Below are some of the trips we’ve offered in the past. Be sure to look at our upcoming trips page if you’d like to join us for a journey.
Hills of Vermont
Perhaps no place in the world has fall foliage that is as spectacular as Vermont’s. Our camp will be in the higher elevations of northeastern Vermont, which will be approaching the peak of its fall colors when we arrive. Our campsite amidst the maples, birches, and spruces of a mature forest stand, will give us a base to visit some unique natural sites in the area.
As always we will engage in meditation, contemplative walks, and ecopsychology exercises, allowing us to deeply experience the quiet presence of this vibrant landscape.
David Hinson’s book Hunger Mountain is suggested reading for discussions during this trip.
Finding the Caribou
The last herd of mountain caribou in North America lives atop Mt Jacques Cartier in the dramatic Chic Choc Mountains, Parc Gaspésie, PQ. This trip will be a true pilgrimage to bear silent witness to these rare and remarkable creatures in their otherworldly mountaintop environment. This will absolutely be unlike anything you have experienced.
We will approach the mountain with a two-day hike on the International Appalachian Trail, which crosses Mt Jacques Cartier. We will hike in silent contemplation, allowing this land and its flora and fauna to seep into our marrow, until there is no separation between us and our surroundings. That will prepare us to fully appreciate the presence of the caribou if they choose to reveal themselves to us when we arrive at the summit. We will come away with a deeper appreciation of the value of each and every species and the tragic reality of unique wildlife populations shrinking to the brink of extinction.
The drive from Maine to Parc Gaspésie is a memorable journey in itself. We cross northern Maine and the interior of New Brunswick, arriving at the coast along with the Restigouche River, world famous for its Atlantic salmon. Then crossing into Quebec, we will have our lunch at Miguasha National Park on the river’s edge, a UNESCO World Heritage List site. From there we will travel along the shoreline of the Baie Des Chaleurs with its coastal villages, to the Cascapedia River. This is another renowned salmon river, whose winding course we will follow north into the rugged interior of the Gaspe Peninsula towards its source in the mountains. As we follow the river, the land rises gradually and the valley walls steepen, until the profiles of the Chic Choc, distinctively different from any other mountain range in the northeast, are revealed to us.
The Nahmakanta Public Reserve Land is a classic Maine woods setting, with tranquil ponds, moose, and miles of hiking trails, including a portion of the 100-Mile Wilderness section of the Appalachian Trail, which crosses the area. Nahmakanta is immediately adjacent to another fantastic setting, the Debsconeag Eco Reserve, with its trail system and remote ponds. Though these Maine Public Reserve lands lie just southeast of Baxter State Park, they remain relatively unknown.
We will reach our campsite on a small secluded pond by canoe. Because this spot is approximately 30 miles from the nearest hub of civilization (the small town of Millinocket), light pollution is minimal and the night sky features the most incredible star-show in the Eastern US. Other people are rarely encountered here. This location provides a rare opportunity in the 21st century: the chance to be free from the complex, frenetic modern world and lose ourselves in the peacefulness of the boreal forest.
Edge of the City
There are many edges in nature. Edges are the places where ecosystems meet, and where we find the richest species diversity. However, the edge we will explore on this trip won’t be where natural environments meet, but where the wild approaches the human-created world, at the edge of the city of Portland, Maine. We will experience this space deeply, exploring a number of diverse locales with silence and contemplation, ecospychology exercises, dharma talks, and oryoki meals.
There will be several options for this trip. It will run from Saturday morning through Sunday evening. You can join us for the whole weekend, spending Saturday night at our campsite at Recompense Shore Campground in Freeport, or you can join for the day on either Saturday or Sunday.
Edge of the City D.C.
Join Peter and Vipassana teacher Ellen Tynan in Washington DC for a weekend of camping, meditation and exploration at the “edge of the city.” With a mix of meditation, ecopsychology and awareness exercises, shared meals and talks, we’ll play together on the edge where the wild approaches the human-made world.
There will be several options for participating on this trip. You can join us for the whole weekend, spending Saturday night at our campsite near the C&O canal (Marsden Tract campsite), or you can join for a single day on Saturday or Sunday.
Acadia National Park
Granite peaks rising from the ocean, crashing surf, quiet ponds, fall foliage and serene gardens … Acadia has it all! We have been coming here with these trips for a number of years, and Mount Desert Island (home of the park) has never disappointed. In spite of the high number of visitors to this area, it’s still possible to find quiet in the nooks and crannies, deeply carpeted maritime forests, hidden brooks, and rocky headlands, the places that the island’s tourists seldom visit.
From our base at one of the National Park campgrounds, we will immerse ourselves in the wildness of Acadia at one of the most beautiful times of the year. However, we are also never far from civilization and usually find a few minutes to enjoy the area’s amenities, such as a freshly baked pastry and a cup of good coffee, when our travels bring us past a village bakery.
Paradise Below Zero
Even though below-zero weather is unlikely in March, we are using the Paradise Below Zero name because this trip is inspired by the book of that name, authored by Calvin Rutstrum. Rutstrum — a regular winter traveler in the wilds of the Canadian north — developed a deep love and appreciation for the beauty and wonder of the natural world. He taught that with proper preparation and clothing, we can enjoy and learn from that world regardless of the weather.
From the snug refuge of our woodstove-heated tent, we will venture out into the vast silence of the wintry landscape, where ecopsychology exercises and other activities will open us to experience that environment in a new way. Then we’ll return inside and warm ourselves with hot beverages as we meditate, reflect, and share the experiences of the day by the flickering stovelight.
Paradise Below Zero – Gaspésie
Our recent visits to the caribou of Parc Gaspésie have awakened us to the spectacular natural environment that exists amidst the rugged Chic Choc Mountains of the Gaspe Peninsula in eastern Quebec. In addition, we have developed a deep appreciation for the Quebecois culture and the respect that Quebec’s people have for the natural world and its inhabitants. In fact, we’ve been so exhilarated by our experiences there that we can’t wait for next summer to return.
Fortunately, Gaspe is no less remarkable in the winter. Almost 23 feet of snow falls there every winter, making the area a Mecca for activities such as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. By early March, the temperatures have begun to moderate and the days have grown longer. In the stillness of these winter woodlands, we will encounter the awesome splendor of the snow covered massifs that surround us. Proceeding along the trail, we may stop to wonder at the presence of a moose. Then as we proceed, the silence will be only broken by the gentle crunching made by our snowshoes on the return trek to our cabin in the soft light of the winter sunset. The ecopsychology exercises that we do along the way will help to profoundly transform our relationship to this winter landscape.
In our cozy wood-stove heated cabin we will meditate, prepare and enjoy oryoki meals, hear talks, read, discuss our experiences and, of course, drink lots of hot tea and cocoa. That simple, elemental living regimen with its contemplative aspects will further deepen our connection to the natural world that surrounds us. The aroma of wood smoke will penetrate into our being, awakening the primordial connection that lies dormant within. Deep, restful sleep will be our reward for the day’s activities.
Maine still has many waters where the cacophony of powerboat engines is not heard. These are the places where great blue herons stand in the shallows, where ospreys and terns swoop overhead, and where the silence is occasionally punctuated by the slap of a beavertail or the splash of a leaping bass. This is the gentle, quiet world of pond and marsh, teeming with life, and yet a place where few people venture.
The base for this experience will be the Treetop Zen Center in Oakland, Maine. As with all of our trips, ecopsychology experiences, talks and discussions, drawing and photography, and reading will expand and deepen the experience of this wonderful watery world.