I'm pleased to announce that the Desert Retreat in March is a go! I'm writing today to see if there are any additional folks who would like to join us.
Things have come into focus over the past couple weeks. There are still some minor logistics to sort out, but otherwise I think we've got this thing nailed down. Here are some details:
The retreat will go from Saturday, March 10 to Saturday, March 17.
From the beginning, ever since I first had the idea to offer this retreat last fall, I have had the fantasy of hosting it in a place called Cochise Stronghold, in southern Arizona. Cochise was an Apache chief, and the Stronghold was his hideout. It's been many years since I've been there, but I remember it as an oasis in the desert, a beautiful canyon environment with trees and birds, and towering rock walls all around. If you've read my book you may recall the story of the woman who first taught me to meditate at the base of a gigantic rock face--that was in Cochise Stronghold. I think it would be an ideal setting for a retreat, and of course it would be fun for me to go full circle from that first meditation experience to leading a retreat in the same place so many years later.
Here's a link to use to see what Cochise Stronghold is all about: http://cochisestronghold.com/. You can also google "Cochise Stronghold Photos" to get a sense of what the landscape is like (and the photo with this post was taken in the Stronghold).
The trouble with this fantasy has been that the Stronghold is at around 5000 feet, so the temperatures will still be a bit chilly in March. The averages for that time are mid-sixties during the day and mid-thirties at night. That's almost warm enough to be thoroughly comfortable, but not quite, and I want everyone to be comfortable. It's also become clear to me that we will need to have showers to use, and there are no showers at the campground in the Stronghold. It appeared that because of these things we wouldn't be able to be in the Stronghold after all--until last week, when I found a ranch within Cochise Stronghold that's owned by the Forest Service and available for rent. It's open during the dates of our retreat (March 10-17), and now it's ours!
The ranch house will support the retreat in a way that I think we will really appreciate. We will have a kitchen to use, and we'll be able to set up our meditation hall indoors, where it's warm. The house is large, with space for all of us to get in out of the weather when we want to. It does have showers, and we'll have the entire place to ourselves, including the grounds around the ranch house. It has two bedrooms, and so I'm thinking we can sleep up to 4 people inside (two each sharing the two rooms). Everyone else can sleep outdoors in tents, and we can all sleep inside if needed because of bad weather. The house will be our home base, where we will eat, meditate, practice yoga and such, and we can venture from there out on day trips.
The other advantage is that it will require people to bring less gear. Those staying inside will need only clothes and shoes. Those staying outside will need a tent, sleeping bag, and ground pad. I can help provide these things. They would be easy to rent if needed, and I could rent them in Arizona so that people wouldn't need to carry them to the retreat site on the plane. It's also pretty easy here in Colorado to get used gear for cheap, so that would be an option as well.
Here's some info on the ranch house: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/r3/recreation/?cid=stelprdb5208820&width=full
Renting the house involves some additional expense, of course, but it's not bad. The cost is $150 per day. We can have up to 10 people staying there on the retreat, and I would expect the retreat to fill at that number, so that would bring the cost down to $15 each per day, which of course is a steal. If the retreat doesn't fill we'll each need to pay a bit more, but even so it will be reasonable.
If we end up with more than 10, which I think is likely, I'll look into the possibility of overflowing into the campground that's close by in the Stronghold.
Not far from Cochise Stronghold is another beautiful place I love called Chiricahua National Monument. I'm figuring we can split our time during the day between the Stronghold and the Monument, hiking mindfully, having group discussions spectacular settings, and such. Here's a link to the Monument info: https://www.nps.gov/chir/index.htm
The retreat will be held mostly in silence. We'll have two group discussions per day, plus daily opportunities for one-on-one conversations with me for anyone who would like that. I will ask for everyone to give me their phones when they arrive and I will give them back at the end of the retreat. I will provide an emergency contact number (my number) to give out to friends and family in case something comes up that week that needs to be attended to. Everyone will have chores they will do to help make the experience happen. This will include cooking, cleaning, washing dishes, and so on. Everyone will need to share the costs for food, lodging, etc., which I expect to be fairly minimal. There is no cost for the retreat itself, though donations are always appreciated.
If you are interested in participating, let me know! Currently there are four spots open at the ranch. If you have questions or concerns please don't hesitate to ask. Thank you for your attention, and I hope you have a wonderful day!