New Point Reyes tracking school


Local tracker Richard Vacha, who has under his belt a lifetime of wandering in Marin’s open spaces, this month launched the new Point Reyes Tracking School in what he calls the “culmination of a long-held dream.” The school is offering a multitude of classes and workshops, but the core curriculum is a 12-day program—held either one day a month over the course of a year or in four three-day “seasonal” workshops—that aims to provide both a strong philosophical foundation and field time. Classes, which may be taken individually, will be held “at a cross section of different habitats and ecosystems.” “It’s working on different levels,” Mr. Vacha said of his tracking instruction. “One level is being able to read the tracks, literally, of animals, and another is reading the signs they leave. It starts out as simple identification—who’s there, who’s doing what—and then you read into the animals’ lives, you see the movement, the head turns, the speeds up and down, and the animals come to life. There is an opening up a magic world. And with that, I believe there’s a connection with very old parts of us, a deep connection to the earth that can be euphoric and purposeful.” Mr. Vacha, who grew up in Sleepy Hollow, has been leading free monthly walks in Point Reyes National Seashore for several years. His work derives largely from the teachings of Tom Brown, a prominent wilderness tracker who studied under a Lipan Apache elder. Next Wednesday, March 6, the school is kicking off the first Wednesday Wanders, a family-friendly “afternoon of pure wander with the tracker’s eye” ($25 in advance, $35 drop-in) that will continue on a monthly basis. For more information about it and other programs, visit