Saturday, August 7, 2010

Review: Wanderlust by Jhanna Dawson Photos by Dana Nollsch

Squaw Valley, home of the 1960 Winter Olympics, is nestled in the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevadas in California. In the winter it is home for countless numbers of skiers, snowboarders, and lovers of all things snow. But in the summer time, this world renowned ski resort becomes one of the most beautiful places on earth with it’s stunning views of Lake Tahoe, color popping wildflowers, and mild summer temps. It is during this time of year that Squaw Valley hosts the Wanderlust Festival, a gathering of music, yoga, food, vendors, and good vibes.

This was to be my first year attending Wanderfest, and I was really looking forward to taking in the experience. Being a resident of Reno, NV, which is just down the hill, I enjoy going to Squaw in the summer time, but I knew with the high energy of yoga and music intertwined, this was going to be one of the highlights of my summer.

I arrived early, before 8am, and it was clear the night before had everyone up late enjoying the many music options that were offered and what makes Wanderlust such a huge success. I wandered around, with the village to myself, enjoying the peaceful quiet and crisp morning air.

I headed over to the gondola and caught a ride up to high camp, where several of the first yoga classes that morning were being held. At an altitude of 8200 feet, high camp gifts us with panoramic views of the valley below, and Lake Tahoe just off in the distance. There were two groups doing different styles of yoga, in two separate areas. Further up, Wanderlusters who chose to participate, could hike up a single track trail and join in on the morning meditation, featuring Garth Stevenson playing his bass (which he hiked up to the meditation spot with).

Without actively participating in any of the groups, I silently sat down, took some photos, and could feel my blood pressure lower, and my vibration levels rise. It was the perfect morning.

By the time I rode the gondola back, and got down to where the main festival was being held, the number of people had greatly increased. People of all ages were walking in with their yoga mats, instruments, bicycles, bota bags, and more. It was a treasury trove of different types of music, yoga, and festival lovers to be sure.

The marketplace (Kula Village) held many options for everyone’s buying pleasure, informational pursuits, and culinary treats. The merchants were, as one would expect at a Wanderlust Festival, approachable, knowledgeable, and friendly to sit and chat with.

The festival itself was spread out like a maze, with little nooks and crannies of fun activities for adults and children alike. This year, it included an area especially designed for kids, which included the gift of yoga, henna tattoos, hula hoops, and more.

Other options for Wanderlusters included Speakeasy Talks, where people could sit and listen to some leaders in various industries, wine tasting, an art gallery, or a walking meditation on one of the many hiking trails Squaw Valley has to offer.

While all of these options that are offered to Wanderlusters, I have to say that my favorite area was the Tea House, a large nomadic like tent that offered quiet and meditative respite to many weary souls. Here, one could come in and sit on wicker stools around a small table and either not say a word, or partake in the wonderful conversations taking place. Whichever one chose, the table, with a gracious hostess, was clearly a place of reverence. Every person sitting at the table was quite aware of the ceremony taking place and treated it with great respect and gratitude.

On a side note, the volunteers were fantastic at the event. All of them that I interacted with were friendly, helpful, and having a great time. I know some of the people who volunteered and, while they said at times it was a hard job, they loved having the opportunity to do it, and to contribute to the energy of the festival.

Overall, Wanderlust was an amazing experience that should be on everyone’s festival calendar for next summer. The people who gathered to partake in all the festivities were truly of a common conscience, which oozed of peace, fun, joy, healing, and creativity.

The intention of the creators of Wanderlust was to create an environment that invited people to “escape the mundane and dwell in the extraordinary.” They succeeded to say the least!

For more photos go to Dana's Facebook Page