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Mindful Hiking in Nature Retreat

February 19, 2023 February 25, 2023 PST

This one week backpacking trip in the wilderness surrounding Deer Park Monastery will entail approximately 3-6 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.


Temperatures average in the 70s during the day and 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 chaparral landscape, and bring ample sun protection (sun layers, umbrella, sunscreen, hat).


You should be prepared to carry enough water to last a full day in the heat (minimum 2.5 liters), along with all of your camping and cooking gear. Water will be supplied by a support vehicle, and available at camp each evening/morning.


You will also need to bring your own vegan/vegetarian meals (here are some suggestions.) Sunday dinner (Day 1) and Monday breakfast (Day 2), and then Friday dinner (Day 6) and Saturday breakfast and lunch (Day 7) will be provided at the monastery; Monday lunch through Friday lunch (Days 2-6) you will need to bring. 

Proposed Daily Schedule

subject to change based on weather conditions, etc.

  • 6:00am Wake up
  • 6:30am Sitting Meditation (30mins)
  • 7:30am Breakfast
  • 8:00am Break Camp
  • 9:00am Short Dharma Talk (20-30mins) and reading from Touching the Earth
  • 9:30am Mindful Hiking
  • 1:00pm Lunch
  • 1:30pm Deep Relaxation/Rest
  • 2:00pm Mindful Hiking (impromptu Dharma sharing if there is an appropriate spot)
  • 5:00pm Set Up Camp and Cook Dinner
  • 6:00pm Dinner
  • 7:30pm 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 and hike into nearby Dixon Lake, which we will be exploring for the five days of backpacking.


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. 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.

2499 Melru Lane
Escondido, CA 92026 United States
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23 responses to “Mindful Hiking in Nature Retreat”

  1. Hello Br. Joy,
    Is taking one single class with REI considered enough experience, or do we need to have actually gone on at least one (or more?) backpacking trip(s)? The classes linked seem to be one-day basics classes that do not actually involve backpacking overnight. I just want to make sure because sometimes application requirements stated on this website are not clear or accurate enough (in my personal experience). If I need to have more actual backpacking experience I would like to know in advance so that I can plan and go on a backpacking trip before the application for this retreat opens.

    • My deepest apologies. I got pulled away into some more urgent matters and will post the registration at 10 AM Pacific time.

      • Quick question, I registered, but my cart billed me zero dollars I assume that’s because registration must be approved and then billing will occur at a later date?

  2. Br Joy, I have filled out the application, but I do not see a PayPal button to secure my reservation. Where will I find this?

  3. Hi I’d like to register for this retreat, I’m under 34 and hope there is.srill room. I tired to register and sent a form. I hope it went through. Thank you

  4. I’m wondering about the hike itself. Is there much elevation gain in the daily hikes? I’ve never hiked there and don’t know the terrain. Thank you!

    • The trail will offer somewhat consistent but moderate elevation changes. We won’t be hiking up mountains by any means, but we will have a few steady 2+ mile climbs. You can look at the terrain and hiking paths of Daley Ranch to get some idea of what to expect.

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