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Writer's Retreat: Exploring Wild Mind

The Practice of Presence:

Exploring Wild Mind Through Meditation, Writing and Kayaking

With Kurt Hoelting & Holly Hughes

August 2-8, 2020

Back by Popular Demand for the summer of 2020
Registration Now Open

Join Kurt Hoelting and Holly Hughes for a week of deep immersion in Southeast Alaska's Tongass National Forest, reconnecting with your own deep inner wild in a landscape of expansive outer wildness. Based at the beautiful Keene Channel Lodge, this retreat will combine daily meditation and guided writing practice with sea kayaking excursions into the heart of Southeast Alaska's Inside Passage.

Dive beneath the surface. Re-connect with the joy inherent in nature. Re-inhabit your body. Reclaim your sense of hope. Restore your frayed spirits. Experience the power of deep silence. Remember what it means to be Whole. Wholly human in a more-than-human world. Building on their popular Sit, Walk, Write retreat, taught over the last decade at the North Cascades Institute, this retreat will go deeper into both mindfulness and writing practice, leavened by daily time on the water as we paddle among the sheltered islands and channels of Beecher Pass and Duncan Canal.

Your Day

Mornings will focus on mindfulness practice and guided writing practice. The middle of the day will be spent on the paddle, stopping for lunch to explore the island sanctuaries that surround Keene Channel Lodge, learning about this remarkable bioregion, and keeping a natural history journal of what we are discovering. Afternoons back at the lodge will include optional yoga and Qi Gong practice, and optional one-on-one writing feedback from Holly. There will also be additional opportunities to work with Kurt for those interested in exploring their mindfulness practice more deeply. After a gourmet dinner, there will be opportunities to share our words and reflections, both from our writing and our meditation practice.

Your Accommodation


Keene Channel Lodge lies at the junction of the Wrangell Narrows and Beecher Pass, fourteen miles south of the fishing community of Petersburg. The lodge is off the grid, five miles from the nearest road, and accessible only by boat. Once you arrive in Petersburg by Alaska Airlines jet, your experience will begin with a charter boat trip from Petersburg to the lodge on the evening of the first day of your retreat. Daily temperatures in summer range from the mid-50's to the low 80's, with average temperatures during the day in the mid-60's. Heat in the lodge (when needed) is supplied by a wood fireplace

Lodging is in comfortable shared bedroom with twin and double bed accommodations. Electrical power to the lodge is generated by solar panels. Major appliances and hot water are run by propane. Running water, showers and toilets are serviced by fresh, clean water that flows directly into our water system from a stream running through the property. The stream also provides a lovely dipping pool at the bridge by our sauna!


Your Group Leaders


Kurt Hoelting brings twenty-five years of experience as a wilderness guide and meditation teacher, serving as head guide of his outfitter/guide company Inside Passages. He also draws upon a deep local knowledge built on over three decades of experience as a commercial salmon and halibut fisherman in Southeast Alaska. During the winter he teaches Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) to veterans at Seattle’s VA Hospital, and other venues. He has co-led Inside Passages retreats in Alaska with noted teachers in Buddhist, Western and secular lineages, including MBSR founder Jon Kabat-Zinn, poet Gary Snyder, Rabbi Rachel Cowan, and Zen teacher Norman Fischer. He is the author of The Circumference of Home,which was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award in 2011.


Holly Hughes is an award winning poet and writing instructor. After teaching writing at the college level for more than two decades, she is currently on the staff of the low-residcncy MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University and teaches at a variety of regional writing conferences, including Fishtrap, Litfuse, and Write on the Sound. Like Kurt, she’s well acquainted with Southeast, having spent more than 30 seasons in Alaska commercial fishing for salmon, skippering a 65-foot schooner and working as a naturalist on ships. Holly is the author of four books, including co-author of The Pen & the Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World. Her fine-art chapbook Passings received an American Book Award from the Before Columbus foundation in 2017. Visit Holly’s Website.


Shinei Monial

Shinei Monial

Soten Lynch

Soten Lynch

Shinei Monial will serve as Cook and Soten Lynch will be our Logistics Coordinator on this retreat. We are privileged to have them both back. They are both ordained monastics from Great Vow Zen Monastery, in Oregon, where they have lived and worked for the past decade. At the monastery they have learned the many skills necessary for living in community; organizing and leading retreats, cooking and caring for large groups, gardening, sewing, and maintaining buildings, equipment, and grounds. Primarily, they have been practicing meditation intensively since 2008, and have practiced closely with various teachers including Jan Chozen Bays, Roshi, Hogen Bays, Roshi, Shodo Harada Roshi and Satya Vayu. Shinei and Soten have a strong connection to the natural world and lead wilderness meditation retreats each year in Oregon's wild places. Soten has a deep love of music and serves as the monastery music director. He is also a long distance runner and avid yoga practitioner. Shinei has a BA in Early Childhood Education and is one of the founders of Touching Earth Sangha in Portland, whose intention is simple living in harmony with the natural world. Shinei also practices long distance running and teaches yoga/meditation classes.

Retreat cost: $2250. Includes lodging and all meals for five days and six nights at Keene Channel Lodge, kayak guide services, kayaks and all related gear, and transportation by charter vessel to and from the lodge from Petersburg (14 miles each way).

Cost does not include airfare to Petersburg from the Lower '48, nor any meal or lodging costs in Petersburg before or after the trip. (See details about retreat information & schedule.)

For more information, Contact Us.