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Wild Tao

Hiking & Qi Gong • Big Sur

Esalen Institute



The temple bell stops, but the sound keeps coming out of the flowers. – Matsuo Basho

Esalen Institute

Esalen Institute

In search of balance, the ancient sages of China walked into the woods to attune themselves with nature in its sublime integrity. The timeless wisdom uncovered in their wild wanderings was called simply Tao, “The Way.”

Qi gong — the practice at the heart of Taoism — is dedicated to harmonizing body, mind and spirit with the elements of nature. In this age when so many of us feel disconnected and overwhelmed, wilderness remains a powerful healer and teacher, and Qi Gong can bring us back to center.

Join us to learn an accessible Qi Gong form called Wai Dan Gong (“Easy Tao”), while immersing in the majestic landscape of Big Sur. We rise each morning to practice, harmonizing breath and movements with the flow of waves greeting Esalen’s cliffs. After breakfast, we set out on a wilderness hike to mindfully explore Big Sur’s enchanted redwoods, sun-steeped meadows and mountains that rise from the sea. All along the trail, we explore Qi Gong as a pathway for returning to a grounded, spacious, revitalized state of being — in harmony with nature, embodying Wild Tao.

For more information please visit the Esalen Institute’s website.


Registration and for this program is through the Esalen Institute.

Meet your guides

photo by Colin McCarthy

photo by Colin McCarthy

Fletcher Tucker

Wildtender Co-Founder Fletcher Tucker was raised on California’s Central Coast. Fletcher found his deepest sense of belonging living on, and learning from, the wild landscape of Big Sur (Esselen territory), which he called home for nearly a decade. 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 in the lineage of Esalen Institute co-founder Dick Price. Fletcher has studied and participated ceremonially with teachers within indigenous North and South American spiritual traditions, and is deeply engaged with the mythopoetics and Earth-reverent practices of his own northern European ancestors. Fletcher is a NOLS certified Wilderness First Responder.

photo by Fletcher Tucker

photo by Fletcher Tucker

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.


Jim Gallas

Jim is a Qi Gong, shiatsu massage, and Reiki teacher, as well as a certified yoga instructor. For more than 15 years, Jim has led workshops in California and internationally. He has taught seniors, children, and high risk teenagers, the chronically ill and the vibrantly healthy, corporate hot shots in Silicon Valley and villagers in foreign countries. Jim lives in Santa Cruz, and Sayulita where he is a founding member of the Haramara Healing Center and leads workshops in yoga, massage, Qi Gong, and expressive movement.