Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Black Rock Mud

In November I shot a story for Reno Magazine in Gerlach, Nev. on the southern edge of the Black Rock Desert

I love it up there. I still remember my first night camping on the playa—summer after my senior year—ten years ago—like it was last weekend.

Yes, I go to Burning Man but that's just one part of the Black Rock. And not always my favorite.

I fish at Squaw Creek Reservoir, drink at Bruno's Country Club and in the morning, at home, I sip coffee from a mug I bought at Planet X. If I had a trailer, I would park it outside Gerlach and spend a month watching the clouds. Oh, and the sunsets. What great sunsets.

My assignment was to photograph Black Rock Mud. A family operation founded two years ago by friends Shelly Egbert and Summer Powelson on Egbert's father's active geothermal property outside of Gerlach at the Great Boiling Spring.

For years, according to their website, Egbert was "fascinated by the creamy and odorless mud that occasionally erupted from the mudpots." And after swimming in the hot spring "family and friends raved about how good the mud made their skin feel."

The pair—with help from their kids—now harvest and sell the mineral rich mud for facial masks. 

I've been waiting to share these photos for months. For so many reasons, this was my favorite assignment last year. Egbert and her family are incredibly generous: first they agreed to meet me early in the morning so I could photograph the sunrise, then they invited me to join them for a swim in the spring and finally—and this was really an epic Nevada experience—let me camp and photograph the rising full moon.

I hope you enjoy the photos. I did.

At the source, water from the spring is more than 90℃.

The Great Boiling Spring was discovered by John C. Fremont in 1844
on his journey from High Rock Canyon to Pyramid Lake. 

It's said Fremont expected to find the great Buenaventura River near this location.

Egbert harvesting mud from one of the geothermal pots.

They harvest a limited quantity twice a year in the spring and fall.

The mud sells for $59.

Looking north, towards the Black Rock.


Because of the extreme temperatures, the source well is fenced in for safety.

From left, Cameron, Colton, Brigham, Summer, Shelly, Sophie, Rachael, Maggie and Chloe.