This weekend campout meditation retreat coincides with the end of the first annual Circumambulation of Mount Rainier, a separate two week backpacking meditation pilgrimage. The Sangha Gathering Campout, at Cougar Rock Campground at Mt. Rainier National Park, will begin the day before the Circumambulation Hikers return from their nearly 100 mile ritual circuit of the mountain.
The Campout, sited at an excellent forested car campground on the main road in the park, will function as an outdoor meditation retreat, with periods of silent meditation practice interspersed with periods of informal non-silence, camp chores, and short breaks. Our practice forms for this retreat will be adapted from the Soto Zen forms we use at Red Cedar Zen Community. The highlight of the weekend will be when the Sangha Gathering and the Circumambulation Hikers join together, drive up to the Paradise area of Mt Rainier, and perform a four mile loop silent meditation hike up to Panarama Point at 7000 feet for a ritual as the finale to the circuit of rituals performed around the whole mountain over the previous two weeks.
Saturday evening will feature a campfire sharing from the Circumambulation Hikers about their journey. The retreat begins at 5pm on Friday and ends about 10am Sunday, giving time on Sunday for a little further exploration of the Park or a leisurely drive home. We will be sleeping in tents with sleeping bags, eating informally on picnic tables or at times formally at our sitting places, and meditating under a large canopy tent. We will have the largest, and farthest away, group space in the campground, which generally is a very quiet setting. There are bathrooms available with flush toilets, but no showers.
It is our intention that this gathering will create a supportive and centered setting to welcome back the Circumambulation Hikers, as well as provide weekend participants with a unique opportunity to be a part of the completion of what may be the first ever ritual meditation circumambulation of the mountain.