• Home
  • Backpack: Mountains and Rivers Retreat

Backpack: Mountains and Rivers Retreat

  • Friday, September 06, 2024
  • 6:00 PM (PDT)
  • Wednesday, September 11, 2024
  • 7:00 PM (PDT)
  • Hawk Meadow Farm 1102 E. Kelly Rd, Bellingham and Mount Baker Wilderness
  • 3


(depends on selected options)

Base fee:
  • Regular registration. Plus the opportunity to make an additional contribution to the sangha and to the teacher or leader during registration. No one turned away for lack of funds, you may request a lower cost registration.
  • We are able to offer two lower cost scholarships for this event.


Nature Awareness, Backcountry Zen practice, and Exchanging Water

  • Requires a phone interview about your experience and abilities, with a discussion of the route, to complete the registration process
  • 2.9 mile approach hike, river crossing on log, 1,800' elevation gain, soft forested trail
  • Day hiking to higher elevations from camp, alpine above timberline, several miles
  • 9 mile exit hike, 2,300' elevation loss, soft forested trails, rocky areas, river crossing on log

Inspired by Eihei Dogen's 1240AD text the Mountains and Rivers Sutra (Sansuikyo), this retreat includes a day of guided nature awareness and meditation in the front-country followed by 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 solo wilderness exercise, a day of Zen meditation, 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.


Friday: Arrive in the late afternoon for dinner, a bit of meditation, and settling in two nights of camping on the farm.

Saturday: shift gears with nature awareness practices, packing up the group gear, and end with an evening of Zen meditation practice.

Sunday: we’ll start early with meditation, 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.

Monday & Tuesday: in the backcountry with a mix of formal Zen practice, day hiking, and relaxed camp life. A personal solo morning at your own meditation spot on one of the days.

Wednesday: we’ll hike back out from the backcountry returning to Hawk Meadow Farm to close the program by about 7pm.

Hike Difficulty:
This is a moderately challenging backpack. The hike in is 2.9 miles long and gains 1,800 feet. The hike out (with lighter packs) is about 9 miles and mostly downhill. We'll have two in-camp days with moderate day hiking as well.

Pre-hike interview required:  A telephone interview with Bob to assess questions around hiking gear and fitness is required before registration is completed.

More information: Please contact Wilderness Programs Coordinator Bob Penny at wilderness@redcedarzen.org with questions and see our Wilderness Dharma Program webpage for an overview of this program.

Timing: Meet at Hawk Meadow Farm (1102 E. Kelly Road, Bellingham) by 6pm on Friday. Plan to be back at Hawk Meadow between 6pm and 7pm on the following Wednesday.

What to Bring: Full set of backpacking gear. All food is provided with the registration fee (informed by a discussion of individual preferences and needs). Details will be provided.

Donations to the Leaders: As with all of our events, teachers/leaders are not compensated for their time. Unlike our "indoor" retreats dana (teacher donation) is not collected during the event, but dana given before or after the event is always welcome, and you can do so on our Donate to a Teacher page.

Questions? Contact Wilderness Dharma Program Coordinator Bob Penny at wilderness@redcedarzen.org and see our Wilderness Dharma Program page for an overview of this program. 

www.RedCedarZen.org     360-389-3444     registrar@redcedarzen.org
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software