By now you have all read the Burning Man Survival Guide like good little burners, right?
So, you know everything about how to keep yourself alive, safe and hopefully happy on the playa, right? Good.
Social media has been abuzz with photos of a crazy rain/hail/wind/storm on the playa. The storm turned what is normally a dusty, parched landscape into what looked more like a lake.
We must remember that even though it is the desert, sometimes rain happens. It can get cold during the day and freezing at night.
I have been on the playa when it has rained, and it can be magical if you are prepared. I also have been on the playa when it snowed. (True story! Imagine: Temple Burn night with two girls in one tent because the other tent wasn't waterproof, and they have to wear goggles and dust masks with all the dust in the tent, giggling hysterically because they were so cold and it was SNOWING. In summer. In the desert. But I digress.)
Here are five tips to help you deal with any possible rain or cold weather on the playa:
1. DON'T DRIVE: If it rains on the playa, you will not be driving your car or your bike, unless you want them to get stuck and mucked up. The mud is stickier than other muds from different soils.
2. DITCH THE SHOES: If you walk around, the mud will stick to the bottoms of your shoes, adding inches to your height. Not a terrible thing, but once it dries, it's like cement and won't come off. I recommend wearing no shoes while it's raining, followed by a good foot bath and lube so that you don't get "playa foot" (which is like a chemical burn on the feet, according to Burning Man—I've never had it). If you have shoes with no tread that you can easily scrape the mud off, those work well, too. If you don't want to go shoeless, you can wrap your feet in plastic bags. Just make sure they don't become MOOP (matter out of place).
3. BRING WARM CLOTHING: You really want to show off your new furry G-string and body glitter. It goes so well with your purple hair and platforms. This is all you plan to wear all week, and you don't really have space to pack warmer clothes with the gallons of alcohol you're bringing. Because it's the desert, you might think that it won't get cold at night (or during the day, for that matter), so you leave everything warm at home. My advice to you: Don't be silly. Have a daytime outfit (or 15 of them) but also bring warm outfits for nighttime or colder days. Chances are it will be so hot that you will shrivel into a dried piece of human jerky, but have a plan B just in case because, you know, we are burners—and we are prepared for anything.
4. YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY TOWELS: If you can fit it, always bring one more towel than you think you'll need. They come in handy, rain or shine. The one thing I have never said in 12 years of burning is: "Gee, I really wish I hadn't brought this towel."
5. SPRAY BOTTLE IS KEY: Go ahead, bring a spray bottle. I like the kind of spray bottles that you can pump air into, giving you extra water pressure. They are great for the heat and cooling you and your hot, melty friends off, but they also can be used to hose off the bottoms of shoes should they get wet and muddy in a rainstorm. As long as you hose the shoes off before the mud dries, you can salvage them—and they won't be two blocks of concrete that you have to walk around in all week.
RGJ video editor Liz Margerum has attended Burning Man for 12 years and will be at this year's event.