I’m just another Burner like you, but I’ve done this a few times. After a couple years, you start to hash out a game plan for getting in and out of Black Rock City. Arriving and leaving always rank among the hardest things about the trip. That’s true for emotional reasons as well as practical ones.
As far as the feelings go, that’s all you. But here’s what you need to know about the down-to-earth part of going to and coming from Burning Man.
There are 60,000 of us going down a two-lane road to a single entry point. We have to be patient, and we have to be careful, okay? It’s going to be like a thousand freight trains going through the same tumbleweed towns at the same time. Go slowly. Be respectful. If you park on the shoulder to pee or you blow through a stop sign, you’re causing a hazard that could screw this up for all of us.
This year, the Org is planting signs and flaggers along Highway 447. They’re there to help us. Listen to them. Smile. Say hi. You’ll probably be going slowly enough to give them a high five.
The Gate opens at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday. As you’re planning your voyage, that’s your baseline. If you get there at 5:06 to be clever, you’re going to be shunted off into a holding pen, and I hope you can reach your water, snacks and pee bottle if that happens to you.
As it is, it could take us five or more hours to get in on Sunday or Monday. We just have to know that.
As we’re rolling in, the Gate Advisory Radio Station will be keeping us posted on 95.1 FM. No tunes, just loops of info. It’ll be the only all-talk radio station on the playa. And we’ll be glad to have it.
When we hit the dust, our speed limit is 5–10 miles per hour, got it? Faster than that, we start kicking up dust and digging ruts in the road, and that will gum up the works for everybody.
A quarter mile before the Gate, there’s a bunch of booths called the Apex. The staff there will direct traffic. Just past there, you can turn into the Will Call lot if anybody needs to pick up their tickets.
Don’t get out of your car. You’ll get lost. If someone in your car has to go to Will Call, everybody else go with them. Don’t make them find their camp on foot on the first night.
When you get to the Gate, the crew will scan and tear your tickets and make sure you don’t have any stowaways, feathers, plants, guns or bombs, or unregistered vehicles. Make sure your checklist is all checked off before you go.
It’s hard to know when to leave. Firstly, you might not want to leave at all. But there are also more practical factors to consider. The best thing to do is to listen to the community.
If everyone around you wants to stay and watch the Temple burn on Sunday evening, expect a long line that night and Monday morning. If you hear about predicted bad weather around Exodus time, people will be trying to get out before it hits.
Basically, if you don’t want to wait in the Exodus line, don’t leave on Sunday or Monday. It sucks to leave before the Temple burns, but it might just be a good idea unless you feel like you have to be there. Otherwise, you’re better off hanging out until late Monday or Tuesday morning.
There’s a new deal for Exodus this year. As always, you should head straight out your radial (the nearest number street) to L, the last ring of the city, and head towards 6:00 and Gate Road. During Exodus, L will be divided into lanes for each quadrant, 2:00–4:00, 4:00–6:00, 6:00–8:00 and 8:00–10:00. That makes things simpler and less stressful.
Once you hit Gate Road, use whatever lanes are open until you hit bumper-to-bumper traffic. You can go around vehicles that are stopped if there’s space up ahead, but do not change lanes.
As you wait in the Exodus line, you’ll experience Pulsing, kinda like you have all week, except different. This kind of Pulsing makes traffic move in bursts and then stop for an hour. But then you get to hang out with your new neighbors until it’s time to pulse again.
You’re still at Burning Man until you get back to the default world. Leave no trace. Participate. Stay positive. Rely on yourselves and each other to make sure Exodus goes smoothly. I mean, really, who wants to rush? We can’t stay on the playa forever, but fortunately we take our sweet time getting out.
Want some more resources about Ingress and Exodus? Read these:
Photos by the superlative Scott London