Wandering Through the Wanderlust Festival

Main Stage at Wanderlust Festival Photo

Image via: Author's Collection

To be honest, I didn't really know what I was getting into when I signed up to cover the Wanderlust Festival. Billed as part yoga retreat and part indie rock festival, sure I'd seen the ads in the paper, but what did that really mean? Would people really be able to focus and center themselves with guitars wailing in the background? Would hipsters really be able to fit in at a place where carrying around a yoga mat is a status symbol? Here is what I found: The festival took place at Squaw Valley Resort in California, which in the winter is a ski resort and in the summer is great for hiking and ATV-riding. Half of the event took place at the top of the ski lift, which in itself was a wild ride. About half-way up, the gondola slowed way down and everyone and everything got eerily silent as the cart slowly trekked its way up the mountain. The wind was howling, the views were breath-taking and silently each of us was hoping that "there's always a first" didn't prove true today.

Squaw Valley Gondola at Wanderlust Festival Photo

Image via: Author's collection.

Apparently, most of the other concert goers didn't know what to expect either, as was mentioned on the hair-raising gondola by several people. They knew there were really great acts to see, and otherwise, they were just along for the ride.

Ice Sculpture of Word Wanderlust Photo

Ice sculpture for one of the parties that night. Image via: Author's Collection

To be honest, guests need not worry about what they would do or get into. The schedule was so full of activities that there were literally events almost 24/7. All morning long, there were multiple yoga sessions held simultaneously. For those who chose to sleep in, the music got going around noon and didn't stop until after dark. Then the party-goers had their turn with dance party events until 2 in the morning. Then it was time to get back up bright and early for some stretching and more yoga.

Yoga Class at Wanderlust Festival Photo

Image via: Author's Collection

Since this was the first year, there were a few "snags" but the crowd was so mellow from their morning meditations, that everyone just went with the flow. While the views were beautiful, the seating for the concerts was kind of "eh." About half of the crowd took shade under trees up on the hillside — and to look at them, you'd think that "forest elves" had come out to see what all the ruckus was about. Everyone else braved the harsh sun and the dusty, hard ground to get up close with act like Andrew Bird, Jenny Lewis, Adrian Grenier & The Honey Brothers, Rogue Wave and even Common. (Michael Franti was supposed to headline Saturday night but unfortunately came down with a ruptured appendix and Common stepped up to the plate to fill in).

Also up top, while waiting in-between sets were a dozen or so eco booths selling clothing, yoga items, and even photovoltaic systems. There was minimal food at the top, but there was plenty of beer. Guests could also enjoy the GEODOME by Converse, which had half a dozen free activities, including making tshirts, creating poetry, drawing on the walls, posing for a picture as a rock group, and generally cooling off from the sun. There was a film fest provided by Luna. A clothing swap for women only and even a bike maintenance class led by the LunaChix.

Man Creating T-Shirt at Wanderlust Festival Photo

Image via: Author's Collection

Even if you didn't feel the need to get in touch with your inner-self through yoga, the scenery itself was just beautiful. From the gondola ride, you could see Lake Tahoe and once at the top, there was a dammed up lake that attendees could have lunch by and just enjoy. There is also plenty of hiking in the area, so if you only go for one day you won't be at a loss for what to do.

Going Green at Wanderlust

Composting, Recycling, Trash Bins at Wanderlust Festival Photo

Image via: Author's Collection

All of the booths at the festival were selling green products, healthy food, or obviously yoga props and mats. There were plenty of bins for recycling, composting and garbage throughout the event so no one was forced to throw their can in the garbage. There were also plenty of dog water bowls, which was nice since the temperatures got cranking in the afternoon. Since the show itself was fairly remote, the organizers set up a ride guide to help encourage carpooling. Many of the attendees also just camped in the parking lot in their RVs and it was cool to see people showing off their wheels and making new friends.

I was a little skeptical about a rock festival held in Tahoe, but to be honest, the scenery and the company couldn't have been better. The musical acts were great, toughing it out through the heat and the altitude. The vendors had plenty of good samples and good wares on hand. The yoga teachers were encouraging and did a great job helping students new and old. Many of the people interviewed remarked that while they didn't know what they were getting into, that they enjoyed the blending of interests in the crowd and appreciated that everyone was so open and friendly. A good time was had by all, indeed.

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