Preparing for your Solitary Retreat
Preparation for a solitary retreat is essential. This can include mental, emotional, social and practical details. It is helpful to schedule a portion of the beginning and end of your retreat for transition time. Because you are totally secluded, it is important to have everything you need before beginning. Let those close to you know you will be out of touch; emergency messages can be delivered by your retreatant care person. We do not recommend a retreat of more than one week if you have not done solitary retreat before.
A blanket, pillows, meditation mat and cushion, altar table, lantern and oil, kitchenware, pots and pans, propane stove, small First Aid kit, cleaning supplies, a high quality filter for catchment water, ax, matches, shovels and toilet paper.
All of our cabins are at an elevation ranging from 7600 – 8000 ft. Please be sure to prepare for this by drinking more water than usual for 2 – 3 days before your arrival — three to four quarts of water a day is a good guideline. Doing this is a very important step to avoid headaches, irritability, insomnia and other signs of high altitude distress. If you live near sea level, please expect to take 5-10 days to acclimate to the altitude. During this time you may have less energy than usual or experience headaches or body aches. We recommend drinking at least twice as much water as you are used to and taking extra rest as needed.
If you are traveling from a lower altitude or from far away, it can be helpful to arrive in Colorado at least a day early to acclimate to the high, dry elevation and do any final shopping before you plunge into the experience of retreat. The nearby town of Pagosa Springs has delightful restaurants, bakeries, and lodging choices as well as the amazing hot springs for which it is named. Nearby Lodging →
During the winter or muddy months, it may be necessary to hike your gear to the cabin from the main road: approximately 1/3 – 1/2 mile, sometimes uphill or downhill. This hike may be strenuous for those coming from sea level or those with a lack of physical fitness. Often, snowshoes are necessary. Please check current weather conditions and pack accordingly. A large backpack is preferable to a suitcase. A small sled is available to haul your gear and belongings; closed containers that can be bungeed down are best. (Bring your own bungee cords.)
If you will be in retreat long enough to send and receive mail, please use the following address: P.O. Box 1983, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147
Please bring enough food and supplies to last you one week. For retreats lasting more than one week, it is helpful to bring with you as much non-perishable food as possible. Generally, camping food that is lightweight, non-perishable, and easy to prepare is ideal. Please keep in mind that there is no refrigeration; a medium-sized cooler is provided. If you need refrigeration, you must bring in ice (we recommend two blocks of ice per week in the summer)– we will restock your ice supply on weekly shopping trips. Do not leave food outside because of animals.
Fasting is discouraged. If you do intend to fast during any part of your retreat, please note this on your intention form.
Suggested personal items:
- Layered clothing for hot days and cold nights. Summer temperatures range from 95-35 degrees Fahrenheit, frost is possible in April and August. (Laundry facilities are not available on the land, so please plan accordingly).
- Twin sheets and pillowcase
- Extra blankets or sleeping bag
- Boots and slippers
- Rain/snow gear
- Sturdy hiking boots and slippers for the cabin
- Hats (for sun and cold)
- Flashlight/headlamp and extra batteries
- Sunscreen, hat, sunglasses (even in winter)
- Non-toxic insect repellent
- Snow shoes in winter
- Candles (votive or pillar)
- Practice materials
- Bath and dish towels
- Cash or credit card for groceries (if staying longer than a week)
- Personal items: TOWELS, ALARM CLOCK (do not rely on your cell phone alarm), mug, biodegradable soap, shampoo, and other toiletries, etc.
- Please bring your own EpiPen if you have serious allergies and know you may have need of one
Suggested Food Items:
- Dried fruit • Crackers • Nut butters
- Oil/vinegar • Jam • Pasta
- Granola/oats • Butter/ghee • Spices
- Coffee/tea • Nuts/seeds • Canned or dried soup
- Dehydrated food • Ice block
- Sweetener • Whole grains (rice, quinoa, oats)
- Cookies/chocolate • Long lasting fresh fruit and vegetables
- Rice/soy milk (especially handy in snack pack size)
- Canned or condensed milk