Geography 35F
Section 2381


details of our FALL 2014 field activities are HERE. They include local one-day trips on Saturday, October 11 and Sunday, October 12 and a full weekend trip to the Wildlands Conservancy's Whitewater Preserve on October 24-26. We will study coastal, mountain, desert and human landscapes and the forces and processes that are shaping them, including natural and human history. Here you will find some details about our Fall 2014 field activities. If you are in the class or are joining us on one of our field trips, carefully read the instructions and requirements on all of this page.  Details for each trip are being added at the bottom of this page.

Our weekend at Whitewater will start out hot for this time of year until a Sunday cool off. It should remain mostly clear during our stay so bring your star charts.

Weather Updates

You should first attend our first meeting to prepare and organize and find out what is expected on these trips: Friday, September 5, 4-7pm, HSS 251. During our one weekend in the field together (Oct 24-26) and one-day trips on Saturday, Oct 11 (Cultural Tour of L.A.) and Sunday Oct 12 (Santa Monica Mountains), we will explore the natural history and human history of a wide variety of California landscapes. We will meet at SMC (HSS 251) at 8:30am for each trip (except see our special instructions for Saturday, Oct 11 to board a bus at Virginia Avenue Park and 22nd St.) to carpool to diverse coastal, mountain, and urban locations. Specific details will be added to this page as they develop. During our trips, we will learn about the natural history (geology, weather and climate, plants and animals, coastal processes) and human history of these regions, their landscapes and the processes that are changing them. Each trip will require car pools to get into the field (except for the Saturday October 11 L.A. bus tour where we meet at Virginia Ave Park and 22nd St to board a bus), so we must meet promptly at 8:30am in HSS 251. More details (including directions) will appear at the bottom of this page as they evolve. Remember that all field class students are also required to attend the final wrap-up session in HSS 251 on Friday, Nov 7, 4-7pm.  

Special note for the Saturday October 11 Eat Your Way Through L.A. Cultural Tour of Los Angeles: We will join up with our International Education Center on a big bus for the day. We start at the back side of Virginia Park and 22nd Street. This is our only field trip on a bus. To participate in this field trip, you must first sign up and deposit $10 at the International Education Center across from Counseling. Ask for Ashleigh Garmon and tell them you are in our class and want to reserve a seat on the bus for the cultural tour on October 11. If you don't reserve a seat, you can't go on this trip. Your $10 should be refunded when you board the bus. On Saturday October 11, meet before 9 am on the back side of Virginia Avenue Park where it meets 22nd Street, where you will sign in and board the bus. If you are looking for parking, you may not find it at the crowded park on Farmers Market day, so give yourself time to park at the college and walk.   

To participate in each field trip, you are required to sign waivers. This means you will not sue Selby or the college or anyone connected with the college no matter what unexpected or bad things might happen to you or us on our field trips. You should also use common sense when preparing for the trips. That means wearing comfortable clothes and shoes and bringing water, food and other personal items and necessities that will improve your comfort level and enjoyment. Finally, during each field trip, you will be expected to follow SMC and all camp, host and park rules and codes of conduct. Besides the obvious rules banning drugs, alcohol, and smoking (especially in areas of fire danger), we must respect one another and contribute to a positive atmosphere that will add to the educational experience. After all, these trips are also part of our Global Citizenship efforts. Curiosity, learning, safety, and fun are some of the main themes for this semester’s field trips.
William A. Selby
Earth Science/Geography/Environmental and Urban Studies (310) 434-4743

Here is the course description edited with the one date change to October 11 and 12:

GEOG 35F, Field Study: California    1 unit
Transfer: CSU   •   Prerequisite: None.

This course combines classroom and laboratory studies with actual field studies in geography. Field experiences are designed to apply basic geographic concepts and techniques in the study of diverse landscapes and the processes shaping them. Students will attend two 3-hour lecture classes and are required to attend two planned weekend field trips that include California coastal, mountain, and desert locations.

2381   4:00p-7:05p F   HSS 251   Selby W A

   Arrange-40 Hours    FIELD   Selby W A

Above section 2381 has required on campus meetings Sept 5 and Nov 7. Two required field trips which may include coastal, mountain, desert, and other locations will be held Oct 10-12 and Oct 24-26. This section will provide foundations in ecological literacy and help prepare students to live more sustainably.

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)
What can students do, think, or know as a result of their studies in this class?
Students will be able to apply concepts - from recent research, texts, and the classroom - to real world field observations. Students will learn the nature of fieldwork and of using the scientific method to interpret and analyze physical and human landscapes.
What can students do, think, or know as a result of their studies within the more general geography program?
Students will be able to identify spatial patterns and interrelationships between systems and cycles that affect life and shape landscapes. Students will demonstrate cartographic literacy, including map interpretation and, using spatial analysis skills, will be able to analyze, recognize and evaluate spatial distributions on all scales from local to global  to become better global citizens.


We geographers offer several unique opportunities to learn about California’s natural and human landscapes this fall 2014. This semester, we focus our attention on our coastal, mountain, and urban landscapes. Students in the field course will earn one unit credit for their work. Other geography students are invited to join us, but you must sign up and learn about the details of each trip ahead of time. Field trips play a vital role in geography. They provide opportunities to apply geographic concepts in the field as we examine the systems and cycles that shape our world. During our natural history adventures, we will explore geology, geomorphology, weather and climate, and learn about the plants and animals of the area. We will also learn about human history, cultures, and how humans change landscapes. 


All students in the field class (Geog35F) must attend the two class sessions at the beginning and end of the semester (listed here and on the class schedule), all field trips, and keep a journal that will be graded at the end of class. If you have any questions, you can call Selby and leave a message at (310) 434-4743 or e-mail at Safety and common sense are essential to successful field trips. All Santa Monica College rules and regulations for student behavior will be strictly enforced on every trip, such as NO alcohol or drugs and the assumption that everyone will be treated with respect. Together, we can share some great learning experiences this semester. If you would like to join us, sign up for the course and meet with our class, or contact me ahead of time. You will be required to sign a waiver, follow all SMC rules of conduct, and prepare yourself for the trips. To view photos from some previous field trips, click back to my homepage.


Students will meet for each field trip in HSS 251, the lab on the south side of the second floor, at 8:30 am to prepare for departure (except on Sat Oct 11 when we meet at 22nd and Virginia Ave Park before 9 to board a bus). Students in the one unit field course must also attend both Friday class sessions on September 5 and November 7, 4-7 pm, also in HSS 251.

We will be travelling together and learning about natural history, from weather and climate, to geomorphology, to plants and animals. We will also learn about Native American history and other cultures and their histories. You will need the proper personal items, food and a water bottle, and you must dress for the weather. There are plenty of reasons to take precautions on these trips. Go to our September 5  orientation session (see above) even if you are not enrolled in the one-unit course so you can prepare for this. Since we will be travelling through and staying in County, State and National Parks and a Private Preserve, you must follow all Park rules and regulations designed to protect the parks and the public. Here are some important details:

Rules, Guidelines, How to Prepare and What to bring

For all trips, make sure you wear a hat and sunscreen and bring water and dress for the weather: also bring food for the trip. (It should be hotter than average for this time of year at Whitewater and then cool off on Sunday. We will carpool from the college (except on Sat Oct 11 when we will board a bus at 22nd and Virginia Ave Park before 9). Wear comfortable hiking shoes. Again, don't forget your hat, sun screen and water! Since we are staying overnight for the weekend of October 24-26 at the Whitewater Preserve, you will need the typical camping gear. The camping cost will be about $10/person for the weekend (which will be our donation to the Preserve), but you must bring your own food. Everyone has their own style and comfort level, but the minimum required will be a sleeping bag or good blankets, tent, flashlight, and all personal items you will need to keep you safe, clean and comfortable for the weekend. Our camp has running potable water and bathrooms. NO firearms or weapons of any kind and you must follow all fire safety guidelines. Of course, no camping gear is needed for the one-day trips on October 11 and 12, but you will still need water, food, and comfortable clothes for the field. Again, anticipate very warm weather until Sunday.    

Review These General Field Rules and Guidelines!
In case you still have questions, below is a summary of some specific rules and regulations shared by other SMC field instructors. If you still have questions after reading them, ask me! 

All SMC rules and regulations apply at all times, including no drugs, alcohol or other controlled substances. The field is our SMC classroom, so stay involved and become an active member of the group so you can enjoy this special learning experience. 
You must be enrolled in my class to attend any field trip unless you have special permission to participate; that includes signing all waivers. 
No smoking during any field events or on the trails, especially near others or where there is ANY danger of fire.
Field trips are adventures, so exercise the greatest caution while driving. If you drive, you are required to have a dependable vehicle in good condition, a good driving record, license and insurance, and enough gas to get to our destinations.
Electronically amplified music or any other distracting noise will not be tolerated.
Keep cell phones off while in the field and on the trail, just as in the classroom.
Dangerous Flora and Fauna: Be careful not to taste anything wild or touch anything (such as poison oak) unless you are sure it is safe. Watch where you place your feet or hands, especially where you might encounter hidden rattlesnakes or other surprises. Check for ticks regularly, especially when brushing against vegetation. Though we must all avoid stinging insects, you are required to carry your own special kit if you have allergic reactions. 
Whether on the road or the trail, do not wander away from the group.
If nature calls, move to a safe and inconspicuous location at least 50 feet from any water body; carry your Kleenex/tissue out with you in an extra plastic bag.
Proper clothing is essential for a rich and comfortable learning experience in the field. You must dress for the wide variations in weather conditions encountered at different places and times and you should always have plenty of water.
Don't forget your field notes, maps, books, camera, binoculars or other equipment that will enhance your learning experience.
If you are participating in an overnight trip, you must bring the personal items, food and proper camping gear that will get you through the weekend with ease. Consult this page and ask in class about these specifics.      

Any Questions?

Read through this entire web page (above) to learn about safety, rules and regulations on these trips, including SMC rules of conduct and the waiver requirement. Once you are introduced, contact me (310 434-4743) or go to the orientation session Friday Sep 5, 4-7p.m., HSS 251.

For students in the one-unit field course, remember you must also attend the wrap-up class session on Friday Nov 7, 4-7pm with your completed field notes. All other geography students are also invited to join us on that last evening. 

Some Details and Directions

Each field trip will begin when we meet our carpools in HSS 251 at 8:30am. More details will follow as they develop.

Saturday October  11 and Sunday October 12 one-day trips:

Saturday, October 11:
Eat Your Way Through L.A. Cultural Tour of Los Angeles. We will join up with our International Education Center on a big bus for the day. We start at the back side of Virginia Park and 22nd Street.
This is our only field trip on a bus. To participate in this field trip, you must first sign up and deposit $10 at the International Education Center across from Counseling. Ask for Ashleigh Garmon and tell them you are in our class and want to reserve a seat on the bus for the cultural tour on October 11. If you don't reserve a seat, you can't go on this trip. Your $10 should be refunded when you board the bus. On Saturday October 11, meet before 9 am on the back side of Virginia Avenue Park where it meets 22nd Street, where you will sign in and board the bus. If you are looking for parking, you may not find it at the crowded park on Famers Market day, so give yourself time to park at the college and walk.  

Sunday, October 12:
Santa Monica Mountains along the Malibu Coast
Stops will depend on the weather, fire and coastal conditions as we will study natural and human history, but some details will follow this paragraph. Bring food, water, hat and sunscreen, comfortable hiking shoes and clothes for the weather and any other necessities that will enhance your learning experience

Learn about the SMMNRA and get a map:

Our first major stop and meeting point will be past Malibu and into Zuma Canyon: to the Zuma Canyon Trailhead: Pacific Coast Hwy to Busch Drive (near Zuma Beach). Go north on Busch Drive. Turn right on Rainsford Place. Turn left on Bonsall Drive and to the parking lot at end of road
After our walk into Zuma Canyon, we will get back in our vehicles and travel on up PCH to Pt. Mugu, where we will stop at the giant sand dune that creeps up the coastal slope. Then, we will travel to the rock at Pt. Mugu and hopefully stop at La Jolla Canyon (depending on the fire damage controls) for a walk up that canyon. We will then go back into our vehicles and drive past the Pt. Mugu rock, where we can make a safe turnaround and start our journey back toward Santa Monica, making stops along the way, including Leo Carrillo Beach. We should return before sunset.

October 24-26 Weekend:
We are fortunate to be invited to spend our weekend at the Whitewater Preserve within an isolated canyon that spills out of the south side of the San Bernardino Mountains toward the Coachella Valley. Visit this web site and note all rules and regulations:

We will be escorted by rangers to our camp, so everyone must meet us there by late afternoon. Don't forget all essentials for survival and comfort including sleeping bag or blankets, tent, flashlight, water bottle, food (for the entire weekend), and all clothes and personal items you will need to keep you safe and comfortable for the weekend. Camp costs should be at least $10/person for the entire weekend, a donation to the Conservancy. Fall in this desert canyon is likely to be sunny and warmer than average for this time of year by day and comfortable at night: check the weather forecast for the area. Bring sunscreen and a hat to protect from sun burns and dehydration. Weather conditions update:

Itinerary is evolving.

We will meet and then leave from HSS 251 on Friday, October 24, 8:30AM. 
Get your good map and gear and enough food for the entire weekend. We go east on our I 10 through L.A. and toward the desert past Banning and the Morongo Casino and just past the Palm Springs (Hwy 111) turnoff. Our caravan will pass our turnoff to the camp Preserve so we can explore the region.
Our caravan will be making a few stops past the turnoff that may include the wind farms, ventifacts on nearby hills, the Morongo Canyon Preserve, and possibly Thousand Palms Oasis, though that will be a stretch with our time limitations. You are encouraged to get phone numbers of folks in our van to keep track of us should we get disconnected. If you miss us Friday, here are the directions to our base camp: Take the exit toward Whitewater, turn north (on Tipton), then left on Whitewater Canyon Road. Continue up the canyon five miles to the end of the road and our campground. This direct route to the turnoff is about two hours (without traffic) and 115 miles, but that is without the numerous detours and stops along the way, so get the cell number of someone in the lead vehicle. Better yet, since we are making such interesting and informative stops along the way, keep up with our caravan.

Make sure you bring enough food for the entire weekend. If you arrive after the group, you will be locked out and not be able to join us. We will be living in the canyon's campground behind the locked gate for the weekend.

If you have read this far, is it assumed you have checked the Whitewater Preserve web site (see link above) for rules and regulations, but there are a few obvious ones: All SMC rules and regulations will be followed, such as no firearms or smoking. If you violate SMC or their rules,  you will be asked to leave. In an effort to keep facility use rates low no janitorial services are provided. Users are expected to leave the camping site and restrooms cleaner than they found them. In this way conditions will improve instead of degrade. Cleaning supplies are provided in the bathrooms. Failure to adequately clean up will result in cleaning fees. All of our recyclables and trash will be carried out by us.

And now, back to our Itinerary:
Late Friday afternoon: Meet together just after 4PM at the campground at the end of the road and locked gate to settle at our camp. Make dinner (no open fires). Friday night: Star gazing (bring your own star chart or phone app and binoculars or telescope), then get to sleep early to prepare for a big day Saturday. Speaking of phones, remember that most of you may be out of service range in the canyon. 

Saturday: This will be a very busy day for anyone who likes to study natural history of any kind, including geology, weather and climate, plants and animals, hydrology and human history. We are up early to fix and eat breakfast, pack our lunches and ready to hike and learn by 8:00 AM. We will be working with the rangers and the day will be split between a long hike and participating in their weekend wildlife workshops. Yeehaw! Be prepared for a long day in the field. That means lots of water, sunscreen, your hat, comfortable clothes and hiking shoes and lunch. We will meet back at our camp for dinner before dark and then have a look at the stars and perhaps a night walk. Get to sleep early again so you are ready for another big day on Sunday.

Please remember that we are working together as a team to be the model visitors at this Wildlife Preserve. Pick up and clean after yourself, show common courtesy and care for your companions, and follow all SMC and Whitewater Preserve rules and regulations

Sunday, October 26: Wake early again so we are done with breakfast and have cleaned our camp and bathrooms, leaving our camp and the Preserve cleaner than we found it by 8:30. We will donate at least $10/person for use of the facilities to the Conservancy. Our morning activities are being planned. We will eventually drive back to Santa Monica, arriving home by around sundown. This may include a big detour and adventure you won't want to miss.

Our Last Meeting
For those in our Geography 35 course, don't forget about the required final meeting on Nov 7, HSS 251, 4-7 PM. You must bring your completed field journals. All other SMC Geography students are also invited to attend this event, whether you attended our field trips or not.