The Elements of a Retreat
Spending part of each day in silence in this wild setting offers a superb opportunity to deepen our connection to each other and to the natural world through the vehicle of contemplative listening. We will begin each day with sitting, walking and Qi gong movement meditation. We will do some of our kayaking in silence as well. These practices are designed to cultivate an inner spaciousness that can more fully open us to the power of place, and to the depth of our connections to each other and to our own “inner habitat”.
Our trip location offers plenty of options for paddling in secluded and protected waters. Prior experience in sea kayaking is not required, but is helpful. We use comfortable, stable, double kayaks, and make an effort to pair less experienced paddlers with partners who are stronger or have more experience. Though some of our paddles are gentle, some can be strenuous. We encourage you to use this trip as motivation to increase your physical conditioning prior to the trip. You will receive instruction, and the skills involved in basic sea kayaking are easy for most novices to master. You will need to be in generally good physical condition, with no major injuries or medical issues that might compromise your ability to be in a kayak for two or three hours a day.
The Lodge at Keene Channel
Inside Passages retreats are based out of the Keene Channel Lodge, located fourteen miles south of Petersburg at the junction of Beecher Pass and the Wrangell Narrows. Keene Channel is five miles from the nearest road, with access by boat and float plane only.
The combination of seclusion and ease of access makes it an ideal launching pad for exploring the surrounding islands and inland channels. The lodge provides an excellent setting for day and overnight kayak trips in sheltered waters, including the Beecher Pass State Marine Sanctuary and the Castle Islands in Duncan Canal.
The lodge sits on 400' of waterfront, with a creek running through the property. A sauna by the creek is a welcome treat after kayaking. The lodge is off the central power grid, with solar panels providing light, filtered fresh water from the creek, and propane-fired hot water for showers.
The forests and waters around Keene Channel are home to many species of wildlife, including wolf, black bear, moose and Sitka blacktail deer. The local waters harbor salmon and halibut, seals, porpoises, Stellar sea lions, and (occasionally) orcas and humpback whales. The nearby Wrangell Narrows form an important link on the Inside Passage shipping route from Puget Sound to Southeast Alaska.
Double occupancy rooms are the norm, with twin beds and some queen beds for couples.
The lodge sleeps up to fourteen people in comfortable accommodations.
Some of the retreats are based entirely at Keene Channel Lodge. Others include a two-night wilderness camping experience (weather permitting). On retreats that include the camping experience, a ten mile paddle to Castle Island will bring you into the heart of the Tongass in nearby Duncan Canal.
Weather can be a big factor in Southeast Alaska, and we will likely see a wide range of weather conditions. It has been said that, “There is no such thing as bad weather. Just inappropriate clothing.” Having a positive attitude also helps a lot. There is beauty in all aspects of the weather in Southeast Alaska, but it is up to us to attune ourselves to that beauty, and to stay tuned to the changing weather so that we can enjoy it in reasonable comfort. See the equipment list.
Vacation from Media/Electronics
There is no internet access at the lodge, we are off the power gird, and cell phone coverage is extremely limited during your time in the trip location. Please do not plan to conduct business during the retreats, or bring large electronics. One of the great values of these retreats is the opportunity to take a “media vacation”, during which we can return to a more balanced and direct connection to the world around us. Emergency communication through cell phone and VHF radio will be available, but we will otherwise be "off the grid" during your retreat experience.
Typical Daily Schedule
6:00 Wake up bell
6:30 Qi gong movement meditation on the deck
7:00 Guided Sitting Meditation
7:30 Outdoor Walking Meditation
8:00 Breakfast (in silence)
9:00 Check-in & Morning Conversation
11:00 Morning paddle to lunch stop (mindful kayaking in silence)
12:00 Lunch stop– Conversation / Natural history / explore
2:00 Paddle back to lodge
3:00 Arrive at lodge (free time)
5:00 Optional yoga practice
7:30 Evening conversation (or sauna)
9:00 Closing meditation
Inside Passages operates on the Tongass National Forest under special use permit from the USDA Forest Service.