Should there be a campfire?

Grab your bear can or camp chair, kick your feet up and chew the fat about anything Sierra Nevada related that doesn't quite fit in any of the other forums. Within reason, (and the HST rules and guidelines) this is also an anything goes forum. Tell stories, discuss wilderness issues, music, or whatever else the High Sierra stirs up in your mind.
User avatar
markskor
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
Posts: 2274
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 5:41 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: Mammoth Lakes

Re: Should there be a campfire?

Post by markskor » Tue Sep 30, 2014 6:34 pm

RoguePhotonic wrote: I have and most likely will continue to build fire pits illegally but I will continue to exercise good judgement about where I do so.
Coincidentally, if someone removes a seemingly legal fire ring on their own...(without any Ranger direction), are they not also breaking the law too?


Mountainman who swims with trout






Shawn
Topix Expert
Posts: 940
Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2005 9:56 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: Should there be a campfire?

Post by Shawn » Tue Sep 30, 2014 7:21 pm

rlown wrote:guessing no pics of other fire rings. Seems if it was a social center at certain times there would be pics of the ring or kitchen rocks. not meaning to detract from Paul's original post, but some of us are actually responsible.
Happened across this one while ascending Sphinx Creek some years back (within 25 feet of the lower lake). Not sure how much singing occurred, but we stopped for a while to extinguish it and clean up the site as no one was around and we did not see anyone else for the remainder of our trip.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

User avatar
The hermit
Topix Regular
Posts: 196
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:25 am
Experience: N/A

Re: Should there be a campfire?

Post by The hermit » Tue Sep 30, 2014 7:51 pm

I rarely have fires backpacking, once in a while it's nice. I also don't have them often car camping, a buddy will always throw on a few logs and promptly go to bed.I'm left to stay up and make sure it's out before bed. Then someone will rebuild it in the morning so we can enjoy suffocating smoke with our breakfast. It's hard to build a nice smoke free fire especially in the Sierra. Bring your own well seasoned firewood and make sure its out!

User avatar
longri
Topix Expert
Posts: 978
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2012 9:13 am
Experience: N/A

Re: Should there be a campfire?

Post by longri » Tue Sep 30, 2014 8:37 pm

RoguePhotonic wrote:I just think there is a middle ground with everything. I have and most likely will continue to build fire pits illegally but I will continue to exercise good judgement about where I do so.
With so little actual enforcement of regulations it's up to us to take care of the wilderness, following at least the spirit of the law, if not the letter. Hopefully we will do so, as a group.

I know I don't follow every rule as written... but I like to think that I'm not harming the mountains, too much anyway.

markskor wrote:...if someone removes a seemingly legal fire ring on their own...(without any Ranger direction), are they not also breaking the law too?
That's one way to look at it, maybe, but I'll bet it isn't codified. There are so many fire rings it's just ridiculous. I don't think they're endangered.

User avatar
sparky
Topix Expert
Posts: 944
Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:01 am
Experience: N/A

Re: Should there be a campfire?

Post by sparky » Tue Sep 30, 2014 9:30 pm

I do not think it is my job to judge his idea of what makes his wilderness experience.
This is pretty much my take on it. I sometimes have a fire, I usually dont. I sometimes build a ring, but if I do I dismantle it. I build tiny fires in out of the way places. Despite seeing fire rings or funiture or cairns it just doesnt ruin my wilderness experience, though I choose not to participate in building any sort of structure. I guess you could say I am forgainst it. Apathy, more people need to get into that.

User avatar
balzaccom
Topix Fanatic
Posts: 1680
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:22 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: Should there be a campfire?

Post by balzaccom » Tue Sep 30, 2014 9:43 pm

The hermit wrote:... I also don't have them often car camping, a buddy will always throw on a few logs and promptly go to bed.I'm left to stay up and make sure it's out before bed....!
Ain't THAT the truth?

I get pretty exercised at those folks.
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

User avatar
dave54
Founding Member
Posts: 997
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 10:24 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: where the Sierras, Cascades, and Great Basin meet.

Re: Should there be a campfire?

Post by dave54 » Tue Sep 30, 2014 9:45 pm

I think we all have seen those campsites that look like a battlefield pockmarked with bomb craters. They are ugly no matter how much you like a fire.

I have not had a fire in years, except when camping with the grandkids and s'mores are required by law when camping with your grandkids. :D S'mores over a stove is just morally wrong, indecent, and a crime against nature.

As the years pass I like campfires less and less, and last weekend, while in a campground with our RV, I found the campfire smell wafting from the neighbors was quite objectionable. I realized I just do not like the smell anymore. I am getting old, curmudgeonly, and cantankerous (and proud of it!).

Now I prefer to camp away from everybody else, with solitude, quiet, and no campfire smog in the early morning. I will intentionally choose a less desirable site if that is the only way to be alone.

As a side note.. I recall a research paper some years ago that measured elevated early morning CO levels in popular wilderness campsites, from the multitude of fires left smoldering overnight. Not at a level of significant health risk, but elevated nevertheless.
=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~
Log off and get outdoors!
~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=

User avatar
bluefintu
Topix Regular
Posts: 180
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2011 10:57 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: Should there be a campfire?

Post by bluefintu » Tue Sep 30, 2014 11:21 pm

This another great topic. For me personally, I don't like fires but, my Scouts do.

In July, I took a bunch of scouts to our local mountain by Wrightwood. The sign said no campfire allowed. There was one group of Scouts that had a big fire in a fire ring. My boys wanted a fire too, but, I said no. I checked the fire ring the next morning and it was still hot. We stirred it up a little and left. Made sure it was out.

I love being above 10,000', but, the trees above that height are very old. Some maybe 2,000 years or older. Just think if everyone has a fire and taking down these old growth, my kids won't be able to appreciate what was once there.

A fire for camping is great, but the responsibility comes down on me. If legal, I can deal with a very small campfire. Car camping included.

With the "LNT", I try to cover where I stayed. You won't know where I put my tent up, most of the time. My Scouts and I are the vacuum cleaners where ever we go. So, in a way, "LNT" is cleaning up after yourselves, so I don't have to do it.

See ya in the mountain,
Don

User avatar
balzaccom
Topix Fanatic
Posts: 1680
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:22 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: Should there be a campfire?

Post by balzaccom » Wed Oct 01, 2014 8:53 am

bluefintu wrote:
With the "LNT", I try to cover where I stayed. You won't know where I put my tent up, most of the time. My Scouts and I are the vacuum cleaners where ever we go. So, in a way, "LNT" is cleaning up after yourselves, so I don't have to do it.

See ya in the mountain,
Don
nice
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

User avatar
SSSdave
Topix Addict
Posts: 2515
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:18 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Silicon Valley
Contact:

Re: Should there be a campfire?

Post by SSSdave » Fri Oct 03, 2014 9:34 am

WD posed the issue well. Of course the topic always receives lots of input on backpacking boards because the status quo leaves many of us angry and frustrated. Am another one that rarely has fires. When we do they are really small down at forest elevations in remote areas. And tend to camp well away from usual camp zones if possible. There are times and places a campfire is ok and others when it is not. I don't really care about fire rings in legal areas and leave them alone. However in general I believe there is value in discouraging fires because a significant segment of visitors have a behavior issue of making fires every place they go, every night.

Again the problem I have as someone that has been backpacking in the Sierra for decades, is illegal fire rings continue to be built in illegal places in this era apparently by a sizeable percentage of backcountry users. As a landscape photographer I tend to ramble about considerable areas of terrain away from trails and camp zone areas that others don't have reason to. Doing so I often see numbers of camp spots where groups purposely apparently select such out of the way less visible spots in order that they can make campfires without being noticed by others. Many of those doing so have obviously been at it for many years because they also tend to make elaborate constructions just for watching a fire at night. Things like moving around logs and large rocks to sit on. Making huge rockwork fire rings. Those that make fire ring against the side of large boulders. A characteristic is usually a large leftover woodpile usually with those huge logs that eventually make lots of smoke. People that spend a lot of time and effort to reach areas in the backcountry and then spend most of their time as lazy camp busybodies apparently without much interest in getting to know their destinations. And yeah some leave broken wine bottle glass in each pit.

And then there are the many about legal elevation areas for making campfires that measure the distance from water sources to their campsites with the shoe size of dwarfs. The numbers of illegal campsites too close to timberline lake edges is and has been epidemic. Primarily the results of lack of enforcement due to elimination of backcountry rangers since the Reagan years when James Watt killed funding that never returned. And yeah I rip and kick dozens of the illegal fire rings up every summer. And no I don't do a thorough job of it like AlmostThere's fine teams do because I don't have the time. My efforts leave illegal campsites looking like an ugly MESS with an intent to discourage and send an obvious message to the next group with weak behaviors that see it. Black rocks and ashes scattered all about where people tent.

I totally agree with arguments balzaccom related as it applies to timberline and alpine areas. One would think in an alpine area with just scattered whitebark pines like the East Fork Basin of Bear Creek (Vee Lake etc) where horses cannot travel, a long ways from trailheads, and only cross country backpackers and climbers visit that there would be few fire rings. But no, I ripped up and tossed around black rocks at maybe a dozen spots, and most were well hidden in small groves of the stunted pines.

And as I have occasionally related on outdoors boards in the past including this one, I would encourage others that have an ability to communicate calmly without being emotional or personal, to say something to others making fire rings and campfires where such is illegal.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests