We're back from the second White Mountain festival which was a roaring success in every meaningful way: great music, chilled out vibes, warm fires, good facilities and bucketfuls of beer.
As promised, it was unlike the carnage of Splashy, instead more of a grown-up affair that never threatened to get out of control.
The setting is quite different from other festivals, because the well-maintained lodge has a swimming pool, shop, full restaurant and pub. Thus you never feel too far away from a warm meal or real toilet.
After a swim in the dam that ended with us jumping around frantically on the banks trying to pull leeches off our legs, the swimming pool was definitely the only option. A bit colder, but perfect first thing in the morning.
Every day at 9am there was a guided hike to Pigeon pools, which is about an hour away from White Mountain, with most of the trail along the road.
The small river cascades into a large, very deep pool with cliffs along the sides that are great to jump off.
Some hot hippy chick that was in the group decided to go au naturale by swimming and jumping the cliffs bare-breasted. A real treat indeed, and the reason I always say "hippies are awesome".
The selection of beer was also fantastic, with a couple of small breweries setting up their mobile bars. The Nottingham Road guys were selling their beer / ginger beer shandy faster than they could mix it. Perfect for a early afternoon refresher.
The "acoustic only" aspect of the festival meant that artists had to ditch their distortion pedals for clean acoustic guitars. This was not really up my alley: seeing Dan Patlansky and a few of the other musicians uncomfortably try to work their magic on acoustic guitars was pretty painful.
I'm not sure this aspect of White Mountain adds much tangible benefit, but it certainly detracted from my enjoyment of the music, particularly those acts that I know well. I'd rather see the musicians on their first choice of instrument.
The find of the festival for me was Southern Gypsey Queen, who are an incredibly talented extended family from the Eastern Cape. Awesome tracks and great presence especially from all three vocalists, we were all well and truly impressed.
The weather was a bit of a disaster, but in an unconventional way: instead of being covered in mud a la Splashy, we found ourselves praying for rain as the countdown to the daily dust storm approached.
Like clockwork they came, just after lunch: ferocious gale-force winds thick with sand and dirt, tearing apart campsites and lifting tents clean off the ground. My gazebo got a proper beating and had to be abandoned.
Inside our tents, every last square inch was covered in a centimeter thick layer of dust. At least they weren't destroyed, but it was close.
The easiest way to avoid this daily catastrophe was to retreat to Tom's Tavern at noon to start the festivities early:
Many good times were had in here. Watching rugby on the big screens on Saturday, it was easy to get lost and spend an entire day inside talking garbage.
All-in-all, a fantastic festival, exactly like a mini-Splashy but with quiet nights at the campsite and decent facilities. I can easily see myself back there next year.