Retreat Guide

A Short Guide for Doing Retreat at Yeshe Khorlo

The Way of the Cabin

Yeshe Khorlo cabins are built by sangha members who wish to share the benefit of personal retreat with others. Much care has been put into the construction and maintenance of these small sanctuaries. By helping to keep the cabins and surrounding land clean and well-maintained, you assist future guests in their practice. Through your mindfulness these precious cabins will be available for many years after your stay.

To help your retreat go smoothly, please read the following advice about the cabin and its maintenance. If at any time you have questions regarding your stay, please do not hesitate to ask the retreat manager. On most days a Yeshe Khorlo staff member can be reached before or after the morning and evening practice at the main temple. These sessions begin usually at 7am and 6pm. Above all we want your stay to be enriching, safe and peaceful.

May the merit of your retreat be a source of unending happiness and peace for all beings!


Each cabin is equipped with a sink, a propane stove, and in some cases, a refrigerator. You will find dishes and utensils for use during your stay. Your cabin may also contain food items. Please note that any food you use should be replenished with something similar at the end of your stay; an equivalent monetary donation is also appreciated in case you have no food items left to offer as replacement.

In order to keep the kitchen clean and safe, the following guidelines are made:

  • Keep all food sealed in glass or plastic containers
  • Avoid mice and other creatures by doing dishes quickly after meals
  • Don’t leave food outside, regardless of the season: bears are ever-present and hungry
  • Avoid clogging the drain by putting food scraps in the garbage
  • Leave all dishes clean and put away when you leave
  • Please take any perishable food items with you at the end of your retreat and take your trash down to the shed below the temple.
  • In cabins with a fridge, please empty the fridge, turn it off, and leave the door slightly a jar—this is to prevent nasty odors and to save energy.
  • When using the propane stove, maintain a blue flame rather than a yellow one. When the stove is turned up high enough to create a yellow flame, the flame will cause carbon to build up on the bottom and sides of the pot, creating a mess when you set it down on the counter.


The wonderful water in Crestone is drinkable! However, you are welcome to use the ceramic water filter in your cabin to alter the taste. Please note that the top reservoir of the water filter should only be filled with as much water as the bottom reservoir can hold.

The retreat manager will deliver 6-7 6-gallon jugs of water every two weeks to your cabin, but your help in conserving water is appreciated, as it is a precious commodity. Those retreatants on short-term retreat (less than 2 weeks) will not receive a water refill. If you need more than the allotted amount of water, please make special arrangements with the retreat manager to retrieve water from the temple yourself. There are outdoor spigots on the north and south sides of the temple from where you can refill the water containers.

You may bring your empty jugs down to the tree by the electric box for refill or simply leave your empty jugs by the path to your cabin. At the end of your retreat, please bring all empties to the temple. Also, kindly notify the retreat manager if any of the bottles are leaking and set them aside.

Regarding showers, solar showers are an excellent way to make use of natural heat on sunny days. If you do not have a solar shower, you may take sponge baths using the basin provided in the cabins. Retreatants may use the temple shower once a week if they wish. In addition, a washer is available for use in the temple. Wet laundry can be taken back to the cabin to dry on the porch or clothesline.

Propane Cook Stove

Each cabin is equipped with a propane stove. If you run out of propane, please notify the retreat manager. In some situations a replacement tank will already be available at your cabin. To change tanks, make sure the valve is turned “Off” and unscrew the fitting from the empty tank and screw it on to the new tank’s fitting. When attaching a new bottle, please note the following:

  • Turn gas 1/3 turn on at the tank outside the cabin
  • Inside, light the stove by holding a match over the burner and turning the gas knob to “on”
  • Put a little soap on the hose coupling (brass part) inside. If it bubbles, there is a leak. Tighten the coupling, wipe off soap and try again
  • When coupling checks out ok, turn outside tank on full
  • Don’t turn propane stove on too high when lighting the burner inside
  • If you need help, please ask the retreat manager for assistance
  • When using the propane stove, maintain a blue flame rather than a yellow one. When the stove is turned up high enough to create a yellow flame, the flame will cause carbon to build up on the bottom and sides of the pot, creating a mess when you set it down on the counter.

Lighting a Fire in the Wood Stove

Although Yeshe Khorlo cabins receive excellent passive solar heat, fires are sometimes necessary, especially during the winter months. Please observe these simple directions when using the wood-burning stove:

  • Use fire starter to aid in getting the fire started, especially if no paper or dry wood is available
  • Make use of abundant dead wood lying around in the forest. It breaks easily and burns great.
  • Open damper on the stove door to start fire
  • Once fire is going, damper down for a longer lasting fire; damper open for a hotter fire
  • Keep items away from the stove and off the window ledges (items may melt–especially water jugs)
  • For humidity, keep water in a kettle or pot on the stove top
  • Remove ashes using the metal bucket.
  • Wood stove ashes must not be dumped anywhere outside for at least one week after removal from the stove.
  • Don’t conspicuously dump ashes and coals outside
  • Once the ashes are thoroughly cooled, mix them into the forest floor covering or use in the outdoor composting toilet.

Outdoor Bathrooms/Portable Toilets

Each cabin has its own outdoor toilet and Cabins 1 & 2 also have portable indoor toilets. Whether you choose to use the indoor toilet or outdoor toilet, please read these instructions carefully.

Instruction for Portable Toilets:

  • Before using, check read the instructions on the inside of the toilet seat lid. If deodorizer is needed, pour 2 ounces of Supreme Green Holding Tank Deodorizer in the bottom reservoir and check that there is fresh water in the top reservoir.
  • To flush, press down on plunger to rinse basin with water and pull handle in front to flush
  • Please don’t put toilet paper in portable toilet; dispose of paper in the trash
  • When full (every 3 – 4 days), and at the end of your retreat, dispose of waste at the dumping station located on the just off the road to the cabins about 100ft below the path to the temple. Look for the trap door on the ground.
  • Refill with water and deodorizer for the next retreatant.

All the cabins have outhouses. In order to facilitate decomposition, please note the following:

  • Add a handful of wood shavings after each use to reduce odor and speed composting.
  • Try not to urinate in the bucket all the time. It is okay to pee in the forest.
  • When bucket is 3/4′s full, remove and replace with an empty bucket. Put a lid and the date of removal on the old bucket. Try to find a sunny and flat location for the bucket to rest. After approximately nine months, the contents will be composted and safe for the earth.

Fire Safety

As Crestone is located in a high mountain desert, fire safety cannot be overstressed at Yeshe Khorlo. Although fire may be used under special circumstances, please assiduously observe the following rules:

  • Don’t burn candles unattended or without proper holders
  • In summer & autumn, absolutely NO fire, smoking, lit candles, or burning incense anywhere outside
  • There is no smoking of tobacco products or drugs allowed in the cabins or on the retreat land.

Wild Animals

We are extremely lucky to live with exquisite wildlife at Yeshe Khorlo. The surrounding forest is home to hawks, owls, coyotes, bears, mountain lions, and many others. Our cohabitation with these creatures necessitates careful observance of certain rules. For your safety and the safety of the animals, please be mindful of the following:

  • DO NOT leave any food items outside or near an open window
  • DO NOT leave windows open when you are not at your cabin. Bears can and have opened them after getting a claw-hold!

Helpful hint: If bears come around, they are often times just as afraid of you as you are of them. Make noise, ring a bell or call out. The bear will very likely run away. If you encounter cubs while you are walking, leave the area immediately. It can be very dangerous to get between the mother bear and her babies.

Miscellaneous Tips & Requests

Weather in Crestone can change quickly and without notice. If you are away from the cabin, please secure windows and belongings in case of rain, snow, or wind.

Please do not make any adjustments to the cabin (i.e. remove screens, furniture, etc.) without permission from the retreat manager. In addition, if at any time you discover damage in or around the cabin, please notify Yeshe Khorlo. Every effort is made to keep the cabins in good repair and hospitable for retreat. As a retreatant, your observations about the cabin are invaluable and can aid in making sure problems are dealt with swiftly.

Before Leaving

We sincerely hope your stay is of great benefit to your practice and that you are able to take retreat again at Yeshe Khorlo. Your practice leaves undeniable blessings on this land, and every one of us benefits from the energy generated by your choice to spend time in contemplation in our retreat cabins. Thank you. As a final request before leaving, please take care to complete the following:

  • Sweep and clean the cabin
  • Take all perishable food items with you
  • Take your garbage down to the shed below the temple
  • Check to make sure the propane is turned off at the tank
  • Replenish any items borrowed from the cabin

May the merit of your retreat aid in the swift liberation of all beings!