The School of Self-reliance arose from Christopher and Dolores Nyerges’ dream
to live and to teach practical skills to mostly urban folks who’ve lost touch with our most basic roots.
The School was founded by Christopher and Dolores,
now (since Dolores’ passing in 2008) carried on by Christopher and peripatetic faculty of uniquely-skilled individuals.
Since 1974, Christopher Nyerges has taken over 30,000 children and adults on his Wild Food Outings, Survival Skills Outings,
and other field trips and outdoor programs.
Chris’s Emergency Backpack
He has worked with such groups as Sierra Club, Tree People, Southwest Museum, Boy Scouts of America, Elder Hostel, home schools,
public and private schools, churches, libraries, etc.
Christopher Nyerges is the author of 10 books, including Self-Sufficient Home: How to Go Green and Save Money,
How to Survive Anywhere, Enter the Forest, and Guide to Wild Foods.
He was the editor of Wilderness Way magazine for 7 years, and has authored several thousand newspaper and magazine articles
in such publications as the Los Angeles Times, Pasadena Star News, Pasadena Weekly, Whole Life Times, American Survival Guide,
The classes and workshops of the School of Self-reliance have been featured on all Los Angeles-area television stations,
including KCET’s "Life and Times" and "Visiting with Huell Howser."
For two years, Nyerges appeared on Fox TV’s "X show," where he demonstrated survival skills
on the streets of Los Angeles.
Ladies Night - Open Thursday
Dr. Ross Piper - Wild Burma: Nature’s Lost Kingdom
"Wherever I go now I try and photograph the animals I find."
The Salu River
From the beginning of February until the end of March 2013
Dr. Ross Piper was in Burma as part of a BBC expedition to document some of the wildlife of this country
that has been more-or-less closed off to outsiders for the best part of six decades.
He and Smithsonian mammal experts (Kris Helgen, Darrin Lunde and Nicole Edmison),
a few Burmese scientists, a load of film-makers and a retinue of helpers were lucky enough to
visit three locations around the country;
two on the west coast and a third in the far north, not too far from the Indian border.
Getting to some of the places he visited was a mammoth operation, involving huge numbers of porters,
bamboo rafts and all other conventional forms of transport.
Burma is a big country, so he only really got a snapshot of its wildlife suffice to say that he saw some incredible beasts,
especially on the camera traps.
He managed to find arthropods as well as other creatures.
River at Dawn Near Gwa
The product of this expedition will form a three part BBC 2 documentary in the same vein as several others
the BBC have produced over the last few years (e.g. Lost Land of the Volcano, Lost Land of the Jaguar, etc.).
You can read about the expedition in the December issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine.
Click here to view a PDF
of this article as well as his
for BBC News about why we need to protect
There’s also this
BBC Nature Gallery Article
about the insects he found in Burma.
The results of the survey have been consolidated into a report that will be given to the Burmese government.
A series of Zoo Keys articles, based on his findings, will follow in 2014.
Gary Mancuso - Six Year Journeying in Our Disappearing World: A Personal Tale of the Adventures, Misadventures and Pratfalls of Such a Project
What is it like to drop everything in life and travel the most interesting and wilder place remaining on the planet
for almost six years?
In a club that counts many legendary travelers among its ranks, almost all of you love to travel to interesting places.
However, the human side of this, which all of us who travel can identify with,
is not always an apparent part of the club lectures.
So, join us May 15 and feel the humor, personal challenge and unexpected pratfalls we all experience as travelers to alien places.
In that evening’s presentation, Gary Mancuso will share some of the foibles and misadventures,
as well as a few of the more fascinating experiences of his recently completed global expedition.
These stories will include dancing with an exhumed corpse in the Madagascar Highlands,
a late night showdown with armed police in Caracas and getting staggering drunk with Sufi Muslims in
the Pankisi Gorge by Georgia’s border with Chechnya.
Every traveler is sure to identify with some of these experiences, whether or not they have actually had them.
Gary Mancuso yearned to travel ever since he was a boy.
Then, the summer before his senior year in high school, he left his family home in Ohio and drove to California.
Arriving in Los Angeles with four dollars in his pocket, he slept on the beach for a spell until he got his footing.
When he wasn’t off wandering somewhere, he studied economics, communications,
and political science and got a master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Southern California.
Before setting off on the journey that became the subject of his book,
Gary headed business development in the trading room of a large regional bank.
Along with his passion for travel, he is an avid trekker, swimmer, scuba diver, environmentalist, and private pilot.
The Adventurers’ Club of Los Angeles thanks Rosalie Lopes for recommending this speaker.
Christopher Nyerges WILD FOOD OUTING and KNIFE/TOOL Lesson, $20 OUTSIDE ACTIVITY - non sponsored activity advisory
We’ll begin with a discussion of knives, both modern and primitive knives (and related tools),
and how to choose a good camp knife.
Please bring your knife for show-and-tell.
We»ll also look at SIMPLE survival kits/packs, so if you have one, bring it for show-and-tell
(Let’s keep this simple – no need to bring the 100 lb. Ultimate survival pack…).
Then we’ll explore the park in search of wild food, and make a salad.
Chris’s Emergency Backpack
Location 2, Hahamongna Watershed Park; entrance at Foothill and Oak Grove Dr. in Pasadena.
Meet at southern end of the upper area. [pg. 535, E5].
Always RSVP via email email@example.com,
or call the office at (626) 791-3217or mobile (323) 605-7283. P.O. Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041
Ladies Night - Open Thursday
Michael L. Oddenino - The Battle of Balls Bluff
Michael L. Oddenino
The Battle of Ball’s Bluff intrigued this month’s speaker initially because he had heard so little about it and
was continually surprised at the fascinating and compelling information he uncovered about the battle as he studied it.
His presentation on Ball’s Bluff is the result of numerous trips to the battle field, considerable study,
and a fascination with what took place on October 21, 1861, when two disorganized forces stumbled upon one another
to trigger a series of consequences that surprisingly remain with us today.
This Ball’s Bluff presentation is a weaving together of the tantalizing connections between the characters, the terrain,
the fighting and the chain-reaction of events that followed that battle.
Ball’s Bluff is truly the little battle with big consequences.
It is the battle that few people know about; but once you hear this presentation you will be surprised that more attention
has not been paid to the battle.
General Gorman’s Brigade Arriving at Edwards’ Ferry for General Stone’s "Slight Demonstration," 20 October 1861 (Library of Congress)
Michael Oddenino grew up in Virginia surrounded by Revolutionary War and Civil War history.
After majoring in history as an undergraduate at Virginia Tech where he studied Civil War history
under Dr. James I. Robertson, Jr., (author of "Stonewall Jackson: The Man, The Soldier, The Legend’
and other volumes as well as being a popular speaker on Civil War topics).
Michael continued his studies and received his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law and has been a
practicing lawyer since 1978 while maintaining his primary affection for history.
His interest in oratory led him to develop an interpretation of Patrick Henry’s famous "Liberty or Death" speech,
which he has performed in many venues including the Las Vegas "Strip."
Union Troops Retreat from Ball’s Bluff into the Potomac River
Michael’s Civil War studies cover a broad range of topics; and he was our speaker last year when
he gave a great presentation on the oratory of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
The Battle of Ball’s Bluff, initiated by a telegram from Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, commander of U.S. armies
in the Washington area, to Maj. Gen. George P. Stone, commander of troops along the Potomac River in Maryland.
McClellan told Stone to "keep a good lookout upon Leesburg, to see if this movement (several Union reconnaissance)
has the effect to drive them (Confederate forces) away.
Perhaps a slight demonstration on your part would have the effect to move them."
Battle of Ball's Bluff - Background:
Ball’s Bluff Battlefield in 1886 - National Cemetery in the background
Massachusetts had fallen back to join the other Union troops at the bluff.
Here they formed an "L"-shaped line with the In October 1861,
Union commander Major General George McClellan ordered Union troops to move northeast from Langley, VA
to scout the area around Leesburg.
This movement was the result of reports that Confederate Colonel Nathan G. Evans had moved his command out of the town.
Complying with McClellan’s orders Brigadier General George A. McCall marched his division northwest to Dranesville.
Unknown to McCall, the Union intelligence was correct as Evans had moved southeast to a new position along Goose Creek.
Made aware of this movement, Confederate General Beauregard ordered Evans to return to the town.
On October 19, Evans complied and re-occupied his former position.
That same evening, McClellan directed McCall to return to Langley.
Prior to McClellan’s departure,
McCall requested and received permission to remain in the area an additional day to complete mapping the local roads.
While McCall’s men were working on October 20,
McClellan ordered Brigadier General Charles P. Stone’s command in Maryland to make a demonstration against
Ball’s Bluff and Leesburg.
Probing the western bank of the Potomac that day, Stone’s troops failed to elicit a response from Evans.
Battle of Ball’s Bluff - An Intelligence Error:
To ascertain the effectiveness of the demonstration,
Stone ordered Colonel Charles Devens of the 15th Massachusetts Infantry to send a patrol across the river that evening.
This group was led by Captain Chase Philbrick.
Moving across the Potomac, Philbrick’s patrol marched inland seeking the enemy.
An inexperienced officer, Philbrick mistook a row of trees to be Confederate camp.
Without confirming this, he promptly returned to Devens and reported that an unguarded enemy camp was across the river.
Assessing this information, Stone elected to mount a raid on the camp the next day.
While a small diversionary force was to cross downstream at Edward’s Ferry,
Devens was to move across the river to Harrison’s Island and then on to the west bank around dawn
with approximately 300 men.
Once the raid was complete, Devens was to return to Maryland.
The attack was to be supported by 100 men from the 20th Massachusetts who were to cross and deploy atop
Ball’s Bluff to cover Devens’' withdrawal.
Crossing in the morning, Devens and his men soon found there was nothing to raid.
Reporting this to Stone, he requested additional instructions.
Battle of Ball’s Bluff - Confusion on the Bluff:
Learning of Devens’ situation, Stone elected to turn the raid into a reconnaissance in force.
Ordering the remainder of the 15th Massachusetts across, Devens was directed to advance on Leesburg to gauge enemy strength.
As these discussions were occurring,
pickets from the 17th Mississippi Infantry encountered the men from the 20th Massachusetts and a brief firefight ensued. D
evens’ men soon joined the fight and after short skirmish both sides withdrew.
Alerted to the Union troops, Evans began moving reinforcements to the area.
As the morning passed, the remainder of Devens’ regiment arrived.
Ball’s Bluff Re-enactment
As the situation was developing, Colonel Edward Baker arrived at Stone’s headquarters.
A sitting US Senator from Oregon, Stone was close friend of President Lincoln.
Though his troops were not involved at Ball’s Bluff, Baker was ordered to the area to
take command and determine whether Union forces should retreat or be reinforced.
Learning of the new fighting at Ball’s Bluff en route,
Baker began pushing men across the river and searching for additional boats.
In the process, he failed to issue orders for those troops on the Virginia side or appoint someone on site to command.
Battle of Ball’s Bluff - Fighting in Earnest:
Additional skirmishes occurred around 11:30 AM and 1:00 PM as both sides increased in strength.
Finally crossing, Baker met with Devens around 2:15 and found that the 15th 20th Massachusetts facing west
with their backs to the bluff and the 15th Massachusetts extending inland facing south.
Together they covered a clearing through which any attacker would have to pass.
Around 3:00, elements of the arriving 1st California Infantry clashed with companies from the 8th Virginia.
As the fighting began in earnest, the 18th Mississippi took heavy losses when it attempted to cross the clearing.
With the fighting developing, the Confederates formed a position that pinned the Union troops against the river.
Confusion abounded on both sides as units became intermixed.
On the Union side this was further complicated by the arrival of the 42nd New York Infantry.
As the fighting continued, the Union troops turned back several Confederate attacks.
Between 4:30 and 5:00, Baker was killed during and attack on the Union left.
Battle of Balls Bluff
Command devolved to Colonel Milton Cogswell of the 42nd New York who attempted an assault on the Confederate right.
This failed and the Union troops went back to the defensive.
Around dusk, the fresh troops of the 17th Mississippi launched an attack which drew in other Confederate units.
Hitting the tired Union soldiers, it shattered the Federal lines.
Though Cogswell attempted to conduct an orderly retreat,
his men began fleeing into the river and attempting to swim across to Harrison’s Island.
Other Union troops found shelter at the base of the bluff and were forced to surrender.
Aftermath of the Battle of Ball’s Bluff
The numbers for Union losses at Ball’s Bluff vary depending on the source and were approximately 49 killed,
158-198 wounded, and 529-714 missing/captured.
In the days following the fight, bodies washed ashore along the length of the Potomac.
In the fighting, Baker became the only sitting senator to be killed combat.
Confederate losses in the battle totaled 36 killed and 117 wounded.
A relatively minor affair relative to the battles to come, Ball’s Bluff had long-lasting political consequences.
Though fault for the defeat largely belonged to Baker,
Stone was made the scapegoat as members of Congress did not wish to smear a fallen peer.
As a result of the defeat,
the Congressional Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War was formed which would cause problems for Union commanders
for the remainder of the conflict.
The Adventurers’ Club of Los Angeles thanks Chuck Jonkey for recommending this speaker.
Fred Grochulski The Trans Agulhas Challenge & Big Block Engines
Fred Grochulski (Click on Image to View Complete Photo)
Fred Grochulski will discuss with us the Trans Agulhas Challenge and "Big-Block" engines.
He is also the other guy in the Accufab engine shop.
Positive as a proton and able to talk an AM radio under the table,
Fred brings the Accufab engine program near-fanatical attention to detail and a tireless enthusiasm for all things combustive.
His background ranges from nuclear weapons in the Navy to martial arts, a stint at Livernois Motorsports,
and a personal bent towards road racing and V-6 performance.
The Trans Agulhas Challenge is the "World’s Toughest Inflatable Boat Challenge"
starting every year on December 28th at Plettenberg Bay, South Africa.
It is a fast-paced, action-packed water sports event with over 60 inflatable boats battling it out on the waves.
This most prestigious – in the world – 5 day race visits beaches along the coast between Nature’s Valley
and Strand where the race finishes on January 1st.
The Trans Agulhas Challenge Course
HISTORY OF THE TRANS AGULHAS CHALLENGE
The idea started with Sparks Esterhuyzen,
well-known inhabitant of Hermanus and still involved with training just-out-of-school young people at See- and Sand, Hermanus.
By then Sparks had already rowed 5 times around the most southern point of South Africa,
the longest being with a Cano from Nature’s Valley to Cape Town (± 700 km).
He shared the idea with Jean Engelbrecht from Stellenbosch.
Jean conveyed this to his Inflatable Boat Club members and after a meeting or two,
they decided to do this route in their Inflatable Boats.
Thus, the Trans Agulhas Inflatable Boat Challenge was born.
It was not as easy as just that. When "Die Burger," a local Afrikaans Newspaper and the first sponsor,
first announced the Challenge, every one said it was too dangerous and couldn’t be done.
Nobody gave any notice and just went about their business of organizing the first Trans Agulhas Challenge.
On the 26th December 1988 thirty three boats started the 1st Trans Agulhas Challenge at Nature’s Valley.
The finish was in the Old Harbour, Hermanus on the 3rd January 1989 and everyone agreed that the Trans Agulhas Challenge
came to stay.
It is not possible to tell what happened on the 1st Trans Agulhas Challenge.
A very thick book will have to be written one day to convey all the tales.
Interesting to know, is that the organizing committee consisted out of 5 members.
Between them they had 2 vehicles, of which 1 broke down at Vleesbaai.
Today, the Trans Agulhas Challenge is a world class event, hosted every year by Agulhas Inflatable Boat Club (AIBC).
The Trans Agulhas Challenge has started the Long Haul events hosted by SAIBA and other boat clubs.
The design of the Inflatable boat has changed over the years,
and we believe that it is because of the Trans Agulhas Challenge, testing man, boat and machine alike.
There is just no other challenge like it.
So, the Trans Agulhas Challenge was run for the first time in December 1988 with an entry of 33 fully inflatable boats.
It was intended as a challenge for inflatable boat owners to test their skills in navigation,
physical and mental endurance and the capabilities of their craft, which it certainly turned out to be.
The Trans Agulhas have since captured the imagination of thousands of spectators along the coastal route of 1000 km
and inflatable boat owners alike, and have drawn international attention.
The Trans Agulhas is traditionally run after Christmas in the main holiday period
from Keerboomsriver to the Strand a total distance of ±1000 km over 5 days,
with a marathon shift every morning and an obstacle race at the beach, in the afternoons.
The marathon shift consists of a long haul of anything between 80 - 170 km,
with compulsory beach stops at predetermined checkpoints between the start and the finish.
The Adventurers’ Club of Los Angeles thanks Dr. Steve Bein for recommending this speaker.