The 27th annual Burning Man came to a close Monday with thousands of camps, art carts and stages broken down and packed away in moving trucks. In just a few days the temporary city of Black Rock, inhabited by more than 60,000 people, disappeared like a mirage in the desert.
And while we love Burning Man, don't be fooled by the peace signs and hippie hugs — this experience is not for the weak. Now that we've shaken off the dust and came back to reality, here are our worst moments of Burning Man 2013.
See also: The Best of Burning Man 2013
5. Getting to Black Rock City
For many, the 600 mile trip to the site took a full 24 hours. People's rides bail, cars break down, flights get delayed and shit always happens as your trying to make it home.
But the worst part was that when we arrived on Thursday evening, the gates were shut down. Officials said authorities had put us all on lock-down with no explanation; turns out they were at capacity and we couldn't enter until others left. That anticipation of waiting outside with no idea when we could get in, after all we had endured on the way there, was excruciating.
|Curious Josh / LA Weekly|
|The not so fabulous bathrooms|
Burning Man has a “leave no trace” policy, with no trash cans available and attendees required to pick up after themselves. This includes the portable toilets which in previous years had been some of the nicest, cleanest shitters around.
This year, because there were more attendees, many clearly forgot about the clean up policy. The porta-potties were filled with beer cans, waste and piles of tissue (you're supposed to only drop one ply biodegradable toilet paper). Every time we opened the door it was like Apocalypse Now.
Losing and Breaking Stuff
While exploring this flat, prehistoric alkali lake-bed, it's remarkable how families survive the cold evenings, dust storms and extremely hot days without technology. While one girl had to be taken to Reno after falling on an art installation and breaking her ankle, injuries and medical issues are fewer than most music festivals.
Luckily there are plenty of medical camps, bike and RV repair camps and all sorts of amenities and friendly people willing to share their lamps or water canteens. The biggest issue we observed was bike theft — though unless a lock was cut they're not considered officially stolen until after the event).
This beautiful community that gives and provides also breaks you down at every turn. Your body can only handle malnourishment, dehydration, extreme weather temperatures, dust storms and plain old wear and tear for so long until you become delusional. We saw our camp-mates go crazy and at each others throats after five days of the playa and physically felt defeated, but somehow you power through to the end and make it out together.
Some people leave before the temple burn (the smart ones), but the Burning Man exodus is nuts. With the largest numbers in attendees in Burning Man history, this was also the longest most excruciating departure.
It took about five hours to get from our camp to the actual exodus line which is where they incorporate a pulsing system, moving the vehicles in intervals to avoid the stop and go that wastes gas.
This does not mean you leave Black Rock City any sooner. It just means you get to turn your car off for an hour, use porta-potties, hop on your RV roof or lay on the playa ground until it opens up again and you move a mile forward. Another four hours later and you finally make your way out of Black Rock City and onto the paved highway which takes another five hour wait to get to Reno.
Incorporate the time it takes you to dump your garbage and RV black water, fill up with gas and get food, and it can take up to one or two days to make it as far as L.A.
See also: The Best of Burning Man 2013
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