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Coosa
07-28-2003, 16:30
My personal belief is that there should be NO campfires allowed on the entire Appalachian Trail. Hikers and Backpackers should have enough sense to carry the appropriate gear for the weather and be wise enough to be prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws out. Campfires for heat are a huge waste of resources as the heat goes straight UP to the tree tops, not out to the people standing around the campfire. Their "other" sides are freezing while their fire-side is getting so hot it dries out the natural oils in skin and clothing and can cause damage to their shoes/boots. Also, the downed wood is used by salamanders and other animals/critters to procreate (and you thought they needed latex and a tent?). Look at the packed earth and lack of tree limbs around some of the most often used campsites. Overnighters will not say "Gee, we shouldn't build a fire here" instead, they'll walk a quarter of a mile or more to find some downed wood, pull it back to their campfire site and burn it like a "Yule Log" if they can't break it into smaller logs/pieces. Some hikers say that "it's just NOT camping without a campfire" or they'll act as if the only way to roast a marshmallow is with a HUGE BonFire. Have you considered a few tealights for ambience and marshmallow roasting? They will work if you can change your mind-set on what YOU want to what is BEST for the ENVIRONMENT.

The next time you're out there (on the Appalachian Trail) in the freezing snow or sleet, did you bring appropriate gear for the season or will you rely on some wood and a campfire to keep you warmish?

??????? So the Poll Question Is:

Should campfires on the Appalachian Trail be banned? If so, explain, if not, explain. Defend your position, please, don't just say "no" or "yes" as this is a topic that is getting some publicity because signs posted in "No Campfire Zones" along the AT are not always observed. Even by otherwise intelligent Thru Hikers.

Thank you for your input. Coosa:banana

Lone Wolf
07-28-2003, 16:37
I'll always have campfires.

icemanat95
07-28-2003, 16:46
Banning campfires? Are you serious? That's ridiculous.

I can see putting down temporary bans when conditions are too dry, but jeez, permanent bans? I guess we just aren't responsible enough to make any decision for ourselves now.

Seriously. I'm none too excited about campfires myself. I find them an un-necessary bother most of the time, but I know how to build them small and keep them under control if I want or need one.

I believe that hikers should exercise some common sense when considering campfires, and should be held responsible if their fires go awry. But I don't think they should be banned from every lighting them.

asmtroop3
07-28-2003, 16:50
I do not alays bother but it does add to the atmosphere of the moment. I do come prepared but a nice fire is part of camping.

Unless you are out to blatently burn down the forest, and/or not following the rules out there for the cicumstances, the environmental impact is not an issue. No one can justify no fires with a hug of a tree to me.

dionalaniz
07-28-2003, 17:19
I think a good common sense rule is:

"Look around the shelter. If there is dead wood within eyesight then go ahead and use it to make a small fire if you wish. However, if there is no dead wood within eyesight do NOT go hunting into the forest to find dead wood. You'll just have to do without a fire - you'll survive."

It's got to be a give and take situation. If we all make fires at every shelter every single night and hike half-a-mile to bring back huge logs of dead wood that's not being very kind to the natural environment that we all supposedly love and is much of the reason for our hike in the first place.

Dead and decaying wood is an integral part of the forest ecosystem. Take from nature when she is abundant but leave her alone when she needs to rest and recuperate.

I'm planning a winter thru-hike. If i see dead wood from the front of the shelter i might use it for a cozy little fire. If not, i'll do my part to give back to nature by doing without that coziness for one night.

Youngblood
07-28-2003, 17:20
Campfires are great when the conditions are right. The problem is that not everyone agrees with what the right conditions are. Another problem is that some folks build campfires in an irresponsible manner or don't even bother to put them out or at least spread out the embers. I think it is the second problem that is the issue, but that issue covers lots of things, guns, cars, boats, sex, etc. Maybe you should be required to pass a test and have a valid license? ;)

Youngblood

Youngblood
07-28-2003, 17:25
I would have voted, but I didn't see one that I agreed with... it's a little like answering 'yes' or 'no' to the question 'do you still beat your wife?' What I suspose to say, I'm not married.

Youngblood

meBrad
07-28-2003, 17:27
I have come to understand that my participation in this forum is counter productive. In an attempt to ammend this I am deleting my posts and have requested to have my account deleted

dionalaniz
07-28-2003, 17:44
so - i'm curious. what do yall think of my proposed rule of thumb? If you can see dead wood from the shelter, make a small camp fire in an established fire ring. But do not hike further than eyeshot of the shelter to obtain dead wood. And never, ever, use live wood.

Sound like a reasonable compromise?

Youngblood
07-28-2003, 17:49
Originally posted by meBrad
BTW campfires do very little to warm you in the open but if you create reflectors correctly they will help on really cold nights like nothing else.

Not to mention how they raise the spirits after spending all day in a cold rain, especially when you can finally dry out.

meBrad
07-28-2003, 17:53
I have come to understand that my participation in this forum is counter productive. In an attempt to ammend this I am deleting my posts and have requested to have my account deleted

dionalaniz
07-28-2003, 18:35
I agree meBrad. I'm about as much of a tree-hugger as they come but I still like to enjoy a small campfire on a cold night given a plentiful supply of dead wood next to camp. Personally, I have no problem whatsoever with this kind of responsible use of campfires.

However, reading several of the trailjournals from 2003 it was a bit disturbing to read the frequency, scale, and distance hiked to obtain wood for campfires. Several times I read people mention they went off hiking away from the shelter for over 20 minutes to collect dead wood. If you have to hike for 20 minutes to find enough wood to make a suitable campfire then THE ENVIRONMENT AROUND THE SHELTER CANNOT SUSTAIN MORE CAMPFIRES! In this case you should make no fire and hope for better luck at the next shelter.

I also read, in one journal, about a hiker coming up to a shelter in the Smokies. There was a troupe of men (not thru-hikers, but men from some local organization) hauling humongous logs to the shelter and they had actually brought saws with them to saw all the wood! Now that's just completely out of hand!

I'm very much looking forward to making a small campfire at the end of my evening and drinking hot chocolate while watching the embers and sitting in the January snow. But I will only treat myself to such luxury if nature's cup runneth over and there is an ample supply of dead wood near the shelter.

Remember folks, that fire is at the forest's expense. She could use that dead wood. So don't abuse her generosity.

Sleepy the Arab
07-28-2003, 23:25
I am reminded of an incident during my thru in '99. A group of about four of us had come to Spring Mountain shelter for the night. One of my friends, "The Fool," decided to camp on the rise a bit beyond the shelter while the rest of us set up inside. He was joined a few minutes later by a troop of boy scouts who (not unexpectedly) were goofy, gawky, noisy and a bit inexperienced. The three of us could hear their shouts and hollers as we watched them bumble around. We could only imagine the show our tent pitching friend had. About fifteen minutes went by when suddenly The Fool came into sight carrying all of his gear back toward the shelter. We asked why his hasty return and he responded, "Well, it was amusing at first but when one of the scout leaders cut down a live tree for the fire, I'd had it."

Thus illustrating what kind of person probably should not have a fire. I think prudence is the key word when dealing with backcountry campfires. Is there plenty of wood? Is the wind close to non-existance? Is it the "social" kind of night for a fire? Is it really necessary?

Personally, I love fires. I like the warmth they provide. I like drowsing off to a hypnotic state as I stare into the flames and glowing coals. While thru-hiking though, I found them a tremendous bother. What, you mean that in addition to setting up a tent, cooking my food, filtering water, and setting up a bear line that I have to dig out a fire pit, find wood, and then coax a fire from its infancy of a smouldering pile of sticks to a moderate burst of heat and light? Forget it! I'm going to bed.

smokymtnsteve
07-29-2003, 16:09
I'll have to admit that I LOVE a campfire...

and I"m a LNT trainer..Minimize campfire impact..How???

Use exsiting fire pits...I do that

Use only DEADand DOWN wood... I do that

NEVER cut live trees....that's a no brainer

be careful about tramping down living vegetation in search of wood... sure

Never gathering wood larger than your wrist...makes sense and burns good and no tools needed

My method and what I talk to folks about is if everone would pick -up a stick or two on the way into the shleter\camping area from a half or quarter mile back....then enough fire wood for a Small campfire, for a short period of time could be easily available and minimal impact on the surrounding area.... I always carry in a stick or two into camping areas..even if its at lunch and I'm not going to start a fire ..I leave it there..perhaps encouraging others to build a fire, but they probably would anyway..

I say carry in a stick or two, join in campfire camaradery, contribute a stick or two that you have carried in from an area of PLENTY...and don't even consider gathering wood tht is near the shelter site.....there is PLENTY of wood in them thar hills...it just not near the heavily used shlter and campsites....most of the wood that I gather comes is laying on the trail itself...I consider it trail upkeep.

icemanat95
07-29-2003, 16:17
Now that's some good advice Smoky.

If every other hiker brings in a bit of wood from somewhere else, you'll soon end up with a small pile of firewood for use not only in casual campfires, but occasionally in an emergency when someone must have a campfire NOW. It's rare, but when it happens, you don't want to be wasting time looking for it.

If people would actually use a bit of sense, there wouldn't be any campfire problems.

dionalaniz
07-29-2003, 16:22
"there is PLENTY of wood in them thar hills"

I think that's precisely the disputed point. Picking up dead wood actually on the trail or within eyesight of the shelter is OK. But going into them thar hills in pursuit of dead wood is, i think, objectionable. Let the forest have her dead wood. She needs it.

Part of responsible camp fire making is accepting the fact that several times on your hike you will come to a shelter and want to make a fun campfire but will have to decide not to out of recognition of the fact that the area immediately surrounding the shelter cannot sustain a campfire.

Youngblood
07-29-2003, 16:57
Originally posted by smokymtnsteve

My method and what I talk to folks about is if everone would pick -up a stick or two on the way into the shleter\camping area from a half or quarter mile back....then enough fire wood for a Small campfire, for a short period of time could be easily available and minimal impact on the surrounding area

How do you know when you are a half or quarter mile from the shelter?

smokymtnsteve
07-29-2003, 17:04
sure was glad thier was PLENTY of firewood under the shelter back in feb 2000 when I was doing the GA trail south bound,,,

after a cold wet night at Hawk I made my way to Springer and it was coming a howling blow....with sleet and snow and cold ...decided to make my way on to Blackgap shelter so my elevation would be lower and more sheltered from the elements...found aanother hiker there that was in the second stage of hypothermia... I made us some hot food and tea and a fire and dried out his sleeping bag (which by the way was inadequet for the season)...he got better...but he had already sat down and "given into the cold and couldn't get up " he would have froze that night....

being in the winter there was a lot of blow down near the shelter and someone had left some wood under the platform so it was dry and easy to start(it had been raining snowing sleety for the past several days).....always replace any wood you burn that was left by another...esp. during winter...sometimes this can save a life.....this storm shut the city of Atlanta down for 2-3 days....be careful out there....

DebW
07-29-2003, 17:26
The state of Connecticut has banned all fires along the trail, and that club thinks it was the right decision. I personally never build fires and see no need for them. I cook on a stove and go to sleep at dark (except in winter, then I wait until 6:30 rather than trying to sleep at 4:30). I don't really object to small fires under some circumstances. But the fires I see near shelters are seldom small, and they cause me to worry about the shelter or woods catching fire. Many sites are going to the small circular metal firerings rather than stone circles because the rings cannot be enlarged to allow for bigger fires.

smokymtnsteve
07-29-2003, 17:51
Originally posted by Youngblood
How do you know when you are a half or quarter mile from the shelter?

I carry a map and profile of the trail with me and try to know aabout where I am all the time....knowing where you are at and where you are heading is a good thing..

I agree deb some folks build too Large of campfires,,,,bringing in some wood gives me a measure of "control" of it's use and also the oppourtunity to talk to folks about fire and LNT and minimizing the fire impact...

highway
07-30-2003, 08:19
Should campfires on the Appalachian Trail be banned?

Campfires may not be for everyone......But the right to choose is.

We should not be so quick to "ban" away a freedom, because it just might never return. And, if that freedom-the ability to choose- is banned away now, then that choice is lost not only for ourselves now, but for those who follow behind as well. I dont honestly feel we have the right to choose for them.

Besides it appears to me that it is only a few irresponsibles in the backpacking community who violate the LNT ethics most of us adhere to. It would make more sense to educate and/or punish the few offenders rather than everyone with a complete "ban" on the fires.:-?

Weeknd
07-31-2003, 00:56
Amen to Smoky's LNT recommendations they are right on the money. My only comment is that all backpackers should have some type of stove so that they don't have to have a fire. My personal practice for many years has been to never start a fire ring and to straighten one's I use.

I believe that we need to be responsible for ourselves in all things. I don't think having fires is a right, it is a priveledge with responsibility.

I don't believe that the impact of responsible outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen will measureably effect the ecosystem. I believe that fire bans are important for safety under certain conditions and may be prudent in extremely heavily used areas.

Fires should not be banned on the AT except where and when necessary.

Crash
07-31-2003, 09:34
I didn't use a campfire recently on the AT in the pouring rain and completely soaked. I hammocked and didn't use the shelters. But I wouldn't begrudge someone lighting up to get warm in those coooold drafty shelters. I was warm and toasty in my Hennessy hammock!

Coosa
07-31-2003, 13:25
Originally posted by highway
Should campfires on the Appalachian Trail be banned?

Campfires may not be for everyone......But the right to choose is.

We should not be so quick to "ban" away a freedom, because it just might never return. And, if that freedom-the ability to choose- is banned away now, then that choice is lost not only for ourselves now, but for those who follow behind as well. I dont honestly feel we have the right to choose for them.

Besides it appears to me that it is only a few irresponsibles in the backpacking community who violate the LNT ethics most of us adhere to. It would make more sense to educate and/or punish the few offenders rather than everyone with a complete "ban" on the fires.:-?

Why do you think that a campfire is a right and not a privilege?


meBrad said:
"find a reason to increase the number of park-service rangers

Better funding for park rangers from fines

find a reason to throw more hikers in jail"


I like the way he thinks! Maybe the "campfire" issue is the tip of a larger issue on the Trail. Comments?


And how can We become part of the Solution?

Coosa

:banana

highway
07-31-2003, 16:46
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Coosa
[B]Why do you think that a campfire is a right and not a privilege?

What I said was, "Campfires may not be for everyone......But the right to choose is.

I didn't say that a campfire was either a right or privilege, just that the privilege of choosing it is a right. And, we should not be so quick to ban the privilege of that right, for we might just lose that right forever-not only for ourselves now but for our progeny later, as well.:D

Rocky Top
07-31-2003, 18:17
Why are they called campfires? Hum!!!
I will almost always build a camp fire. I can only think of two times when I would not. 1- When camping in a no fire area. 2- When I walk into camp after bed time. Every other nite I will build a camp fire. I try to use common sense. There are only two types of wood, live or dead. Live is any plant that is still growing/living. All other branches, limbs, logs, sticks ect. that have been seperated from their life source, are dead. And they can be burned. I don't care how far you choose to walk to go and get dead wood. Just don't ever cut from a live plant. Now green timber(some call it live) smokes more than dry or seasoned timber, but if you have a hot enough coal bed it will burn. That is my two cents worth.

meBrad
08-01-2003, 08:24
I have come to understand that my participation in this forum is counter productive. In an attempt to ammend this I am deleting my posts and have requested to have my account deleted

smokymtnsteve
08-01-2003, 08:48
have you ever tried a wad of TP saturated with olive oil..

works everytime..

squirrel bait
08-01-2003, 10:28
When I was kid in the Heartland engaged in Cub/Boy Scouts we were always taught to bring wood to the campsite. It was really never expected or searched for near the camp. Beginning about a halh hour or so before the proposed stop we started looking. You have all the right rules already in place. No bigger than your wrist, never live, not ingrained into the ecosystem, usually solved by the no bigger than your wrist. Remote camping helps some but just the number of people involved makes it difficult. Everyone needs to help. Please be conscious of your impact and common sense should guide you with no problem. Good luck with your hike.

max patch
08-01-2003, 11:03
The poll doesn't add correctly.

4+6+13+11 does not equal 29.

Max the CPA

dionalaniz
08-01-2003, 11:41
Rocky Top - so you have no compunction about hiking a quarter mile from the shelter, spotting a huge hollowed out dead piece of wood the size of man, and dragging that huge piece of wood back to the shelter and crushing it up for use in a shelter fire? The fact that you just robbed the environment of a crucial part of its ecosystem (large decaying pieces of wood are vital for a healthy forest) doesn't bother you at all? I find that a bit disturbing.

highway
08-01-2003, 12:27
4+6+13+11 does not equal 29.

Max the CPA [/B][/QUOTE]

4+6+13+11=34/my CRT:banana :D

asmtroop3
08-01-2003, 12:49
Originally posted by dionalaniz
Rocky Top - so you have no compunction about hiking a quarter mile from the shelter, spotting a huge hollowed out dead piece of wood the size of man, and dragging that huge piece of wood back to the shelter and crushing it up for use in a shelter fire? The fact that you just robbed the environment of a crucial part of its ecosystem (large decaying pieces of wood are vital for a healthy forest) doesn't bother you at all? I find that a bit disturbing.

Ask onyone who truely understands ecology and they will tell you that when a fire gutts a portion of everglades or forest, it adds so much to the system. the woodpecker or grub, ect will still find a habitat and the system will go on. the fluid of a bleeding heart does little for that system on the whole.

meBrad
08-01-2003, 13:04
I have come to understand that my participation in this forum is counter productive. In an attempt to ammend this I am deleting my posts and have requested to have my account deleted

Blue Jay
08-01-2003, 13:26
Wait a minute Troop 3. You yell at my good buddy Brad and me for getting into a pissing contest about the contamination of gound water and then you get into one about CAMP FIRES. How about a little consistency here? Sorry, Brad, I'll attack your theory that hiker camp fires have any effect at all on the overall ground cover of even a small forest later. We are all getting just a little bit silly here.

meBrad
08-01-2003, 13:36
I have come to understand that my participation in this forum is counter productive. In an attempt to ammend this I am deleting my posts and have requested to have my account deleted

asmtroop3
08-01-2003, 15:43
My humblest appologies. I should know better than to post after a death in the family.........................

meBrad
08-01-2003, 16:00
I have come to understand that my participation in this forum is counter productive. In an attempt to ammend this I am deleting my posts and have requested to have my account deleted

dionalaniz
08-01-2003, 16:54
asmtroop3, i do not understand your logic at all. You seem to be making the following argument, if I may paraphrase:

Fire is also an integral part of the ecosystem and is part of the natural process of any healthy forest. A campfire is a fire. Therefore a campfire is also a healthy boon to the ecosystem.

?

So, i ask you again. Do you really have no problem with someone hiking a quarter mile into the underbrush to retrieve a man-sized hollowed out trunk of dead wood? meBrad, do you also think the impact of having everyone do this is insignificant?

meBrad, you spoke of a counterpoint to the view that leaving dead wood alone to rot in the forest is good for the forest. You seem to say that doing so would prevent forest fires, the same forest fires that asmtroop got done saying are a natural boon for the forest and you seemed to commend asmtroop for holding said view. So, i'm reading your post as follows:

"Yes asmtroop - i agree with what you're saying. Fires are a good and healthy part of the ecosystem. And furthermore, when you go around and pick up dead wood for your own campfire you are helping to prevent these forest fires. So that is good because you are stopping the very forest fires I just commended a moment ago as being a healthy part of the ecosystem. Therefore, there is no benefit to leaving dead wood to rot and leech its nutrients back into the soil."

Sound kinda cirtuitious to me.

Just leave the forest alone. She'll take care of herself. LNT. LNT = leave dead wood out of eyeshot alone. If that out-of-eyeshot dead wood fulfills its natural destiny by getting hit by lightning and causing a natural forest fire, then so be it. If that out-of-eyeshot dead wood fulfills its natural destiny by decomposing and realeasing all its organic material back into the soil, then so be it.

B Thrash
08-01-2003, 21:22
Campfires are great if you can find any wood at the shelters, anyway I always had a campfire when I wanted one. Please do not do what a dim-wit done in the Smokies a few years ago, he took off his wet shoes and stuck them near the fire, crawled in his sleeping bag and went to sleep, the next morning all he had to hike out with was a couple of rubber soles.





______________________________________
ad alta

to the summit

Coosa
08-02-2003, 17:46
:banana
Needless to say, I am enjoying this discussion and the civility of everyone posting. It's good to disagree and to learn why someone disagrees with you. Very educational.

I especially like this phrase from Squirrel Bait:
"No bigger than your wrist, never live, not ingrained into the ecosystem. . . ."

Not ingrained into the ecosystem. I think that is important to consider when contemplating gathering wood for a campfire.

One other question here -- Have any of you built a campfire on top of a sheet of heavy aluminum foil or a "fire blanket" -- where you set out the foil (15-18 inches square and at least 4 layers thick) or aluminumize blanket, gather dirt from away from the campsite and make a mound about 6-8 inches high, with a 9 to 12 inch diameter, then build a small campfire (usually used for cooking, but not always), and when finished, scattering the "burned and usually sanitized earth" over a large area?

One thing we've NOT discussed is how heat sanitizes the earth and kills living organisms. Each subsequent campfire heats deeper and deeper into the ground, doesn't it?

I remember when a Ranger told a group of us about a fire that had started when a campfire heated up the roots of a pine tree that was underneath a campfire. The campers put out the fire, but they didn't do the "stir and check for heat" part and there was enough residual heat in the earth to ignite the sap in the pine tree roots. The pine sap was heated and traveled back towards the tree trunk and the tree "suddenly" burst into flames from the bottom up. (I can almost recall where it was - George Washington National Forest in WV, just over the line from VA - there's a primitive camping area there that we visited in 1970 or 71.)

Anyone else ever heard of this? We saw the charred tree and I'm inclined to believe that the Ranger wasn't just telling us a story.

What say you? Coosa

Coosa
08-02-2003, 18:04
http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/news/stories/20030731/getout/560679.html

Cut and paste this and read the article about re-routing at Slaughter Gap.

Not directly related to Campfires on the Trail but definitely peripheral to it.

Coosa
I've had my 15 minutes of fame more than once!

Lone Wolf
08-03-2003, 01:15
Yo Coosa. Did you see what Mt. St Helens did a while back? Talk about fires and LNT! It's all coming back naturally. Little campfires all up and down the the AT don't hurt a ***ing thing. This Earth is extremely unfragile.

smokymtnsteve
08-03-2003, 10:49
......

Lone Wolf
08-03-2003, 22:09
Just be goddamned thankful you're sighted. Aesthetics have nothing to do with trail damage. The trail itself and shelters are major scars. 10,000 fire rings hurt absolutely nothing.

smokymtnsteve
08-03-2003, 22:47
Lone wolf as my plans are going now ..i'm going to be walkin into damascus Mid-octbober...you gonna be around then???

yea I'm glad I can see too...cause I can't hear so loud noise don't bother me...some folks say that hikers snore in shelters...I have never heard one..I was there at Plum Orchard shelter the night that HACKSAW got his trail name..but I never heard'em.

Coosa
08-03-2003, 23:50
Lone Wolf -- campfire rings do hurt something -- the earth beneath the fire. The animals that need the wood that's burned up to maintain their lives.

But I think the greater harm comes to unprepared persons who think that a campfire will "save" them from not packing the proper gear for the conditions.

YES, definitely there ARE some times when a campfire is the solution because the person is hypothermic. But the solution to the bigger problem is to TEACH people to Be Prepared for All Weather Conditions when they're hiking.

I'm afraid that too many hikers read a book or hear about a Trail to hike and think that "anyone" can hike that trail. That's not true. Anyone who is prepared for all conditions on that trail have a better chance of a successful hike, but even then, they have to be ready to change their plans, if need be, or to add specific gear to their backpacks.

If someone is leaving Springer on Jan 1, 2004, for a Thru Hike, that person needs to be ready for days of 60* and nights with a windchill of -25* for the three months for sure and potentially the fourth month. I've been to Grayson Highlands in mid-April when it snowed and the windchill was 5* and in Damascus it was 55* and sunny.

Therefore, the hiker needs to have adequate gear for those temps. But the majority of hikers will carry less than adequate gear and build a bonfire every night to keep warm.

We're not talking about one or two hikers, either. We're talking about 1000 of the early hikers (many of whom don't finish the AT) and another 1500 or so who start around March 1 to April 30. Many of those will also get hit with cold weather and build a bonfire because THEY ARE UNPREPARED but won't admit it or won't spend a couple hundred dollars on better gear.

Except in a dire emergency, a campfire (and especially a BonFire) is NOT needed if backpackers will plan ahead and carry adequately warm gear for the situation and potential weather conditions.

Nuff said for this evening, Coosa

smokymtnsteve
08-04-2003, 10:24
My campfire building has NOTHING to do with survival, or the lack of proper gear...or even the weather being cold...I just love a campfire....gives me warm fuzzy feeling...as I stare into the flames and transport myself back to days of old...my ancient wandering ancestors....the hypnotic flames soothing my soul.

Coosa
08-04-2003, 20:06
:banana

Coosa

Former Easy
12-16-2003, 22:07
While hiking I have a campfire just about every night. The only exception is on very windy nights up on a ridge, if ash and sparks are flying every which way I put the fire out. I also put the fire out before going to sleep. Having a campfire is part of the backwoods experience IMO. A foot high fire isn't going to hurt anything as long as its kept under control.

hungryhowie
12-17-2003, 00:01
I think several good points have been made in this debate. I think the best poll-related comment (and it suits with me too) is that the poll choices are inadequate. There is nothing there that even remotely suits how I feel about campfires and hiking, only extremes are represented. Must responsibility always connotate extremes?

The best issue-related comment was about LNT practices in conjunction with campfires (use existing pits, dead and down wood only, careful of forest vegetation while gathering, etc).

My opinion? Glad you asked :)

Put simply, If the legislating body over the AT bans all campfires...I'll break it any time I feel the need (unless of course it is a temporary or selective-location ban as mentioned below).

I understand the need to ban fires during particular times (i.e. dry, fire-prone conditions), and in certain fragile ecosystems, but a trail-wide fire ban would go against the ideology of a backcountry trail. I realize that the AT is, in many ways, over-used (not always in the sheer numbers of people, but often by the overuse of a select group of individuals). This is, in my opinion like many things, a question of self-responsibility. I think the answer to this lies in changing the public perception of "the campfire".

unless they're obsessively enforced (and we all know there is not enough manpower to do that on the AT) laws don't make people do things. Incentive beliefs, motives, etc make people do things. Removing that "rustic cowboy" feel, that, as Bill Bryson so eloquently said, "swagger that comes with being able to gaze at the far horizon through eyes of chipped granite and say with a slow, manly, sniff, 'Yeah, I've **** in the woods'" will have more impact than legislating-out the campfire. This will allow the best of all worlds - the occasional enjoyable fire, the protection and respect for mother nature that she deserves, and a happy end for Coosa & Lone Wolf...

How often do I make a campfire? I made about 7-10 on my entire thruhike.

-Hungry Howie & The New Sushi

AT2000, LT2001

Rain Man
12-17-2003, 10:18
Put simply, If the legislating body over the AT bans all campfires...I'll break it any time I feel the need ....

I guess that tells us all we need to know about your character!

What do you have to say for yourself? I hope to goodness this is just a failed attempt at humor!!!

Rain Man

Blue Jay
12-17-2003, 11:08
What do you have to say for yourself?

You forgot to say Amen.

hungryhowie
12-17-2003, 11:30
I guess that tells us all we need to know about your character!

What do you have to say for yourself? I hope to goodness this is just a failed attempt at humor!!!

Rain Man


Do you always feel the need to take individual comments out of context and judge one's character as a whole based on them? If so, I guess that tells me all I need to know about YOUR character! How do you know what my "need" is? If you had actually READ my entire post, you'd realize that I made a whopping 7-10 fires along the entire AT and am in favor of individual/societal responsibility instead of actual legislation.

sheesh

-Hungry Howie & The New Sushi

MichSr
07-09-2004, 14:00
I'm too lazy to build campfires. But if someone wants to build one and let me sit at it, and if that someone has extra smores and wants to share, who am I to argue?

smokymtnsteve
07-09-2004, 15:57
didn't henri thoreau say something about our responsibilty to break unjust laws??? what was the name of that essay "civil disobediance" all the great characters of history broke unjust laws..

Edward Abbey (my hero, he probably broke some "just" laws too ;)
Rosa
Mahatma ghandi
MLKjr
G. Washington ( who was the ringleader of some very rebellious types)
Jesus

Ramble~On
07-09-2004, 16:56
Good thread ! But I wish that their were more options to vote on.
Rarely, do I ever have a fire while on the AT. In 1996 I can remember having several fires at shelters but they were few and far between.
I gotta agree with smokymntsteve. I practice LNT and I like fires from time to time. I try to minimize impact while looking for wood and I only burn deadfall.
I don't create new fire rings. When I leave an area or campsite it looks the same or better than it looked when I got there....No TRACE, other than on occasion there's less wood on the ground.

Lobo
07-09-2004, 19:55
I didn't NEED to have campfire on my 2000 hike because I had a stove, long underwear and a warm bag (I started in February). But a few times when I was at shelters that had a fire ring and plenty of dead wood around, I enjoyed the same feelings that I'm sure my ancestors had when they arrived in this country, the safety and warmth of a glowing fire. Heat to the bone and lost in dreams to the flames.
http://www.whiteblaze.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/3718/size/big/password/0/sort/1/cat/500

Totally Different Subject
11-01-2004, 11:49
Come on. Banning campfires on the AT is as sensible as banning air on the AT. Hikers, like me, are still going to have a campfire after a long day on the trail.

Remember when you were much younger, perhaps in Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, and it was that evening campfire that you couldn't wait for? There is just something soothing, warming and nice about a campfire.

Everyone says "hike your own hike"...well, light your own fire or not.

I have to say I was surprised to see how many folks voted to Ban Campfires on the AT. I wonder how much "macho" serum was running the veins of those that voted.

Most folks hiking the AT will bring adequate clothing. Adequate clothing or not, a campfire is still as much a part of the outdoor experience as the hike itself.

As for the environmental issues involved with a campfire...in the spirit of environmental concern I must wonder if a hiker or a campfire is more destructive.

Bolo
11-01-2004, 12:32
Small campfires in designated campfire rings. LNT and only use wood that is "down and on the ground."

jersey joe
11-01-2004, 17:37
There just might not be anything better than sitting around a campfire with friends. Banning fires is a bad idea. I go into the woods to get away from rules.

weary
11-01-2004, 17:57
Banning campfires? Are you serious? That's ridiculous.

I can see putting down temporary bans when conditions are too dry, but jeez, permanent bans? I guess we just aren't responsible enough to make any decision for ourselves now.

Seriously. I'm none too excited about campfires myself. I find them an un-necessary bother most of the time, but I know how to build them small and keep them under control if I want or need one.

I believe that hikers should exercise some common sense when considering campfires, and should be held responsible if their fires go awry. But I don't think they should be banned from every lighting them.

I agree with Iceman, but I can't vote in the poll because none of the answers apply. Fires are occasionally useful for commradship, for cooking in emergencies, as a smudge against black flies and other bugs, and of course for making a Zip Stove useful.

Ridge
11-01-2004, 20:15
You can ban anything but you can't stop campfires, you can't stop pot smoking or alcohol consumption, you can't stop unleashed dogs and you will NEVER stop the collection of non-burnable trash (cans, etc) in all the fire pits on the AT or any other trail. Hunters, hikers, bikers, kayakers, and tourons (cross between a tourist and a moron) makeup the ones who do the litter and campfire thing. I will also add gov. employee(s), I saw a USFS person toss trash out of their official vehicle the other day in the very area they work (at least it wasn’t on fire)! What ever happened to the “Leave No Trace” concept? Guess you can tell I’m in Trail Maintenance who hauls pounds, pounds and more pounds of fire pit crap out every year. Cans and bottles get my vote of what should be banned.

hikerdude
11-01-2004, 21:23
I seem to agree with everyone. Just don't forget; to run thru the fire for fertility:bse

Dances with Mice
11-01-2004, 21:51
.... What ever happened to the “Leave No Trace” concept? Guess you can tell I’m in Trail Maintenance who hauls pounds, pounds and more pounds of fire pit crap out every year. Cans and bottles get my vote of what should be banned
Amen, preach it Brother Ridge! And why do people think foil wrappers will burn? They're not as heavy as cans or bottles but they're even more of a pain to dig out of firepits since they melt around other crap.

Do you check Woods Hole Shelter? For some reason that place seems to attract spare cooking gear. Maybe NOBOs are shedding gear in fear of Blood Mtn, I don't know, but late one Spring I supplied a Scout patrol with many large cooking spoons, spatulas, strainers, and several sizes of large pots, all left behind at that shelter.

toe trailer
11-02-2004, 00:30
I must say that fire is nice but if ya can't have a fire then there must be a good reason not to have one. There is other ways to stay warm and to cook your grub!

grrickar
11-02-2004, 13:21
I'm for campfires: for warmth, drying gear, sitting around them and watching the fire, etc. To me that has always been a part of camping.

People being irresponsible will not change, so even if you banned campfires there would be people who did it anyway.

Uncle wayne took some pictures on Max Patch (I was up there the same night he was) of some burned trail marker posts that some idiot burned on Max Patch.

There are no fires allowed there, and someone apparently had one anyway, and used trail markers as fuel! Up there when the grass is dry there is a very good chance someone could start a rather large field fire. It is windy there most of the time, especially at night.

I would like to see people have to attend a class on being responsible campers and hikers to get a permit to hike the trail. Some people aren't responsible, and that hurts everyone. I think the best thing we can do is when we see someone doing something they shouldn't be, we should bring that fact up to them.

I too have seen plastic, cans and bottles in campfire rings. In most cases I would think that the people who tried to burn then were kids partying who don't normally hike or camp (who else would bring bottles on a hike??). In Scouts we had campfires and practiced LNT, and I would challenge anyone to find where we built the fire in our campsite. It can be done, it is just more work to do so, and some are not willing to do that.

Ridge
11-02-2004, 20:22
I too have seen plastic, cans and bottles in campfire rings. In most cases I would think that the people who tried to burn them were kids partying who don't normally hike or camp I call these people TOURONS (cross between a Tourist and a Moron)

mediclimber339
11-02-2004, 21:01
I always carry and use a stove for cooking and pack out my trash and whatever I find that was lft behind. AT, Daks, Whites, kayaking on the Deleware, it's all the same. I also like a small campfire IF there is wood down and IF the conditions are okay. I aols do winter camping and have twice been in situations where what I had was inadequate due to freezing rains and too far in to get out in a timely fashion. Campfires have been and will always be a part of camping to most. It's a matter of common sense as to when and where to have one IMHO.

grrickar
11-02-2004, 22:00
I call these people TOURONS (cross between a Tourist and a Moron)
TOURONS? I like it. I saw plenty of those 'hiking' from Newfound Gap. It was 2:30pm and we were coming down into Newfound. Several TOURONS were hiking to Charlies Bunion. Hmmm...so it gets dark at 7, maybe 7:30 if it isn't cloudy, and the average hiker hikes about 2MPH, 4 miles there, 4 miles back, that's 4 hours if they just walked there, turned around and came back. Many did not have water, snacks or anything. One group we saw were guys in cowboy boots. I wonder how many people end up hiking back in complete darkness....

Ridge
11-02-2004, 22:40
TOURONS? I like it. I saw plenty of those 'hiking' from Newfound Gap.....To be nice, I use this term with fellow hikers, maintainers, when a touron is nearby. The term tourist or moron may be recognized by the touron, thus offending them. We have enough trash to remove from the mountains without having to remove an incapacitated offended Touron, so thats why we are nice. Its a term I don't like to advertise for fear that the Tourons will discover its meaning, thus becoming offended, and eventually hauled off the mountain by ticked-off overworked maintainers who can't tolerate any more TOURONISM.

Lone Wolf
11-02-2004, 22:46
Maybe you shouldn't be a maintainer if hikers and trash bug you so much. All the "education" and LNT posters aren't gonna change trashy hikers.

Ridge
11-02-2004, 23:15
Maybe you shouldn't be a maintainer if hikers and trash bug you so much. All the "education" and LNT posters aren't gonna change trashy hikers.I don't know of any maintainer who is not bugged by trashy hikers, show me one who isn't. I would guess that the only hikers (and not maintainers) who are not bugged are themselves - trashy hikers.
If one seeks or makes the effort to obtain education of LNT I would think they practice,to some degree, the concept. LNT posters are as good, or useless, as "No Litter" signs...mostly useless.

And, I did not state that "hikers" bug me. Who would I be maintaining the trails for? I assure you its not for trashy tourons. I consider a hiker one who respects the trail and other hikers, I respect hikers, I respect the trail.

Ieatmountains
08-18-2005, 22:50
NO! campfires should not be banned on the AT. Many times you walk by a perfect spot where previous hikers have made a very nice stone fire pit. Instead of banning campfires, why dont we just designate the fire pits created up to this point for campfires and just ban the creation of new fire pits.

Seeker
08-18-2005, 23:41
fire. man's triumph over nature. kept the night and the animals away. cooked his food. kept him warm. it's in mankind's genes. do i need one every night? no. but there are some times when you just have to tap into that magic, whatever it's called, to find the peace you need to recover from the world. a few observations:

if you've not been there, go to shane steinkamp's ''place with no name'' and read about campfires. he's hit it on the head. the trees give you the gift of fire. don't abuse it. nothing green, and not too big. there's a difference between a campfire and a bonfire. one is a gift. the other is disrespectful.

a campfire, once it's out, can be hidden/buried ala ray jardine's description in his book. in a few months, there is nothing left... all the wood was burned, the ashes have gone away, and there are no black scorch marks on anything. i've run a fire for 4 hours on a small pile of finger sized pieces of dead hardwood. i've been back to the spot. there's no trace. i've seen tourons in a few places (adirondacks, shelters in the smokies, etc), too lazy to go get their own wood, carve pieces off the stumps the park service or shelter maintainers cut for seating at dedicated fire circles, then throw the whole log in, without it having a snowball's chance of burning, let alone burning properly. there's no need for that... disrespectful on several levels.

but a small fire, a gift from the trees/earth, shared by a small group of friends, has no equal for soothing the spirit, setting one's head straight again, and reminding you why you were put on this earth...

thus ends the reading. (sorry... the mood hits once in awhile.)

Crazy Larry #1
08-19-2005, 06:48
I'll always have campfires.i'm with wolf on this one, except where it is banned on the AT....after having lived on and off the trail for three years, i am convinced that those salamanders have plenty of places to procreate....besides your statement about only warming one side of your body at a time is true in extreme cold temps, but if you have the knowledge you can build a temporary enclosure to keep most of you warm, i.e. heat reflectors.....hiking on the AT without the right to build a campfire? well, i think that we, or most of us on this site would be talking gear talk about the CDT or PCT real soon and this site would not be called whiteblaze any more...

kyhipo
08-19-2005, 10:31
well lets see:-? campfire :banana ky

Moxie00
09-22-2005, 20:43
I want to remind Coosa of Jill, the frozen girl she found at a road crossing in 2000. In the Georgia moutains in the spring and fall as well as the nothern mountains hypothermia is a very real threat. Everyone isn't as lucky as Jill who Coosa took home, warmed up and fed. Without fires at shelters many more hikers would suffer the effects of hypothermia. There is an old saying, Indian build small fire, sit close-white man build big fire, sit far away. We need our fires in cold weather for safety alone. As a trail maintainer any trees I clear out near a shelter or campsite are cut into fire size legenth, sometimes split and left for the thru hikers to gather. Near the shelter I will cut and stack wood under the shelter. Hiker safety is the main reason fires shoulcd never be banned from the trail. Cooking, comraedy, and atmosphers are secondary benifits of campfires.:welcome To the real world Coosa, it can get cold out there.
:clap :bse :clap :bse :clap :bse

Big Daddy D
09-23-2005, 01:23
Coosa,

I made several fires in established rings during my thru this year, including an awesome one at Hawk Mtn on 24 Feb-TDS may remember that one!

I was clearly an exception as I would daily collect trash on my hike, I would gather kindling and wood nearing a shelter, I carried a small saw to cut dead wood and it all went up in flame quite nicely.

I was amazed that some NE states legislated no fires in their entire borders and Maryland didn't even have any trash cans anywhere on the AT in the state!

Freedom means not having to ask and what is lost is gone!
Can't believe the feds actually set intentional fires and allow lightning strikes to burn-its natural! Still can't believe we let approx 1/4 of Yellowstone burn!
So, how's a small campfire going to hurt anything!

I really enjoy the community a fire brings-we call them cowboy TVs!!

Burn responsibly and make sure it is dead out-enjoy our outdoors.

Big Daddy D

Heater
09-23-2005, 02:22
Coosa,

I made several fires in established rings during my thru this year, including an awesome one at Hawk Mtn on 24 Feb-TDS may remember that one!

I was clearly an exception as I would daily collect trash on my hike, I would gather kindling and wood nearing a shelter, I carried a small saw to cut dead wood and it all went up in flame quite nicely.

I was amazed that some NE states legislated no fires in their entire borders and Maryland didn't even have any trash cans anywhere on the AT in the state!

Freedom means not having to ask and what is lost is gone!
Can't believe the feds actually set intentional fires and allow lightning strikes to burn-its natural! Still can't believe we let approx 1/4 of Yellowstone burn!
So, how's a small campfire going to hurt anything!

I really enjoy the community a fire brings-we call them cowboy TVs!!

Burn responsibly and make sure it is dead out-enjoy our outdoors.

Big Daddy D
Hey BDD. Followed your journal this past Winter/summer. Kinda lost track of you in the middle section though... Congratulations on completing the trail. :)

The Hog
09-23-2005, 07:08
I cooked with campfires on the A.T., and I continue to do so while section hiking the CDT. It's extreme ultralight (I carry only matches) and IMO environmentally sensitive (relative to drilling, refining, and transporting oil, plus the manufacture and transport of stoves) if done properly. You can't beat the ambiance of a campfire. With experience, it's not that hard to get a fire going even when the woods are soaked (split dead branches open, there's always dry wood inside). I also carry a small number of cold meals for those places where a fire is not feasible (no wood) or not ethical (high fire danger in a strong wind, etc.).

Another tip - you can use some of the straight pieces of wood lying around for tarp poles - no need to carry tent poles in many areas... How's that for extreme ultralight? Tent poles: 0.0 grams.

Frolicking Dinosaurs
09-23-2005, 07:34
We love a campfire as much as anyone, but don't build them in areas experiencing heavy use (like the AT) unless there is a need for warmth, to dry wet gear or a problem with our stove.

april2006
10-14-2005, 16:56
If you ban campfires, the only people you'll be depriving are the law abiding, responsible backpackers/hikers who don't cause a problem anyway. The irresponsible people who chop down live trees or make 10 foot high bonfires are going to do this whether it is banned or not.

Just my .02

betic4lyf
10-14-2005, 17:13
i think campfires should be allowed but only in preexisting fire rings. Fires arent a good thing for a regular basis, but banning bonfires would kill all the fun for a pyro like me.


what is the call on wood burning stoves. they seem like a good compromise

Teatime
10-15-2005, 06:53
There is something psychologicaly restorative about a campfire after a long day of backpacking. I think it's just a matter of using common sense, which sad to say, is generally lacking in a lot of people these days (myself and all members of Whiteblaze excluded of course).That being said, I rarely make one on the A.T. because I find that I'm too tired to make the effort, especially if I'm solo. Then again, if I'm alone, there is something cheering and comforting in having a fire. When camping at an established campground, my family and I always have a fire. Makeing Smores over an alcohol stove just isn't the same as using a campfire. My 6-year old son would never understand.

Hikes in Rain
10-15-2005, 07:13
so - i'm curious. what do yall think of my proposed rule of thumb? If you can see dead wood from the shelter, make a small camp fire in an established fire ring. But do not hike further than eyeshot of the shelter to obtain dead wood. And never, ever, use live wood.

Sound like a reasonable compromise?
Quite reasonable to me. I will go a few steps into the woods, and limit myself to dead and down wood (usually pencil size or thereabouts...best for cooking). Otherwise, although I love the ambiance of a fire, I do without.

That having been said, the times I could have used a fire the most were the conditions where it was all but impossible. Horizontal rain isn't really condusive to small camp/cook fires. Instead, holed up in the shelter, in my bag, and used the stove. Nice to spread out, too, since I was the only fool in the woods during that storm.

Conductor
10-15-2005, 14:19
I've seen days in the woods with cold nasty rain that were made much better by a small fire. But that was years ago and since then I've hiked the national parks where fires are often banned. Sometimes, but not always there is a good reason, like being sub-alpine and fragile, but most often its just that over schooled line of thought that sees all human activity in the backcountry as "destructive." It's not.

Recently I did a shakedown in the SNP and I was pleased to see fire rings at the shelters. I didn't start any fires because I just didn't have the urge, but I could have. And the knowledge that I had the freedom to do that was golden.

Even the LNT ethics provide that a good fire is an integral part of the backpacking experience.

Lumberjack
10-15-2005, 14:25
red man keep warm by building small fire.
white man keep warm gathering wood for big fire.

Ban them? no
need them? no