Northwest Coastal Pilgrimage


Application Deadline: July 22, 2018
Notification of application status: August 6, 2018

Application Fee: $10
Registration Fee: $475
Scholarship Award: $425
(Scholarship recipients will be required to pay a $50 registration fee)


The Northwest Coastal Pilgrimage: Recovering the Sacred is a spiritual and intercultural learning experience drawing from Celtic Christian and Native American Wisdom. Through the ancient spiritual practice of pilgrimage, we seek to recover our inherent and sacred connection to all living things.  Our walk together will be an act of resistance. We will explore our unique, generative, and creative response to the dominant and violent forces of our time that perpetuate our disconnection. Guided spiritual practices will invite each pilgrim towards restoration of harmony and right relation with self, Creator, neighbor, and the planet.

This pilgrimage route meanders along the Pacific Coast Trail in Northern Oregon, USA, and traverses approximately 35 miles of seaside foothills, sand dunes, coastal rainforest and expansive breathtaking beaches. Beginning with the rising of the sun in the morning, our group will walk 10-15 miles each day by way of trail, beach, and brief roadside walking.

Indian Beach

Indian Beach

Pedagogy and Program 

Pilgrims will practice together what it means to be a beloved community, making specific agreements about our group norms and way of being together. Differences among group members, whether in ideology, religion, ethnicity, or race will be honored and seen as opportunities for growing in awareness and understanding. Together we will journey towards healing, connection, wonder and a clear sense of calling.

Periods of walking in silence, facilitated conversations, reflection, observance of nature, and prayer will support the embodiment of the experience. Participants will be required to read Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality by John Philip Newell and Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachers of Plants by Robin Wall Kimerrer as a primer for our learning. Creative morning prayer and intentions will start each day before settling into rhythms of silence, sharing our stories, breaking bread, holding space for authentic connection, and group dialogue.Our intention is to learn from each other, the surrounding natural landscape, and the required readings. This will be our basis for exploring our unique and communal call to participate in meaningful action towards healing and transformation in the world.

Required Reading

Participants will be required to read the following as a primer for our learning.

  • Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality by John Philip Newell
  • Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimerrer

Trip Leaders

The NW Coastal Pilgrimage is led by Ben Lindwall and Stephanie Escher.

Ben is the Executive Director of HEARTBEAT, based in Portland, OR and has been leading spiritually oriented trips for over a decade. He is a certified Spiritual Director and is also certified in First Aid. Ben made the pilgrimage to the Isle of Iona in Scotland in 2011 and has since been mentored by John Philip and Ali Newell.




Stephanie,  Turtle Mountain Ojibwe, is a hospice Chaplain and engages in faith-based ministry on a volunteer basis at Hennepin Ave UMC in Minneapolis, MN. Stephanie is a Native American and a former pilgrim from Heartbeat’s 2015 Camino Peace Pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago in Spain.


Trail over Tillamook Head

Trail over Tillamook Head

Physical Expectations, Training and Terrain

Pilgrims are required to train with a loaded pack and must be prepared to walk up to 20 miles on any given day. The first day (15 miles) involves walking on firm, flat sand during low tide. The second day (12 miles) includes a major 1000 ft climb up and over Tillamook Head on forested state park trails (pilgrims must be able to walk on uneven, rocky and sometimes muddy ground) with a steep ascent and descent. The third and final full day (8 miles) of walking returns to the beach below picturesque seaside bluffs during low tide. The route consists of approximately 60% beach walking, 35% forested trails, and 5% roadside walking.

The trip leaders will work to find a pace that works for everyone, usually a fairly brisk walk. The element of a physical challenge and willingness to push through discomfort is an intentional aspect of the pilgrimage and we believe this can be an important tool in the transformation process. Sharing such an experience with others and offering or receiving support along the way can augment the positive outcomes. If pain or discomforts arise, each pilgrim will be personally responsible for expressing their needs and judging their ability to continue.

While usually sunny this time of year, the possibility always exists for high winds, cool air, and rain. Our group will be expected to walk rain or shine unless dangerous conditions are present. Trekking poles are highly recommended and appropriate heavy-duty waterproof rain gear should be packed.

A few other details to keep in mind:

  • At certain times restrooms will not be available and there may be minimal coverage for privacy.
  • A couple stream crossings will be necessary.
  • Group time will be spent sitting in a circle, sometimes on the ground for up to one hour.
  • Each participant should also be prepared to carry up to 2 lbs of food and/or other gear needed for the whole group.
  • To maximize the ideal time of beach walking on firm sand during low tide, some days may start as early as 5:00am.

Cost and Application Process

There is a $10 application fee, and you must be at least 18 years of age for the entirety of the event to be considered.. Those who wish to apply must complete the online application and have a mentor, teacher, or spiritual leader complete an online reference form by July 22, 2018. 


Please have medical history information available for filling out the application to help us ensure that selected participants are physically and mentally able to complete this pilgrimage. Please be aware that the co-leaders of this trip practice spiritual accompaniment, have experience leading wilderness trips, and are certified in First Aid but are not medical or mental health professionals. A brief phone interview is also required once the application is submitted. There is space for 12 participants and applicants will be notified of their status by August 6. All selected participants will be required to provide proof of insurance and emergency contact information and sign Heartbeat’s Release and Indemnification Waiver and purchase travel insurance (if not included in current policy).

The cost of this pilgrimage is $475 and scholarship funds are available for those with limited income. The registration fee covers meals, lodging, transportation from Portland to the coast and back, guided walking, and program.

Scholarships are available and successful scholarship applicants will receive a $425 scholarship towards the overall costs and are required to pay a $50 registration fee.


Additional costs:

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach

Meals and Lodging

All meals will be planned by trip staff and prepared by group members. We are happy to accommodate conventional, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan diet. Every effort will be made to use locally sourced and organic ingredients.

The first and last night of the trip will be spent in state park yurts. These are semi-rustic accommodations with bunk bed mattresses, electricity, and heat. The second night will be spent at a hostel in Seaside, OR where bunkrooms with bedding are available (we have blocked out rooms for our group only). The third night will be spent at a church in Cannon Beach. Showers, bathrooms and a kitchen are available at all locations.


Accepted applicants will meet at the Leaven Community Center in Portland, OR on Thursday, September 13th at 11am. After lunch (provided), introductions, and orientation the group will be transported by passenger van to Ft. Stevens State Park on the coast, making some food and supply drops along our route on the way. Our walk will conclude near Arch Cape, OR, and we will shuttle back to Ft. Steven’s State Park for our final overnight and group gathering. The group will return to Portland by 12pm on Monday, September 17th.

DAY 1          Meet in Portland, van shuttle to the coast, make food drops along route, overnight at Ft Steven’s State Park

DAY 2          Walk to Seaside, overnight at Seaside International Hostel – MILES: 15

DAY 3          Walk to Cannon Beach, overnight at Community Church – MILES: 12

DAY 4          Walk to Arch Cape, shuttle back to Ft. Stevens State Park – MILES: 8

DAY 5          Return to Portland, OR

Tentative Daily Schedule:

6:00   Prayer/meditation
6:30   Breakfast
7:15    Depart for morning walk
9:30   Morning break: snack, prayer, and story sharing
10:15  Walk
12:30  Lunch break
1:00    Walk
3:00   Afternoon break: snack, prayer, and story sharing
3:45    Walk
5:00    Arrive at lodging/free time
6:30    Dinner
7:15    Group time
9:30    Light out

View from Hug Point

View from Hug Point

Packing list

*Please be mindful that the packing list includes what you will be wearing (for instance, you will wear one pair of socks and pack two— three total)

Depending on weather forecast, you may plan to leave some luggage locked up in the shuttle trailer to avoid excess carrying on the trail.

  • Socks (3) light wool for hiking
  • Sock liner (3) prevents blisters (optional)
  • Underwear (2) lightweight, quick dry (mostly poly/nylon fabric)
  • Comfortable sports bra (2)
  • Shorts (1) lightweight, quick dry (mostly poly/nylon fabric)
  • Pants (1) lightweight, quick dry (mostly poly/nylon fabric)
  • Shirts (2) lightweight, quick dry (mostly poly/nylon fabric)
  • Long sleeve shirt (1) lightweight, quick dry (mostly poly/nylon fabric)
  • Lightweight hiking shoes
  • Light sandal
  • Rain jacket
  • Hat
  • Moleskin (or other blister treatment)
  • earplugs
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Toothbrush
  • Laundry detergent
  • Toothpaste (small tube)
  • Soap (small all purpose bar for body and hair, if possible)
  • Water bottle (at least 900ml/32oz)
  • 5 clothespins
  • Plastic plate, fork, and spoon
  • Hiking towel (small quick dry)
  • Toiletries
  • Medication
  • Backpack
  • Pillow
  • Journal
  • Pen or pencil
  • Camera phone and waterproof container
  • Sleeping bag and mat (note: these items will be dropped at a specific site and will note be carried in backpack)
  • Small pocket knife (see TSA regulations if transporting knife in carry-on luggage)
  • Feminine Urinary Device (like this one at REI)

Cancellation policy

Registration fees are nonrefundable unless another participant is able to fill a cancelation.