40 days after Burning Man

And no trace was left! Hope she picked up the MOOP…


On a recent, unusually warm fall day the playa beckoned. Reports I have read on the Leave No Trace principle have either been written by Burning Man or the BLM. I wanted to witness the condition of the playa for myself. Amazingly, deep tire grooves in the ancient seabed surface seemed to be the only indicators that 66,000 attendees were here 40 days ago.

As I drove around the ghost town of Black Rock City, a few items were found. Were they sourced from the Burning Man event? There is no way to know, but here are the scarce specimens:

One sock:

Found Sock on the playa

One plastic thingamajig:

Found on the playa

One seal of some kind:

Found Seal on the playa

Tremendous kudos to the DPW (Department of Public Works) & all the crew members who stay that extra month scouring the Playa for MOOP. You are modern-day heroes, every one of you.

All media © Suzanne Kessler

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11 comments on “40 days after Burning Man

    • Heroes? Yeah, right. As facetious a statement as the orgs own assignation of BM being the ‘largest leave no trace event in the world.’

      Implicit in both is the suggestion that 1) everyone at the event cleans up after themselves at the end of the day and 2) DPW (and others) volunteer to clean up what’s left after the event.

      Neither is true. Suggesting as much is disingenuous. Leaving no trace by its very defintion suggests not only an individual but a collective commitment to leaving zero impact in (or on) an area.

      The truth is that a good number of attendees going to the event are absolute slobs and it takes a focused, experienced group of paid personnel like the DPW to clean up after them in order to assure that the BLM signs off on the permits that allow the event to continue the next year.


  1. A super wet winter that would flood the whole place to a foot deep in the spring to smooth, compact, and level the spongy places and dunes would be the ultimate.
    Cali would like the moisture too!


  2. there is nothing “ancient” nor is this a “seabed” — it’s simply a lake that dries out over the summer — it will soon (we can only hope) fill up with water & completely erase all sign of habitation (& trash will simply float away to the down-wind shore)…


    • Nonsense,sort of 😉 potayto, potahto,
      It is not an ocean bed but IS considered a Sea bed As well as a lake bed. It was a lake or sea called an endoheric basin – no outlet to the ocean. The reason nothing grows there and reason it’s white is hypersalinity which defines it as a “sea” Re. Salton Sea , Caspian ‘Sea’ and it is definitley ancient in terms of when it was last actually filled w’ water.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Without getting too uppity with what I know of the natural history of Lake Lahontan I will say definitively that at no time was it ever a sea and I can’t think of a single geologist that I know who refers to the ancient watershed as a sea. It was an inland lake – an endoheric basin as you correctly note – formed at the end of the last glacial episode as a result of melting glacial ice that came off of the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada range as temperature rose and the great glaciers of the sierra mountains gradually melted. Pyramid Lake is the only remnant of a much larger body of water when at its peak was almost the size of Lake Erie. It’s also interesting to note that the highest level which the lake reached was ~880 feet above the playa where the event is held. Oh, and there are at least three points on the playa where the loose sediment extends down well below seven (yes, seven) kilometers.

        References available on request.

        Liked by 1 person

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