People have left Burning Man, but it took hours and they left a huge mess

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Over the weekend the Burning Man festival turned into a muddy mess because of unprecedented rain. The mud was so sticky and hard to navigate because the festival takes place in a dry lake bed where the water can’t run off anywhere. People who tried to leave the festival in their cars or RVs were getting stuck, and some people walked several miles to the main road in order to get out. Local authorities issued a driving ban until Monday afternoon. But getting over 70,000 people out of the desert in an orderly fashion takes a long time–as long as nine hours to go six miles. And some people actually left their vehicles and belongings behind! The desert is also full of trash. The sheriff for Pershing County where this festival took place has been giving comments to the press via email and he sounds mad. I would be, too.

Burning Man attendees ditched their cars and left heaps of trash across a miles-long stretch in a Nevada desert as thousands of festival-goers began a mass exodus out of the muddy site, a local sheriff said.

Sheriff Jerry Allen of Pershing County — where the week-long annual music and art festival is held — told the San Francisco Chronicle in an email that every year there are “large amounts of property and trash strewn from the Festival into Reno and points beyond.”

But this year was worse than normal thanks to the muddy mess on the festival grounds after a torrential downpour over the weekend, Allen said.

“This year is a little different in that there are numerous vehicles strewn all throughout the playa for several miles,” Allen told the news outlet, referring to the Black Rock Desert.

The sheriff said, “Some participants were unwilling to wait or use the beaten path to attempt to leave the desert and have had to abandon their vehicles and personal property wherever their vehicle came to rest.”

Allen also said the conditions were causing tensions to rise on the playa.

“Angry” Burning Man-goers were “not showing compassion to their fellow man who have endured the same issues over the past few days,” Allen said.

[From Insider]

One of the ten principles of Burning Man is to leave no trace. That’s also generally good camping etiquette anyway, and I’m frustrated that so many people thought it was okay to leave trash there. The Black Rock Desert where Burning Man happens is Bureau of Land Management land, it’s owned by the federal government. It’s a conservation area with rules and regulations and it’s supposed to be kept pristine. Then again, people leave trash in the national parks so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Abandoning cars in the middle of the desert also seems rather…melodramatic. Why would people do that? This is just more evidence that the festival has jumped the shark. Inexperienced or ill-prepared attendees, in high enough quantities, made things worse for everyone else around them. For what it’s worth, you couldn’t pay me enough money to go there, but I do feel for the people who did follow the rules and cleaned up after themselves. It sounds like this year was a nightmare experience. What strange weather event do we think is on the bingo card for next year at Burning Man? Tornado? St Elmo’s fire? A dust storm?

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Picture note by CB: photos credit Getty and via Instagram. Diplo photo on the frontpage is from this slideshow

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