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At large camping, campfires, and LNT

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  • At large camping, campfires, and LNT


    We're at the stage of our journey where we will be venturing outside the Central High Peaks and exploring some of the Outer High Peaks.

    The boys are 11 and 12 and it turns out they enjoy hiking in and establishing a base camp rather than taking on 13+ mile day hikes. So as we explore some of the Outer High Peak region we're looking forward to having some campfires and possibly even staying up past 9:00 (for those unfamiliar with the region campfires are prohibited in the Central High Peaks).

    But on certain hikes and distances we may try our hand at "at large" camping. For those unfamiliar this means rather than camping at a designated site one establishes their own site at least 150 feet from any road, trail, spring, stream, pond or other body of water. While this will be illegal starting next year in the Central High Peaks it will still be permitted in the Outer High Peaks.

    To the best of my knowledge campfires are permitted at "at large" sites. There is the general NY state guideline to "use only dead and down wood".

    So do you build a campfire when camping "at large"? If so do you build a "mound fire" following LNT principles?

    The first LNT recommendation is to "build a fire within an existing fire ring". But while using an existing "at large" fire pit might cause less impact than a campfire at an LNT site I suppose contributing to the establishment of a "permanent" campsite would be frowned upon?

    I imagine many of you that have your favourite "at large" sites have established fire pits?

    Thanks in advance,

  • #2
    I did the trip described in the link below. We hiked in and dumped our stuff in the lean to and made up our day packs and did Seymour first day. We enjoyed a fire that night!

    We did the other 3 peaks the next day. I have since learned that the trail up and down Seward is one of the most despised trails in the Adirondack park. It is steep, slippery and muddy. We loved it!

    When I looked all the way over to Emmons from the top of Seward I remember thinking "No patch could possibly be worth going all the way there and all the way back!" It was a long hard day but hey we had a fire at the end of the day so it was worth it!

    Most people just day hike the three using Caulkens brook trail and are probably happier.

    We hiked out the 3rd day.

    A note on fire making. The second day we started to gather your wood like 10 minutes away from the leanto. We had a real nice fire the second night.
    Leave No Trace!


    • #3
      You could also NOT have a fire.


      • jrjmurray
        jrjmurray commented
        Editing a comment
        You could also not invade and disturb the natural habitat of other species by tramping through it, but that is what the parklands are established for: enjoyment by the general population. It is not a wildlife refuge.
        The OP is setting an excellent example of informed and conscientious behavior for his kids and other visitors to this forum, and is initiating valuable discussion.
        (God knows there are enough ignorant and destructive visitors to the High Peaks that do deserve some snark)

    • #4
      Useful post from DSettahr:


      • Bunchberry
        Bunchberry commented
        Editing a comment
        Gotta love the "Death Star"!

    • #5
      I have almost always stayed at designated sites except where forced to due to non vacancy. In those few cases where I had to camp at large (obeying 150 rule) it happened to be in Eastern (no fires) Zone, so we used stoves.
      However where allowed, I assume that I would make a fire (great mosquito repellent, and just plain enjoyable) and use a LNT mound, restoring the site to near as-found condition as feasible.
      Note that where we have found existing illegal fire rings in no-fire zones, we have taken the time to disperse them pretty well.


      • #6
        Many thanks for the link to DSettahr's post. Very comprehensive.

        Along the lines of a fire pan does anyone have experience with a fire hammock similar to this product? Available in medium or large.

        This product direct from China costs considerably less and seems to be identical to the medium Amazon product above.


        • Learning The Trails
          Learning The Trails commented
          Editing a comment
          That fire hammock doesn't look like it will do anything to prevent embers from popping or falling... Pretty sure if you're caught with it, you'll still get a ticket.
          And, my experience from ordering anything from the "Slow boat from China" has been "It ain't up to par..."
          You're better off spending your money on something quality.

          There's a difference between camping and backcountry camping. Bring a primus for backcountry... Use the fire pit at designated campsites (IE: Corey's Road, approved lean-to's in the outer zone) or campgrounds.

          Follow the rules... The rest of us are tired of more restrictions being placed upon us.

        • AvalanchePass
          AvalanchePass commented
          Editing a comment

          Appreciate the post but the "the rest of us" comment felt a little exclusionary.

          Not sure what the ticket would be for, it's legal to have a fire right on the ground. So don't know which rules we'd be disregarding. The fire pan discussion is an attempt to follow LNT principles, not adhere to regulations.

          You might be right about the product. But it claims it is "meticulously woven to limit ash and debris from slipping through". At 2.25 lbs in a 26" bag I'm intrigued anyway.

          Certainly the first linked product from Amazon just came from China on a different ship.

          Which Primus product are you referring to for backcountry use? The one I stumbled upon weighed 13.5 lbs.

      • #7 supports use of fire pans.
        That raised one got excellent reviews on Amazon and should be as acceptable as other pans, maybe more so since it is up off the ground.
        However there are smaller and lighter ones out there like this one.
        Should be no fear of a ticket in fire-permitted zones.


        • #8
          Since stoves came up in the conversation, I have been using the original MSR PocketRocket for years and love it. It could have problems in wind / cold but for warm weather camping surrounded by trees it's fantastic - extremely small, light, reliable, easy to use, fast to boil a pot of water. Currently there are 3 newer variations of it available, but I only have experience with the original so cannot comment on which is best.