A typical day for a Pierce College student frequently involves sitting in an overcrowded, stuffy classroom followed by an excursion to a broken vending machine.
But one group of students leaves the campus behind for open space and fresh air. Their “classrooms” include Griffith Park, the San Gabriel and Santa Monica mountains.
The Pierce College Hiking Club offers sightseeing, and exercising.
Xavier Angel Fierro, an anthropology major, is the president of the club. He has been a member from the start.
“I joined the club when it formed in the Fall of 2014,” Fierro said. “This was right after I got out of the marines. When I was in the marines, I was the only one in my unit that liked to hike. When our former president, William, who is at UCSD right now, formed the club, and I found out about it, I decided that’s where I need to be.”
According to Fierro, this club is an organization created by students who enjoy the outdoors.
“You meet people who will more than likely share similar views with you. You extend your network of people who may help you out later on in life. You’re helping yourself grow as a person,” Fierro said.
The Hiking Club hikes on alternating days of the weekend.
“There will be a Saturday hike and then the week after that will be a Sunday hike. The following week we will leave empty, or we will fill in a community service event,” Fierro said.
The club does more than just hike, Fierro said. They also participate in area beautification and restoration events.
“This weekend, we’re going to try to do a restoration event at the Santa Monica mountains on Topanga Canyon Boulevard,” Fierro said. “We will be cleaning up trash from the trails, trying to plant trees and take away the weeds that are hurting the environment.”
The club does not use school funding for the beautification events.
“It’s volunteer work,” Fierro said.
Benefits of joining the Hiking Club, Fierro said, include the strengthening of the mind and body.
“The Hiking Club is good for health, mentally and physically, and research proves that,” Fierro said.
According to Fierro, the club tries to incorporate educational value alongside a physical workout by providing historical background to their hiking sites.
“[It’s important to] understand where we’re hiking and how that place became what it is today,” Fierro said. “Also, getting a good workout from it because I know some people are really strained on time, whether they can work out with school and work.”
Alex Sorkin joined the Hiking Club this semester and has been on one hike so far.
“We woke up, met here on campus and we carpooled over to the hiking spot, which was Griffith Park last week,” Sorkin said. “Then, we just went on a hike. We followed the leader and went on this trail. We stopped at one place and had some great views.”
Sorkin agrees that the club is a good way to make friends.
“After the hike, a couple of us went to the mall to hang out and other people went home. Even later that day, we went to the beach. It’s a meeting point for friends,” Sorkin said.
Sorkin also said the club is a good way to spend time.
“I want to meet new people. In general, I don’t really have too much to do with my time, so going out and getting some fresh air and meeting new people is better use of my time than playing video games.”
Marina Istanboulian, the newest member of the club, joined to meet new people.
“I like nature and exercising,” Istanbulian said. “I joined because I am looking for people with similar interests. People who are determined to hike.”
According to Fierro, the Hiking Club usually hikes in Southern California.
“It’s always been Southern California for convenience,” Fierro said. “There have been a few members who have wanted to go up north, but generally we try to keep it down here because the majority of us have jobs and can’t afford to take a whole weekend trip up north. We do leave that option open for members that network with one another.”
The Pierce College Hiking Club meets every Friday from 1 p.m.-2 p.m. in room 3205 in the business building.