Nature & Humans in Harmony

From the Pines

Myriad tiny spring beauty flowers, just like this one above, are carpeting the forest and the hills.

Did you know they are edible?  Quite so!  Every part of the sweet little flower, down to its potato-like root. 


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Two weeks ago I wrote this entry:  It's a beautiful sight today - a light dusting of snow on the eastern hills, layers of fog drifting in and out of the pines; a mystical backdrop behind the flowering cherry tree, smiling at me from outside the cabin.  This is spring!  The arrowleaf balasm, wonderous yellow flowers of joy, have been reaching their sunny faces to the sky.  Carpets of delicate spring beauty flowers abide under the shade of towering firs; a few days ago I saw the first signs of the lupines emerging from their slumber.   ~  Now, nearing the end of April we are having days in the 80s and it seems like winter's mantle has been thrown off once again...

We are in the throes of spring energy - cleaning, revitalizing, planting, and growing.  The hoop house is now the home of many vibrant seedlings, awaiting the go-ahead from nature for their final planting.  The melting of winter's snow has revealed fallen trees, fir and pine; dry sunny days find us gratefully processing and stacking wood, knowing it will provide much warmth for us and our guests come the colder months.  We've been hanging new prayer flags, sewing new peace flags, re-stacking rock cairns that tumbled over the winter, and renewing the inside of the lodge for another magical summer season.

The air is filled with songs and buzzing, humming, and chirping.  Many migratory songbirds have returned to their summer abodes; since the creek opened up, the frogs have held chorus by the pond - reveling in the seasonal rushing waters.  Dawn and dusk are the hours of concert, the sounds soothing to the soul and enlivening to the spirit.  

Talk about uplifting - the arrowleaf balsam is a sight to behold, adorning the hills with a golden hue.  The sunshine they bring to us is a kind of inner luminescence, welling forth from the earth.  Many medicinal plants are thriving in the warm weather - lomatium is covering the hillside next to the lodge; we have collected the spring buds from aspen and cottonwood to make the Balm of Gilead for sore muscles, aches and pains; juniper berries are ready for picking after many many frigid winter days and nights; first year mullein rosettes are ready to send up their flowering stalk; yarrow is easily found in most places on the property - always happy to help us with accidental cuts and scrapes, staunching the flow of blood and easing the sting; and sage - the noble and powerful aromatic, that cleanses and uplifts our spirits and surroundings.  So much wild medicine is available right our our front door (and back door!), in the future newsletters we look forward to featuring more about our green neighbors and allies. 

There are a lot of exciting events coming up this late spring and summer and we hope that you will join us here on the land!   
'Tis the season of co-creative gardening...if you have experiences, adventures, (or mis-adventures), anecdotes, or advice for following Nature's cue for your garden, let us know!  We'd love to hear from you and share your story in the newsletter.
Mother's Day Retreat
w/ Roy Holman

May 6th - 8th
Honoring Mothers and Divine Feminine

Join us for a weekend of learning to care for yourself.  Not only for Mothers, but anyone – woman or man – who has “mothered”, cared for others, or worked too hard. Balancing yang / masculine / “doing” with yin / feminine / “being”; learn and practice caring for your inner child. Yoga, meditation, breath practices, silent meditation hike, teachings on emotional integrity, exercises to awaken your deepest, most joyful and passionate Self.
Connected: An Open Floor Dance Retreat w/ Jenny Macke
May 20th - 22th

On a full moon night let a starry sky and a wild mountain valley allure you home.  Wholly remembering in your dance your place in the world.   A call in the deep quiet of all that is connected.  Tuning into an aliveness in the web of intimacy with the trees and animals; rocks and sky; other humans just being human.  We will dance, explore, and re-wild by feeling our feet upon the earth, hands connected to cosmos and hearts to each other.  A kindness for ourselves.  A space for retreat, community and personal moments of restoring connection.

For more information and registration contact:

PeerSpirit Cascadia Vision Quest
June 6th - 12th

For the eighth year, PeerSpirit is delighted to offer this wilderness quest for both men and women.  If you are seeking to mark a transition in your life, to reconnect with your inner wisdom, or to clarify a life situation, we invite you to join us in the beautiful forested lands of the eastern Cascade Mountains. Using Skalitude’s off-the-grid retreat center as a base camp, the group will prepare for a 48-hour solo by learning the traditional quest practices of wilderness solitude, fasting, council, and ceremony. Led by Ann Linnea and Christina Baldwin

16th Annual Fairy & Human Relations Congress
June 24th - 26th

Three days of magic, fun, communication and co-creation with the Fairy and Devic realms.  There is an amazing line-up this year, with Robert Moss and musical guest Kai Altair, and many more.

See for more information

The Mystical Passage w/ Jeni Dahn & Donte Quinine
July 15th-17th

All-inclusive: $350 pp: shared living quarters

To RSVP contact

A Weekend of Creative Renewal
September 22nd - 25th

Creative Awakening arises from Listening Within.  Just as in breathing, there has to be movement in and out to be fully alive.   In this weekend we explore several paths for both inspiration and expression: Intuitively led creative writing, playful artistry using color and light, immersion in nature, inner guidance through shamanic journey, and spontaneous movement through yoga and dance.  We rejoice in the sweetness of community, allowing ourselves to see and be seen by sharing stories and insights.  A profoundly nourishing treat for body and soul!  With Janet McGillivray, Elizabeth Dennis and Lindsey Swope.  

Registration of $460 if paid by June 15th; $495 by September 13th; $525 after

See the brochure here

With Brooke Nelson  

As told to E. Liles

When did you first come to Skalitude and why?  I first visited in 2007 with my daughter’s dad’s east coast family and friends for an overnight..  We had such a lovely time, it was just magical!   After that my daughter’s dad’s brother and his partner decided to get married here, so we came back for that.  And then I’ve come with Alderleaf [Wilderness College] for the last three years for survival classes, building snow caves, and animal tracking.

What was your first impression?  Oh my god…with the meadow there is this incredible perspective - like the ocean and the mountains; you stand perched on the edge of a cliff with the meadow down below you.  [At the time] there was a spiral mowed into the meadow, which was stunning, and the white flags were blowing.  It was summer, so the hills were fairly gold and dry and the meadow was green.  It was just so private, perched on the edge of the back country.

Do you feel drawn to any particular area or natural feature of the land?  Yesterday I stumbled on one that I just fell in love with – up high on mountain Panchenmama [north of the meadow] there’s this amazing little spot.  It’s a steep slope, sparse vegetation and undergrowth – you look up and there’s some flowering cherry in the middle of nowhere that makes you think 'I’m curious about what’s up there'.  You climb up to this little flat bench, and if you go around behind the cherry there’s a ponderosa and just this perfect little hidey-hole with a view of the entire valley.  There’s death camas and larkspur that I hadn’t seen anywhere else, a very interesting plant community where there is everything in this tiny little spot.  It felt like a really energetic place. 

Do you have any special memories or experiences to share? :  I’m just going to give you a list:  Hiking the Lookout [Lookout Mtn] with you two that morning.  The color and the light and the giddiness.  It was so special.  There was the super fog in the valley and the sun coming up; the raven’s wing tracks in the snow and the cougar tracks that we found later near the summit; and the electric periwinkle blue shadows.  It was beautiful.  Another one was trailing the coyotes to their howling spot, where I could see echoes of what the coyotes were doing the night before, just from their tracks.  I saw their perch on the rock - they were standing on it and howling out over the valley.  I had heard them the night before, and then went out and found their place; how they had been moving around the landscape, what they had been peeing on and the whole thing.  Also a lot of really fun sledding experiences with the [Alderleaf] students, where we’ve been hiking all day and we take off our snowshoes and slide down on our butts [laughs].  And the bear nursery tree that’s over there [points to the north west hills], that huge ponderosa that has bear claw marks all over it from generations of cubs climbing it -– a babysitter tree.  Snow caves and the community that is built around piling snow and carving it out, and being wet and then sleeping in this incredibly quiet cave.  And the talking circles we hold in the lodge.  I think that’s when our sense of community comes together for the first time really cohesively in the year, on that night in the lodge.  The lodge - good things have happened there!  Those are some of my memories, they just cascade out…and Vic’s bread, you should also put that on the list, wait, no you shouldn’t because people will eat all the bread [laughs].

Describe what the definition of Skalitude: sacred state of mind where magic and beauty are everywhere – means to you.  How do you access this state?   I most often get into that state when I am in the wilderness in community.  There is a lot of space for being human up here. I live in the city, but here there is a sense of being entirely removed from the frenetic pace of daily life.  There is something about being separate with space and solitude; it's interesting because it is a feeling of aloneness, but there is the joy of having people to experience it with.  There are the deeper connections you can make with people when you have the emotional space and the bandwidth; the generosity of self when you’re not feeling the onslaught of pressure from...modernity.  I really feel like magic happens inter-personally here and in the woods as well.  It reminds you how accessible that frame of mind is if you put yourself in the right place, if you facilitate it for yourself.  Sometimes that's really hard to do in life, and sometimes it requires escape or vacation or leaving, or coming together in order to do that - and I think what [this state of mind] reminds you to do is to carry it with you when you leave.

Thank you Brooke!

Brooke Nelson is the coordinator of Alderleaf Wilderness College's advanced skills program. She's wildly fortunate to explore and learn with her students in extraordinary places like Skalitude.

Let us help plan your stay!
Phone: 1-509-997-1032
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Our mailing address is:
PO Box 74, Carlton, WA 98814

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Skalitude Retreat · PO Box 74 · 302 Smith Canyon Rd · Carlton, WA 98814 · USA

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