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ground fires in the desert

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Offline Burn Ban

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ground fires in the desert
« on: November 12, 2006, 05:18:11 PM »
i remember reading a post wherein several people suggested a turkey pan, charcoal, and duraflame or lava rocks for a self-contained, entirely disposable, "untraceable" campfire option for desert camping.  i'm not sure what i think about this; so, i'm seeking your opinions.

it sounds like a great idea,; but, i wonder if i will feel guilty.

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Offline okiehiker

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Fires in the desert...
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2006, 07:25:07 PM »
There are things should cause one to feel guilty about having a campfire in BIBE and things that should not.  Here is my list of what should.

I have been on trips where fires have been built, including by park personnel.  Certain things must be carefully considered, however, anytime a fire is built anywhere.

1.  Causing a larger fire.  Laguna Meadow, the Basin and Blue Creek Canyon have been the sites of recent fires that have been devastating.  In the BIBE backcountry the long term effects of fire are much more persistent than in most environments.

2. See number 1.  Even the thought of a hint of a possibility of a fire spreading beyond where it is built means NO.  This means apart from all the other questions, fire pan, enclosed grill etc.  Any risk of fire is too great a risk.  The most experienced Grand Canyon hiker of all time, Dr. Harvey Butchart even set a fire burning his toilet paper one time.

3. Scarring of the landscape.  Whatever means you use for building fire or cooking, the principles of Leave No Trace camping should apply.  Blackened rock, scarred soil under a pan, dead vegetation MUST not be a by-product of a fire.

4. Consumption of scare organic matter.  Life in the desert builds on the foundation of other life.  One of the reasons plants and organisms down the food-chain are so scare is a lack of organic content in the soil.  Most of the available nutrients in a desert environment are in the form of plants and deadfall.  Burning it is one of the poorest possible uses of detritus in the desert.

5. Getting caught This is the least important factor, but the one that most successfully keeps people from building fires that are hazardous, wasteful and damaging to the environment.

If you are building a contained fire (e.g. firepan, cooking grill) with organic matter brought in from an outside source, on a calm night, with careful regard to the environment you are in, there should be no problem.  

In certain leader training programs the Sierra Club does an excellent job of teaching the art of completely traceless, safe fire-building.  I do not believe that there is any written documentation, nor is it "officially" taught.  I will not post it here.  If you are on the right trip with me at the right time, we might build one.

The long and the short of it is, if you have a guilty feeling, don't have a fire.  There must be some reason.  If you are 100% confident that your fire is safe, non-scarring and you are using duraflame or some other non-local resource you should not feel guilty.
Funny... I have a story about that...

ground fires in the desert
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2006, 08:46:06 PM »
excellent points one and all....

my 2 cents on the issue for what it's worth is that if the governing agency has issued a no fires allowed order, we as responsible backpacker/hikers should obey said rule.

If you just have to have a fire, why not plan your trip where it is legal?

John

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Offline The Scorpion

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ground fires in the desert
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2006, 08:56:42 PM »
I have built plenty of fires in my day, but BIBE is one place I would never build a fire out in the back country.

Knowing my luck, something would go wrong, so I wont do it.

James
everything is better with bacon!!!

http://jamesb.smugmug.com/BigBendNationalPark/

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Offline okiehiker

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I agree...
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2006, 09:04:20 PM »
Generally speaking there is excellent reason for no burn orders.  There is the occasional political over-reaction but it still doesn't cost anything to comply!  :D

The only halfway large campfire I have ever sat by in BIBE was on a difficult SAR and built by a ranger.  

There are few life or death situations however, where a fire is appropriate or helpful in BIBE.  I would use the above criteria in ANY area you are planning a fire.  

One other thing about fires anywhere you build them.  Aluminum DOES NOT BURN DOES NOT BURN DOES NOT BURN. If you burn your trash, do not put wrappers with aluminum in.  If someone in your party does, fish through the ashes and GET IT OUT.  It will last a VERY long time.  

Generally speaking, people who build campfires are sloppy about it.  It is not hard to be responsible in the back-country.
Funny... I have a story about that...

ground fires in the desert
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2006, 09:18:17 PM »
i totally agree with the sloopy comment...I think if you built them the correct way in the right conditions they would be just fine....but that Only involves a small percentage of us that would do thatand perhaps has the know how, does it not?

Hopefully most folks in here fall into the small percentage.

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Offline Al

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Re: ground fires in the desert
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2006, 09:19:16 PM »
Quote from: "Burn Ban"
i remember reading a post wherein several people suggested a turkey pan, charcoal, and duraflame or lava rocks for a self-contained, entirely disposable, "untraceable" campfire option for desert camping.  i'm not sure what i think about this; so, i'm seeking your opinions.

it sounds like a great idea,; but, i wonder if i will feel guilty.


That would be me.  We have used a Turkey pan lined with heavy duty aluminum foil with charcoal and duralog for a small camp fire for many years.  We pack it all in and pack it all out.  We don't burn any natural materials and we leave no trace.  It is small, it is NOT a GROUND or WOOD fire.  It is not a violation of the permits we have been issued although it could be violative of regulations in certain parts of park such as the high Chisos.  It is nice to have a small fire at night while trading lies.

Al

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SHANEA

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Re: ground fires in the desert
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2006, 04:35:35 PM »
Quote from: "Burn Ban"
i'm seeking your opinions.

it sounds like a great idea,; but, i wonder if i will feel guilty.


Simple.  Just don't.  You'll feel really guilty if it gets out of hand and burns down the park.   :evil:

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Offline 01ACRViper

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ground fires in the desert
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2006, 04:44:46 PM »
sure it's no fun to not have a fire, but in the end, it's just one night. drive down to the hotsprings if you want some heat on a chilly night :lol:

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Offline Al

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ground fires in the desert
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2006, 06:50:15 PM »
At the primitive campgrounds I've seen folks bring "patio"type portable fireplaces and fire them up with charcoal.  We like to get our little turkey pan going and cook some nice steaks.  The Duralog is a bit of a pain because of the smoke (not to be used during cooking) but without it the fire will glow but won't flame.

There is nothing to feel guilty about because at most primitive campsites it is not a violation of the permit.  Ask the ranger when you get your permit. The only downside is you can't see the stars as well.

Al

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Offline jeffblaylock

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ground fires in the desert
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2006, 06:50:43 PM »
I had one once camping off the River Road. Brought a little hibachi grill. Put some chiminea chunk pinyon wood over the hot coals. Made a nice little fire. Spent the whole time worrying it would be seen, an ember might escape, and other thoughts that completely canceled out the psychological benefit of having it in the first place.

Shane said it best. Just don't.
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline Al

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ground fires in the desert
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2006, 06:52:23 PM »
Quote from: "jeffblaylock"
I had one once camping off the River Road. Brought a little hibachi grill. Put some chiminea chunk pinyon wood over the hot coals. Made a nice little fire. Spent the whole time worrying it would be seen, an ember might escape, and other thoughts that completely canceled out the psychological benefit of having it in the first place.

Shane said it best. Just don't.


It was that little chuck of wood that dun ya in!

Al

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Offline WL2

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ground fires in the desert
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2006, 06:58:42 PM »
I saw a group at the campground with a propane 'fire log' burning.  The camp host says it was completely legal.  Looked like a real fire to me, but it was in a pan and was not a wood fire, so OK.

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Offline Burn Ban

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ground fires in the desert
« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2006, 07:08:34 PM »
just as i thought...alot of vagaries involved which create varied opinions of what is wrong or right.  


  i don't plan on building/needing a fire.  i was just curious as to everyone's opinion.

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Offline bdann

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ground fires in the desert
« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2006, 07:15:02 PM »
The regulation states:

1. GROUNDFIRES AND WOODFIRES ARE PROHIBITED.
Use only gas stoves or charcoal within a BBQ grill. Pack out all evidence of use. Note: charcoal fires are only allowed at backcountry roadside campsites and not allowed in the High Chisos or zone camping areas.

I've grown pretty used to not having a campfire, most of my camping in the past eight or nine years has all been at BIBE.
WATER, It does a body good.

 


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