Payson Arizona: It was a two-day adventure into landscapes that satisfied the craving for outdoor serenity. Waterfalls; miles of flowing rock in textured reds, orange and white; boulder scrambles and easily-accessible swimming holes.
Day 1: An early start for a nearly 3-hour scenic drive from Wickenburg, allowed us to arrive for a 9am opening of a State Park that contained 2 hikes into the largest natural travertine bridge in the world. We trekked two trails, for a comfortable and rewarding 5 miles in total. Most in our group took on the optional rock scrambling which led us into the center of the surreal, open-ended limestone and travertine cavern. The sounds of water flowing and frequent bird calls held us spell-bound for hours. We left the park when the crowds moved in and ventured onto a pub for food, drinks and fellowship and then settled into tents for the night.
Day 2: Another early start found us to be the first on the “Water Wheel Trail” for a popular 2-mile easy hike. We experienced major rewards right from the start as the trail placed us walking on top of gorgeous rock flows. We moved at a slow pace so we could frequently pause to view the natural water features in this small canyon. By the time we reached the end of the trail, air temperatures warmed up and we were ready to wade into the pools of water. We spent nearly 3 hours lounging, dunking and meditating on smooth comfortable rocks near a spectacular waterfall. Had it not been for crowds moving in, we would have likely stayed even longer!
The drive back to Wickenburg included a stop for lunch at a lovely outdoor small-town bakery. This Payson experience found the weather and temperatures quite favorable during the first 2-weeks in June. This is a lovely escape in Northern Arizona for either a daytrip or 2-day experience!
About My Retreats
The experiences described above represent just a few of the many opportunities we have created to date. Varied experiences and locations are available upon request.
My retreats are designed to achieve higher body/mind functioning and to develop more focus, team building and emotional intelligence for my clients. Physical activities are paired with focused workshops that are customized with specific targeted walkaways. They provide education, introduce skills and tools for increasing brain wellness, team productivity and improved stress management.
Mind-body exercises are always part of the overnight retreats and often include “Stretch & Strong” workouts and/or guided meditation practices.
Workshops & retreats can also encourage healthier lifestyle choices to increase mental performance. Brain hacks, skills, strategies and customized tools are also a big part of our all day or overnight workshops.
It’s what I love to do.
To lead and hold space for positive experiences in beautiful surroundings
To provide skills and tools for increasing brain fitness and for settling stress
To help my fellow humans better navigate difficult shifts and bring more ease and peace to their lives.
To witness and help facilitate positive changes in individuals, families, teams and organizations.
Thank you for trusting me with your shifts in life.
Treasure Hunting: A group of 14 went rock hounding plus a clean up of trash from a beautiful dry desert stream bed located near the AZ workshop location. It was a great combination activity because doing and/or expecting something good motivates and energizes the brain with incredible positive hormones. These chemicals are a natural antidepressant and essential to wellness. This is a powerful brain and wellness combo that we can self-dispense in many different ways. This event was a way to experience the feel-good hormones first-hand.
Some found the rare Red Jasper, and others found Quartz, Olivine and some Mica glittered pieces. These keepsakes will make great desk paperweights that can remind us to take a few minutes to intentionally rebalance our brain chemistry. This event was topped off by live music, food and a fire pit gathering.
Prescott Willow Lake: I hosted a small group on a 6 mile hike around this Lake with morphing rocks, great sweeping views, semi-technical rock hopping, and prolific bird watching. One must remain mindful to filter distractions. Accumulated elevation on this trail was approximately 700’. This moderate hike offers opportunities and management of physical stressors. It is ideally suited to people with minimal hiking experience and/or some physical limitations or challenges. The location is perfect for those who would also like to add kayaking for a full day of activities at the lake.
Bagdad Hoodoos: 16 of us with different abilities had an adventure exploring an abandoned mine operation. We marveled at the 1920’s engineering amongst stunning landscapes. We topped off the day with a hike in and around the picturesque Hoodoos and 4 x 4 action. Temperatures in Bagdad AZ this time of the year was spectacular!
Prescott’s Constellation Trail, named after the USAF plane and crew that is memorialized there. I led a large group from the warmer Wickenburg temperatures into a cooler, higher elevation experience located only 75 minutes North from our Arizona home base.
This trail is scenic with massive boulders and open views. The paths are well-marked and groomed to reduce the difficulty, yet provided enough of a challenge that you knew you were hiking and not just out for a walk! The layout allows for short and longer exploration. It is ideal for some great photo opportunities and side by side time. This trail location is near covered outdoor spaces that work well for small and large group workshops and other outdoor activities when cooler Arizona temperatures are preferred.
A trek over to the Colorado Rocky Mountains to work and play with clients and friends. There were no group adventures here, but plenty of beautiful outdoor places to explore and brainstorm to connect one-on-one, reminding us how in-person meets can be a boost to our mental and physical well-being.
Worthy of further exploration were the many trails, white water rivers and hot springs located outside the towns of Vail, Buena Vista and Pagosa Springs! To the clients I missed on this tour…..I’ll be back up in Washington in September. Reach out if you want to connect!
A Lake Side Mindfulness Workshop for a group of 24: Our guest was Dr. Manijeh Motaghy, a Mindfulness instructor at UCLA and with the non-profit “Perfectly Here”.
The group was instructed and practiced 3 forms of mindful self-awareness meditations. We learned there are many ways to mindfully focus our attention to help develop and build mental muscle. We practice this skill, because in a relaxed mental state, we can improve many aspects of wellness in our mind and body. When mindfulness skills are honed, we can experience more self-awareness, self-care, better sleep and more regulation of emotions. This state of being also places our bodies into a state of rest and a good “digest and repair” mode.
This sheltered outdoor venue had sunshine, but unexpected cold winds moved in and put our mindful listening to the test. The wind ended up being a bonus. It helped demonstrate to us that when we stepped into a meditation, the sensory discomfort of cold completely disappeared.
Kaiser Warm Springs Canyon: 14 swift-footed adventurers hiked the 2 miles down to Burro Creek, dipped toes in the Warm Springs and found some cool minerals. We were so energized with endorphins that we did not want to stop when our 4-mile round-trip hike was over, so many of us opted to add in another 2 mile bonus trek into a stunning narrow slot canyon. This is always a favorite on the list of hikes into the Arizona landscape.
The Crystal Fields: 14 of us traveled to the Quartz Crystal fields and brought back beautiful sparkle. They will serve as reminders for how having fun and expecting something good releases endorphins which boost mental and physical wellness. Everyone discovered crystals, but also felt what a “regulated” nervous systems feels like when we are intentionally releasing feel good nuero-chemicals. When this is experienced, it can show us how to re-trigger feel-good chemicals on a daily basis for healthier and happier nervous systems.
Night Hike & Lunar Eclipse: 13 thrill-seekers hiked “Windmill Ridge” to watch the full blood moon rise and transition during the lunar eclipse, but we experienced so much more! An incredible sunset over Wickenburg Ranch; The International Space Station passing over head and the sounds of coyotes coming from packs of humans.
We topped off the adventure by navigating back home under a moonless but star filled sky, with no fixed trail. Our headlamps lit our way, but also lit up the eyeballs of night creatures that appeared frozen from either the sight of our lights or the sound of our laughter. Bunnies, spiders, night hawks, owls and more, oh MY! The desert was alive and helped facilitate a pretty special bond within the group.
Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial Hike. A must do for our First Responder guests, this hike is always a good physical and emotional workout! This is rated moderate to difficult, but for those that wish to only complete the first couple miles and want to read about the 19 firefighters that lost their lives in the Yarnell Hill Fire, it hosts shaded benches to allow them to wait out the return of those that set their sites to reach the fatality site located 3.5 miles in from the trail head. This is a 7 mile roundtrip with 1700' accumulative gain and takes 4-6 hours to complete for large groups.
As spoken by one man in the group; “Hikes seem to be more fun and easier when in a group.” Yes it is! The difficult parts go by quicker with the distraction or support from others. Which was the wellness lesson learned on this hike: The first responders that were memorialized on this hike had a brotherhood. They worked together as a team. They were a tribe….and when circumstances are challenging or maybe even dire, it’s those relationships that can help us feel supported, despite the intense stress of scary life shifts.
The Windmill Hill Mindfulness Challenge: 22 hikers and 4 well behaved dogs blasted up the Windmill Hill near the AZ workshop location. This is always a brain challenge to stay focused on loose rock and to navigate some steep sections. If you zoom in on the picture of the dog being carried over the finish line, his body sums up the happy chemicals we all filled up on, triggered by incredible fellowship, exercise and sunshine.
Picacho Peak: Truly a bucket list experience! This hike/climb is rated as difficult and is a practice for mind over matter. Located within a 75 minute drive of Phoenix, this experience is a great way to practice managing fears and focus while also team bonding. I love to take groups on this challenge and everyone I have guided (well over 100 people, ranging in age 4 to 71), has managed to complete this experience. According to Wikipedia: “Portions of the trails are precarious, and hikers are aided by cables and catwalks. These additions make the routes some of the few via ferrata in the United States.”
One cannot complete the total accumulated elevation of over 2100 feet without mentally managing the stress that is placed on the mind, the body and emotions. The group of rock stars shown logged this day in the books as a success. Check out the smiles. This epic hike and bonding experience WILL be repeated! Ages in the photo ranged from 71 to 58 for this group. Now that is some senior grit!
Location: Crystal Sky Camp. At 6200’, Mt. Rainier/Campbell Basin/Washington State.
3 Days, 2 nights: This inspiring location proved to be a great venue arrangement for a gathering of leaders. The Crystal Sky Camp at the Campbell Basin was a perfect work and play space for strategic vision planning and included a gorgeous rustic lodge; luxury yurts; gourmet meals; hikes; fly fishing, firepits, starry skies and elk herds.
This location is rented on an exclusive basis; is most feasible with 12-50 people and is accessed by a scenic gondola and ski lift ride. If anyone is bothered by heights, there is always an option to hike in or to ride up this mountain via a 4x4 to this location. The working season for this meeting space is best booked a year in advance for July, August or September.
To view the venue, visit: www.crystalskycamp.com
Mt. Rainier/ Chinook Pass @ 5400’ : An 8-mile roundtrip hike with 900’ gain with switch backs so well engineered that it made our climb seem nearly effortless. Highlights of this trail would be the layers of mountain views; whimsical trees; two stunning lakes; wildflower meadows, plus views of Mt. Rainier, Mt. St Helens and Mt. Adams. This is a favorite hike of mine that most people can manage without much strain in exchange for monumental emotional gain.
This hike sits on the edge of the Mt. Rainier National Park and can be completed as a day hike or customized to overnight at a local lodge or within a tent on a section of the famous Pacific Crest Trail.
Mt. Rainier @ 6400’/Dege Peak
This was a 4.25 round trip, 700’ gain on a ridge trail with a smack dab, in-your-face-beautiful view of Mt. Rainier which tops out at 14,411’. As if that dramatic view was not enough, this trail on a clear summer day, allows the trekker to also spot several other prominent peaks within this section of the Cascade Mountains.
Mid July found us navigating several spots of snow, but hiking poles, and soft snow was easy enough to stomp through this time of year if good tread is the boots.
The final push up to reach Dege Peak is short, but for those not feeling up to the climb, there is a lovely spot to stop and enjoy the view from a lower vantage point. For those that pushed upwards, this location makes them feel like they are on top of the world!
Vulture Peak, Wickenburg: Sometimes it is the difficulty of the hike that brings fellowship. Just hiking to Vulture's saddle will create a bond because there is1300' elevation gain in 2 miles, plus the challenge of loose talus, (a small rock that rolls under foot). It requires groups to stay mindful and patient with different paces and abilities. There is great reward when reaching the false summit, but 7 of the 10 hikers were ready to take it further!
I was honored to guide them on the class 3 rock scramble to the top. These conditions set the stage for important lessons to be learned and opportunities to practice critical mental skill. Despite most being completely new to rock scrambling, they discovered how to self-settle and regulate their emotions to stay focused, which allowed them to follow directions and stay safe from injury. They encouraged and supported each other and trusted in their boots. We celebrated the sweet victory over lunch at the top.
Those who remained at the saddle had their special bonding time too. With new skills learned and experiences shared, we supported each other and finished together. The challenges faced on the trail rarely dampens moods, but instead creates opportunities for those around you to express kindness and support. These experiences then become a door into some pretty cool bonding.
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Easter Sunday: Oooh the excitement and anticipation of a dark hike! Some of us woke up before our alarms and others woke with a panic after dreaming that they had overslept the start of this emotional trek. It was a 5 am hike up to the windmill, with headlamps and a large moon lighting our way. In reverence, we heard the birds calling for the sun to rise and together we watched the rising of the sun for Easter morning.
Burro Creek:A rock-hounding destination known around the world and a great way to understand the practice and effect of releasing brain chemicals that are essential for wellness and stress reduction. We also deepened relationships PLUS found Purple Jasper; Pastilite Agates; Fire Agates; Black Obsidian; Bubbly Chalcedony and more, all in a matter of a few hours.
This retreat into the desert placed us in some amazing scenery with the sound of a wild Burro nearby and hawks circling overhead that watched our antics as we delighted over what was found lying on the desert floor. Exchanges of kind acts were frequent. It was great to witness the offers of shoveling, the transport of heavy buckets for others and the exchange of blingy gifts. Our pockets and hearts were overfilled with good stuff to last us well into next week! These types of thoughtful human experiences allows us to appreciate the calming effects of trust, patience and respect for those around us.
This rock hounding outing had sunshine and temps in the 60/70's- what could be sweeter? Well, how departing with rainbows overhead, followed by an al fresco lunch with the scent of citrus blossoms in the air reflecting on an incredible day together.
A 2022 Coach's Blog
A peek into some of the group retreats that Pamela has led this year. We hope this inspires you to jump into designing a customized private workshop or retreat for yourself, your group or organization!
Our experiential retreats are incredibly fun, but are also designed to cultivate higher performance personally and professionally.
Email to brainstorm over possibilities: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hoodoo Hike & Off-Road Adventure. I led 15 humans and 1 puppy doodle on a gorgeous hike up to an old mine. It did not take long before the first of many purple rocks were found which engaged and hooked all our brains into looking for more. Our spirits felt full and satisfied and we could of ended our adventure there feeling complete, but we instead went for the full expansion of hearts and minds by venturing off road into the incredible Hoodoos!
This place is located only an hour drive away from Wickenburg AZ and hosts surreal beauty. It requires procurement of a special group permit and is mostly unknown to others. This group saw many “visions” in the rocks and got a peek at the back side of a massive copper mining operation. We also were taken aback by the incredible beauty of a dramatic canyon-all from air-conditioned cabins! On the return out of the Hoodoos, a small group was not ready to end the adventure, so we decided to take boots back back on the ground to search for the rumored “portal” to another dimension. We looked, laughed and agreed that it felt like we had stepped into a slice of heaven-perhaps we slipped through the portal without even seeing it? 😊 The day was a reminder that we have incredibly kind humans around us. We need only be brave enough to step out of our comfort zone, walk side by side, laugh and be authentically present with those around us.