Sierra Wilderness Retreat

Filed under: — Matt @ 9:44 pm

The Wilderness Dharma Center is very pleased to announce a 7-day backpacking retreat to take place September 6th - 12th in the Sierra Nevada. This will mark our 2nd annual trip to the Emigrant Wilderness, and we are delighted to be returning to this pristine and truly beautiful land. (Some photos and a summary from the 2005 trip are available here). For all the details, please read on below, or see the printable version of our flier.


Wilderness Meditation Retreat

awakening awareness, connection, and insight in Nature
September 6th - 12th, 2006

Come join us as we spend 7 days backpacking in beautiful Sierra Nevada wilderness. Creating a community of mindfulness, we will cultivate greater freedom and well-being through careful attention to our inner experience and to the outer world. Our days will follow natural rhythms of wilderness travel and will alternate periods of stillness and movement, silence and dialogue, and guided activities and personal time.

We will spend part of the first and last few days hiking with packs and will take several layover days in between. On traveling days we will spend the morning hiking in silence (between 3 and 6 miles) and then pitch camp in the afternoon. Each day we will have several periods of formal sitting meditation practice. In the afternoons will use a variety of nature-based experiential processes to explore our relationship with the wider web of life. We will hold a sharing circle (council) each evening. There will also be the option to participate in a 24-hour solo fast during one of the layover days. We will supply food for the duration of our trip and cooking duties will be shared by the group. This retreat is suitable for beginning and experienced meditators of all traditions. Good fitness is required and previous backpacking experience is recommended as participants must have the ability to travel through the wilderness with a 35-40 pound pack.

In the spirit of generosity, the only fixed cost for this retreat is a registration fee ($175) which solely covers food and other logistical expenses – the guides’ time is offered freely. At the end of the retreat, participants may make a voluntary donation to support the guides in continuing this work.

For questions, further information, or to apply for this retreat, please contact Matt via email or phone at (510) 847-3636


Matt McNeil has practiced mindfulness meditation since 1991 and has completed the Community Dharma Leaders training at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. He graduated with honors from Stanford University and holds an M.A. in Counseling. Since 1996 he has worked with teens and adults as a therapist, wilderness guide, rites of passage leader, and meditation and yoga instructor. He has a deep love of Nature and is committed to developing programs that integrate mindfulness practice, leadership training, and wilderness experience. He is trained in emergency medicine and is a certified Wilderness First Responder.

Caiyloirch Marques is a registered psychiatric nurse and currently works as an outdoor educator with a background in wilderness therapy and wilderness leadership. He holds a degree in ecopsychology from Naropa University and is trained in the facilitation of wilderness rites of passage in the tradition of the School of Lost Borders. He has been a practitioner of vipassana meditation for over a decade and has sat several three-month retreats through Gaia House and IMS. He is certified as a Wilderness First Responder.

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