“Let’s get up early tomorrow and join in on a meditation hike,” said my friend Mithra. “It will be a great way to start off our second day at Wanderlust.” I had just enough wine in me to be amenable to this suggestion. I wasn’t exactly so amenable at 6:30am when my alarm went off … but I managed to get up and at ‘em and out the door while the sun was still coming up.
Day 1 of Wanderlust was a near-washout … what with an unexpected thunderstorm that included both torrential rains and hail. Day 2, however, was shaping up to be quite nice. It was a brisk morning and the sunrise was quickly burning off any residual low-lying fog hanging around.
Once we got to Squaw Valley, the line at Starbucks was out the door and around the building. Clearly, yogis are not as bright-eyed and bushy tailed (or haired) as I thought. Caffeine clearly gets ‘em up and at ‘em. The hike started precisely at 8am – and required both a tram ride and a robust hike straight up a mountain. We followed a guy carrying a giant cello-thingy strapped to his back. (I later found out it was a bass, but at 8am you’re lucky I got the basic gist of the instrument correct.) Musician Garth Stevenson has played his enormous bass in the middle of Antarctica and the middle of the Sahara. Apparently, walking straight up a mountain required little to no effort.
Once the group of 50+ hikers arrived, we all found a spot to settle in to meditate. Had the rocky terrain been more comfortable, I probably would have napped instead. The music was soothing, surreal and quite esoteric – it reminded me of the weird space music you hear in a planetarium. Of course, it was still so early and we were up so high, you could still see the moon in the sky competing with the sun for attention.
Once back at Wanderlust’s base camp, the vendors were out in full force. Zen has a price and there are plenty of items to purchase to enhance your yogi experience. I spotted a guy doing “music therapy”. His motto? “Tune in and tune up!” Of course, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have a masterful musician bang gongs and Tibetan bowls in my general vicinity. The sound waves were so loud; they would reverberate through your whole body. After 15 minutes of sound vibrations coursing through my soul, I was discombobulated the rest of the morning.
Now in its 5th year, Wanderlust has become a mountain Mecca for visitors from all over the world. Celeb yoga instructors are like rock stars here — teaching classes to hundreds of adoring fans/followers. Yoga purists can revel in the fresh air. Unassuming tourists who accidentally stumble in can revel in the contact high of patchouli, sage and faint hints of weed.
If nothing else, you’ll walk away with a renewed sense of spirituality. There’s something to be said for being amid the sisterhood of sun salutations or the brotherhood of bro-ga.
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