Burning Man, Bearded Forest, Baker Striptease

Trip Start Jun 01, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Washington
Thursday, August 11, 2011

I've never been to Burning Man and was planning on making this year my first trip.  A friend that goes every year told me not to worry about getting a ticket - that I could just get one when I get back to town.  As the entire world knows, it sold out.  Drats.  I've been keeping a loose eye out for tickets, and one of my last days in Seattle decided to check the craigslist up there, and found the following post:

Not scalping 2 second Level Burning Man Tickets (Rites of Passage), but not going to take a loss on them either. Total cost 502.50, that is 240.00 each plus 22.50 for shipping and fees, I have the receipt.  But there "IS A CATCH", I expect that I will be getting a lot requests for them at this price, so I will only have the ad up for a day or two. so you need to convince me why I should "SELL" my tickets to "YOU". Examples can be: Tell me why you want to go so bad, what you will contribute to the event, is this the first time or have you gone often? Maybe send me a photo of how happy or sad you will be with or without the tickets. What would you do for the tickets, somersalts, backflips, etc., send me photos or write me about your adventure when you get back, so get creative here. I was supposed to go with some one, but they backed out and I don't really want to go by myself this year, went in 2009. So since I will miss out on the fun, this will be my guilty pleasure for selling the tickets at a no profit good price, so the better your reply the better chance you have, make it interesting for me. Will make my decision by Sunday 8/7/2011 or sooner depending on number of replies.

I quickly replied, trying to be genuine, yet also witty with comments like "Well, if I was a hot chick I could send you pictures of my breasts or something, but I'll have to rely on the grace of my words... damn" (sorry for whomever this offends).  I told him that it would be my first time going, that I've clearly been looking forward to it, and that I'd even come pick him up on my travels and take him down.  I also wrote and recorded a short 30-second cheesy song.  Long story short (for once), I got it!  He decided to sell one to me and one to a girl that also just needed one.  He got around 30 responses, "mostly sob stories about how they got scammed and this and that, but the two of you both said that you would come get me and take me with you, and that shows to me that you weren't just thinking about yourselves, and that's the kind of person I wanted these to go to."  Awesome!  So, after my crazy 72 hours in Vancouver, I was driving back to Seattle to get the ticket.

A talkative fellow, but a kind and genuine and generous soul.  The fact that he was selling the tickets at face value (easily could have gotten a grand a piece) tells something about him.  Spent two nights in Seatown, got to see an old high school friend, then was on my way to Baker Lake to camp and hike a bit.

One thing about North Washington: it loves its road construction.

I woke up later than expected in the Magic Loft at Jered's place (seriously, I am dead to the world whenever I sleep in that loft bed) and didn't make it to an overcast and foggy Baker Lake until about 2pm.  On a clear day, the lake is backdropped by the magnificent Mount Baker, at nearly 11,000 feet.  Although completely unclear, the area was still beautiful, the skies were delicate and rich hues of grays and blues, moody skies like those I saw at Mono Lake so long ago.

I came across a 1/4 mile "Nature Trail" that looked inviting, so I accepted.  The ground looked soft, and my feet were burning to feet it against their skin.  My sandals were immediately dispersed, the cool, soothing, almost living earth delicately kissing my soles.  I made a spur of the moment decision to make an overnight backpack trip.  I hate to admit that, although I have done a lot of hiking these past months, I had not backpacked once.  From a nearby trailhead it was only about 2 miles in to some dispersed camping - perfect for a 3pm start time.

After getting organized, I dove into the forest.  Green upon green upon green upon green.  So many hues and shapes and combinations.  The entire forest floor flooded with ankle-high plants and mosses.  Every tree, branch, and rock carefully wrapped in a blanket of green.  The Bearded Forest.  As I dropped, the lake became increasingly visible through the trees.  Adding a silver glimmer but otherwise perfectly reflecting the colors and moods of the sky, it looked as if the sky just continued on, downward, forever and ever, and that I was walking on the edge of the world, a thin layer of trees the only thing that prevented me from slipping into the abyss.

Found the perfect secluded spot a hundred yards away from the families with speedboats and goober little kids and campfires that were left burning even though nobody was at camp.  Grr.  I set up camp, my tent alive and breathing for the first time in 10 months, and I was soon sitting on the rocky beach, book in hand.  As the evening progressed, the clouds lightened up, and a hot sun began to peek from behind the clouds.  Something about being alone in the wilderness near water makes me (and hopefully anyone!) want to skinny dip.  I waited for some passing canoes to get a little out of range, stripped down, and dove into the frigid waters.  WOO!!!  Refreshing!  Scrub scrub, a quick swim out and back, then on to the beach to air dry in the sunshine.  So happy, so content, so relaxed... until a speedboat pulling two kids on inner tubes whipped around the corner.  "Clothed" only in my copy of On The Road in my lap, and without time to properly dress, I just grabbed my hiking pants and positioned them over my legs.

Ever so slowly, more and more of the mountain was becoming visible.  First, just her legs being revealed through the bottom of the lifting clouds.  10 minutes later - a new feature that I could not see before!  10 minutes later, a tiny tiny peek of some of the higher ground.  It was like a Baker striptease.  It took a few hours, but finally she was mostly revealed, with one remaining band of clouds she was wearing like a white scarf.  Between that and the incredible sunset, rays shooting out here and there through the dispersing clouds, dark evergreens framing the lake... I have been some beautiful places in my life, and this is one of the most.

Instant dinner accompanied by a cold Dunkel I brought along.  Nothing is better than a beer while camping.  I brought along a pair of shorts that lost their button a while back.  I had never sewn before, but figured it was as good of time as any to learn.  Sitting on a log that seemed to be designed for comfort (could have sat there all night), I introduced myself to sewing by replacing that button, view of the lake in front of me, coolness of the air, a few remaining rays of sunshine.  Not a bad classroom.

At 10, before going to bed, I decided to take one more peak at Miss Baker to bid her goodnight.  I walked to a good break in the trees and nearly fell down.  There she was - not a cloud in the sky - and the lake a perfect mirror.  Sky, earth, and water became one.  I looked straight up, and starting at the head of Draco the Dragon, dropping my eyes through the body of the Big Bear, touching down at the peak of the Mountain, running down her steep face, cloaked in snow and glowing from the full moon on the opposing side of the sky, past one layer of foothills a far-ff grayish green hue, the dark evergreens on the far side of the lake, and a thin streak of beachline, and then just the reverse in the water - up the beach, over the mighty evergreens guarding the lake, past the distant foothills, up Baker's side, reaching the black silhouettes of trees and bushes in front of me, and finally landing on my feet, practically floating on the soft earth and foliage below me.  I hoped that the scene would remain until morning.

I woke at 5:30 and counted, by sound, 4 speedboats going by.  Who the hell?  I went back to sleep.  I had a dream.  I was at my parents' house and my left cheek was a little swollen, like when you accidentally bite it.  But it kept getting bigger, and bigger, until the point that my cheek was about an inch thick.  I looked at my parents for help and their panicked faces met mine.  I woke up, which I was surprised of, because the dream felt so real.  I had used my cargo shorts (with a new button!) as part of my "pillow", which was now painfully pressing into my left cheek.  I always find it interesting when physical sensations work their way into dreams like that.

I finally emerged from my tent at 7:20 to a strange light in the forest.  Complete fog.  Drats.  However, it was still lovely.  The thick fog sinking down the mountainsides and weaving through the tall trees.  Ghastly fingers gently working their way through the thick hair of the Bearded Forest.  Breakfast would be had at the truck, but I did bring a french press and some coffee.  De.Licious.  Sipping coffee while breaking down camp and reading, all the time waiting, hoping for the fog to lift.  It was starting to break, Mt Baker again teasing.  I saw on the comfy log reading Kerouac, occasionally looking to the side through the trees to see if the fog had burned off yet.  Nope.  Nope.  Not yet.  Still white... wait!  That white isn't fog - it's snow!!!  I jumped up and rushed to the spot I nearly fell in admiration the night before and there she was - standing alone and proud in a cloudless sky, one small dark cloud hovering in front of her like a mustache.  Thank you, love, for that magnificent morning kiss!

Next stop: Vancouver.  Let's see what manners of mischief I will get myself in to this time!

(Tons of good pictures below - take a few minutes to look through them!)
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Linda on

BEAUTIFUL! I don't care what anyone says - America still is the most beautiful country in the world - lots of diversity and interesting people - if we could just get rid of the politicians!

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