Burner Magic

Day 100: Belden Town

There were only two things that I was missing from off trail life: touch and shared music.

Coming off the alternate (and very steep , aka exhausting) climb up Sierra Buttes, I encountered two lovely young ladies hanging a sign for trail magic down below. I happily agreed to partake. At the base next to Tamarack Lake, there was a camp set up with a full kitchen, hula hoops, loads of people, and several of my friends. I was quickly greeted and offered the choice between beer and soda, and cheeseburger or bean burger. I had just entered bliss. These amazing trail angels were stemming from a burning man camp called Bad Advice Wanted. Morgan, a burner and a friend of a through hiker in 2014, had begun a trail magic practice that surpassed any reasonable expectation.

They served a gourmet meal cooked by a culinary professor three times each day. They had coolers seemingly never empty, filled with wine, beer, soda, and juices.

They made a space that was fun as well as relaxing: colorful and furry pillows lined the ground; costume pieces set on the table along side body pampering items like lotion and nail clippers; a slack line stretched between trees; blankets and games second; a free library sat in a quiet corner.

I even got to meet the donkey, Diego, and his entourage. Cricket and several friends brought Diego for a section of California and I was excited to meet this donkey.

Morgan‘s Diner employed beautiful volunteers willing to give great conversation, excellent food, full massages, and 1000 laughs. Not only did I feel incredibly catered too, but I felt completely at home in a trail family mixed with Burner family. I stayed two days, and Morgan still 30 miles from my trip. Thanks Morgan Et al!!!


So now I had received joy, comraderie, and a massage, meaning touch. But still, I was craving sharing loud music and dancing with others. And then… I heard about Belden Town.

More than a town, Belden Town is a conglomeration of buildings that the trail walks right through. You could call it a ghost town, but it is actually still in use, albeit by one organization, having pulled the town together into a “resort.” The space is regularly rented by groups to have large functions with music, dance, and all things weird as burners are want to do. I arrived in perfect timing for a burner camp to have an annual shindig there at Belden Town. How lucky was I!

I was thrilled to get to dance to electronic music on Thursday night. I danced for hours to very skilled duck ponders spinning reel vinyl to the 90s tunes. Their craftsmanship was worth as much a watch as a listen. I was addicted to the speakers for six hours straight.

I had aimed to leave on Friday morning, and was even packed and ready to go when part of my trail family finally caught up. There was no way I was leaving then. Instead, several of us watched the World Cup, drank beer, laughed ourselves silly, played in the river, and generally had a fabulous time.

The next day, I got caught in the vibe of the rest of the party. The burner side of things had grabbed hold and didn’t let go. Before I knew it, I was dressed in silver and a fascinator hat, dancing like crazy to tunes spun loud and fast, and having myself a pre-burn party with a fabulous new set of friends.

I left after three days and with an enormous smile. I had attained the two things I miss from off trail life in a matter of days.   I proudly sported my temporary tattoo from camp Fuckn It Up it up for the week to come.


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