FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions
When you register for a workshop a waiver and further information sheet that includes an equipment list will be sent to you by the Esalen, Tassajara, Ojai Foundation, or Green Gulch office. The following is a general list of things you want to consider bringing for the workshop. While you need not have all of these items, the items in bold font are most important. (Download Equipment List pdf)
For Our Day-Hikes:
- Hiking Boots/Shoes: comfortable, lightweight boots or shoes with good tread.
- Socks: that fit comfortably with your hiking boots or shoes.
- Day Pack: large enough to carry extra layers of clothing, food, and water.
- Water Bottle: at least one quart/liter (you can refill water each day).
- Long Pants: lightweight, light in color, and comfortable for walking.
- Shirts: T-Shirts or Sport Shirts
- Fleece Jacket or Wool Sweater
- Rain Jacket: a rain jacket and pants are better than a poncho (rainy season only)
- Rain Pants: (rainy season only)
- Long Sleeve Shirt
- Sun Screen
- Lightweight hat with brim
- Small Flashlight
- Sandals or "wet" shoes: sport sandals or old shoes if we need to cross a stream
Miscellaneous optional items that past participants have found useful: camera, binoculars, insect repellent, running shoes, bandanna, matches, sun glasses, lip balm, moleskin (for blisters), hiking poles, alarm clock.
The Esalen, Tassajara, or Green Gulch office will send you a further information sheet when you register for a workshop. This sheet will includes any special items you might need for the specific workshop. Generally speaking…
For Sessions At Esalen:
Bring clothes that are loose fitting, comfortable and easy to move in. It is important to have extra clothes and shoes to change into after our hikes.
For Sessions At Tassajara:
It is nice to have extra clothes and shoes to change into after our hikes. Bring clothes that are loose fitting, comfortable to move and sit in. For the Zendo (meditation hall): bring clothes that are subdued in color, comfortable for sitting, and that cover the legs and shoulders.
While no previous wilderness experience is necessary, it is useful to prepare yourself by walking and/or running some each week. Experience has shown that those who have spent time physically preparing are often able to more fully participate in the workshop.
Consider setting up your time at Esalen or Tassajara as a retreat and minimizing the amount of “outside” business or phone calls you need to make. Do what is necessary to clear your schedule and let yourself fully partake in your time at Esalen or Tassajara.
Please plan your travel to arrive in time to participate in our first meeting as a group.
The lengths of the hikes depend on the specific workshop theme and location. In some workshops the hikes range 2-5 miles in length, while others range 4-10 miles in length. Please read the workshop description. Weather, the group’s ability, trail conditions, and other factors might alter the actual hike lengths.
This is the hardest question to answer. One person’s walk in the park is another person’s challenge. The emphasis of most hikes is to be in nature, not to see how fast we can get through the hike. I allow for a wide range of hiking paces so that individuals can usually find their own pace. Almost all of the hikes have some elevation gain and loss. If you find yourself with questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.
The typical age range is from the twenties to sixties. Age however is not as important as willingness and ability. I have had participants as old as 85 and as young as 15 in my programs at Esalen and Tassjara. I do ask to speak with participants and parents of anyone under 18 years old to confirm that the workshop is an appropriate fit.
Around these parts there is a saying, “that only fools and newcomers predict the weather.” Having said that… it really depends on the season, workshop location, and hundreds of other factors. Generally the wettest time of the year for the coast of central California is from December through March. Fog can roll in off the ocean at anytime dropping the temperature quickly. If you bring the equipment on the list you will be prepared for most weather conditions. Here are links to the National Weather Service Forecast Office for:
Esalen Institute: Big Sur
Tassajara Zen Center: Santa Lucia Mountains
Green Gulch Zen Center: Muir Beach
This depends on which retreat center we are hiking from:
Esalen: A wide range of food is packed up for us each morning that we all share in carrying on the hike. We stop somewhere along the trail and each person creates a "personalized" lunch from the abundant healthy ingredients we have brought along.
Tassajara: We bag lunches before the hike. Each person creates their own lunch from a wide range of choices.
Green Gulch: Each person brings their own lunch and one item to share with the group.
Yes, each place I lead programs requires a wiaver be completed. Please read; complete; initial & sign the waiver. We ask all participants to be mindful of their personal safety. Some activities of the programs have risks, including certain risks which are inherent and which cannot be eliminated without destroying the unique character of the activities and the wilderness environment.
In case you did not receive a waiver from Esalen, here is a printable waiver that Esalen Institute requires of all participants. Return this form to: Wilderness Programs, Esalen Institute, Big Sur, CA 93920 or bring it with you to our first evening meeting: Esalen Institute Waiver
Please contact Tassajara Zen Center or Green Gulch Zen Center directly if you have not received a waiver. Thank you.
I usually set the schedule for our workshop just a little before the start of the workshop. I want our group to have the best possible experience so I decide the schedule and what trails we hike based on the current weather forecast, trail conditions, and other factors.
Having said that, it is usually safe to sign-up for massages at 5:30 pm slots, except for Thursday, without conflicting with the schedule. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays evenings booking 7:00 pm and 8:30 pm sessions also work. In addition, on the last day of our workshop anytime during or after lunch (12 noon and on) can be a nice way to complete your time at Esalen. 8 am time slots are also available through the week which work for some, but others find it hard to go from a massage to making a transition to a hike. On the first evening of our program I will hand out a detailed schedule so you can book massages based on our schedule.
Still have questions?
For Questions specific to:
Esalen Institute or call the reservations line at: 888-837-2536
Tassajara Zen Center or call: 415-475-9362 & Toll Free: 1-888-743-9362
Ojai Foundation: 805-646-8343
Green Gulch Zen Center or call: 415-383-3134
If you still find yourself with questions or particular concerns about the workshop please feel free to contact me. I look forward to our time together.