco bay. Mt. Tam, the Marin Headlands, and Pt. Reyes all offer wonderful and challenging hiking destinations.  The east bay hills and points further east, allow for many diverse hiking opportunities.  Redwood Regional park is a second growth redwood forest encompassing 2000 acres, in Oakland!  Additionally, within the city of San Francisco one can explore a diversity of neighborhoods via the Crosstown trail at 17 miles point-to-point.

Free maps are available at many trailheads for the regional parks, as well as online.  Apps such as AllTrails offer guidance to hiking and biking trails.

Don’t forget your 10 hiking essentials (plus a mask) for security and safety.  Grab a friend, create a small hiking pod and explore the local outdoors. We have a lot to look forward to when we can once again gather together!

Happy Hiking!

 Curiosity finds the Firefall

A recent showshoe trip in Yosemite, found our small group at a fork in the trail.

Not that kind of fork.

After much discussion, two in our group took the "uncertain how long it is" way back, and during their hike came across a large number of photographers setting up for a shoot.  "What are you going to photograph?" asked one our two.   Upon their return, the two told us, "Come at 5pm. We'll have a hor's dourves and watch the rock show."

Cheers to the curious for unvailing the Yosemite firefall! 

The right time of season, the right angle of the rock and

the sun, and a clear day in the middle of winter -

how lucky were were to see the show.

Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve - Recommended now!

(Antiock, CA.)    

After recent rain cleared the sky brining a clear February morning, the Black Diamond Mines Ridge Trail Loop brought new growth, green grassy, rolly, hills and mountains with vistas far and wide. With open arms to the sky, this hiker's soul became filled - grateful for peace inside.  


Poetry by Annie Stenzel

How to tame a tarantula

First, a question: must you even try? 

Wouldn’t you rather

leave your tarantula right

where you found it,

hustling across the pot-holed road?


You could still call it “your” tarantula,

but it would belong to itself, picking

its own meals from crickets and voles.,

choosing for itself when to take

the many hours it requires of repose.


Another question: are you willing to commit

to 20 years with your tarantula?  The females

can live that long. But remember: she won’t

do tricks, she isn’t keen on being petted, and even

a small fall may be fatal. She’s that fragile.


Before I tell you how to tame

a tarantula, I’ll ask you one more time:

why bother? All those legs will always

want to run off without you. Plus

you’re a daytime person. She loves the night.          

From the Chair ,     Beth Bittle

Every February, we have an opportunity to mark Black History Month, and reflect on the many contributions of Black Americans.  I’d like to call your attention to the  work that the Sierra Club has done to highlight notable African Americans in our shared history, as well as current activists and leaders, including local organizations such as Outdoor Afro (Sierra Club article here). You can learn more about Black History Month by clicking here to visit Sierra Club’s website. 

I also want to take a moment to update you on Sierra Club’s policy regarding outings. Sierra Club has notified us that they will be extending the COVID guidance which prohibits outings through July 4, 2021.  I hope you will continue to enjoy your own outings until we can be together again.  In addition to outings, we hope to be able to host a Labor Day campout, as well as a few other non-holiday campouts this year, so stay tuned for those updates.

Finally, I want to encourage you to register to get vaccinated. I am personally hopeful that as more of us get vaccinated we will be able to be to get our outings and campouts going again.  Many of us are already eligible to receive the vaccine under State and County guidance.  Anyone can register at  If you are over 65, keep trying for an appointment - new ones are released every day, and Bay Area Counties are rapidly opening up vaccine appointments to more people every week.

Be well,


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