Leave No Trace camp fire???

9:24 a.m. on May 18, 2010 (EDT)
30 reviewer rep
16 forum posts

I took an outdoors class back wayyy back when... last year. In this class, my teacher mentioned a LNT campfire that requires you to basically descalp the grass from the ground. (Keeping the lid whole) Then digging and placing your fire inside this hole. Once you have finished you put the flames and embers out and put the dirt back on top and the grass lid.

What do you guys think about this? Is is LNT ethical? Would you ever try it? Have you ever done it? Do you have a better way to making a LNT campfire, if there is such a thing. Because the whole time i thought it was to LEAVE NO TRACE.

9:53 a.m. on May 18, 2010 (EDT)
200 reviewer rep
4,153 forum posts

The only problem with burying the camfire is that in areas with erosion, the fire will perhaps someday be re-exposed.

I take a #10 can, like what resturants get soup and vegys in and use it. Your fire is much smaller. You can also make a folding fire pan to use. But with either method either set the fire can/pan on bare ground or do your method of removal of the garss lid because the fire can/pan method will still scorch the ground and keep the grass from growing back.

10:38 a.m. on May 18, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,478 forum posts

Well this seems to me to be a regional thing to a great degree, in my area we do not have grass in the woods for the most part. We have a deep layer of forest litter, the top layer is easily recognizable as leaves, needles, pine cones, etc, the lower layers are in various levels of decay and generally moist. I don't think it is wise for me to build a fire in the ground when there is so much combustible material. We have vast amounts of loose rock scattered about, most of it flat and ranging in size from the size of your hand to bigger than a car hood.

I am not in the habit of building fires on every trip but if I'm going to I personally think there is less impact for me to:

1. Keep fires to a minimum, both in frequency and size.

2. Use an existing fire ring if one is present.

3. Use rocks to build a fire pit, or even better a fire pan as Gary suggests. I do like to grill fresh fish over a small fire and use a lightweight metal pan & grate from a toaster oven as a fire pan / grill.

4. For cooking other things over a fire I mostly use a wood gas stove built out of tin cans that you sit your pot / pan on top of. These are very fuel efficient with almost no smoke and will burn for 30 minutes or so on just a handful of old bark or such.

As I already stated,I think that many times the advise given is regional, but the instructor, Ranger, book, or what ever the source of info is, may not state that clearly.

11:33 a.m. on May 18, 2010 (EDT)
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,329 reviewer rep
5,295 forum posts

Go to the Leave No Trace website for a description of several approaches to building campfires that really leave no trace. The one the OP describes is NOT leave no trace. A firepan or mound fire will minimize the impact.

From the LNT website:
Mound Fire
Construction of a mound fire can be accomplished by using simple tools: a garden trowel, large stuff sack and a ground cloth or plastic garbage bag.

To build this type of fire: Collect some mineral soil, sand, or gravel from an already disturbed source. The root hole of a toppled tree is one such source. Lay a ground cloth on the fire site and then spread the soil into a circular, flat-topped mound at least 3 to 5 inches thick. The thickness of the mound is critical to insulate the ground below from the heat of the fire. The ground cloth or garbage bag is important only in that it makes cleaning up the fire much easier. The circumference of the mound should be larger than the size of the fire to allow for the spreading of coals. The advantage of the mound fire is that it can be built on flat exposed rock or on an organic surface such as litter, duff or grass.

7:27 p.m. on May 18, 2010 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
581 forum posts

The approach suggested is, IMO, just fine if the sod is thick. You leave no visible trace. Another approach is to move a large stone, build the fire in the sand or soil depression, drench the remnants of the fire, and then put the stone back.

Obviously, to someone who is really OC, LNT is impossible. We always have an impact, or impression, on the planet... unless we don't touch the ground.

7:52 p.m. on May 18, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,478 forum posts

Bill said:

"Go to the Leave No Trace website for a description of several approaches to building campfires that really leave no trace. The one the OP describes is NOT leave no trace. A firepan or mound fire will minimize the impact."

The method the OP described was recommended practice at one time if my memory serves me correctly. I do not remember it being a LNT method, um....maybe it was recommended by the Forest Services "No Trace" Program or NOLS.

I do remember reading about the practice and seeing drawings depicting it. In fact I used to practice that method in the 80's.

I did a Google search and turned up very little.

Can anyone refresh my memory?

10:04 p.m. on May 18, 2010 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
581 forum posts

Trout,

I wrote a note about such fires many years ago. These small twig fires are as much a part of the outdoor experience for me as the rivers themselves. See http://overmywaders.com/index.php?friendlyfire

10:09 p.m. on May 18, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,478 forum posts

Trout,

I wrote a note about such fires many years ago. These small twig fires are as much a part of the outdoor experience for me as the rivers themselves. See http://overmywaders.com/index.php?friendlyfire

Nice article, I feel about the same way.

7:35 a.m. on May 19, 2010 (EDT)
12 reviewer rep
613 forum posts

I would not ever build a fire in any sub-alpine area or meadow land or on a beach, except where high use and pre-existing fire rings are present. I also will not have a fire in ancient, pristine forests, by choice, and try to discourage others from doing so...I spent a lot of years in wildfire detection and suppression and I am not very keen on many "campers" and this includes backpackers, as a result.

I DO build fires in areas where logging or other activities have modified the local ecosystems and such human activities are obvious, BUT, I STILL eliminate ALL traces of said combustion EVERY TIME. This is not commonplace here in BC, land of "quad jockies", "sledders" and other such "rugged" outdoorsmen......

So, many beautiful places are littered with huge "campfire" debris, scorched firerings and, often, broken beer bottles left in them to "rot"......makes one a tad "misanthropic".........

6:27 a.m. on May 21, 2010 (EDT)
5 reviewer rep
20 forum posts

The best way I know is to find a clear area of dirt, line it with rocks, and roll like that. I can see clearing away a layer of detritus to get to bare soil, but to cut out a patch of grass, even if you are going to replace it, doesn't meet LNT standards or principles.

Personally, I only make a fire when I'm doing a gathering at someones house, or when car-camping with locally bought wood.(or emergency situations) I'm not one for packing in firewood, and cutting your own in most backcountry isn't LNT either, even if it is allowed in some National Forests.

8:52 a.m. on May 21, 2010 (EDT)
102 reviewer rep
2,295 forum posts

If some of these sound involved, keep in mind using a preexisting fire ring is an acceptable variation of LNT.
Ed

9:41 a.m. on May 21, 2010 (EDT)
5 reviewer rep
20 forum posts

If you're doing a fire in a place that doesn't have a permanent firepit you should completely burn all your wood, and then broadcast the ashes. Barring that, you should throw the charred pieces of wood far from any trails or campsites, doing the same with any charred rocks.

11:53 a.m. on May 21, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
658 reviewer rep
2,148 forum posts

Very nice article, Overmywaders. The impact of a tiny fire is nonexistant in most places. Fire is part of the natural ecosystem, without which it is not healthy. The absence of fire is a purely modern and artificial contrivance.

Certainly there are many places where the building of any fire is not appropriate, and many others were it is not apporopraite without using LNT practices. But that is not the case in many areas.

12:56 a.m. on May 24, 2010 (EDT)
8 reviewer rep
28 forum posts

unless you are on a high mountain with a trail below. Then you should not throw rocks- even charred rocks.

12:56 a.m. on May 24, 2010 (EDT)
8 reviewer rep
28 forum posts

Or charred logs either. That can be bad.

4:51 a.m. on May 27, 2010 (EDT)
5 reviewer rep
20 forum posts

Well obviously don't throw things onto a trail, that's just common sense.

1:02 p.m. on May 27, 2010 (EDT)
25 reviewer rep
67 forum posts

I believe this is the article that stated this thread I do post this ONLY as a reference to the lead thread I personally do not condone this, my feeling is if you are out in the back country and you are in a survival situation why would you take the time to dig a hole...Ah 2 holes that is when you could make a small ring pit...like I said this is just a post to reference the lead thread. RR

http://www.survivaltopics.com/survival/the-dakota-fire-hole/

4:13 p.m. on May 27, 2010 (EDT)
6 reviewer rep
119 forum posts

Hi Noobie,

I have a foldable firebox, it is the greatest rig. It has a small grill with it and is good for cooking as well as the enjoyment of just having a fire. It must be placed on two sticks, one at the back and one at the front to keep the heat of the fire from scorching the ground or a rock under each of the four corners. We use this for boating trips. For backpacking you could use a stainless steel mixing bowl and elevate it on a rock platform to keep it up off the ground. Usually three rocks in a triangle formation will do, the bottom of the bowl will fit there nicely. It must be high enough that it won't damage the ground. The great thing about this is that you can drill a hole near the top just below the rim to hook it to the outside of you pack. The thinner the stainless the lighter it will be but it may not last as long as the thicker ones. You can take along a rag to wipe off the black soot or find a canvas bag with a draw string big enough to fit it in so you won't get soot everywhere. The question is how important is a fire and is the extra few pounds worth it to ya? I always try to be careful of the environment when I am in the wilderness but in a survival situation where my life may depend on it "leave no trace" would not be a concern, staying alive would.

Jacqueline

8:09 p.m. on May 27, 2010 (EDT)
8 reviewer rep
28 forum posts

Or better yet, you could put two holes in it and make a chin strap then let your companion- say Sancho Panza- wear it as a hat! That would be my recomendation.

6:40 a.m. on May 28, 2010 (EDT)
110 reviewer rep
762 forum posts

If you're doing a fire in a place that doesn't have a permanent firepit you should completely burn all your wood, and then broadcast the ashes. Barring that, you should throw the charred pieces of wood far from any trails or campsites, doing the same with any charred rocks.

If you're doing a fire in a place that doesn't have a permanent firepit you should... NOT BUILD A FIRE. Charred rocks? Hellooo, have we forgotten about the leaving no trace part?

Remember, rules are things you follow when people are watching. A Principal is the right thing to do - even when you are alone.

"Those who keep doing things (like build in fires in the wilderness - any wilderness) the "Old" way are going to ruin it for the rest of us. The time for change is now."

9:36 a.m. on May 28, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,478 forum posts

I would contend that it is quite possible to both have a fire, and leave no visible trace, with the exception of consuming a small amount of natural resource. I do not agree that it is wrong to use natural resources as long as you do so wisely in areas that can easily support it. However doing so wisely means being informed, and accepting that it is not appropriate to do so in many places. In areas that see heavy use, I would say use a stove only, the same in areas that have a limited supply of resources.

I would challenge anyone to follow me a day or two behind and point out the spot where I camped.

12:01 p.m. on May 28, 2010 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
581 forum posts

I agree with trouthunter, if I leave no visible trace (i.e. "sign or evidence of some past thing") of my small fire, how have I diminished another hiker's experience? I haven't.

12:12 p.m. on May 28, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
658 reviewer rep
2,148 forum posts

Trails, stream crossings, signposts, and tent sites leave a much larger and lasting negative impact on the aesthetic and ecological condition of any wilderness than a responsible fire made in areas that can sustain such responsible use. But virtually no one will disparage and berate others for walking on a trail, using stream crossings, using signposts, or sleeping in a tent.

If there is no aesthetic degradation, and no negative ecological impact, then there is no ethical reason to didactically appose that activity. To do so would be misguided, and without reasonable cause.

Of course, there are many places where fires should not be utilized, and many others where you should only by using strict LNT methods, but the fact remains that such is not the case everywhere.

9:41 p.m. on May 28, 2010 (EDT)
26 reviewer rep
98 forum posts

A few years ago I came across a LNT seminar being taught in the woods on a drizzly day. The class was huddled in a lean-to - maybe they picked it up and carried it home after the seminar.

September 19, 2014
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

 
More Topics
This forum: Older: External Frame back Pack Newer: dog gear - sleeping pad?
All forums: Older: Two Jackets for sale Newer: Stop me before I ski again!