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 a solitary retreat before.
Important Packing Tip
At any time of the year, due to rain or snow, you may need to hike in your gear if the roads are muddy or snow covered. Please pack in backpacks and other easily carried bags. Traditional suitcases, even those on wheels, are not appropriate.
Familiarize yourself with the list of items that are provided in the cabin so that you don’t pack what you don’t need. Remember, retreat is a time to unplug, unwind, and disconnect. Bring what you need to be comfortable, food to last your first full week, and try to leave behind nonessential items. You should be prepared to carry everything you bring with you in any condition. We will provide some assistance if possible, but this is not guaranteed.
A blanket, pillows, meditation mat and cushion, altar table, small solar powered light, kitchenware, pots and pans, propane stove, small First Aid kit, cleaning supplies, a high quality filter for catchment water, firewood (retreatant is responsible for making kindling), ax, matches, a lighter, shovels, toilet paper, paper towels, bear spray, bear bell, bear horn. The kitchens in each cabin are at minimum equipped with the basics for cooking and eating a meal. After your application is accepted and your cabin is assigned, you will receive an inventoried list of items in your particular cabin so that you can plan accordingly.
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.
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 for the first 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 a small refrigerator in each cabin (excluding Dragon’s Nest). These are turned off between retreats, so it may be necessary to bring your perishable items in a cooler as the refrigerator could take 6-8 hours to cool completely.
Fasting is discouraged. If you do intend to fast during any part of your retreat, please note this on your application 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).
- Bed Sheets:
- Single bed sheets for Karuna, Two Trees, Dragon’s Nest, Prajnaparamita, and Ratna
- Double bed sheets for Luminous Peak
- King bed sheets for Liberated Lion
- Warm blanket 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), 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
Note: Please remember that you are responsible for carrying in everything you will need for the length of your retreat and pack as lightly as possible.