Fires

Discussion in 'General Paddling Discussions' started by ken_vandeburgt, Jan 13, 2011.

  1. ken_vandeburgt

    ken_vandeburgt Paddler

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    This appeared on the thread on Blackberry Point. This is a serious and separate discussion.

    Its exactly that kind of cavalier attitude that gives kayakers a bad reputation.

    There are reasons for fire bans. One reason for fire bans is because of the fire hazard that they pose. But there are other important values to consider with fires.

    I've seen it in Strathcona Park. The alpine areas are subject to heavy snow. It takes a hundred years and more to produce a tree capable of standing up straight without getting bent over with the snow load. Then Junior Samples comes along and lops off branches and bark for his personal wilderness experience. Usually he leaves his mess for others to find, all too often in the only flat spot suitable for a tent.

    Do we need to use our tax dollar to hire a ranger to patrol campsites and give out fines for people who flout the rules? These are people who are allegedly responsible adults.

    I'm not talking about responsible use of fires where fires are allowed, drift wood is collected for fuel, the firepit is carefully chosen (usually that is below the high tide line or there is a fire ring provided), and the garbage is carefully collected and taken away.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9W1MGaAVdY
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MX4iLOK8rk
     
  2. nick

    nick Paddler

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    So what we have here is two videos of the same camp fire when one video would have been sufficient.. It's that kind of cavalier showmanship that give the environmental movement a bad reputation.

    How do you know for certain that fire wasn't started in an emergency situation?

    And yes we keep our fire's at the high end of high tide AND we use drift wood, AND I've had campfire's in the wood's going on 40 years so i do know something about campfires.. :roll:

    Question, if one is not a member of, say hypothetically, friendsofstrathcona, does that make them an enemy??
     
  3. ken_vandeburgt

    ken_vandeburgt Paddler

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    So we're good up to the point of where there is a permanent ban on fires.

    I've often encountered people who are building fires on the justification that they found the debris of old fires, often within sight of the 'no campfires' sign. 'Someone else did it so why shouldn't I' seems to be the mentality?

    I've asked people to put out fires when they are trying to dry out soaking wet blue jeans and when they are run out of fuel for cooking.

    No such thing as an emergency situation that could have been avoided through being properly prepared. So building fires shouldn't be necessary.

    Your lack of planning does not constitute an emergency.
     
  4. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    Actually, it very well could. The emergency may have been avoided with better planning but it doesn't negate that one is occurring.
     
  5. ken_vandeburgt

    ken_vandeburgt Paddler

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    I shouldn't be so absolute. In the case of the wet blue jeans they ended up hiking 6 hours out to the car. In the case of the run out of fuel there were others who offered fuel and there was a refugio that offered hot meals two hours further up the trail.

    So -usually and nearly always- there are other options that don't include permanently scarifying the landscape.
     
  6. rider

    rider Paddler

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    For once, I completely agree with Ken.
     
  7. VanIslePaddler

    VanIslePaddler Paddler

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    I think this is a good topic. I love campfires, but they must be built responsibly.

    I spend over 100 nights a year on overnight kayak trips, and constantly see poor examples of campfires. Cases where they are built in the forest, burned into giant standing snags, in the middle of what would have been a campsite, and burning inappropriate fuel (ie: green branches cut from the forest).

    I spend a good amount of time every year dismantling improper fire pits, putting out fires left smoldering, and educating other paddlers about fire ethics.

    Building a no-trace fire is a difficult (and rewarding) skill.

    One of the most atrocious examples have involved a group of Firefighters who I saw build a fire 6feet tall (the wood was piled 6 feet tall), who when I spoke to them said - "We are firefighters, we understand fire" - and this was in the GULF ISLANDS!!! :evil:

    I strongly encourage people to respect fire bans where appropriate.

    A true emergency may call for a fire to be built when one would not usually.
     
  8. Tunowit

    Tunowit New Member

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    Assuming you meant "when" appropriate, be kind of funny if some fire bans where to be obeyed, others to be "whatever'd"

    Mark
     
  9. Whidbey

    Whidbey Paddler

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    Once... Only once did I build a small fire during a burn ban. I was backpacking in the Alpine Lakes region of the Cascades with my wife, our first trip together. The woods were damp from a previous rain so I thought it would be OK. As soon as I had the fire established, a torrential downpour began along with a lightening storm. The fire was out in less than a minute. We retreated to the tent and ended up spending the next 17 hours waiting for the rain to let up. It never did. We packed up and hiked out in the rain.

    Needless to say, I no longer light campfires during burn bans.

    James
     
  10. stevenf

    stevenf Paddler

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    I love having a fire but over the last little while I've discovered that I just don't need a white man's fire. I use a small firebowl instead. Not only does it leave no scar on the landscape, but fuel is never an issue, just twigs and small bits of driftwood, the fire is contained, you can safely sit right up close and best of all you can move the campfire around while it's burning (carefully). I'd love to see more people using things like this.
     
  11. VanIslePaddler

    VanIslePaddler Paddler

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    Can you post a link or photo of this?
     
  12. Jurfie

    Jurfie Paddler

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    Or a better option --> a Neufeld MK1 Woodburning Stove :lol:

    One of these (or whatever Daren has come up with next) will be added to my gear at some point. :big_thumb
     
  13. stevenf

    stevenf Paddler

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    I use the UCO model, Army & Navy sells them here in van:

    http://candlelantern.com/gr_firebowl.html

    but essentially it's just a collander, and those work well too. Plus what Jurfie said about the Nueman stove, I would love to get one of those myself.
     
  14. kayakwriter

    kayakwriter Paddler

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    I'm a huge fan of my Neufeld stove - it was a great companion on my cold and rainy solo trip round Princess Royal last summer. But it's worth noting in the context of this discussion that it's open at the bottom. I've solved this by buying a dollar store pie pan to set it in.
     
  15. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Another devoted user of the Neufeld Mk I stove, which leaves a minimal footprint, easily erased by the next tide, and gives me a handy, intense kind of heat for those times when i need a little campfire coziness. Super efficient and lights quickly.

    Like many others, not a campfire guy as a rule, but love having one when it is cold and wet.
     
  16. Kasey

    Kasey Paddler

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    Ha! That is exactly the vegetable steamer that I probably have somewhere in a back cupboard in my kitchen except the steamer has holes...

    I don't know what we would have done without our Neufeld stoves when we were out in the Broken Group in Sept in the rain. Sometimes we had two going. It made all the difference in the world to our comfort, to our outlook on the day ;), left no traces and heaven forbid was safe from starting any forest fires (in that rain?) - and ran every evening all week on about 12 pieces of firewood that we packed around from Toquart Bay. Each day someone worked away at making little dry sticks out of the firewood for the next little fire. Excellent answer for the environmentally-conscious, no trace, campers of today!!

    And since when do kayakers have a bad reputation Ken B????? I think that kayakers are usually looked on as (and are!) pretty darned good people in the general scheme of things!! ;) I think that it is just people in general and society that have bad reputations for treating this world in an irresponsible manner! ;)
     
  17. stevenf

    stevenf Paddler

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    Most of the fishermen and powerboat types I know don't have high opinions of kayakers. I was up at Rebecca Spit on Quadra and friends were telling me about a big grass fire a few years back, started by kayakers who lit a fire and didn't put it out properly, almost took out the whole spit.

    Of course that's not my opinion! I think kayakers are awesome :)
     
  18. ken_vandeburgt

    ken_vandeburgt Paddler

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    I think our community of kayakers has in general a good reputation.

    As Vanislepaddler post shows we still have room for improvement.

    Websites like this one do a lot to promote good wilderness ethics and stewardship of the land and sea.

    As you can see by stevenf's post it is a reputation that is easily lost.

    All it would take would be a fire to get out of control when there was a fire ban or even just a firefighter falling off the back of a truck enroute to a campfire that shouldn't have been lit. Then it will become even more difficult to keep access to places where we aren't really all that welcome to begin with.
     
  19. KayDubbya

    KayDubbya Paddler

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    Personally I feel that campfire bans have largely been put in place because it is not politically correct to post signs that ban stupid people. A properly planned and monitored camp fire is no more dangerous or destructive than a "legal" camp stove or barbecue. Sadly the camp fire bans only serve to punish the responsible campers and they do little to stop the idiots. It just gives the authorities some legal recourse against people that let their campfires get out of control, though rarely are they adequately punished.

    Put me down as another supporter of the Neufeld stove.
     
  20. WGalbraith

    WGalbraith Paddler

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    This has always been a sore point with me. After many years of backpacking and now a few of kayaking, I know the value of a campfire at the end of a day. The comfort, warmth and relaxing flickering of the flames coupled with the benefits of cooking, fellowship, and psychological effects are irreplaceable on a cold, wet trip. For that reason I do not like to visit areas that fires are not allowed. The Broken Group, the West Coast Trail are examples where the full outdoor adventure is completed in close proximity to the fire pit. However, there are always those that feel they must have a unique fire pit of their own, with as much fuel as they can find and that it can be allowed to fend for itself when they leave. Without doubt they are the ones that cause fires to spread and in many areas without fire protection, at the expense of the other users.

    Any time I have had fires I carefully pick either a previously used pit or a well contained site that is close to water. I pick out the partially burned wood left behind and use it first to clean up the mess. Before starting, I scoop up a pot or pail of water to douse with at the end of the day. It stands at the ready within easy reach of the flames. The fire is never left unattended and it is put out fully before retiring to the tent. I never cover the fire with sand and before we leave a site, the fire pit is erased.

    I think the fire bans are simply a cop out for the Parks people. Like many laws, they are designed to affect the lowest common denominator. In areas of high use allowing fires in predetermined pits, lined with fire brick or concrete with steel grates would certainly reduce the risk and make the experience more enjoyable. In reality the big difference between drive in sites and kayak locations is fire protection. I doubt we will change the attitude of Parks but if we are to continue to be able to have a fire in remaining places, we need to educate people about the safe and responsible use of fires in the back country. If someone is abusing the benefits of their fire, you need to remind them of how it affects future paddlers