Love Shack Mountain view in the rearview

Mountain view in the rearview

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Just about 48 hours off the mountain and still feeling the good vibes from our recent trip to Mountain Jam, even as I’m settling back into the work routine. As I’ve mentioned, this was our third annual trek over to Hunter Mountain in New York in the Love Shack. This year, was the best by far – for many reasons.

We left our home in Durham around 3:45 on Wednesday afternoon with no real plan on where we would land that night. Our only goal was to reach the gates at Hunter Mountain as close to 10 a.m. on Thursday as possible. I started chatting about maybe making it to the Berkshires and finding a place to eat and camp for the night, but then I thought of good friends in West Boylston,  Massachusetts. So, after a few text exchanges, a plan for dinner and “lodging” was firm.  It was a great kickoff to our mini vacation to share a few laughs with friends over dinner on a warm summer night. It was also great to wake up to the coffee being made and nice hot shower!  

We got to the gate about 10:45 a.m. and the line was not too bad. We felt pretty confident that we would breeze right through the security check — we know the rules! Alas, rules are subject to the interpretation of the individual(s) enforcing them, and for the first time, it seems that we were breaking a rule by having a motorcycle on the back of the van. It’s been there each of the two previous years and we’ve asked about it in advance. It took a jury of three and a few phone calls to determine that, in fact, we could not take it up to the camping area. We could, however, park it for free in the motorcycle parking area in front of the base lodge.  Phew, crisis averted.  It cost us an extra hour or more in line, but we eventually made it to our site at about 12:45.  

It didn’t take us too long to get set up and seated with a cold beverage and snack in hand.  We had some visitors, one woman from Albany who knew she was looking at the Love Shack, having read this blog, and we were welcomed by Steve our across-the-way camping neighbor who was very busy setting up his home-away-from home. He had an SUV with tailgate open to a traditional “pop-up” canvas shelter that in turn led to a tent.  He was diligently hanging tapestries to cover all the windows in the car and provide privacy in the pop-up.  It was great fun to watch him work, and Steve was a very friendly guy who was as passionate about the whole festival and music scene as we are.  Good vibes all around.  We had neighbors from Canada on the other side of us, and others who may not have said where they were from, but most everyone stopped to chat about the festival, the van, the camping, etc.  All good – no complaints, not one ounce of negative energy.

I asked Brian how it was that we could be 2 feet away from strangers on all sides and how 20,000 people could come together for a weekend on the mountain, all with no negative energy.  With wind, rain, dirt and port-o-potties, it would seem like a breeding ground for unhappiness, but it was actually quite the opposite! Lately it seems you can’t get 200 people on a plane without a fight breaking out. But somehow you can get a group of strangers, living in tents for four days, to relax, unwind and have a blast!  And that is exactly what we did. Even after a heavy windstorm destroyed dozens of pop-ups and tents, everyone we saw kept the positive energy flowing.

Our site was perfect.  In the past, we’ve always been able to hear the music as if we were right on the concert field, but  this year, we could sit there and actually see the stage.  We were just about 80 feet or so from the fence that separates the concert field from the camping area.  We also had ample clean “toilets” very close by and a fresh water supply.  The ice truck came up often, and we had the sweetest security guard named Joshua who manned the gate each day from noon to midnight.  He walked around, talked and laughed with everyone and made a point to come down to the fence and let us know that someone in another area might have had a problem with two guys trying to steal items from their tent.  In general, we felt that the staff and security at the festival this year were much more friendly and interested in everyone having a great experience.

The music was beyond fabulous. You can see the lineup here:  http://mountainjam.com/lineup/

Naturally, Tom Petty, Gary Clark Jr., The Head & the Heart, and Steve Miller all delivered outstanding performances.  But lesser known bands like the Revivalists and the Infamous Stringdusters, and Hollis Brown were equally as entertaining.  We always find someone new to follow after hearing them at Mountain Jam.  As I’ve said before, there are other things to do at Mountain Jam, too, such as yoga, chairlift rides, disc golf, art shows, shopping, $5 showers and hanging with friends old and new. We connected with our friends Christine and Matt from Vermont and got to share some fun and food and music and saw other familiar faces over the course of the weekend.  

Will we go back next year?  Yup. It’s an easy festival to be at and we look forward doing it again. But between now and then we will look forward to lots more Love Shack adventures this summer.

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