SAN DIEGO — A San Diegan’s first Burning Man Festival experience took an unexpected turn Friday morning.
“I was listening to some music and then the wind started picking up. It got really blustery like aggressive dust storms,” Ryan Horner explained.
Burning Man made its return to the Black Rock Desert in Northern Nevada, but this year festivalgoers were met with torrential rain. Horner attempted to move on to the next event that same day, thinking the rain was temporary.
“It had an enclosed tent, so we thought we will hang out here and the rain will pass. The rain did not pass,” he said.
Heavy rain turned the entire playa into a muddy mess, trapping thousands on the festival grounds through the weekend as Burning Man organizers put a driving ban in place.
Horner described bicycles scattered everywhere as a “bicycle graveyard” because he says so many people had to abandon their bikes wherever they were at as they went to seek shelter. His tent like many others was covered in mud and water.
Many went without access to power and porta potties, but Horner says his group was still fed and taken care of sharing resources with anyone else who needed it.
“Everyone goes wherever they are with their attitudes and under the circumstances, I felt like it kind of banded of the camps together,” Horner said.
With his campsite located near the edge of the lakebed, he took a chance leaving early Sunday morning. Horner said he had lot of experience driving in off-road conditions, feeling confident enough to attempt navigating the roads.
“There was definitely some massive mud puddles that you just had to keep up momentum up, no slowing down. I was able to get to the road and get out of there,” Horner said.
Even though events took an interesting turn, Horner still got to enjoy five uninterrupted days of the event and said he would do it all over again.
Event organizers estimated about 64,000 people remained on site as of Monday afternoon, shortly before the official drive ban was lifted.