Our Insider’s Guide series offers new ‘lusters a peek into our festivals and introduces veterans to fresh adventures. In this installment, festival co-founder Jeff Krasno provides his tips & musings for a memorable Wanderlust Stratton. Be sure to check out our first post in this series: 25 Experiences You Don’t Want to Miss (Wanderlust Festival Summer 2014)
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One of the aspects I love about Wanderlust is how each festival takes on the essence of its natural and cultural surroundings. This is particularly true at Stratton Mountain.
The beauty of the Vermont landscape is hushed. The mountains roll, the grass is lush, the sky often heavy. The colors blur like a watercolor and the energy is peaceful, old. If our Tahoe festival is Wagnerian with its high, jagged mountains thrusting into the thin air, then Vermont is more Debussy, impressionistic and dreamy.
Driving around Vermont, it is hard to find a town without a green market. Vermont didn’t so much rediscover the local food movement as it has served as an example for local-based economy. From maple syrup to cheeses to micro-brews, Vermont is the national capital of the cottage and craft industry. Even scaling brands like Cabot continue to work closely with local farmers.
On your way to the festival I highly suggest stopping at the Grafton Cheese Factory, on Route 30, on your drive just out of Brattleboro. See the inner workings of the factory and stock up on some cheese for the trip. A little further down the road, just before you get to Newfane, you can pull off at Dutton’s Farm Stand. Strawberries are perfectly in season during festival time. You can pick your own for CHEAP!
Even as Wanderlust Stratton continues to grow (and this year is going to be the biggest yet), the festival has retained a tight-knit, community feel. Snug in the shadow of the mountain and surrounded by dense summer forest, Stratton gives us a unique opportunity to create an intentional community. As you make the final turns up the access road – local victuals in tow – you’ll see what I mean. Stratton really becomes a little Wanderlust village, with yogis blissfully relaxing on the central lawn and strolling down the cobblestone walkways.
Make the Most of Your Visit
The famous 2,200-mile trail crosses the peak of Stratton Mountain as it winds its way from Georgia to Maine, and at Stratton ‘lusters can get a taste of a particularly scenic section. We offer a variety of hikes, but make sure you sign up for one that takes you up the mountain, either via walking or the gondola.
As you near the top, you can amble to the Stratton Fire Tower and climb to its peak. From your perch, you can see five different states (try to name them!).The Fire Tower is tended by one of Vermont’s most legendary characters, Hugh Joudry. Hugh and his wife, Jeanne, are sculptors who live at the top of Stratton Mountain for nine months every year. They’ve been up there for 45 years and have the stories to prove it. When a tree falls, Hugh, who has a fair resemblance to a tree stump himself, carves it into a spiritual character that protects the wood.
Okay, I’m biased. But I love my wife, so what can I say? Take a class with my better half, Schuyler. I recommend Kula Flow. It’s a strong, alignment-based vinyasa class that will energize you for the rest of your day.
The dynamic NYC duo, Gabby Bernstein and Elena Brower, will be co-teaching a big, big class in the Greatest Place (our big, big tent) on Saturday afternoon at 2pm. Part of the Wanderlust experience is doing at least of one these huge classes. Practicing with 400 people might not be what you want to do every day, but these women know how to hold space and it is always incredibly powerful.
Digging a bit deeper into the yoga lineup, Stratton draws a wide variety of exceptional teachers from up and down the East Coast, including Kim Cope Tait, Justina Wentworth, Gwen Lawrence, Rima Rabbath and Kate O’Donnell. Wanderlust is such a great place to discover new teachers – so take some risks with your schedule and you’ll be rewarded.
Escort is definitely my top pick for Stratton music. You’ll find a bevvy of amazing musicians on a variety of stages and in classes, but you won’t find another 17-piece disco band! Dynamo Adeline Michele fronts the horn-laced, wah-wah tickled group of Brooklynites.
This video tells the story:
Saturday is ’70s night at Wanderlust so bring your bellbottoms, polyester and dancing shoes.
Friday night also has some great music options lead by the mind-immersing, spine-tingling Emancipator preceded by the highly entertaining Nahko and Medicine for the People. Nahko has even created a special greeting video for Wanderlusters. (It’s worth watching: he plays the nose flute and serenades his dog).
At the base of the mountain and through the town you’ll find several food trucks and vendors with yummy, healthy options: gluten-free pizza, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream (dairy free optional), tasty Thai and salads from a local farmers’ market.
But by far the most memorable culinary experiences at the festival are the Farm to Table dinners on Friday and Saturday nights. Seated at a long serpentine communal table, 200 people dine together – family style. The setting of the Stratton Mountain Club ski lodge – with its hearth, patio and big glass windows – transports you out of the 21st century.
The elevation in Stratton is relatively low, making it easier for farmers to have a wide selection of produce. There are tons of organic farms nearby. We often work with our friends at the West River Farmers Market in nearby Londonderry to source local, seasonal produce.
If you want to explore options off campus, check out:
- The Red Fox Inn: A funky, little bar(n) in Bondville with a small stage and foosball table run by the loveliest folks you’ll ever meet.
- Solo: One of the best farm-to-table restaurants on the east coast run by a young couple in Londonderry. Seriously incredible, multi-course goodness.
- The Perfect Wife: I drank too much wine there but I remember it was good. My perfect wife drove me home.
Don’t go off campus more than once during the festival or you’ll develop an incurable case of FOMO (for good reason).
Getting There and Where to Stay
As Tim Cahill says, “A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.”
If you’re flying, Hartford and Albany are your best bets. Amtrak goes to Albany and to Brattleboro, VT, which is about a 40-minute drive from the festival. Carpool is the best way to travel. It’s more festive and it allows you wander a bit. Visit our custom zimride page for Wanderlust Stratton to quickly find (or offer) a ride.
If you’re coming as a group, the most fun and economical solution to accommodations is sharing a condo, renting a house or camping. There are sweet 3- and 4-bedroom condos right on site. Rising Bear and Long Trail both offer nice rooms with kitchens. Ski chalets within walking distances or a short drive can be rented through VRBO or AirBnB. If you’re a solo warrior, the Inn at Stratton Mountain is affordable, has single rooms and you can throw your keys in the drawer for the weekend. Part of it has just undergone a renovation, so ask for the new rooms. Be sure to check out our lodging page for the latest updates and our camping page for info about getting a spot at Stratton’s Sun Bowl Base Area, a beautiful campground open just for attendees.
Final Word: Stay Open
They say, “Wisdom comes in the spaces.” So, while our Stratton scheduler is expansive in scope, don’t over-plan. Leave some wiggle room. Last year, we announced an extemporaneous pick-up soccer game on our big chalkboard. Someone erased “game” and wrote “moms.” Needless to say, the game was packed. All these mild-mannered yogis suddenly transformed into a group of former division 1 soccer players. It was super fun.
In 2008, Jeff, along with partner Sean Hoess, created the concept for Wanderlust – a series of large-scale events combining yoga & wellness with the arts. Wanderlust produces a growing number of the world’s largest yoga festivals spanning the globe from British Columbia to Australia, from California to Chile. Jeff oversees festival programming and business development for Wanderlust forging corporate partnerships, cultivating licensing opportunities and developing its studio, teacher training and apparel extensions. In 2002, Schuyler Grant, Jeff’s wife, opened Kula Yoga Project in Tribeca and began leading yoga retreats around the world that provided the inspiration for Wanderlust. In 2011, Jeff & Schuyler opened another Kula studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn close to Wanderlust HQ. Jeff & Schuyler have 3 beautiful daughters — Phoebe, Lolli and Micah.