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Bowing to the Wild

Backpacking From Big Sur to Tassajara

June 2 - 7, 2018


A wilderness awareness journey from the Big Sur coast to the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center

We wild ourselves as we hike. Remembering the power of our bodies: the ancestral gifts of our sturdy backs and long striding legs. Remembering that we are a migratory species. Sublimely adaptable, sure of foot, clever with tools, and born to interpret terrain. In the ancient ardor of our trek, we remember the dignity of our own wildness.

We are pleased to offer you a rare opportunity to expand your awareness of self and nature on a guided, multi-day backpacking trip through the sacred and majestic backcountry of Big Sur, California. Together with a small group and dedicated guides, you will journey from the rugged coast, through the expansive and biodiverse Ventana Wilderness, to the remote and serene Tassajara Zen Mountain Center.

Wildtender founders Fletcher Tucker and Noël Vietor will enrich our exploration with informal instruction on Big Sur natural history, nature connection, and backpacking practice. To support our deepening awareness of land, self and other, we will also practice daily check-in circles. Upon arrival at Tassajara, there will be space for rest and integration as well as meditation instruction in the Zazen tradition.

Excursion Details | June 3-7, 2018

  • Sunday, June 3 | 9:00 AM - Introductions and orientation in Big Sur the morning of our departure. Hitting the trail around 11am.

  • Sunday-Tuesday, June 3-5 | All-day backpacking through the magnificent Ventana Wilderness. Hikes ranging from 6-9 miles per day. The terrain can be steep, but our pace will be moderate, and we will take many breaks to rest, replenish, and drink in the beauty of the land. We supply delicious, nutritious, and energizing breakfasts and dinners at camp. In the evenings we will share stories of the day around the campfire. We will sleep beneath the sheltering stars.

  • Wednesday, June 6 | Hike into the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, arriving by 3:00 PM. Enjoy Tassajara's Japanese-style bath-house, featuring natural hot springs, steam room, and creek-side sunning deck. We will share a celebratory family-style dinner in the dining room, followed by optional evening meditation in the beautiful Zendo. Your accommodations for the night will be shared rooms in the lovely creek-side Stone Suite.

  • Thursday, June 7 | Savor the day at Tassajara, including breakfast and lunch in the dining room. Depart by shuttle by 3:00 PM, arriving in Big Sur to retrieve personal vehicles by 6:00 PM.

Program Tuition

Due to recent last minute cancellations, we are offering several spots at a sliding scale tuition of $450 - $985 (let us know in your application what you can afford). Your tuition includes all food, lodging and shuttle costs.

Cancellations made by May 2, 2018 will be refunded minus the $350 non-refundable deposit. We are not able to refund cancellations after May 2nd, since we will have already confirmed lodging and shuttle reservations, purchased supplies, and turned away other potential participants. However, if you or we are able to find a replacement for your space, we will happily refund your full tuition/deposit minus a $75 administration fee.


This program has completed.

Preparing for your pilgrimage

Wildtender supplies some of the shared backpacking essentials: water filters, camp stoves, first-aid kit, and more. A complete list of what you will need to pack for this excursion will be provided upon registration. But here are few things you will definitely need...

  • hiking boots (broken in)

  • backpacking backpack

  • lightweight sleeping bag + stuff sack

  • lightweight sleeping pad

  • headlamp

  • your own trail lunches and snacks

Meet your guides


Fletcher Tucker

Fletcher is a California Central Coast native, a former inhabitant of Big Sur, and the co-founder of Wildtender. Having hiked and backpacked throughout the American West, Europe and Japan, Fletcher has become a devotee of trail-craft and minimalist backpacking. Fletcher is an experienced teacher, ancestral skills practitioner, Deep Ecology disciple, and lifelong student of California natural history. Fletcher is a dedicated student of Gestalt practice, learning from Dorothy Charles and Eric Erickson in the lineage of Esalen co-founder Dick Price. Fletcher has also studied and participated ceremonially with teachers within indigenous North and South American spiritual traditions, which have deeply informed his spiritual relationship to nature. Fletcher is a NOLS certified Wilderness First Responder.


Noël Vietor

Noël has been in an ongoing apprenticeship with sacred gardens and wilds of California. Her work and interests are dedicated to helping people relate more meaningfully with the land, themselves and each other. Noël served as the Program Coordinator for the Esalen Institute Farm & Garden in Big Sur from 2010-2015 – organizing its land-based educational programs and practice of Relational Agriculture, rooted in Esalen’s Gestalt lineage. Noël found a deep sense of belonging in the Big Sur wild while hiking the steep trails, learning the history and stories of the place, and experimenting with wild-crafting and homestead arts. Noël is certified with NOLS Wilderness First Aid.

Photos from our last journey to Tassajara