This MeetUp group was originally started by Margaret Emerson in 2010. She wrote "Contemplative Hiking Along the Colorado Front Range" and intended this meetup to be an experiential way for her to share the insights of her book with people. About a year ago she decided to step down as organizer so, being interested in silent hiking, I took over the group. I do not have a degree in eco-psychology, and do not facilitate the outings like Margaret. My spiritual orientation involves walking and sitting Buddhist meditation, and I have very little interest in being more than the just another participant on the hike. I simply like to hike without others without the endless chit-chat about things that are not present. I begin each hike with a short check-in where we stand in a circle and each person has the opportunity to share whatever they want whether it be why they came, how they are feeling, or a little about themselves.
If you look back at the hikes I have organized you will find that I have a small repertoire of trails that I like to visit over and over. Personally, I find that returning to the same location multiple times is the best way for me to connect to nature in that I find it the most effective way to observe changes. This is the reason the hikes I have organized are located at the same place. Guided hikes in which a naturalist or other extremely knowledgeable person points out interesting facts about the history of the formation of the landscape, details about animal behavior or the life cycles of plant life are really interesting, but this isn't what the group is about. Instead, experiencing nature without concepts or thinking is the aim.
In the former description of this group Margaret wrote, "We will be learning how to "read" nature's omens for deeper insights, how to cultivate inner wisdom". These are not activities that I will be adding to our experience. However, if you have a way of "reconnecting with nature" that you would like to share with the group please feel free to suggest it to the group during the check in. Participants who would like to facilitate a contemplative activity or discussion are welcome to do so if the group is agreeable to the idea.
I have been practicing meditation for 20+ years, and am a volunteer meditation instructor with Ratna Peace Initiative. At the beginning of each hike, during the check-in circle, I will offer participants an opportunity to discuss mindfulness practice, and how to cultivate mindfulness while hiking. Additionally, I offer the group the opportunity to vote on whether we will maintain a strict "no talking" rule on the hike or if it is acceptable to talk to each other quietly about their present experience while hiking. If the group is divided we can walk in two groups separated by a little bit of distance so that the talkers don't disturb the silent hikers.
Everyone is free to hike at their own pace. I will lead the group at a moderate to fast pace, and wait for the entire group at trail junctions. We will not be doing goal-oriented "bagging" of peaks or racing through a trail. The typical distance we'll cover will be 3-8 miles, and will be between 2 to 4 hours. You should be in good health, able to handle strenuous exercise and own basic gear such as hiking boots, Yak Trax or other traction device (for winter conditions), a sufficient amount of water, and a rainproof jacket.
Organizers pay $90 every 6 months to organize up to 3 MeetUp groups. A $1 or $2 donation for each MeetUp hike is appreciated, but completely optional.
DISCLAIMER: You agree that you are performing the activities of this MeetUp group at your OWN RISK. All activities are optional and you must know your own physical limitations. You are responsible for knowing what equipment you need to hike safely, whether or not you are physically able to hike, and what possible dangers you may encounter to your health or safety. The terms of membership in MeetUp state that you hold MeetUp and its Organizers harmless from any liability. Please do your own research in terms of how to arrive at the trailhead, what roads and routes to take and the difficulty of the terrain.