Welcome! Log In Create A New Profile Recent Posts
Tuolumne Meadows and Lembert Dome during a summer storm, Yosemite National Park

The Moon is Waxing Crescent (7% of Full)


So who still builds fires when backpacking?

All posts are those of the individual authors and the owner of this site does not endorse them. Content should be considered opinion and not fact until verified independently.

avatar So who still builds fires when backpacking?
January 07, 2016 02:21PM
Just like the topic says. A buddy and I are thinking of tackling Cloud's Rest in a few weeks and I am curious who still builds a fire when backpacking. With the drought and fire restrictions and not having much time when backpacking to keep a fire going, I have learned to get along without them, but they are nice sometimes. I don't think I have build one since last year around this time on a 4 day non-stop rain trip. Any one else care to weigh in?
avatar Re: So who still builds fires when backpacking?
January 07, 2016 06:31PM
In Yosmite fires in the backcountry are allowed ONLY in EXISTING fire rings
using dead and down wood.
In winter that is nearly impossible to get at.... and the wood will be soaked.
This was said as such from a ranger at Badger Pass. I thought it was great.

There may be another more simplistic rule in the supervisors compendium.
I thought I read something like that somewhere... where it simply said...
no fires in winter...

Anywho... in direct response... I personally have not had a fire in the backcountry
in something like 20 years... give or take a few... once you really open
yours eyes .. and this is my opinion... you see what a scar it makes ...
and it kinda ruins it for others coming to the same location...
imo... Hollywood and media glamorize the fire ring campfire ... whereas it's just
not needed. bring the gear you need to stay warm. you're not going to
have a fire burning all night anyway.. and it's dirty and smelly...

Since we see a ridiculous number of NEW fire rings ALL the time ... imo...
the whole thing should be just not allowed... rangers spend too much time
cleaning up...


Anywho... have fun around CR

Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: So who still builds fires when backpacking?
January 07, 2016 07:59PM
We've had exactly one in the last fifteen years or so. Dardanelles Lake north of Carson Pass late in the season, in an existing fire ring in the middle of a large granite campsite. Wood was already there, stacked up for us, It was cold, got dark early, and so we lit it. After we put it out, I decided that it just wasn't worth the hassle. That was maybe eight or nine years ago. haven't had one since, and don't miss it.

Check our our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
Or just read a good mystery novel set in the Sierra; https://www.amazon.com/Danger-Falling-Rocks-Paul-Wagner/dp/0984884963
Re: So who still builds fires when backpacking?
January 07, 2016 08:22PM
Short answer: unfortunately, a lot of people seem to be building campfires while backpacking--and may are doing so illegally, judging by the number of recently-constructed or otherwise illegal fire rings we encounter--easily 3-6 per weekend. Someone may camp somewhere once, and while all other signs of occupation (footprints, cleared ground, etc.) will have vanished in a few seasons, the "one and done" fire ring will be there for decades. There's really no difference between leaving behind a new fire ring or any other litter such as beer bottles or sardine cans. In fact, fire rings are worse--it's much easier to pick up litter (except those damn mylar balloons that disintegrate when you touch them...) than to scatter the fire-scarred rocks, dig down and bury the ashes, and smooth the ground to remove any traces of the fire ring. In fact, it's so hard that we have noticed that the rangers often will just toss a few more rocks into the ring and make a mound of rocks instead of trying to remove and restore the ring completely. Still, I think in 2015 we restored 3-4 dozen illegal fire rings... you're welcome :-)

To reiterate what the Badger ranger said about campfires in winter, here's the deal: the snow will be several feet deep, and there is no way you are going to clear away enough snow to get down to bare ground on the off chance of finding an existing ring and dead-and-down wood--although moving that much snow will probably result in keeping you very warm due to exertion. If you are willing to move that much snow to stay warm, build an igloo instead--it will be much more effective.
avatar Re: So who still builds fires when backpacking?
January 07, 2016 08:39PM
This was a topic that came up today when I was speaking with the Ranger on the phone. I am not planning on a fire, nor would I ever build one outside of a camp with established fire ring if I was. I really did laugh out loud when basilbop said, "If you are willing to move that much snow to stay warm, build an igloo instead--it will be much more effective." Ha, still makes me laugh, I am going to start using that one!
Re: So who still builds fires when backpacking?
January 10, 2016 08:00PM
Everything anti-fire above...

And I'm going to add.. I'm sick to death of hearing how fires keep you warm and what if u get hypothermia and all that...

Wilderness medicine is clear... Avoid being cold and wet. If u get wet, keep moving and stay warm. If you can layer up enough when stopped to evaporate the sweat and stay warm, fine. Otherwise, change into dry clothes. Drink warm fluids. Use hot water bottles. Know how to *avoid* hypothermia. Deal with being wet and cold proactively. Aggressively in winter.

If a partner actually gets hypothermia, know how to make a hypo-wrap. A campfire won't help that person!

I've gotten to the point I can hardly speak normally about campfires. I detest them. I get so utterly mad when I see the scars.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/10/2016 08:05PM by JustKeepWalking.
avatar Re: So who still builds fires when backpacking?
January 11, 2016 07:49AM
Copy That!

Chick-on is looking at you!
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login