In an initial armchair approach to preparing for some longer and tougher hiking trails (I’m starting to train for Mount Whitney), I’ve been reading some great books on people tackling the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail. The popular book “Wild” was fun, but I am really enjoying “Awol on the Appalachian Trail” by David Miller.
David’s 2003 hike is documented in this beautifully written story that really brings the trail to life. He also goes into details about his “homes” along the trail since he rarely used a tent: the AT shelters that dot the 2,172 mile long passage across the mountain range. There are around 250 backcountry shelters along the trail where both section and thru-hikers can stay for free. Most of them are basic and open to the elements, but some are actually beautifully constructed and take advantage of views, light and airflow. Most of the shelters are near a creek or a stream and some have a privy or basic toilet nearby. They are kept clean and in shape by hikers and trail volunteers.
Most of the shelters have basic sleeping platforms, but no cots or beds. Food is either kept away from bears and other critters in boxes or hung from strings on the ceilings. Some shelters have picnic tables and food prep areas and most of them do not allow open campfires.
Top photo: William Penn Shelter. Photo by White Blaze.net.
Another Burning Man event has come to a close and Black Rock City this year was jam packed full of interesting camps and structures. The city is the area where the nearly 60,000 people who come to the event live. Their “homes” are a selection of unique structures, trailers, buildings, tents, yurts and other forms of shelter that keep out the harsh sun, sometimes heavy winds and the dust that permeates the air.
Last year, we camped by Tin Man and his fantastic metal pods. This year, we camped by him again and noticed the pods have been improved and they multiplied. Tin Man, a metal worker from Sacramento has been featured in Popular Science magazine with his walking pod, and his pod cabin is his home on the Playa. The bottom pod is a kitchen, the middle pod is a shower area and the top pod with the view is his bedroom. He even had a few guests staying in his camp and created a self-contained micro pod and some guest pods made of curtains.
There were a lot of shipping container shelters out on the playa this year including this one with a constructed inner building that is air conditioned and accessed by a real door. This container was used by one of the Black Rock Rangers. Rangers are the city’s peacekeeping and helpful guides. They help people who are lost, work perimeters during various burns and stay in the city sometimes for several weeks.
There were some very interesting domes this year including this structure that looked like an igloo.
This dome was made entirely out of loaves of bread.
These domes were kept full by constantly pumping air into them via a generator.
This dome was built to look like a large bird of prey.
If you come to Black Rock City in a tent, there are various structures you can place over your tent to keep it cooler and dust free. Our neighbor Kristal Light built a Monkey Hut around her Coleman Bayside tent (which even had a swinging door and a small closet) and our other neighbors built a custom sized post structure around their tent.
Some very colorful structures were in the city this year including yurts, circus tents, Moroccan tents and even a tipi covered in silk scarves.
Of course, there were some beautiful little trailers in the city as well.
Some unusual structures included a teardrop trailer sans trailer built onto the bed of a truck.
A castle called the Coo Coo Camelot.
A yellow, or lello, structure built on top of a shipping container. This structure was used by members of the Department of Public Works, the group who builds Black Rock City.
The Open Mind Zendo near Fractal Planet was built out of cardboard boxes.
This treehouse structure was built and used by the camp Dustfish.
Hands down, my favorite camp in all of Black Rock City is Ashram Galactica. Their extremely well run camp contains the Grand Hotel, a colorful yurt and a set of beautifully decorated canvas bunk houses that serve as the Ashram Suites. Each of the suites are gifted by raffle to denizens of Black Rock City in a nightly drawing. They each have a theme including the Shanghai Suite, the Cambridge Suite and the French Boudoir.
Photos by Christina Nellemann
This week’s Tiny House in a Landscape is a series of photographs taken by Jennifer Borek who publishes her own blog at www.kannallc.com. Jennifer took a tour of the Kansas prairie today where she is temporarily living (long-term contract).
The photos are of the Kaw House a reconstructed model built in 1961. The government built these on the Kaw Reservation. However, the Kaws preferred living in their own tipis and bark-and-mat lodges and they ended up being used as shelters for their animals.
Thank you Jennifer for sharing your photos and this interesting bit of history.
All over the world, participants of Burning Man live the entire year in anticipation of the month of August. In about two weeks, the yearly event in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada (which is expected to host 60,000 people) will begin, and Black Rock City will burst out of the desert floor like a giant flower. During the last week of August until Labor Day, these residents (called Burners) will live in their own shelters that they’ve brought to the event. These shelters take on many forms: from berber tents and Monkey Huts to flamboyant RVs and festooned Costco carports. Black Rock City has it all.
Phillipe Glade has photographed and blogged about most of these structures during his years of attending Burning Man. His beautiful photographs have now been published in his new book, Black Rock City, NV: The Ephemeral Architecture of Burning Man. The book is 112 pages and contains nearly 200 photos of the structures and shelters built by the denizens of Burning Man.
In a way, the dwellings of Burning Man can be described as vernacular. They are created specifically for the harsh, desert conditions and creative atmosphere of the fifth largest city in Nevada. The structures have to be able to withstand the desert’s 50 mile per hour winds, the boiling sun and allow for airflow and enough room for communal living, cooking and sleeping.
Vertical Camp is covered in garden shade material to allow for airflow and shade from the sun. Downstairs is a large kitchen and living space and the compartments on the top floors contain the bedrooms of the camp residents. Some bedrooms even have faux fur-covered beds and bedside dressers. The views from the top deck are incredible. Continue Reading »