Sespe Group hikes initially began as the Sespe Singles of Ventura County hike,
in founder John Olson's words, "because participating in the Friday evening
hikes in Santa Barbara was inconvenient and Sunday afternoons were often a slow
time of the weekend." John and Gail Henniger petitioned the Sespe Group
Executive Committee for permission to organize singles hikes as a Sespe Group
activity. For eight solid months he led a hike every Sunday afternoon until he
was, again in his own words, "burned out."
"In June 1980 the first issue of the predecessor of "The Sespe" appeared,
largely due to the urging of other leaders. The names of Loretta Jeffryes and
Jan Lewison appear in those early issues. The first publication was superseded
by "The Sespe" in January 1982. It was typewritten and more handcrafted than
later computerized versions."
Only with great difficulty did the group break the habit of pizza at the same
spot after every Sunday afternoon hike and expand to other pizza parlors, then
slowly to other forms of food, finally venturing to other days and times to
hike, other leaders, and eventually a name change to drop the word "Singles."
John continued to publish and lead for over a decade until December 1991, when
he retired and moved to Montana. Mary Embree, Sylvia Leidig, and then a string
of others took over, each for a short while, until "The Sespe" succumbed to the
Internet and other pressures a few years later.
The Port Hueneme lighthouse is the one shown in the BCTA logo. In August 2010, we gathered about 80 hikers here for a tour of the lighthouse. Included in this group were Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, so we lined them up in the right order for those iconic photos.
Three of the most senior geezers of the local Ventura Sierra Club hikers, started in 1978 as what was later known for many years as Sespe Group, are Carol (1979), Donald (1980), and Ted (1982). With a handshake at the base of the lighthouse as hikers marched in, Donald and Ted agreed "OK, let's do it!" [start BobCarolTedAlice -Hiking].
Two days later we applied for the web site. It takes a minimum of three days for meetup to initiate a new site (allocating and initializing server resources, but also making sure that our check clears!), but near the end of the second day we were able to add in the founders, Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice. The next day, when the site finally went public, Linda was the very first to join as Charter Member. By the end of the day we had 25 members, were up and running with a full calendar.
There's another Bob and another Alice who participate in the group; Bob has led a few hikes and Alice is an assistant organizer and unofficial group secretary. By a grand coincidence, all four of them are computer phobic, which is what led to the idea of the avatar substitutions.
All of our active local Sierra Club hike leaders have joined in to post their own hikes, and Santa Barbara group copied our idea (launching their own meetup site) as it went up the chain of command for review and blessing. We have since spawned a daughter group that lists only the local Sierra Club events. Not only have we been blessed and approved at national and international levels for both of these plans, but now there are over 30 meetup groups nationwide that are either exclusively Sierra Club events, or inclusive of all of the local Sierra Club hikes (as BCTA does).
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