REFUGE: WILDERNESS BACKPACKING TRIPS FOR WOMEN AND FEMALE-IDENTIFIERS

 5-6 day backpacking trip in the West

Next trip dates and location TBD

Early Bird Price:  $1500

After July 25th: $1650

*Payment plans and financial support available

 

$1,650.00

“The old knowing is long overdue”

– Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Please note that this page contains details of our last trip to the Gila Wilderness, but is an accurate frame for every trip we offer. 2023 dates and locations TBD.

It’s time for us to claim the old knowing, and to do so together.. This 5 day wilderness immersion will breathe life back in and re-member us down to the bone. The deep canyons, vast expanse and infinite river tributaries of the Gila Wilderness, unceded indigenous homelands of the Chiricahua Apache peoples and the world’s first designated wilderness area, is a wild place like no other. These lands and waters will shepherd us into a profound encounter with our inner worlds, the wild, our circle of and the astonishing loving wisdom of Life itself. This is a place to bring all of you. A place that can hold all of you.

These are no ordinary wilderness trips. They are a dive into the brave and bountiful work of soul, of cycles, and of wildness – yours and that of the earth. We will let the wild into our skin, let ourselves be touched by her immensity and power and remember to carry her with us everywhere. We return to a more natural state and revive right relationship with our planet, each other, and what is being asked of us in these times. We go to the wilderness not to get out of our lives, but to reconnect with Source so we can step more into them.

We will dive deep, slow down, and become the breathing body that the wild wants to be near. We will remember more that we are part of wise living- system, an intelligent web of life. We will relish in the play of light on water for hours at a time, give space enough for the tender, fierce and soul-soaked parts of us, touch the wildness that we know we are made of but that somehow evades us in the busyness of our lives. We will honor our cycles. Gather the courage to see hard truths, the fire to shift what no longer serves, and the balm to gentle and replenish ourselves. Here lies the support to see, be seen and dive deep. We will raise up as a “sudden village” with the longed-for medicine of face-to-face connection and intimacy.

No matter our ancestry or heritage, across cultures we share ancestry that understood Nature as teacher and elder, as eternal wisdom and love. But many of us have forgotten. It is possible to go into nature and miss it altogether. It happens all the time. We hold on to our “front-country” mindsets and use nature as a backdrop and stomping ground for the drives of our ego. These trips are not that. We will go into the wild with deep intention and listening, to recover and commune with a bone stirring memory of our place in and as the “family of things”. We will find the wilderness and all of her cycles of life and death, and be gifted map, mirror and medicine- trustworthy maps to follow and locate ourselves within. Mirrors in which to see ourselves and lives . And reservoir of medicine to fill our cups until they run over.
Come for adventure, for solitude, for sovereignty and challenge. For refuge and inspiration. To feel your animal body. To wash your mind with beauty, ceilings of stars and the sound of rivers wide, both above and below.. Say yes to the call you hear.
Among whatever arises in the moment, we will explore through primal gesture, archetypal qigong, stillness, silence, voice, creative writing, land-art, play-time, solo time, the mythic world of story in Women Who Run with the Wolves, and the art and simply being.

“The old knowing is long overdue”

– Clarissa Pinkola Estes

It’s time for us to claim the old knowing, and to do so together.. This 5 day wilderness immersion will breathe life back in and re-member us down to the bone. The deep canyons, vast expanse and infinite river tributaries of the Gila Wilderness, unceded indigenous homelands of the Chiricahua Apache peoples and the world’s first designated wilderness area, is a wild place like no other. These lands and waters will shepherd us into a profound encounter with our inner worlds, the wild, our circle of and the astonishing loving wisdom of Life itself. This is a place to bring all of you. A place that can hold all of you.

These are no ordinary wilderness trips. They are a dive into the brave and bountiful work of soul, of cycles, and of wildness – yours and that of the earth. We will let the wild into our skin, let ourselves be touched by her immensity and power and remember to carry her with us everywhere. We return to a more natural state and revive right relationship with our planet, each other, and what is being asked of us in these times. We go to the wilderness not to get out of our lives, but to reconnect with Source so we can step more into them.

We will dive deep, slow down, and become the breathing body that the wild wants to be near. We will remember more that we are part of wise living- system, an intelligent web of life. We will relish in the play of light on water for hours at a time, give space enough for the tender, fierce and soul-soaked parts of us, touch the wildness that we know we are made of but that somehow evades us in the busyness of our lives. We will honor our cycles. Gather the courage to see hard truths, the fire to shift what no longer serves, and the balm to gentle and replenish ourselves. Here lies the support to see, be seen and dive deep. We will raise up as a “sudden village” with the longed-for medicine of face-to-face connection and intimacy.

No matter our ancestry or heritage, across cultures we share ancestry that understood Nature as teacher and elder, as eternal wisdom and love. But many of us have forgotten. It is possible to go into nature and miss it altogether. It happens all the time. We hold on to our “front-country” mindsets and use nature as a backdrop and stomping ground for the drives of our ego. These trips are not that. We will go into the wild with deep intention and listening, to recover and commune with a bone stirring memory of our place in and as the “family of things”. We will find the wilderness and all of her cycles of life and death, and be gifted map, mirror and medicine- trustworthy maps to follow and locate ourselves within. Mirrors in which to see ourselves and lives . And reservoir of medicine to fill our cups until they run over.
Come for adventure, for solitude, for sovereignty and challenge. For refuge and inspiration. To feel your animal body. To wash your mind with beauty, ceilings of stars and the sound of rivers wide, both above and below.. Say yes to the call you hear.
Among whatever arises in the moment, we will explore through primal gesture, archetypal qigong, stillness, silence, voice, creative writing, land-art, play-time, solo time, the mythic world of story in Women Who Run with the Wolves, and the art and simply being.

“Go out in the woods, go out. If you don’t go out in the woods nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin.”

— Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes


Prerequisites

  • No prior backpacking experience necessary. Participants must be physically able to carry a 35-40lb pack, and to 2-6  miles per day with this pack on their back. (You definitely don’t have to think this will be easy, it just needs to be physically possible for you- the rest is a mental dance)
  • *Participants need to know they have the confidence, physical centering, and psychic anchoring to hold them in time and space. A clear sense of containment is required. This trip is not a fit for those who may be currently feeling destabilized, traumatized, struggling to heal, or in need of reestablishing basic nervous system or life coherency.” We will be moving not only into the vast wilderness of this coastline, but into the wilds of our psyches, hearts and somas. ( *Thank you to Liz Koch for this language). Of course, much healing is available here. And so many of us have been moving through instability…if you’d like to join but are wondering if this may apply to you, please reach out to Sarah. She is happy to get on the phone to see if this trip and timing is a fit for you.

Prerequisites

  • No prior backpacking experience necessary. Participants must be physically able to carry a 35-40lb pack, and to hike up to 8 miles per day with this pack on their back. (You definitely don’t have to think this will be easy, it just needs to be physically possible for you- the rest is a mental dance)
  • *Participants need to know they have the confidence, physical centering, and psychic anchoring to hold them in time and space. A clear sense of containment is required. This trip is not a fit for those who may be currently feeling destabilized, traumatized, struggling to heal, or in need of reestablishing basic nervous system or life coherency.” We will be moving not only into the vast wilderness of this coastline, but into the wilds of our psyches, hearts and somas. ( *Thank you to Liz Koch for this language). Of course, much healing is available here. And so many of us have been moving through instability…if you’d like to join but are wondering if this may apply to you, please reach out to Sarah. She is happy to get on the phone to see if this trip and timing is a fit for you.

Trip Details

THESE DETAILS ARE EXPIRED BUT HERE FOR AN EXAPLE FOR FUTURE TRIPS.

Location: This trip will take place in the stunning Gila Wilderness of Southern, NM. Exact route TBD.

Meeting Time and Place:We will meet near the Cliff Dwellings in the Gila Wilderness, NM at 9 am on Wednesday August 31. Exact Location TBD

Hot Springs!: Gila Hot Springs is already booked for the holiday weekend and and has no openings for soaking on the evening of the 4th. They do, however, have day-soak openings (and overnight camping openings) on September 5th (as well as August 30th, before the trip), and are a 45 minute drive from Silver City, where you will likely be staying the night before and after the trip. I will definitely be soaking before and after our trip at this gem! Please book your personal reservation at http://gilahotspringscampground.com/ .

Travel: Please plan to arrive near our field area no later than August 30 and please DO NOT BOOK any travel or make any plans prior to September 5. We will not make it back for any plans on September 4th. Requested time off from family and work should be no shorter than August 30-September 5th. Giving yourself extra days on either end, especially upon landing back into your life is a good idea, if its logistically possible. And if not, that will be just perfect as well.

Closest Airports:  NOTE: These drive times are to Silver City, not our trailhead. Unless you are camping near the Cliff Dwellings, Silver City is where you’ll stay the night before our trip if you want to avoid a 4 am or 5 am leave time on the 31st. (Silver City is 1.5 hours from our trailhead).

El Paso TX- 2.5 hours hour drive .
Tucson AZ – 3 hours  hour drive
Albuquerque 4 hour drive
Santa Fe- 5 hours

** PLEASE NOTE: Silver City is a 1.5 hour drive from our trailhead, and is the closest large town (population 10,000) with amenities (accommodation, rental cars, hotels etc.). There is an AIRPORT here, and flights available from Albuquerque (approx. $150 RT). So if this seems more cost/time effective, know it is an option to connect on a plane from ABQ to Silver City.

CARPOOLS AND COST SHARING: As soon as our circle begins to gather, we’ll connect you for carpools and sharing the cost of rental cars and accommodations…which we highly recommend. This happens every trip and creates a really fantastic connection and spirit of adventure before the trip, if you do want to create joint plans. Others make it more of a solo adventure, which is just as beautiful and personally needed.

ACCOMMODATIONS FOR THE NIGHT BEFORE AND AFTER OUR TRIP: Because we’ll be meeting at 9 am on August 30, and won’t be out of the field until later on September 4, your best options for the nights before and after our trip are to stay in Silver City in an Air B n B /hotel or to camp somewhere near the Gila Cliff Dwellings.

Pre-Trip ZOOM call: Wednesday, August 17th at 7:00 pm MDT

Trip Details

Meals: We provide all meals and food for the trip. You do not have to think about or shop for these! We will be well fed and you’ll have a chance to tell us about your dietary needs on your medical form. Please come with a full belly on the morning of the 31st, and plan to feed yourself for dinner on the 4th. (If you’re planning on coming to the hot springs on the night of the 4th, we ca talk about food options on our pre-trip ZOOM call, mentioned below)

Location: This trip will take place in the stunning Gila Wilderness of Southern, NM. Exact route TBD.

Meeting Time and Place: We will meet near the Cliff Dwellings in the Gila Wilderness, NM at 9 am on Wednesday August 31. Exact Location TBD

Hot Springs: THE GILA HOT SPRINGS CAMPGROUND AND HOT SPRINGS is  a short drive from our trailhead, but is booked on the evening of September 4th for the holiday weekend. They do have day-soaking availability starting at 9 am on September 5th. This hot springs is a 45 minute drive from Silver City, the town where you will most likely stay when we come out of (and go into) the field. I, for one, will be heading back to soak on the morning of the 5th. Please make your personal reservation at  http://gilahotspringscampground.com/

Travel: Please plan to arrive near our field area no later than August 30 and please DO NOT BOOK any travel or make any plans prior to September 5. We will not make it back for any plans on September 4th.

Closest Airports:
These drive times are to SILVER CITY. Not to the trailhead. Unless you are planning to camp the night before the trip, Silver City is where you will stay- it is the closest town, and is 1.5 hours from our trailhead. Silver City has a small airport, and there are flights to and from the ABQ airport if this makes sense for you.

El Paso TX- 2.5 hours hour drive .
Tucson AZ – 3 hour drive
Albuquerque 4.25 hour drive
Santa Fe: 5.25 hrs

As soon as we have our circle gathered, we’ll connect you for ride shares and carpools, which we highly recommend.

ACCOMMODATIONS FOR THE NIGHT BEFORE AND AFTER OUR TRIP: Because we’ll be meeting at 9 am on August 30, and won’t be out of the field until later on September 4, your best options for the nights before and after our trip are to stay in Silver City in an Air B n B /hotel or to camp somewhere near the Gila Cliff Dwellings.

Pre-Trip ZOOM call: Wednesday, August 17th at 7:00 pm MDT

Scholarships/Access

** If you would like to join this trip but don’t have the financial means to do so, please reach out to Sarah to inquire about a partial scholarship/extended payment plan. There are 2 need-based scholarships available for this trip, intended for folks who otherwise would not be able to join. (Please allow these funds to remain available to those who have financial need, rather than financial preference for the allocation of expendable income)

FAQ’s

What is different about these backpacking trips?
We aren’t just going into the backcountry to cover miles and bag peaks. Though we will cover miles and find ourselves on the top of majestic cliffs and outlooks, my trips are about giving ourselves to nature, so that we can remember ourselves as nature. It is all too common in the “outdoor industry” to head into nature for an adventure, and miss her altogether. To stay in frontcountry conversations, mindsets and ways of engaging, without ever slowing down enough and allowing the wilderness to enter our bodies, psyches and hearts. I often say that we are walking our way into these places, and once we are there, slowing down and attuning enough to let ourselves be worked by the wilderness…to allow ourselves to move into “deep time” and the rhythm of the land and water, to find an intimate mirror in nature, rather than using her as a backdrop of our experience. These trips are profoundly nourishing, deep and rich. Through doorways of fairytale and myth, primal movement, embodied meditation, creative writing, land-art, archetypal qigong, and learning how to simply “be”, these trips reach into deeper meaning, insight and healing than the average backpacking trip. Oh, and also, the most extraordinary humans are drawn to my trips, and every group ends up with just the exact right people in the circle.
Do I need prior backpacking experience?
Not at all! All of my trips include at least a few folks who have never backpacked before. This is a perfect maiden voyage if you are able to carry a 35-40lb backpack. You don’t have to think that is easy, you just need to be confident that you can do it. The trip is not a fit for folks who have injuries or physical limitations that would disallow them from the daily tasks of carrying a pack, setting up tents, day hiking, sitting on the ground etc. These trips are, admittedly, not available for those with certain physical disabilities. I hope to create more spaces for us to gather in nature, regardless of physical limitation.
What about transportation to and from the trailhead?
Myself and our co-guide will meet you at the trailhead. Once everyone signs up for the trip, I will start a group thread so ya’ll can link up for carpools and ride-shares.
What if I’m having trouble getting everything on the packing list?
Please don’t think that you need to spend a bunch of extra money on gear for this trip. Much of it can be borrowed and rented. The most important thing to make sure you have of your own is a pair of well-fitting and broken-in boots. It would be no fun to head out in borrowed shoes unless they fit like a glove. As for the rest of the gear, REI rents tents, sleeping bags and sleeping pads. You also may be surprised how many friends and neighbors might have things you can borrow. Thrift stores are excellent places to find long underwear, jackets, and other pieces of clothing. If you are still coming up short, please email me and I will try to find specific gear items for you.
Will I be able to call my family?
In short, no. And I invite you to enjoy and savor this fact! It is all too uncommon for us to be unreachable these days, and to let go of our constant need to stay in touch. We will carry a satellite texting device for emergencies so that we can reach help if we need it. This device won’t be available to be used for incoming or outgoing check ins. On a case by case basis, we can discuss whether it seems appropriate for someone at home to have this number in case of an emergency. However, very few (almost none) emergencies would cause us to evacuate you from the trip before the trip’s end. That situation would most likely necessitate bringing the trip to an end for everyone. Basically, even if someone can get ahold of you, the chances of that speeding up your ability to be home are slim. So again, enjoy the prospect of being unreachable! Arrange all details for your loved ones at home before you come on the trip.
How much hiking do we do?
Covering miles is never the focus of my trips, although, most days we will spend at least a few hours, if not most of the day on the trail. We will hike anywhere from 2-10 miles/day on our hiking days (anywhere from 2-8 hours). On a 5 day backpacking trip, the general flow is to hike on days 4 of the 5 days, and to take one “layover day”. We may day-hike on this day, but we won’t carry packs on this day.
Will this be hard?
Yes. In all the right ways. These trips are be physically challenging for sure and that is so much of what is unique, rewarding and empowering about them. You will experience the strength and resilience of your body, carrying everything you need to live on your back, for days on end. Living outside and being so consistently physically engaged is a rare medicine in our world and this way of life is in our blood. The physical challenges will be real, and so will the celebrations. These trips will also ask of you mentally, emotionally and in terms of your presence. I create trips that bring us into the Self and our inner world. That said, for all of the challenge, there is an incredible amount of support coming from nature and the shared group-field and human-connection fostered here.
What kind of foods do we eat?
Food has never tasted so good as it does in the backcountry! We eat well and we carry all that we eat! Granola and oats with yummy toppings, coffee, tea, energy bars, trail mix, string cheese, nut-butter and jam, pasta, rice and beans, Thai curry, soup, meats, veggies, chocolate! These are some things we eat. But I assure you we eat well and that hunger is the best sauce. Trips can accommodate vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets. Any food needs beyond that, we will ask that you bring and carry your own supplemental foods.
Who should not come on this trip?
These trips are not a fit for anyone who isn’t physically able (you don’t have to have ever done this before, just feel that you could) to carry a 35-40 lb pack while walking 2-7 miles per day, or for folks who are feeling particularly and currently unstable emotionally or psychologically or in the acute phase of processing trauma. If you have a question about whether this applies to you, please reach out to me directly and we can chat.
PACKING LIST

REI rents some gear. Lots of your friends have gear and would be happy to lend it to you to support your journey! Thrift stores are a score for outdoor gear. No need for shiny Backpacker Magazine gear. This list doesn’t need to break the bank.

A few rules backcountry gear thumb:
Cotton kills. It doesn’t dry quickly or keep you warm if its wet, and this can create serious safety hazards and threats of hypothermia. Warmer is the way to go- you can always de-layer. You know your own body best…so tend it well based on your own idiosyncrasies. It’s ok if you bring more than you’ll need. On the first day, when we will dump out our packs at the trailhead and go through gear, so we can help you decide between jackets, how many pairs of long underwear etc. So, if you need to bring it to feel better, bring it and we can check it out with you. Don’t bring full gallons of milk for your morning Chai (no joke…and she carried these for 5 days on one coast trip, and smiled all the way- one of my favorite memories for sure).

  • Backpack (55-70 liter size). Internal Frame recommended. Please go to REI or another outdoor store to make sure you have the right pack size. Packs are not one-size-fits-all, and if you have a pack that is too big or small for you, it can be extremely uncomfortable. By size I mean S, M, L. Make sure whatever it is that it is 50-65liters in capacity.
  • Rain cover for your pack, or a heavy duty garbage bag that can be a rain layer that lines the inside of your pack
  • Sleeping pad- Inflatable recommended. Make sure this is insulated. Your sleeping bag won’t keep you warm if you are losing heat through the ground. If you have an inflatable pad, an R value of 4 or higher is a good idea (that’s the insulation rating). If it has a lower R value, bringing a thin closed-cell foam pad in addition will help.  Full length pads recommended.  Small enough that it will roll up and fit inside or on the side of your pack.
  • Sleeping bag (<20 degree). This can be synthetic or down, whichever you prefer, but be sure that it packs down to a backpacking size
  • Sleeping Bag and compression sack (compression sack is handy but not a deal breaker. It’s ok if you don’t have one)
  • Sleeping bag liner if you run cold- these are light, packable and add a lot of warmth if you aren’t sure your bag is warm enough.
  • Large stuff sac or light fabric with handles or a draw string to store your food in (handles/drawstrings are important so we can hang it from tree branches to keep it away from creatures and critters)
  • Headlamp with extra batteries
  • Metal or plastic Bowl, mug, spoon/fork
  • Water bottles or camelback (or similar) bladder. Big enough to carry at least 2.5 liters( do not bring insulated hydroflasks- these are way too heavy)
  • 3-4 Underwear
  • 1 pair shorts
  • 2 pair hiking Pants (no jeans)
  • 1 pair fleece pants or expedition weight long underwear (if you run cold) or if you don’t run cold, a pair of leggings or yoga pants to change into at camp (nice if they can also double as long underwear in a pinch)
  • 1-2 Mid-weight layers, top and bottom, depending on how cold you run (like fleece or wool)
  • 1 Warm outer layer (like a puffy/down jacket). If you run cold, bring 2 of these style jacks or add in a vest
  • 1 Rain Jacket
  • 1 Rain Pants
  • 1 Beanie (warm hat)
  • 1 pair warm gloves
  • 1 Sun hat
  • 3-4 Pairs of hiking socks (not cotton)
  • 1-2 pairs sock liners (will help prevent blisters!)
  • 1 pair sleep socks- these are socks that will live int he bottom of your sleeping bag and will only be used for sleeping. They will never get wet, dirty or sweaty and will help you sleep cozy!)
  • 1 Hiking shoes or boots. Go for boots if you have weaker ankles. Make sure these fit well, are comfortable and are broken in
  • 1 pair Sandals/slippers/Crocs for camp
  • 1 Sunglasses
  • 1 Bandana
  • 1 Swimsuit
  • Toiletries (toothpaste, toothbrush, facial moisturizer, hand lotion is nice, comb/brush if needed)
  • Chapstick with SPF
  • 2 rapid COVID tests- one to take within 24 hours of your arrival to the group, and one to bring on the trip in the event you start developing symptoms
  • Personal Medication
  • Camp Chair – crazy creek style or one that is light and can fit in your pack. This is optional but everyone I’ve ever led has always wished they brought one.
  • Camera or phone for pics (optional- you are free to leave your phone in the car)
  • Sunscreen
  • Hiking poles (optional but recommended- more so if the terrain is steep)
  • Journal and 2 pens
  • A small and personally meaningful gift that will be given away to someone in the group. You’ll be carrying this so make sure its small and light. Trust your gut on this one.

ITEMS FOR MOVEMENT/SOMATIC EXERCISES

  • sarong or light cloth to lay on
  • smaller size squish ball
  • larger Franklin-style ball (smooth)
  • *Please note that you can purchase the small and large ball from Sarah at cost (about $13). Please bring them. We will use these.

EXTRA ITEMS BASED ON RELEVANCE AND NEED

  • If you are celiac, oats/breakfast cereal and some bars/snacks that are safe for you to eat
  • Menstrual supplies if you’ll be bleeding (2 quart ziplock freezer bags, small package of wipes for your hands, pads/tampons/cup/sponge or whatever you use, we will have TP for you)
  • 2 Epipens if you use these for anaphylaxis or allergies
  • Medication if you are prone to UTIs or yeast infections
  • Medication if you currently have a dental issue that could flare
  • Diabetes medication if applicable

 

THE ELEMENTAL SELF PROVIDES

  • FOOD- All Meals from lunch on day 1 through lunch on the last day..
  • Stoves/fuel
  • Cook-set/pots and pans
  • Water filtration devices
  • 1st aid supplies
  • Trail maps
  • Knives for cooking
  • Shovel etc. for pooping in the backcountry
  • Satellite texting device for emergencies
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