A backpack for backcountry Zen practice and the Exchanging Water Ritual
Inspired by Eihei Dogen's 1240AD text the Mountains and Rivers Sutra (Sansuikyo), this retreat includes four days and three nights of silent backpacking through a beautiful old growth hemlock forest to a seldom-visited base camp at Mazama Park, just south of Mount Baker at the foot of Park Butte. Our days will be interspersed with some social and free time. Activities include traditional Zen practice, a short solo exercise, and opportunities for day hiking. The retreat is appropriate for new meditators and beginning backpackers.
The retreat begins at Hawk Meadow Farm with a day of meditation, preparation, and nature awareness activities. The ritual form of the backpack is a pilgrimage to our home mountain, "sutra mapping" the Sansuikyo on the upper watersheds of the South and Middle Forks of the Nooksack River.
Led by Reizan Bob Penny & Nomon Tim Burnett - see our Practice Leaders page for more about them.
Since we will be sitting indoors together, all participants must be fully vaccinated (original shot(s) plus at least one booster). Participants will have to email a copy of their vaccination record to firstname.lastname@example.org at least two weeks before we depart (i.e. by August 8th). In addition, masks must be worn while we are indoors.
Arrive at 10am on Monday to settle in for an initial overnight camping on the farm. We’ll spend this opening afternoon shifting gears with nature awareness practices, packing up the group gear, and end with an evening of Zen practice.
On Tuesday morning we’ll open the day with meditation, then drive to the trailhead and hike in to our backcountry zendo at Mazama Meadows just below Mount Baker. We hike in silence with regular stops to chant the Sansuikyo.
Wednesday and Thursday will be spend on a mix of formal Zen practice, day hiking, and relaxed camp life.
On Friday we’ll hike back out from the backcountry returning to Hawk Meadow Farm to close the program by about 7pm.
Hike Difficulty:Pre-hike interview required:
This is a moderately challenging backpack. The hike in is 7 miles long and gains 2600 feet. The hike out, depending on route, is somewhat longer.
A telephone interview with Bob to assess questions around hiking gear and fitness is required before registration is completed.
In the spirit of generosity, we offer this hike at our hard cost of $140. We do incur administrative costs (about $30 per person) for an event like this and you can opt to cover this cost and make a donation to the overall health of the sangh by choosing the appropriate registration type.
In addition, we have one below-cost scholarship spot open.
In that same spirit of generosity, the teachers/leaders are freely giving their time in organizing and leading this event. If you feel moved to, you may express your gratitude with a donation to the teacher/leader on the Donate to a Teacher page.
DIRECTIONS TO HAWK MEADOW FARM (1102 E. Kelly Road, Bellingham): Take Sunset Drive from I-5, drive by the Sunset Square Shopping Center going East, take a left on Hannegan, drive 3 miles, right on Kelly Road, drive exactly 1/2 mile, turn left immediately after a brown house (look for a reflective blue address marker for "1102"). Drive to the end of the long 1/4 mile driveway and turn right into the parking area for Hawk Meadow Farm.
More information: Please contact Wilderness Programs Coordinator Bob Penny at email@example.com with questions and see our Wilderness Dharma Program webpage for an overview of this program.