Trip Report
Land of Medicine Buddha & Enchanted Forest, hiking and running
Tuesday October 16, 2012 6:26pm
This isn't exactly a trip report where I went someplace, but more about a trip that I am lucky enough to do 3 or 4 times a week when I am home. Just up the hill from my home in Soquel (Santa Cruz) is the Land of Medicine Buddha. www.medicinebuddha.org It is a Buddist retreat that has been there about 10 years. Prior to that it was a lodge of some sort. I typically go up there to do the Enchanted Forest loop which is a 6.5 mile trail run/hike. It is also a mountain bike area that connects with the Forest of Niscene Marks. For mountain bikers the trail is quite advanced, beyond my level of expertise. The trails in LMB are not in any published trail books since it is on private land so it is only known by word of mouth, making it very uncrowded. Although it is private you are allowed to walk through the grounds and onto the trails. The loop is 6.5 miles with a wonderful moderately steep beginning section (depending on which way you go) with well spaced switchbacks. The trail across the top is a nice meandering trail and then a medium angle down hill. Well what's so special about that? Not much, if it were just a trail through the mountains or hills it would be like 1000s of others. But about 40 minutes into the trail you begin to come across the "surprises" as I like to call them.


At the start you can go to the Land of Medicine Buddha or the Enchanted Forest. The LMB trail or the Trail of 8 Verses is a 2 mile stroll which at which there are 8 stations each with a bench, and beautiful signage with a Buddist verse. Each is so serene and invites meditation.

Choices...actually you get to do both if you do the "big loop"
Choices...actually you get to do both if you do the "big loop"
Credit: SCseagoat

The path of Eight Verses contains stations like this...very inviting, yes?

One of the Eight Verses.  Since these come up at the end of my run/hil...
One of the Eight Verses. Since these come up at the end of my run/hile I've been known to sit and reflect...actually breathe. There are often "gifts" left on the frames.
Credit: SCseagoat

About 40 minutes into my workwout I come to my first special place. But just before that I go under this branch that seems to have grown just perfectly for someone to pass under.

I pass just perfectly under this branch that hangs over the middle of ...
I pass just perfectly under this branch that hangs over the middle of the trail.
Credit: SCseagoat

Then up a little further and around the corner to the first of some special surpirses. People doing this for the first time are so moved.

Up on top of the hill, a beautiful sacred grove with prayer flags.  It...
Up on top of the hill, a beautiful sacred grove with prayer flags. It's not uncommon to find branches on the ground that have been arranged into a pattern. Very moving.
Credit: SCseagoat

From this point on you need to look carefully as there are small "memorials" just off the beaten path. It's not uncommon for me to find a new one that I have passed by many times. An example of just two:

You have to explore a little bit to find this one.
You have to explore a little bit to find this one.
Credit: SCseagoat

Further down the hill. Depending on which way you are going you might not even see this one. It's tucked into a little grove.

There are many of these tucked just off the lower paths.  I have seen ...
There are many of these tucked just off the lower paths. I have seen so many types of relics left behind. I'm always wondering about the back story.
Credit: SCseagoat

Coming further down the hill there is another sacred grove:

This frequently has the Peace Sign made of branches.  Sometimes there ...
This frequently has the Peace Sign made of branches. Sometimes there are other branch-made shapes.
Credit: SCseagoat

As I continue on getting closer to main buildings I go up a small but steep hill and begin to drop into a beautiful and sacred meadow.

Just before dropping down into the meadow there is another one of the ...
Just before dropping down into the meadow there is another one of the Eight Verses stations. This one also has a lovely pond.
Credit: SCseagoat

Over the crest of the hill and the lovely meadow with prayer flags and large tent are in front of me. I believe larger events are held up here.

This picture doesn't do justice.  The meadow is just teeming with beau...
This picture doesn't do justice. The meadow is just teeming with beautiful prayer flags.
Credit: SCseagoat

Further down the meadow is also the Stupa path for the blessing of animals. Unfortunately I didn't catch the shadow on the painted signage which reads: "Special Blessing for Animals by Following the Stupa Path". What I love about this painted signage is that it's an exact rendition of what you are looking at as you read it.

The prayer flags in the meadow just never end!
The prayer flags in the meadow just never end!
Credit: SCseagoat


"Special Blessing for Dogs  by following the Stupa Path"  The signage ...
"Special Blessing for Dogs by following the Stupa Path" The signage couldn't be any more clear!
Credit: SCseagoat

Then just a little further on the path and you start approach the main parts of the retreat. Turn right on the paved road to the Wish Fulfilling Temple...what a lovely lane...

The lane to the Wish Fulfilling Temple is lined with many of these dra...
The lane to the Wish Fulfilling Temple is lined with many of these drawings. They are perfectly executed.
Credit: SCseagoat

Around the corner to the Wish Fulfilling Temple. You can go in if you get the key but I'm always in a hurry (shame on me), so I gaze at the building and go and look into the windows.

Wish Fulfilling Temple high on the hill.
Wish Fulfilling Temple high on the hill.
Credit: SCseagoat

Inside the Temple is a beautiful golden Buddha about 40 feet tall.  Un...
Inside the Temple is a beautiful golden Buddha about 40 feet tall. Unfortunately I am taking this through a window so you can't see it all given the reflection of the trees outside. There are also 100s of urns with people's ashes. Not a bad final resti
Credit: SCseagoat

The art work and painting is stunning.  Look at the beautiful dragon h...
The art work and painting is stunning. Look at the beautiful dragon heads on the corner.
Credit: SCseagoat

On down the hill I keep going and I love this fence post that is part of a retaining wall.

reminds me of a pug's face.
reminds me of a pug's face.
Credit: SCseagoat

A little further down the hill and you encounter the first of several sacred terraces. This has a smaller prayer wheel and a beautiful gongs. I always stop here and turn the prayer wheel and bang some of the gongs or chimes.

Approaching the Gongs, Bells and small Prayer Wheel.  At this point I ...
Approaching the Gongs, Bells and small Prayer Wheel. At this point I only have about 30 minutes left in my workout. I always stop and give thanks for making it that far!
Credit: SCseagoat

The small prayer wheel:

The small prayer wheel..I always turn it and give thanks for my good h...
The small prayer wheel..I always turn it and give thanks for my good health and ask that I and my family and friends have good health.
Credit: SCseagoat

The gongs and bells:

The bells and gongs at LMB.  Today they rang and pealed through the So...
The bells and gongs at LMB. Today they rang and pealed through the Soquel Hills for a fallen climber.

Credit: SCseagoat

Beautiful statue ringed with small prayer wheels.

Land of Medicine Buddha
Land of Medicine Buddha
Credit: SCseagoat

Going further down the hill I start to come into the main set of buildings.

Coming down another hill into the main cluster of buildings.  There ar...
Coming down another hill into the main cluster of buildings. There are many beautiful flags throughout the compound.
Credit: SCseagoat

The kiosk of all the things happening at LMB

Have you ever seen an event kiosk look so lovely?
Have you ever seen an event kiosk look so lovely?
Credit: SCseagoat

Another small prayer wheel.

A lovely small prayer wheel in the main part of the grounds.
A lovely small prayer wheel in the main part of the grounds.
Credit: SCseagoat

A lovely artistic designated walking lane, similar to the art on the lane to the Wish Fulfilling Temple.

Beautiful designation of a walking area.
Beautiful designation of a walking area.
Credit: SCseagoat

Almost done...just before I head down the last, short, but steep hill, to my bike is the largest prayer wheel on the grounds. I always stop to turn this one.

Turning the big prayer wheel
Turning the big prayer wheel
Credit: SCseagoat

Information about the prayer wheel and how it is built. Very interesting!

information about the prayer wheel and the actual construction.
information about the prayer wheel and the actual construction.
Credit: SCseagoat

How lucky am I that this is in my backyard? If you live in the area don't miss spending some time up at LMB. Trail running, easy hiking, or advanced moutain biking all in a place of serene beauty and spirituality. And animals welcome!


Susan









  Trip Report Views: 3,773
SCseagoat
About the Author
SCseagoat is a trad climber from Santa Cruz.

Comments
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scuffy b

climber
heading slowly NNW
  Oct 16, 2012 - 07:33pm PT
Thanks, I haven't been up there in TOO LONG now.
Carolyn C

Trad climber
the long, long trailer
  Oct 16, 2012 - 08:00pm PT
Have walked there many times. It is a beautiful location. Thanks for the photos. On one hike, a couple of years ago, I did encounter a couple in a lovely meadow, uh, doing it, you know what I mean?
tornado

climber
lawrence kansas
  Oct 16, 2012 - 08:03pm PT
^^^tmi.
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Author's Reply  Oct 16, 2012 - 08:10pm PT
doing it, you know what I mean?


Well some believe "conjugal" is one of the highest forms of spirituality. So perhaps they were swept up in the rapture of the location? However there is signage that requests that visitors dress modestly as there are usually many monks and nuns around.

Susan
Carolyn C

Trad climber
the long, long trailer
  Oct 16, 2012 - 08:17pm PT
They were definitely swept up in the rapture of the location. It was sort of 60's like, or maybe 70's like. Anyway...it is a beautiful and peaceful and spiritual place.
sullly

Gym climber
  Oct 16, 2012 - 10:18pm PT
Who knew the epicenter of the '89 quake could produce such tranquility? Miss running in that forest and living up the hill.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Oct 16, 2012 - 10:23pm PT
Beautiful!
drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
  Oct 18, 2012 - 07:18pm PT
Beautiful Susan. You are fortunate.
Thanks for sharing.

Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
  Oct 18, 2012 - 07:25pm PT
Thank you for taking the time to post your photos and thoughts about such a wonderful place.
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
  Oct 18, 2012 - 08:26pm PT
Also one of my favorite places. I walk around the prayer wheels many many times while remembering my son Adam.
Be respectful, be peaceful, let the grace of whatever spirits you believe in soothe your soul.
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Oct 18, 2012 - 09:15pm PT
hey there say, susan... wow, never heard of this ...

thanks for sharing...

pics have not shown yet, but i can imagine..

exspecally the tree of that area, as i know them, from my youth
days in calif coast area...


sounds very lovely and done with much loving care...
:)
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Author's Reply  Oct 18, 2012 - 11:10pm PT
remembering my son Adam


Fred, I'll add Adam to my thoughts when I am there. A beautiful place for remembrances.

I found more niches of memories in the trees today that I hadn't seen before. It never stops unfolding it's mysteries to me.


Susan
Fletcher

Gym climber
A very quiet place
  Nov 3, 2012 - 12:27am PT
Wow, that was totally different and I really appreciated it a lot. Thanks for sharing.

My wife is going to be visiting a friend up in Santa Cruz this weekend and she happened to see this "TR" open on my account. Serendipity! She would like to check it out!

Thanks,
Eric
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Author's Reply  Nov 3, 2012 - 10:15am PT
Hey Eric I'm sure you're wife will really enjoy it. I'm on a road trip otherwise I would have been glad to show her how to get there. It's a little tucked away but I think their website gives easy to follow directions.

Enjoy!


Susan
phylp

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
  Nov 3, 2012 - 01:00pm PT
Susan, this was so lovely! Thank you! I've never been there but it sounds like a great day hike. I'll have to do that soon. How are the trails once the rainy season starts?
Phyl
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Author's Reply  Nov 3, 2012 - 06:32pm PT
How are the trails once the rainy season starts?

Hey, Phyl....because its so leafy up there it just becomes damp leafy mulchy, with the exception of one little short area where there was a small landslide years ago and the trail is cut into the side of a small hill with little vegetation....that spot muddy but not something that would turn people away, at all.

There is also one small stream crossing...long legged folks can practically jump across it. Shorties, like me, step on a stone or two conveniently placed by "Mother Nature"



Susan
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Nov 3, 2012 - 07:45pm PT
Looks like a special place!!!
Yodocdau

Social climber
Richmond, va
  Nov 3, 2012 - 08:41pm PT
This is Ken's friend Lisa. Thank you for a lovely post.
QITNL

climber
  Nov 3, 2012 - 09:18pm PT
I didn't catch this first time - nice bump - My girlfriend would like this. We go down to Manresa a lot.
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Author's Reply  Nov 3, 2012 - 10:49pm PT
This is Ken's friend Lisa. Thank you for a lovely post.

Oh hey Lisa...how ya doing? I'm so sorry that we didn't get to chat at FL this year! Hopefully you'll get back to the West Coast on a permanent basis sometime soon. Now that we are back from sailing, we'll be getting up to Yosemite more. Right now in Moab on a climbing/biking/hiking trip but back home in a few weeks. I was so bummed we missed the Oakdale event. Ken/BooDawg reporting was awesome!

Hope all is well with you and that the storm didn't give you too much havoc down your way!

Stay in touch!

Susan
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
  Nov 3, 2012 - 10:53pm PT
What a nice TR! Thanks Susan. I have to get up there.
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
  Nov 4, 2012 - 12:11am PT
I have read references to this place several times in the past but had no idea it was so beautiful.
Thanks for sharing. It has given me some ideas for my mountain property in Colorado.
tornado

climber
lawrence kansas
  Nov 12, 2013 - 02:32pm PT
bump
Stephen McCabe

Trad climber
near Santa Cruz, CA
  May 13, 2014 - 04:38pm PT
This is the only thing my wife has ever looked at on Supertopo. She found it looking for nearby hikes. She loved the walk/hike.
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