Red Cedar's Wilderness Dharma Program emphasizes the practice of mindfulness and compassion through intimacy with a sense of place. Through mindful awareness and ritual enactments on our seasonal hikes and journeys, we confirm the wholeness of ourselves, our home here in Pacific Cascadia, and the intrinsic Buddha Nature of all things. We walk in peace with every step.

Our Wilderness Dharma Program offers something for almost everyone in an annual cycle of local offerings and occasional journeys afar, from full backpacking trips to moderate day hikes to short and easy walks in local parks. Members of Red Cedar's Wilderness Dharma Program committee take turns leading the various events. 

Following the Way of Water

The recurring annual theme of our local programming in our home watersheds is “Following the Way of Water.” Each year Red Cedar Zen Community accepts a vial of Salish Sea water in the Spring at Larrabee Beach in our Receiving Water Ceremony. This water is then carried throughout our ritual hiking season. In July it is divided into three vials on Skyline Divide in our Dividing Water Ceremony during our Opening of the Mountains Hike. Throughout the summer we hike into the upper high reaches of the three tributary watersheds of our river; the North, Middle, and South branches of the Nooksack River. There, the water in each vial is exchanged with pure mountain runoff in our Exchanging Water Ceremonies during our Mountains and Rivers Backpack and our Journey to the Source Hike. Then in October the three vials of mountain water are combined again atop Oyster Dome during our Closing of the Mountains hike in our Combining Water Ceremony. Then it is brought to Larrabee Beach for the final ritual of our hiking season, the Returning Water Ceremony.

In this way each year we carry water, and follow the way of water, as water flows up to the mountains and back to sea, giving life to all beings of our home, and to the great Earth. Dogen Zenji, the founder of our Soto way, has written in the Mountains and Waters Sutra - "When water solidifies, it is harder than a diamond. Who can crack it? When water melts, it is softer than milk. Who destroy it?...When you investigate the flowing and not-flowing of a handful of water, thorough experience of all things is immediately actualized."

Opening to Nature Walks

Our Opening to Nature Walks offer less structured opportunities for an experiential immersion with nature. These simple mindfulness walks are usually short, easy and take place in nearby parks. In most cases they are light on ritual and instead just emphasize the basic forms of mindful trail walking which we have developed over the years.

Major Circumambulations and Pilgrimages

The program also performs major mountain circumambulations and pilgrimages throughout the Cascade Range involving "sutra mapping" recitation rituals spread across the landscape, viewing these as maha, or great, rituals of planetary significance, emphasizing our wholeness with, and effort to heal, the Living Earth. Over the years we have "opened the way" (performed the first of their kind) with ritual circumambulations of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, and the Three Sisters in Oregon, with plans to complete further journeys to the Poets Peaks of the Skagit watershed, Mt. St. Helens, and other major peaks along the Cascade chain. Our annual Mountains and Rivers Backpack trip to Mt. Baker for over two decades has performed the maha ritual of sutra mapping Eihei Dogen's Mountains and Waters Sutra in a yearly pilgrimage circuit to our home mountain.

Support for the program

Most events are free to members (the few that aren't involve some hard costs to RCZC), and, as is usual, the teachers are not compensated. Unlike most events, dana is not received at the events themselves, so if you are inclined, you ca support the teachers by making a dana contribution before or after the events. See our Donations to Teachers page.

If you have questions about our wilderness programs please contact program coordinator Bob Penny at or 360-927-5702

2022 Schedule

March 26th  with Talus Latona and Bob Penny
                Receiving Water Ceremony – Larrabee Park
                Hills and Streams Hike/Genjo Koan – Lost Lake or Fragrance Lake

April 9th (Buddha’s Birthday) with Bob Rose
                Meeting the Mountain/Poet’s Tree Ritual – Mt. Erie Circumambulation

May 7th   with Bob Penny
                Opening to Nature Walk – Tennant Lake

June 4th  with Terrill Thompson
                Opening to Nature Walk – Stimpson Forest Reserve

July 2nd  with Tim Burnett
                Opening to Nature Walk – 100 Acre Woods

July 9th with Bob Penny 
                Opening the Mountains Hike/Dividing Water Ritual – Excelsior Divide

July 31st with Bob Penny
                Sacred Earth Fair/sponsored by Multifaith Network for Climate Justice – Center for Spiritual Living

August 6th with Bob Penny
                Opening to Nature Walk - Old Growth Ceremony

August 22st-26th with Bob Penny, Terrill Thompson, Tim Burnett, and Talus Latona
Mountains and Rivers Backpack/Exchanging Water Rituals – Hidden Mountain Zendo/Mt. Baker

September 3rdwith Bob Penny
                Opening to Nature Walk – Lake Padden

September 10th with Terrill Thompson, Tim Burnett, and Bob Penny
                Sauk Mountain Full Moonrise Hike

September 25th (Fall Equinox) with Terrill Thompson
                Journey to the Source/Exchanging Water Ritual – Nooksack Cirque

October 1st with Bob Rose
                Heart Sutra Walk – Heart Lake

October 15th with Bob Penny
                Closing the Mountains/Returning Water Ceremony – Oyster Dome/ Larrabee State Park

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