The Explorers Club, Northern California Chapter

red divider

Click for Calendar of future events

Exploring the Sahara

Camel Expeditions in the Hoggar, Tefedest, and Tassili N'ajjar Regions of the Algerian Sahara, 1970 to 1990

With Leo LeBon

Trekking in the Sahara with camels and accompanied by Tuaregs, the "veiled blue men of the desert," Leo Le Bon and friends have undertaken four expeditions in the Hoggar Atakor regions, north of Tamanrasset in southern Algeria, and in the Tefedest mountains to the north. He also made a 600-mile journey by camel, crossing the rocky plateau of eastern Hoggar and the dunes of the Admer desert to the rocky ramparts of the Tassili Plateau, repository of numerous cave drawings and carvings dating to the paleolithic and Neolithic ages.

About the Speaker

Leo Le Bon is founder of the well-known adventure travel company, Mountain Travel, that is located in El Cerrito, Calif. His books on adventure travel and mountain exploration include The Adventurous Traveler's Guide/1986-1987 and Majestic Mountains: Roaming the Great Mountain Ranges of Six Continents. He is a mountaineer, sailor kayaker, and an accomplished photographer.

Date: Friday, April 30, 1999
Place: Ft. Mason Officers' Club, San Francisco (See Map by clicking here or at the bottom)
Time: Cocktails: 6:30 PM
Dinner: 7:30 PM
Meeting: 8:30 PM
Cost: $40 ($45 postmarked after Apr. 23, $50 at the door)

Last Month's Meeting

The Boy King of Palenque and His Son

Dr. Merle Robertson treated those who attended the March meeting to an introduction to glyphs and Mayan culture and a detailed tour of Palenque. Palenque is nestling against the Chiapas Mountains, in southeastern Mexico. These mountains provided a natural defense for the city as well as much of the building material. When Palenque was first discovered it was thought to have been a city of about 5,000 people. With the discovery of more and more buildings, this estimate rose to 10,000 then 20,000 and now possibly 50,000 to 100,000 people.

One of the major building periods at Palenque occurred during the reign of Pacal and his son, Chan-Bahlum. The Boy King of Palenque, Pacal, ascended to the throne when he was 12 years of age, (AD 615). He succeeded his mother who had ruled for almost 20 years, and was succeeded at the age of 80 by Chan-Bahlum. Unlike many other cultures, the Mayan artwork and tablets provide realistic depictions of the rulers, for example, showing that Lord Pacal had a clubfoot and his son was polydactyl. Lord Pacal is entombed in the sarcophagus of the Temple of the Inscriptions. The sarcophagus cover is one single slab of limestone approximately 1 meter by 3 meters. The sarcophagus and cover were mined from the mountain slope behind the Temple, placed within the Temple area and then the Temple was built around the sarcophagus. Lord Pacal apparently directed much of the interior design of the Temple of the Inscriptions himself, but left the exterior tablature to his son. Chan-Bahlum used the exterior walls of the Temple of Inscriptions to announce to the city that his ascension to the throne.

Dr. Robertson had just returned from the 1999 fieldwork at Palenque where most of the work is focused on the Cross Group and Temples XIV and XIX. She showed some of the incensarios that have been excavated and restored. Many of these incensarios are fanciful depictions of human heads and they show the different styles of tooth carving and inlay that was practiced by the Mayans during this period. Temple XIX contained a vast stucco panel that is now being restored. The stucco is covered with several thin layers of rice paper, followed by a layer of gauze and encased in foam before being moved. Temple XIX had never been excavated and much of the work on the Temple and the stucco panel is comparable to sorting out a life-sized jigsaw puzzle, with no guarantee that all the pieces are in the box.

Much of the story of Palenque and other Mayan sites is revealed through the art work and glyph inscriptions. There is a detailed process for glyph identification and no "translation" is used until there is concurrence by all (or most) of the Mayan epigraphers. Almost 80 percent of the glyphs at Palenque have been translated, so as new texts are uncovered, they help expand the story of the history of Palenque and its rulers.

Monthly Story from the Earl Explorers

Dear Mike Diggles, Fourth grade Earl Explorers are taking a Sesquicentennial trip, on wagon trains, in pioneer fashion, on May 14, 15 and 16. Trip will be in Calif. foothills below Yosemite. I would like the students to collect rocks along the way and would love to have an expert geologist along with us! Would you be interested in spending some time with 32 fourth graders? Also, I have some students who are unable to contribute financially, but I'm determined that ALL of our students will go. Would any of your Explorers be willing to sponsor some or our Explorers? All sponsors will receive a photo and letter from the student "on the trail!" It would be great if you could go along (pioneer clothing is a must!). I even hear Black Bart might be out in the hills when we take our trip! Should be a fun time... Let me know. Fondly, Denise Nulph, teacher of 32 excited fourth grade Explorers!

Dear Ms Denise Nulph, Mike Diggles sent me a copy of your Email about the trip to the "hills" in May. I am a geologist and am currently teaching science at Richmond High School. I'd love to come! I even know all about wagon trains and Gold Rush history. My other credential is in California and US history. I have many years experience with oxen and horses and mules. I can keep in character if you don't mind having a female (or we can pretend I'm a male) geologist. Please let me know if I can join you. As a teacher I'm sure you know I can't help in supplying money but I will keep an eye and ear open for you. Have you tried selling a story to a magazine or newspaper? I look forward to hearing from you. Best Wishes and "Ho for California!" Eve Iversen, ehiversen@ucdavis

Dear Mike, Thanks for the geologist! She sounds like a neat person! I knew you attended the Earl Opening. Thanks so much for doing that! The photos and story on the web page are terrific too! One of my students, Mallory, wrote a story about the opening and it's on your page! We'll let you know how this trip goes... If you find anyone who'd like to sponsor a child, let me know. Part of the sponsorship will include a letter and a trip photo from the child to the sponsor. Isn't money the pits? I can't imagine all of the things I could do with my students if there was an abundance of moolah! Oh well, luckily I have grown accustomed to asking! Thanks for all of your help. P.S. Maybe you could come visit our classroom at another time (May or June) when we get into our Rocks and Minerals unit! Oops, there I go asking again... Denise.

[ed. note: I'm going to pass the hat at the next meeting after pitching in twenty bucks of my own and gather sponsorships for funding this field trip. Pitch in! --Mike Diggles]

News of Members

Marjorie Fountain made a generous donation to the Chapter, in loving memory of her husband, Gordon Fountain.
Dr. Dan Liebowitz gave the Chapter ten copies of his book John Kirk: Physician and The Slave Trade, that we can sell and keep the proceeds. Five of them were sold at the March meeting so come to the April gathering to get one of the remaining copies.
Charles Elkus, co-founder and first Chairman of the Northern California Chapter of the Explorers Club, was a North American Indian specialist. On April 17, 1999, the California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, will open a new display of The Elkus Collection: Changing Traditions in Native American Art. The exhibition contains a vast array of pottery, jewelry, carvings, paintings, textiles and basketry. Pieces date from the late 19th century through the 1970's and are primarily from the Navajo and Pueblo people. No closing date has been given for the exhibition.
Mike: I will give you a report on my return Tuesday next. Acting as the Chapter Chairman I expect to set the record straight about mis-communications and cost for the Golden GateAway. I am meeting with Karen Brush on the enlarging Internet site and copyright and e-commerce. I am launching a major web site shortly: CREATIVECOLONY.COM which is a site that is fully protected for the arts. Your web site is terrific! Mort Beebe

National Parks Alert

Alaska Department of Fish and Game is advising hikers, hunters, and fishermen to take extra precautions and keep alert of bears while in the field. We advise that campers wear noisy little bells on their clothing so as not to startle bears that aren't expecting them. We also advise campers to carry pepper spray with them in case of an encounter with a bear. It is also a good idea to watch out for fresh signs of bear activity. Campers should recognize the difference between black bear and grizzly bear droppings. Black bear droppings are smaller and contain lots of berries and squirrel fur. Grizzly bear droppings have little bells in it and smells like pepper.

May 21st Meeting - Advanced Notice

For the May 21st meeting, Rusty and Dan (MN-66) Liebowitz have offered to not only host a pre-dinner cocktail party, Dan has also offered to speak about his most recent, and yet unpublished, research: Emin Pasha - Rescue on the Equator.
5:00 to 7:00 PM - Cocktails at the home of the Liebowitz's
7:30 Dinner
8:30 Speaker

Emin Pasha, (nŽe Eduard Schnitzer) German explorer and physician, served (1876 - 1878) under General Charles Gordon in the Egyptian Sudan, and in 1878, he succeeded Gen. Gordon as governor of the province of Equatoria. During the 1885 Mahdist uprising, Emin Pasha was cut off from the outside world. Sir Henry Stanley organized a relief effort and met Emin Pasha on the Albert Nyanza in 1888. Emin Pasha's position was not as desperate as Stanley had originally thought, but in 1889, Emin Pasha agreed to accompany Stanley from the Sudan to Mombasa. He was murdered in 1892 while exploring the area of Lake Tanganyika.

Dr. Liebowitz's most recent book, The Physician and the Slave Trade: John Kirk, the Livingstone Expeditions and The Crusade against Slavery in East Africa, was published in December 1998.

June Outing, but ACT NOW!

Saturday June 19, 1999 1930 hours to 2130 hours

Cocktail Party and Tour of the H.M. Bark Endeavour

Starboard view

H.M. Bark Endeavour

We have a special opportunity to tour an exact replica of Captain Cook's ship, the H.M Bark Endeavour while she is docked in San Francisco. Our cocktail party and tour will be after the ship has been closed to the public and will be limited to only 70 people. This will be a special evening for everyone who attends, as well as a fund raising opportunity.

We cannot charter the ship unless we have a strong interest shown by April 5th. Please reserve your spots today.

Reservations for the Endeavour, June 19th
Space is limited to the first 70 people. Please return this reservations form as soon as possible to:
Lesley Ewing
The Explorers Club
Northern California Chapter.
1679 Tacoma Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94707
Lesley's phone: (510) 527-7899
Or e-mail at:
Please reserve spaces for the Cocktail Party of Tour abroad Cook's ship The Endeavour, June 19, 1999 7:30 to 9:30 p.m..
$90/person... $100 if postmarked after April 1st. **. There will be no tickets sold at the gangway.

Your Name: _______________________________________
Your Address: _____________________________________
Guests: ______________________________________

** No checks will be deposited until April 15th. If we do not have sufficient interest by early April to charter the ship for June 19th, all checks will be returned, uncashed by May 1st.
This is an exact replica of Cook's ship and it has not been modified or changed to accommodate persons with limited mobility. The deck is 300-year old fir, so the ship's crew will ask you to leave all stiletto- heeled shoes at the gangplank. The tour goes through some areas with low clearance (less that 5') and the cocktail party will be on an open deck -- comfortable, warm attire is recommended.

Reservations for the April meeting


Please return this reservations form no later than Tuesday, April 20, 1999 to:

Jerry Athearn
The Explorers Club
Northern California Chapter.
7037 Chabot Road
Oakland, CA 94618
Jerry's phone: (510) 653-2572

Please reserve spaces for the Leo Le Bon talk, at the Fort Mason Officer's Club on Friday, April 30, 1999.

$40/person... $45 if postmarked after April 23; $50 at the door. Cocktails, 6:30 PM, Dinner, 7:30 PM, Speaker, 8:30 PM.

Your Name: _______________________________________

Your Address: _____________________________________


Guests: ______________________________________


Date created: 04/01/1999
Last modified: 01/21/2002

Web page by: Mike Diggles, Webmaster, Northern California Chapter of the Explorers Club. email to Mike

c/o U.S. Geological Survey, MS-951, 345 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025. (650) 329-5404

Back to The Explorers Club, Northern California Chapter Home Page