In spite of the fog, cold-chilling winds and dampness on the Wildcat Canyon trails, the RS hikers prevailed through mother nature's opposing threats.


In December, 15 Rainbow Sierrans pedaled their way across the 5.5 mile Richmond/San Rafael Bridge Trail... a 21 mile out and back bike ride.  When the Richmond/San Rafael bridge bike trail opened in November of 2019, there were 5000 one-way trips recorded in the first two days of its use.

A few of us did an impromptu short hike after the Rainbow Sierrans New Year's party on the West Ridge trail.  We came upon a wavering Newt making its way slowly up an incline.  As cute as they seem, they can be dangerous; toxins secreted through the skin as a defense mechanism could kill a person.  Newts can also regrow lost limbs and organs which makes them important subjects in medical studies on regeneration.

Over the holidays, Rainbow Sierrans took a couple city walks in San Francisco... 

On December 18, we did a City Lights Walk in the hills above the Castro where we enjoyed delightfully decorated homes and a couple magical lanes, the light of the full moon and the City skyline.  Highlights of the walk included schmoozing with Keanu and a bunch of Matrix fans outside the Castro for the Resurrection launch, impromptu caroling, excellent company and sweet treats.

On January 2nd, we walked the northwestern section of the Crosstown Trail from Forest Hill to Land’s End.  It was a treat to visit a bunch of the special spots in San Francisco in one walk and views were stellar in all directions. People especially loved being serenaded by one of the pandemoniums of wild parrots living in San Francisco.

Gearing Up

When thinking about gear I always ask myself some basic questions:

  1. 1. What do I want it / them to do for me?

  2. 2. How long do I need it / them to last?

  3. 3. What’s my budget?

I ask those questions whether I’m shopping for a bike or gloves.  Today, we’re talking gloves.  After all, it’s winter, and right now it’s 35 degrees outside.

Today, I’m thinking about snowshoeing.  So, I’m looking for warm, waterproof, flexible, multiple use gloves.  I’d like them to last 10 years if I take care of them.

 Several articles gave good suggestions: 

 Think about how warm you normally run, and think about what level of activity or output you usually find yourself   comfortably doing.  For example, my body temp runs cold, and my output level is medium (generating a little   heat) if I’m with people, and high if I’m on my own (generating a higher level of heat).  Therefore, since   snowshoeing is like hiking or running where I’m in continual movement upper and lower body vs. sitting on a 15-   minute chairlift ride only to ski 3-5 minutes down the mountain, I would want a medium warm, layered,   breathable, and waterproof glove. 

 The other good idea I took from an article was to make sure you find the fit of glove that offers full hand and wrist  range of motion.  After all, I’ll be fiddling with snowshoe straps, buckles, or ratchets.  So, though my hands are considered size small, it might not be a size small that I choose.  I’ll need to try the gloves on instead of assuming size small is right for me. 

So far, I’m thinking these Burton gloves might answer my needs.  I’ll have to make sure that they aren’t too warm (hands perspire and then…. Freeze), and I’ll have to check the size.

Good luck to you when you decide to shop for gloves!

A Chat from the Front of the Pack

by Canyon Sam

 When hike leader Paget Valentzas was four years old, living in Darien, Connecticut she saw a   sketch map of an Indian village and charged into the kitchen to tell her mother she wanted to go to   the drumming site depicted on the map.  Her pregnant mother, making dinner, responded, "Go! Go!   Go!"  Paget envisioned herself with a hobo stick loaded with a few belongings.  "Can you make me   a hero sandwich?" she asked.  "It’s too close to dinner time," her mother answered.  Paget again   declared that she wanted to go to the site.  Her mother merely responded, "Go! Go! Go!"

 Later that night a police cruiser slowed and stopped on Boston Post Road to question the four year   old who was walking determinately in the direction of Massachusetts.  It was dark.

 “They scolded me and drove me home.  They said my mother was worried sick, and I should  never   run off without telling her.  I said I had told her, and she told me to "Go!", so I did.  I was mad that the   police cut me off; I so wanted to find that site.  I had stopped at the library to use the bathroom; I had asked people for directions.  I’d walked three or four miles.”

With this inborn intrepidness, Paget has shared her passion for striking out for far-flung destinations with RS members since 2006.  What sets her apart, according to one veteran member is 'her tremendous knowledge base.  Sometimes it's a lesser-known hiking route with a beautiful vista.  She always has interesting stories and historical facts to share that enhances any outing.'  A longtime GovCom member, retired Spanish bilingual teacher, ukulele and pickleball enthusiast, Paget agreed to kick off this new series of short Q&As with RS leaders. 

RS Questions & Answers:

What kinds of trips do you lead?   PVCamping trips City walks Hikes on Mt. Tamalpais.

What is your favorite type of trip?   PV: Camping trips.  You have the opportunity to get to know people over a longer span of time.  The participants form a kind of community for those few days.  I enjoy helping people have a positive experience in the outdoors. 

What is your favorite environment?   PV: Mountains.

If you could invite one person, living or dead, on a trip you lead, who would you take and where would you take them?   PV: I'd take Michelle Obama to Budd Lake in Yosemite. 

What is your favorite thing about RS trips?   PV: The sense of camaraderie.  People getting along together.  People thrilled by the views we climb to.  There’s an indescribable magic that happens when everything clicks. 

If you were going to come back in another life as a non-human living being, what would you be?   PV: I’d want to be a dog with nice owners who have a big rural spread.   In my youth I would have said an eagle or an otter.  But since I’m older, I think about comfort more.  I don’t want the hardships of animals in the wild.

How has being a leader affected you?  PV: It’s given me insight into people.  I’m more aware of other peoples’ experience.  I’ve learned different skills, like orienteering, birding, wildflower ID, first aid.  And of course, I’ve been able to visit many great places!

What makes for a successful outing?  PV: The usual things: Good weather, a varied route, great vistas, few crowds.  Also, not too large a group.  It’s good when some people know each other, so there are some social connections, and some people are new.  It’s fun to have a few ‘characters’ aboard, like a good raconteur.  Also it’s great to have people who are appreciative.

What are ways that participants can support you as the leader?  PV: Have a coffee waiting for me at the start of the hike!  Seriously, hikers should not have unreasonable time constraints; it gives a leader anxiety if someone says, "I have to be back by 1pm to go to my sister’s wedding.  Will we be back in time?”  I appreciate hikers who are good-natured, who are helpful and willing to lend a hand.  Sometimes things don’t go as planned, so a flexible attitude helps everyone have a better experience. 


 Canyon Sam grew up .4 miles from Golden Gate Park.  Her book, Sky Train: Tibetan Women on the Edge of   History won the PEN American Center Open Book Award.

Carried, or buoyed

by Annie Stenzel


While I stood still, smug-happy, the horseshoe
tipped, spilling all of my good fortune on the ground.

Seep! The earth grew cheerful; then the sky 

drew up the remaining moisture and made clouds

waltz.  A whisper of bliss. Oh, so to share my good luck

was a boon for me? New pools of contentment formed;

sweet-water springs arose when my senses took in more

beauty. Have I not always known I am only

a vessel? I carry what chooses me, and whatever I feel

may be transmuted and restored, cell by cell.

STIRRING, Vol. 22, Fall Issue 

 Annie Stenzel was born in Illinois, but has lived on both coasts of the U.S. and on other continents at various   times in her life. Her book-length collection is The First Home Air After Absence (Big Table Publishing, 2017).  A   poetry editor for the online journals Right Hand Pointing and West Trestle Review, she currently lives within sight   of the San Francisco Bay.  For more, see

Conservation Corner

No matter the season, trees are beautiful.  Bare winter limbs expose unique contours, while spring invites new buds to dapple them in color.  Boughs become heavy with variant shades of green in summer, then turn golden, bronze, and crimson in autumn.

Five Reasons to Plant Trees:

  1. 1. Trees clean the air.  They're nature's housekeeper, absorbing pollutant gasses and even odors.  Their blossoms and ripening fruits also perfume the air.

  2. 2. Trees help to prevent soil erosion.  Their root system binds the soil, and their leaves create a barrier to the wind and rain.  With the help of roots absorbing water, this also prevents flooding.

  3. 3. Trees keep us cool.  They can cool a city up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit by shading structures, breaking up heat islands, and releasing water vapor through their leaves.

  4. 4. Trees can reduce energy consumption.  Strategically placed trees can provide wind breaks in the winter and shade and cool a house in the summer.

  5. 5. Trees invite critters to create habitats close to our habitats.  From the birds that build their nest to the squirrels that eat their nuts, leaves, and berries, many animals rely on the trees in our yards for shelter and food.

 So, consider planting trees.  A minimum of a $10 membership fee to the Arbor Day Foundation will purchase 10   saplings of your choosing from a selection of trees specific for your area or plant 10 trees in a forest in your   honor.  This could make for a thoughtful gift, too.  Once it resumes, you can also join Sierra Club's Tree Team to   volunteer to help plant trees in Oakland neighborhoods.


Karen Lee is generously offering her time to deliver (East Bay area only) or ship Rainbow Sierrans' hats and tee-shirts to those interested.  Thank you, Karen!

Contact Karen at (925) 324-7342 (call/text) or email her at

   Hat Colors: Black & White

   Hat Price $10 (plus shipping)

   Crew Neck Tee-Shirt Colors: Light Blue, Light Gray, & 

   Medium Gray

   V-Neck Tee Shirt Colors: Aqua & Dark Gray

   Tee-Shirt Price: $15 (plus shipping)

Save the date for the annual Rainbow Sierrans picnic at Lafayette Reservoir on May 14, 2022.  We hope see you there! 

Newsletter, Winter 2022

Greetings from the Chair

Hello Rainbow Sierrans,

I am very excited to work with all the members of the GovCom this year!  You can learn a little more about each of us below.  Thank you to our outgoing GovCom members, Paige, Ann, and Anita, for their leadership over the past three years on GovCom, and for their efforts to ensure that the club successfully navigated the unexpected challenges from the pandemic.

We are working hard to bring back more of the outings, campouts, and social activities that we all expect and enjoy as part of this wonderful community.  Keep checking our website and Meetup page for updates.

Thank you to our longtime outings volunteer leaders, as well as Ann, who is continuing as outings chair this year, for making these outings possible.  We hope that many of our long-time volunteers will be able to safely lead outings again this year.  Looking forward to seeing you all on an outing soon!

-Beth Bittle

Can you match the GovCom member with their picture?

Bettle Bittle   Ann Lehr   Kimberly Luce   Susan Smith   Paget Valentzas   Kat Zumbach 

(Answers can be found after each members' bio.)







Meet the New GovCom Members

 Beth Bittle - Chair                                           

 Beth appreciates that being a member and volunteer with Rainbow Sierrans lets her get out in   nature herself and engage others in nature.  She counts herself lucky to be a part of this   community and to have the opportunity to serve on GovCom again.  As an outings leader, she   enjoys leading a variety of outings, including cycling, hiking, cleanups/restorations, and   kayaking.

 Beth has been a member and outings leader of the Rainbow Sierrans since 2014.  She   previously served on GovCom from 2015-2018.  She is also a Sierra Club National outings   leader and is trilled to be co-leading a trip to Death Valley with the National Outings in fall 2022. (Answer: C)


 Paget Valentzas - Co-Chair & Camping     

 Paget have been an enthusiastic member of Rainbow Sierrans for over 20 years.  She has   participated in lots of fun adventures, made dear friends, been introduced to new places as well   as acquired skills such as orienteering.  She is beginning to recognize the occasional duck and   wildflower.  Paget has been an outings leader since 2006 and is excited to be back on GovCom.   (Answer: A)


 Kim Luce - Secretary & Membership

 Kim was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area.  She started enjoying outdoor   wilderness activities at a very early age.  Kim set up with GLS (now Rainbow Sierrans) on a   regular basis around 2016 and started helping out around 2019 and since. (Answer: B)



 Ann Lehr - Outings Chair

 Ann has enjoyed camping and backpacking in the High Sierra since childhood, and these   experiences instilled in her an early desire to protect and preserve the natural environment.   She joined GLS in 1988, and the Sierra Club the following year because she feels that going   “out in nature” is one of the best ways to get some exercise in good company while recharging   her physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual batteries.  She now lives within view of Mt. Diablo   —her favorite local place to hike and lead hikes since 2012. (Answer: E)

 Kat Zumbach - Treasurer

 Kat is from Upstate New York, an INTJ, and the oldest of four sisters.  She used to race bikes   but a bad crash led her to hiking and this group.  Kat is also a drummer and loves playing Soul,   R&B, Funk, and 80's music.  In addition to being treasurer for Rainbow Sierrans, she volunteers   at the Oakland SPCA.  Her favorite book of 2021 was "The Book of Lost Names", and her   current favorite podcast is "Bedtime Stories About Nothing."   She is looking forward to more   hiking and camping in the future. (Answer: F)

 Susan Smith - Treasurer in Training

 The bones of Susan's walking and pedaling life began on the Georgia coast and spread into the   Appalachian Mountains during family vacations, and now to the SF Bay Area where the   wonderful Rainbow Sierrans reside.  The second time she visited San Francisco she was on her   own, and she just walked and walked, going to each park as she found the green squares on   her little tourist map.  Sometimes she’d walk uphill until she got to overlook the sailboats in the   bay!  She was not a hiker or backpacker yet, but it was beginning. 

 Susan grew up on the Georgia coast where she spent time walking in the woods, canoeing, or   going to the beach to look at stars, birds, or turtles.  While going across the Jekyll causeway   early in the mornings with her mom or dad on their paper route, she'd count bunnies and red   wing blackbirds. Near the age of 14, Susan and her brothers started occasional walking   adventures across the 9 mile causeway to Jekyll Island. 

 Besides walking, Susan has ridden a bicycle since she was little.  At 14, she began riding further from home in any direction, including to Jekyll where she had a summer job.  At 16, she joined a month-long bicycle trip with Bikecentennial 76.  Susan became a teacher at age 22, and while she has taken a couple breaks for other things, her career has primarily been in education. (Answer: D)

From the Outings Chair

New Sierra Club Regulations for Outings:

Upon reopening of outings in July 2021, the national Sierra Club staff instituted some new regulations that all participants need to be aware of.  Some of these are COVID-related, and some are more general.

1. General Safety.  When planning an outing, leaders are expected to determine whether, in the event of an emergency, it will be possible to access a medical facility in under 60 minutes, or if the outing is within a 911call area—these outings are now designated as frontcountry, and require no new procedures.  If there isn’t consistent cell phone coverage in the area, the outing is labeled backcountry, and participants are required to complete a short medical form to be used if they are incapacitated.  These medical forms will be made available prior to every backcounty outing, and should be presented to the outing leader when asked.  The information on the forms will be kept confidential.


For all outings, participants should (privately) disclose to the leader any medical condition that might affect their participation on the outing, such as allergy to stings, diabetes, heart condition, COPD, recent injury, etc.

2. COVID Protocol.  On day trips, we are not permitted to screen participants for vaccination status or test result.  Vaccinations (or a negative PCR test) are required for indoor overnight trips.  Masks are required indoors and optional outdoors.  Please don’t join an outing if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or test positive just before the outing.  If you come down with COVID-19 or test positive within seven days after an outing, please notify the leader—your identity will be kept confidential.

Let’s all go out and enjoy the outdoors safely and in good company!

-Ann Lehr

Activity Escapades

by Marian Steinbrook and Paget Valentzas

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software | Designed by TheARRC