Pilgrimage: Appalachian Mountains

Sat., March 5–Thurs., March 10, 2022


Pilgrimage: Appalachian Mountains includes a spring semester half-unit course that introduces students to the history and practice of a variety of spiritual disciplines and encourages students to examine their own beliefs and values in community with other team members. The program centers on a hiking pilgrimage in the Appalachian Mountains near Asheville, NC, during spring break. Throughout the course and pilgrimage, students will explore and practice spiritual disciplines as a means to cultivate a life of meaning, purpose, and holistic well-being.


The program is open to full-time, traditional undergraduate students. Both religious and spiritual-but-not-religious students are welcome to apply. Each student will be expected to offer an open and generous heart to the experience and to their teammates. The pilgrimage will be physically and spiritually challenging, and students who participate will commit to cultivating their physical and spiritual health in preparation for the pilgrimage.

Applicants selected for the pilgrimage team will be required to enroll and participate in a half-unit course that meets weekly throughout the spring semester. The course includes weekly readings, writing assignments, and a final reflection paper, and participants are also expected to study and engage in the spiritual disciplines that are a part of the pilgrimage experience. All participants must be prepared to discuss their spiritual journey, showing respect for differences with their teammates. Participants are also responsible to prepare physically for the walking pilgrimage through regular exercise and completion of a fitness journal. Applicants are encouraged to reserve Fridays from 9-10:15 a.m. in their spring semester class schedules.


The Chaplaincy will cover all costs except for any needed gear and supplies for the walking pilgrimage, meals as we travel, and personal spending money.


The pilgrimage team will travel by van to and from Hot Springs, North Carolina, where we will stay at Laughing Heart Lodge. Meals will be in the lodge or in nearby restaurants within walking distance. The group will meet for breakfast each morning before departing for group day hikes in the Appalachian Mountains led by guides from a local hiking company. The team will return to the lodge and gather for dinner and reflection every evening.


The pilgrimage will be co-led by Craig Kocher, university chaplain, and Bryn Bagby Taylor, associate university chaplain.