Attendees Leave After Being Stranded in Muddy Desert – Billboard

The scene at Burning Man 2023 has returned to relative normalcy, with its gate officially opened earlier on Monday (Sept. 4), allowing attendees to leave the event in the remote Nevada desert.



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The event’s roughly 73,000 attendees were previously confined to the site after the event’s ingress/egress gate was closed following several rain showers that turned roads into thick, sticky mud, making them largely impassible.

As of Monday afternoon, the sun was shining over Black Rock City, and attendees who remained were disassembling the hundreds of camps that make up the event. Cars began leaving earlier in the day when the gate road officially opened, although many cars, trucks and RVs made their way out via the gate and a service road over roughly the last 24 hours. Several cars that had gotten stuck in the mud before the roads fully dried were seen around Black Rock City, with tow trucks also on site.

Such road traffic has made many of the streets in Black Rock City deeply rutted, although others remain flat and easier to pass. A volunteer at Burning Man’s official information booth could not advise on how long it’s currently taking for those exiting the event to make it out of the gate, but did say the wait in line could be “extreme.” (Last year, it took many leaving the event upwards of 12 hours to depart.)

The Burning Man airport also resumed service on Monday, with flights currently only traveling to Reno. The Burner Busses that transport attendees to and from Burning Man from cities including Reno and San Francisco also resumed service.

Organizers have opened up WiFi networks so that people can communicate with the outside world, and camps are also sharing passwords to their own networks with others. WiFi coverage doesn’t extend to the entire city, but attendees can walk around and have a pretty good shot of finding it.

The event’s namesake Man will burn Monday night at 9 p.m. The burn was delayed from its traditional Saturday night scheduling due to general wetness and the fact that emergency vehicles like fire trucks could not make it out to the Man structure in the mud. Another large-scale tower structure is also scheduled to burn this evening at midnight, with Burning Man’s temple — where Burners leave mementos of the dead and other heartbreaks — set to burn Tuesday (Sept. 5) at 5 p.m.

Around the site on Monday, groups of campers were heard making plans for bringing their art cars out to watch the Man burn. Bikes, the standard mode of transportation on the typically flat and hard-packed desert playa, are once again in motion. While Burning Man has had a difficult time getting those with electric bikes to abide by the citywide five m.p.h. rule, those with these e-bikes were seen moving quite slowly through the city to avoid being thrown off by the bumpy surface.

The spirit of community that’s core to Burning Man was also witnessed throughout Black Rock City, with many camps sharing leftover provisions — popsicles, pork tenderloin, Gatorade, stuffed animals — with passersby. Some also seemed keen to continue the party, with one remarkably fresh-looking woman remarking, “Oh no, they took the orgy dome down” upon arriving to the site where this structure once stood.

One death was reported at Burning Man, but according to the Associated Press, organizers said the death of a man in his 40s was not related to weather conditions. An investigation is underway, said the sheriff of nearby Pershing County; the man’s name and cause of death has not been provided.

Billboard also heard a confirmed report of an isolated electrocution incident after cables in the ground got wet in the rain. It was reported that the man who experienced this electrocution is in well and stable condition following the accident.

As is normal with the disassembling of Burning Man, Burners will be there for days, likely longer, taking down the rest of their camps and doing their best to ensure that the event’s “leave no trace” ethos is abided by. Sun is predicted for the remainder of the week.

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