Desert Hiking and Writing Retreat 2023!

Come hike and write in the desert with me, on a five day retreat in southern Arizona!

There are two sessions with five spots each- February 3rd- 8th and February 10th- 15th

Imagine this: you’re planning to hike a long trail like the Pacific Crest Trail or Appalachian Trail in 2023. You’ve backpacked in the traditional style (going out for a few days at a time, carrying a heavy pack, walking around 10 miles a day) but you’ve never hiked a longer trail where months of higher daily mileage creates greater strain on the body and lighter (often fussier) gear is used. You also love to write! You sign up for this retreat, and between now and February you and I have a two hour zoom call where we go over all your hopes, dreams and fears around long distance hiking, and I help coach you through whatever questions you might have about gear or anything else related to the trail.

Then, in the first half of February, six of us meet in the Arizona desert, near Phoenix. We share an evening and then a full day of incredible meals in our rental house, get to know each other, go over all our gear together, practice packing our packs and using the navigational app on our phones, and discuss our hiking itinerary- where we’ll camp, how far we’ll hike each day (about twelve miles) and where we’ll find water. In the evening we have group writing time, with prompts. The next morning we set out for three days of backpacking- we hike far enough each day to put our gear and bodies to the test, in order to learn and troubleshoot and grow, but not so far that we stop having fun. Along the way I am there to help with whatever comes up. In the evenings in camp we cook our little dinners and then, before crawling into our cozy sleeping bags, we use prompts to write together again. At the end of the third day we are picked up at a trailhead and shuttled back to our rental house, where an incredible dinner awaits us. The next morning we have breakfast and say our goodbyes, having made new friends, had an incredible time, and gained a lot of confidence about our upcoming long distance hikes.

Who is this retreat for? This retreat is for women, trans and queer people who have some experience backpacking and want to learn more about long distance hiking, as well as test out their gear ahead of the 2023 long distance hiking season and receive one-on-one coaching on topics such as:

  • What gear to bring
  • Pitching your single wall shelter
  • Choosing footwear
  • Planning water carries in the desert
  • Navigation
  • Caring for your feet
  • How much food to bring and what sort of food (including meals for dietary restrictions)
  • How to schedule your hiking day
  • Which trail is the best fit for you
  • How to pack your pack
  • Shitting outside
  • Planning your resupplies
  • Budgeting for a long trail
  • How to prevent and care for chafe
  • Keeping your gear dry in the rain and preventing hypothermia
  • Keeping cool in the desert and preventing heat exhaustion
  • Campsite selection
  • What clothing to bring
  • Creating content while on trail

And so much more.

What’s included:

  • Lodging. Lodging when we’re in town is in a rental house.
  • All meals while we’re in town: dinner the night we arrive, three meals the next day, breakfast the morning we depart for hiking, dinner the night we return to our rental house and breakfast the following morning. Tons of snacks will always be available. Meals will be tailored to the group’s dietary restrictions. You are responsible for your hiking meals and snacks (and I can help you plan that if you’d like).
  • A shuttle to the starting trailhead plus a ride from the ending trailhead back to town.
  • A two hour zoom coaching session with me before the retreat.
  • Four group writing sessions, with prompts.

You are responsible for:

  • Your food for the three days we’re on trail
  • Your airfare and transportation to the rental house, which is one hour outside of Phoenix (there will be a group chat to help people coordinate rides from Phoenix together)
  • Your gear

There will be two sessions:

4pm on Friday, February 3rd to 11am on Wednesday, February 8th

4pm on Friday, February 10th to 11am on Wednesday, February 15th

There are five spots in each session.

The cost is $1,750 for a bunk in a shared room.

Register for a bunk in the shared room in the first session: (SOLD OUT)

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Register for a bunk in the shared room in the second session: (SOLD OUT)

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Meet our chef:

Kelly Kate Warren has been working in the wilderness for 10 years, as a trail worker, ranger, fisheries technician, mule packer, guide, and backcountry cook. Her greatest love is backcountry cooking – she gets to throw a dinner party for hungry wilderness workers every night, and she loves the creative problem solving involved in feeding folks in the backcountry. People do not expect to eat pho or a rainbow beet salad in the wilderness, let alone vegan cheesecake or baklava or ravioli from scratch, and creating memorable meals is Kelly Kate’s favorite way to make the wilderness feel welcoming and comfortable. When she’s not cooking she’s writing, walking her dog, and exploring wild lands. I am SO EXCITED that Kelly Kate will be cooking for us when we’re in town, the meals she makes will definitely be one of the highlights of this retreat! You can see the incredible dishes that Kelly Kate prepares (as well as read her writing, which is excellent) on her instagram here.


Where is the closest airport to the retreat? Phoenix, Arizona is one hour from our rental house.

I’m gluten intolerant and vegan. Will there be food for me? Yes! The incredible meals our chef prepares while we’re in town will have options for everyone’s dietary restrictions. There will also be lots of snacks available.

Will Kelly Kate be cooking our meals while we’re backpacking too? Unfortunately, no. You are responsible for the three days of food you’ll need for the backpacking part of the retreat. I can help you plan your meals during our two-hour one on one zoom call, if you’d like!

How will I get from the Phoenix airport to the retreat? Uber is probably the easiest way. There will be a text group with the participants so that people can coordinate sharing rides, if they want.

What will the sleeping arrangements be? There is a shared room with six bunks.

How many people will be at this retreat? There will be five people in each session, plus me and our chef.

When does the retreat start and end? The first session is from 4pm on February 3rd to 11 am on February 8th. The second session is from 4pm on February 10th to 11 am on February 15th.

How much does this cost? A bunk in the shared room is $1,750, the private room is $2,000

How will we get to the trailhead, and back to the house once we’re finished? A shuttle.

How far will we hike each day? About twelve miles.

What will our longest water carry be? Eleven miles. And we’ll camp at water each night.

I’m not sure what to bring on this trip. Don’t stress! We can go over that in our two hour zoom call.

I think I might lowkey hate my gear. This is a good opportunity for you to try out new gear, with support!

What will we be writing about? We’ll have fiction and non-fiction prompts each evening. You can use this opportunity to practice creating content on trail, or you can just write for the sake of writing.

About me:

My name is Carrot Quinn. I’ve hiked eleven thousand miles, including from Mexico to Canada three times. I’ve written a blog post every day for every one of those hikes- my blog posts from my first time on the PCT became the memoir Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart. I’ve also published another book, The Sunset Route, and am at work on a speculative fiction novel. I love writing and the outdoors, and sharing those things with others. I think that language and storytelling belong to people, and that the natural world is our truest home. I’m really excited to be facilitating this retreat!

There are ten spots available total, in two sessions. Reserve your spot here:

Register for a bunk in the shared room in the first session: (SOLD OUT)

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Register for a bunk in the shared room in the second session: (SOLD OUT)

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You can also email me with any questions at I hope to see you in the desert!