Ecosystem: Burning man attendees begin to leave soggy festival site newsbhunt


NEVADA: Thousands of people who had spent days stranded at the Burning Man festival in a rain-gorged stew of mud and slop began to pack up their camps Monday and stream away from the sprawling site in remote northwest Nevada.
“Exodus operations have officially begun,” organizers wrote in a post on social media.
But it was a mucky, uncertain trek. The ancient lake bed where the annual festival is held was beginning to dry and harden on Monday after days of torrential rain, but drivers said they were still encountering foot-deep puddles and stretches of muddy bog along the 5-mile route from the camp to a paved road.
“You had to haul,” said Kristine Rae, 50, a physical therapist from Idaho who made it out in her truck. On her way, she saw marooned vehicles that weren’t so lucky. “There were cars stuck halfway up their wheels.”
On Monday night, the festival’s climax, postponed twice because of the weather, finally took place: the burning of a towering wooden effigy shaped like a man.
Even in normal years, leaving Burning Man can take up to 12 hours as thousands of cars and trailers creep off the desert playa and onto a jammed two-lane road. This year, organizers urged the roughly 72,000 attendees to consider postponing their departure until Tuesday to avoid creating an epic traffic jam.
On Monday, Black Rock City – the name of the site on federal lands where the annual celebration of arts and music takes place – was a hive of activity as people packed sleeping bags, stoves and muddy tents into their trunks before heading out. Some left excess water, food and camping essentials for festivalgoers – known as burners – who were staying.
Roughly a third of the campers had packed up and moved out, and others were collecting mud-caked flotsam left behind in the rutted ground. There were abandoned bikes, mud-smothered tents and the steel skeleton of a 15-foot shade structure. At camps, people raked the ground to search for any items that had become mixed into the hardening batter of dirt and rain.
With better weather forecast for Monday night, some people had decided to stay in hopes of witnessing the burn, as the torching of the wooden effigy is known.


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