What is a Meditation Hike? What is Drala?
On our hikes, we practice mindfulness/awareness meditation, hiking in silence and intimately experiencing nature's vivid energies in the North Georgia mountains. Our hikes are 3.5 - 4.5 miles in length over varying terrain and about 4 hours long. Trails are rated Easy to Moderate. There may be short, steep uphill sections (like climbing stairs), with plenty of easy stretches in between. We'll hike fairly slowly in silence, stopping several times for meditation instruction and practice.
Most people that exercise regularly and are considered in good health by their doctor do well on the hike. As a comparison, think of climbing 5 flights of stairs at a time. If you can do that without feeling strained, you'll be fine on the hike. Trail hiking is a lot different than walking in town, the same distance as street walking requires more energy when trail hiking.
The Drala Meditation Hikes are open to anyone with who has had
mindfulness/awareness (vipashana, shamatha) meditation instruction at the Atlanta Shambhala Meditation Center (www.atlantashambhalacenter.org) or an established shamatha/vipashana practice (following the breath practice). Meditation instruction at the Shambhala Center is free, and offered to the public on Tuesday nights and Sunday mornings. See the Shambhala Center website for more information - www.atlantashambhalacenter.org.
The point of having quality mindfulness/awareness meditation instruction in advance is that meditation as practiced on the hike is not well suited for beginners. If you've had shamatha or vipashana meditation through another tradition (Buddhist, Vipassana, Insight Meditation, MBSR), please contact the hike leader to discuss in advance (generally not a problem for experienced mindfulness/awareness practitioners).
What is Drala? Drala can be experienced much better than words can explain. Drala will be discussed on the hike.
An All Day Event
This is an "all-day" event. The location will not be determined until just before the hike weekend,
as location varies depending upon weather and trail conditions at
that time. We'll meet at a rendezvous point in Roswell, and then car pool to the trail-head.
If you live further north than Alpharetta, please call to make rendezvous arrangements in advance. We do meet other hikers near Cumming, at the Kroger on Hwy. 306 at GA 400.
Pre-requisites & Fees
As we will be working with various aspects of meditation on the hike, we ask that you receive free meditation instruction at the Atlanta Shambhala Meditation Center before attending a hike. Previous hike participants are welcomed.
Please offer a small donation per rider to cover gas expenses (keeping in mind current gas prices!), and sometimes a Forest Service trailhead fee (usually $3 per vehicle). It will bring you good merit!
What To Bring
Mountain weather has many more variables than weather at lower elevations, such as the environs of Atlanta. Generally, the temperature where we will be hiking will run 5-10 degrees cooler than Atlanta and it can be very windy. Appropriate clothing for a variety of changing weather conditions
should always be carried when hiking in the mountains, including rain gear.
Supportive, water resistant footwear appropriate for good
traction, wet and muddy conditions is highly recommended. Bring
your own water/drinks, trail snacks, lunch - which will be on the trail, toilet necessities (no restrooms in the forest!); and
a pack to haul your gear. Bring clothing to cover a range of temperatures, from cool mornings, to windy ridges, to warm sunny afternoons, to occassional showers.
Bug spray, sun screen, and hat/cap may be needed. Cameras and binoculars can add to your
hike experience. Something for sitting upon wet ground is essential (plastic garbage bag works well)..
Poison Ivy - though we attempt to stay away from poison ivy, occassionally it may be encountered (especially if rainfall has been plentiful). If you are allergic to poison ivy, please wear appropriate protective clothing, such as long pants. Note that if you do brush against poison ivy and know it at the time, it can be washed off with copious amounts of water and mild soap if done within 20 mintues of contact (it takes about 20 minutes before the oil from the leaves will start to penetrate your into your skin).
Bugs - Rarely a problem, but can be encountered. No-see-ums (biting gnats) and occasionally ticks may be present. But the biggest insect pest is one you won't see or feel until a day or two later: chiggers. Damp vegetation and particularly rotting logs are home for the biting mites. Always sit on something like a plastic bag, and you'll probably be fine.
Animals - They are present in the forest, but rarely will you see them other than the occassional squirrel or bird. Keep your eyes open and watch where you step, grab or sit. Animals don't like surprises any more than you do!
Please have proper gear and food before
departing for the trailhead - there will not be time to stop
and shop, as our driving schedule is fairly tight.
- Lunch will be on the trail as a part of our practice.
We will treat the forest as our meditation hall and the same protocols
will apply to the hike as to the meditation hall. Due to the practice nature of this hike,
please do not bring dogs, cell phones, beepers, MP3 players, radios,
books for reading, or anything that can be distracting to our practice and
other hikers. We ask that you be respectful of others and follow this request.
You're welcomed to use such items when you're in
the car enroute.
Times & Logistics
Meet in Roswell
We'll meet in Roswell, just off of GA 400, Exit 7A - Holcomb Bridge Rd. east. At the end of the exit ramp, stay in the right lane. Turn right at the first stop light (at Bank of America). See shopping center parking. That is where we will be. Burger King next door provides restrooms.
9:00 AM - meet at Roswell rendezvous
point. We'll divide up into car pools and caravan to the trailhead.
We'll make one pit stop along the way. Toilets may or may not be
available at the trailhead - be prepared for a wilderness experience
in this regard!
Rendezvous information will be provided once you register for the hike on the Atlanta Shambhala Center webiste.
11:30 AM - Start of hike
5:00 PM - APPROXIMATE
end of hike - However, this can vary. We ask you
Not make plans that require you to be back home early that evening - there are too many variables to assure meeting a return schedule. Mountain wilderness trips do not run like clockwork, just like Mother Nature.
Due to the logistics of accomodating a group of hikers, requests to be back by a certain time so that you can attend an event that evening cannot be considered. As mentioned previously, this is an All-Day event (not just a sun-light hours event) and the needs of the group as a whole come first.
No offense to anyone intended, but guidelines have to be established and communicated. Past history has proven the necessity. Too many times a hiker has waited until in the car or at the trailhead to tell everyone the need to be back in town for an evening event. Sorry, but such requests will not be considered.
5:30 PM - Start drive back to Roswell and/or have dinner on the way back
Often on our hikes, people want to stop
at one of the unique cafes in the hinterlands for a delightful meal
before heading back to the city. We will try to carpool to accomodate
return needs. Meal prices generally run $10-$15.
9:00 PM - We typically arrive back in Roswell around this time. There are variables and a specific time cannot be guaranteed.