With a history of 26 years the Burning Man Festival website has accumulated a vast archive of helpful information for those venturing out into the desert including an intricate community discussion forum known as ePlaya. It is here that all those obscure and random questions you might have before going out into the desert can be answered from practical preparation questions about shelter, food, clothing and water to more conceptual discussions about the meaning of the Burning Man festival itself.
To help stay alive out in the desert, and to ensure all those who participate in the festival are prepared, Burning Man also provides first time "burners" a survival guide highlighting some of the ten core principles of the Burning Man festival; radical self reliance and communal effort. This is mandatory reading and proved extremely helpful for the Unknown Fields team of twenty-four participants. Before we ventured out into Black Rock City we made a couple of stops along the way to pick up some key supplies with water, food and materials for creating a sun shelter being top of our list.
The survival guide advised us to provide 1.5 gallons of water per person per day that turned out to be about 180 gallons for the entire Unknown Fields group that thankfully we were able to store on the bus as well as in our own individual tents. In the dry arid heat with temperatures potentially reaching 100F we were advised to create a large enough sunshade to prevent our tents from becoming small convection ovens during the intense early morning heat as well providing a place to congregate during the dizzying midday heat. To prevent extreme dehydration we were not only advised to drink as much a water as possible but to sustain our electrolyte levels by eating salty throughout the day in addition to lathering ourselves up with sun protection factor 55.
Camelbak water packs
Coolers and Juice
We were also warned that this year was going to be one of the dustiest and stormiest years at Burning Man coined by the community as Dustpocalypse 2012. We needed to be ready with dusk masks and goggles to protect our faces and to ensure we purchased rebar to keep our tents and shade structures from being blown across the desert. Suddenly our time out in the desert disconnected from urban infrastructure, services and communication channels was about focusing on the physiological basics as set out in Maslow's Hierachy of Needs.