March 27 – April 2 PDT
This one week backpacking and hiking trip in Joshua Tree National Park will entail approximately 4-7 miles of walking with a fully-loaded backpack per day. Participants are required to bring their own backpacking gear, including a shelter, sleeping system, and personal cooking stove and meals for backpacking. In addition to daily mindful walking in nature, we will follow a full schedule including sitting meditation, short Dharma talks, Dharma sharing, and deep relaxation.
Gear: Temperatures average in the high 70s during the day and high 40s at night, but can dip as low as the 30s, so please ensure you have a warm enough sleep system. Helpful suggestions for gear can be found here. Please note that hammock camping is not possible in the desert landscape, and bring ample sun protection (sun layers, umbrella, sunscreen, hat).
Water: You should be prepared to carry enough water to last a full day in the heat (minimum 3 liters), along with all of your camping and cooking gear. Water will be supplied by a support vehicle, and we will arrange for the necessary wilderness permits.
Meals: You will also need to bring your own vegan/vegetarian meals (here are some suggestions.) Sunday dinner, Monday breakfast, and Saturday breakfast and lunch will be provided at the monastery; Monday lunch through Friday dinner you will need to bring.
Proposed Daily Schedule
- 6:00 am Wake up
- 6:30 am Sitting Meditation (30mins)
- 7:30 am Breakfast
- 8:00 am Break Camp
- 9:00 am Short Dharma Talk (20-30mins) and reading from Touching the Earth
- 9:30 am – 1:00 pm Mindful Hiking
- 1:00 pm Lunch
- 1:30 pm Deep Relaxation/Rest
- 2:00 pm – 5:00pm Mindful Hiking (impromptu Dharma sharing if there is an appropriate spot)
- 5:00 pm Set Up Camp and Cook Dinner
- 6:00 pm Dinner
- 7:30 pm Sitting Meditation or other Dharma-related activity
We will begin and end the retreat at Deer Park Monastery. The first hiking day, Monday, we plan to leave Deer Park on foot to go to nearby Dixon Lake for camping. Tuesday we plan to shuttle, in a vehicle arranged by the monastery, to the hiking area for the next four days, currently planned to be in Joshua Tree National Park. Hiking locations and days are subject to change. REGISTRATION:
Registration is via application and the number of participants is limited. Priority will be given on this trip to applicants with previous multi-day point-to-point backpacking experience. A short telephone interview may be conducted to assure that you have the necessary level of backpacking experience. All participants must have received full vaccination and booster shot against Covid-19, and a certificate of vaccination will be required. The registration fee for this retreat is $300.
Note that REI provides regular backpacking training courses, which meet our basic requirements for backpacking experience.
Lay Dharma Teacher and long-distance hiker Bruce Nichols, who helped us with the Path of Happiness hikes on the Appalachian trail in 2018, put together this helpful video describing how to pack for a backpacking trip.