Fantastic learning opportunities right in our backyard

I recently noticed that the title for every blog entry on this page ends in an exclamation point. You will note that the title for this particular blog does not end in an exclamation point…

That’s because this topic is serious.  Seriously awesome!!  Heyo!

First up, we have the illustrious Ron Felzer’s Mount Whitney class for the Fall 2012 semester at Merritt College…

I met Ron when I took his “Natural History of the Yosemite High Country: Mt. Dana to Matterhorn Peak” class last year, and it was fantastic!  The class sessions were information-packed overviews of the flora, fauna, and geology of the area, followed by a field class at Regional Parks Botanic Garden at Tilden Regional Park to learn about alpine plants and get a sampling of what we would see on our big expedition.  The class finale was a two day camping trip to Yosemite, where I had the joy of experiencing mild altitude sickness on the night we arrived.  Puke city! Mild altitude sickness causes symptoms similar to a hangover, which is also something we learned about before we went.

The next day, however, was much better… we hiked all day to the Conness Glacier and other areas in 20 Lakes Basin, starting from Saddlebag Lake, and the day after that we went to Gaylor Ridge, Gaylor Peak, Gaylor Lakes, and Granite Lakes.  It was a whirlwind tour of the area, and Ron deftly guided us through the landscape as he taught us about (what seemed like) the majority of organisms and rock formations in the area.

We learned waaay too much for me to recap here, so I’ll just show you some photos of the Yosemite trip to entice you to sign up for his Mt. Whitney class.

 Day 1: Near Saddlebag Lake, where we started our day

Day 1: Hiking up to the Conness Glacier (the glacier is all the snow-covered ice at the top left of the photo)

Day 2: Cathedral Peaks range in the distance

Day 2: Dana Meadows. First ridge is Mt. Dana, far ridge is Mt. Gibbs

Ron is also guiding Wild Oakland’s December bird walk at Lake Merritt, so be sure to catch that!

The other not-to-be-missed offering from Merritt College is Dr. Hank Fabian’s brand new Bay Area Master Naturalist Certificate of Proficiency!  Classes covering Bay Area herpetology, the natural history of Mount Diablo, Bay Area salamanders, and the natural history of California State Parks are being offered right now… you can find descriptions, dates, and more information for the Master Naturalist classes at

Support Merritt College and the fine professors who offer these unique classes!!!  They need people to sign up so the classes don’t get cut and funding for the department doesn’t run dry.  So go enroll!!!

See you there!

– Constance

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