MOOP MAP 2014: Storm Front



~ Leaving No Trace ~
The Burning Man community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.

It’s been a warm September. For those who’ve been out here since early August or before, the heat has seemed relentless: an unending series of hot, still afternoons on the baking Black Rock Desert.

But at this time of year, you never know what tomorrow brings. You don’t even know what the weather will do in an hour. The desert creates its own atmospheric conditions: storms that sweep across the entire West will break up and encircle the playa without ever touching down. Or, they’ll intensify in power as they eddy and swirl, trapped in a rage between the surrounding mountain ranges. The Playa Restoration crew has a detailed evacuation protocol for such situations — like the one that happened yesterday.

There was a rumor that weather was coming, but that’s a rumor we hear often (usually followed by “but it probably won’t hit us”). It wasn’t until the black ridge of clouds crested the mountaintop that we started to worry. And then, out of nowhere, the temperature dropped ten degrees. The wind began to howl. And the desert surface lifted up into the sky.

Witch Doctor & Rebecca brave the sudden onslaught. Photo: Aaron Muszalski / @sfslim.
Witch Doctor & Rebecca brave the sudden onslaught. Photo: Aaron Muszalski / @sfslim.

The crew knew exactly what to do. In the brownout, everyone immediately boarded the nearest vehicle. Head counts were called out on the radio, and all vehicles caravaned slowly through the looming dust toward the wind-protected shoreline. It’s a long, frightening journey from the remains of Black Rock City to the edge of the desert in a dust storm, and everyone takes it seriously. Once the entire crew had landed, roll call was taken. Only when every person was accounted for did anyone leave the desert for the safety of Gerlach.

It’s thrilling and exciting when storms like this hit, but it also makes us nervous. This storm front brings with it chilly temperatures, and several days of forecasted rain. Out here, winter drops in a steely curtain, cold and final. There is every chance that we will no longer be able to access Black Rock City after this storm — meaning that the Restoration work will come to a swift halt, before it is fully completed.

As of this morning, the clouds have parted, and we are headed back out to the desert, bundled up against the sudden chill. Everyone has one eye on the forecast. Can we finish our task and restore the playa to a moop-free state, in time to pass the BLM’s scheduled inspection? Will this year’s inspection be postponed due to weather, as it has been in the past? The next few days will tell.

Moop Map, Day 4 results

On Day 4, the Playa Restoration moop line finally began to traverse the inner, residential streets of BRC. Again, the results are impressively green and moop-free. Could this be the smallest trace Burning Man has ever left? We’ll know soon, but the outlook is good so far. Great job, Black Rock City!

Click to enlarge!
Click to enlarge!

Moop Map Legend

GREEN: Low Impact to No Impact Trace. The moop line moves at a normal walking pace, picking up very little.

YELLOW: Moderate Impact Trace. The line must slow down in order to pick up all the moop here.

RED: High Impact Trace. The line must stop to clean up hotspots or very moopy areas.

We’re not posting details of what was found in each spot. If you are a theme camp, your Placement representative may have more detailed information for you in a few months (when the entire Moop Map is finalized). Please be patient: we have much more work to do before we can pass detailed information along.

Stay tuned for more, as the moop line marches through the streets of BRC. We’ll keep posting the results just as quickly as we can compile them.

Want more photos & goodies from the Playa Restoration team? Search #BM2014. You can also follow The Hun: FacebookTwitterInstagram.

About the author: The Hun

The Hun

The Hun, also known as J.H. Fearless, has been blogging for Burning Man (and many other outlets) since 2005, which is also the year she joined the BRC DPW on a whim that turned out to be a ten-year commitment. Since then she's won some awards for blogging, built her own creative business, and produced some of the Burning Blog's most popular stories and series. She co-created a grant-funded art piece, "Refoliation," in 2007, and stood next to it watching the Man burn on Monday night during a full lunar eclipse. She considers that, in many ways, to have been the symbolic end of Burning Man that was. The Hun lives in Reno with DPW Shade King, Quiet Earp. You may address her as "The Hun" or "Hun". If you call her "Honey" she reserves the right to cut you.

12 Comments on “MOOP MAP 2014: Storm Front

  • Vinay Gupta says:

    Hey guys, I’m Vinay Gupta of the Hexayurt Project.

    We want to work with you to reduce hexayurt-related moop next year. Please drop me a line (hexayurt at gmail dot com) and let’s put heads together and see what we can do to encourage people not to cut yurts on the playa, abandon them, or shred them on roofracks on the way out/in.

    Sorry for the mess,


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  • Jimmo says:

    Do they have to pay for all those Tshirts?

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  • BireFunny says:

    Jimmo: No. Once you’ve hit a certain level of “insider” there’s a trailer you’re allowed to go into… only once.

    However many shirts you can put on, you can keep.

    Current record holder is Danny-Tee. He was able to put on 159 shirts.

    He died twenty minutes later of heat exhaustion.

    RIP Danny-tee.


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  • Tim says:

    Three cheers for Vinay!

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  • Kyle says:

    I had a DPW sticker on my car back in 2005. I was proud of my contribution. A week after the burn someone kicked the shit out it. Broke the windows and slit the tires. They left a note saying, “Fuck DPW”. That was in the Mission. It’s nice to be cool when everyone is on campus, but off-campus burners know we’re really a bunch of fucking assholes.

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  • G says:

    Look at all the green on the map!!!!!!

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  • Lenny says:

    I hope the storms keep DPW out of San Francisco for another month. It’s be so nice here lately.

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  • Slim says:

    Kyle – Whenever I wear my DPW colors, be it in the Bay or around the world, I’ve been universally received with grace and gratitude. What you describe is unfortunate, but the DPW has changed immensely in the decade since that experience, and so has people’s perception of us.

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  • Maka says:

    I am so shocked to find 2 giant red marks on our camp when we were the last to leave and I’ve had green moop ratings at my camps for the last 5 years!! Please tell me who I can contact to find out what moop was found. I’m concerned we got dumped on or, worse, that we somehow did not identify some horrible, hidden moop. I am so sad, perplexed and stunned by this report. Please help me and our camp find out what happened, help! So sad

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  • Lenny says:


    I was on DPW crew, and we found a dead baby on your site. The second red mark was for the stroller, found 20 feet away buried. These strollers can be recycled, FYI.

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  • Jim Bracher says:

    I second the question about Red X’s. That seems ominous.

    There’s one where I camped. I camped solo, but left Friday morning due to feeling too crappy to go out and play. I’m hoping the fault is with however grabbed the spot after I left, but I want to know if I missed something. I walked the area twice looking for anything.

    Leaving early sucks enough. Leaving crap behind is worse.

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  • The Hun says:

    Vinay, that’s awesome! Let me decompress, then let’s talk!!

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