Survival on the Black Rock, How they did it

 

    I was fortunate!  I spent several years on the Black Rock Desert myself.  My parents and grandparents also lived on the desert.  Living in a place where the sands dance and become dust devils, where even the nights mirage, and where there is always danger changes a person to the smallest cells in their body.  They are never the same.  When they leave the desert it creates an ache and longing that even temporary visitors like the "Burners" experience.  
    This is a celebration of all of that, and, at the same time, a practical history of how people managed life in a harsh and very beautiful place.  The link below will take you to the iBooks store where you can download a sample chapter.

    At this time, you must have an iPad, an iPod touch, or an Apple computer to download the sample or the  book.



















How they did it

     Every year the organizers of the Burning Man Festival emphasize to their participants the necessity of careful preparation for their events.  Even for a week's stay a great deal of planning must be done.   Enough water to drink, enough for at least rudimentary cleanliness, enough to share with those whose planning couldn't envision just how much water it takes for one human to camp for one week.  Even if our Burners run out of supplies they can drive over to Gerlach and get the basics.
And, of course, it is just for one week or so.  Burning Man attendees do not worry much about laundry and cleanup until they return to their homes.
     Imagine living on the Black Rock for a lifetime?  How did those old timers do it?  It wasn't hauling in enough water to live for a week.  It was Having it available for a month, a year, decades.  Enough for laundry, for livestock, for their mining operations, a completely different perspective.
     And water is only the first element.  Food in a place where grocery stores are long miles down bad roads. How much can you grow in a desert?  How much can you gather or hunt?  Not an academic question.  A practical reality that must be answered successfully by anybody who lives on the Black rock.
     Shelter, primitive by modern standards, built of juniper pine, carefully piled rocks, later of dressed lumber and ties from the Western Pacific Railaroad.  As important to long term survival on the Black Rock as food or water.  Life saving for the black Rock dweller.  Each cabin built by hand out of whatever was available.
     And finally, fuel.  Mostly wood gathered from the Jackson Mountains.  Even sagebrush.  Rarely coal.  It was simply too expensive and required hauling over those bad roads!
     "Life on the Edge of Forever, Survival on the Black Rock" is a window into that time.  How ordinary people lived in an extraordinary  place.  Creating legends, myths, living and dying, in in one of the most difficult habitats on earth.