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Following the Rules in U.S. Forests?
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Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: stealth camping on 12/24/2012 15:57:48 MST Print View

I would be careful about bending the rules in any sensitive ecosystem, but squatting in a public park or a farmer's land is between you and local law enforcement or the land owner. On private land, I would just ask. Of course your appearance and the political leanings of the farmer may not match :)

We all know the camp regulations were made to decrease the impact on the ecosystem. I've seen some sad, stupid stunts in camp areas, so there is little doubt why the regs were created. IMHO, if you aren't tramping a delicate alpine meadow or chopping things up and making a fire, it is just the risk of getting caught and fined. If you are camping off season and setting up close to dark and moving out near dawn, I see little chance of having any problems.

We have so much National Forest lands in the Pacific NW that much of the East Coast camping regs seem a little on the Big Brother side. It is tighter in designated wilderness areas and National Parks, but not so much in the National Forest. Our State parks are relatively small, not backpacking oriented and have established camp sites and fees. It's like staying in a trailer park!

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: New on 12/24/2012 16:00:08 MST Print View

yes, and i believe your choices are a bit more educated now.

that said, i believe you will have problems finding camping places that high up, especially with snow and ice. Not only is space hard to find but there can be some decent exposure with a high penalty for slippage.

so when is this thing going to happen.. we shall require a trip report.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Re on 12/24/2012 16:09:04 MST Print View

I'll bring my trip report here afterwards, no worries. I don't want to list dates other than Early January, in case some backseat-campers want to mitigate our experience with a call to the National Parks Service. I still need to do some more research on winter camping. I'm nervous about even attempting a vapor barrier without experience, so instead, I'm going to just insulate heavily with moisture-wicking merino wools and polyesters.

I'll probably make a thread with my gear list for some help with that. I am going with experienced people, but still- I want to preserve my toes...

Jake, refer to my earlier post about my camping. Obviously, if I can't hang a hammock, I won't be camping there... I think it should go without saying, eh?

Edited by mdilthey on 12/24/2012 16:14:04 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Camels Hump on 12/24/2012 16:23:52 MST Print View

" case some backseat-campers want to mitigate our experience with a call to the National Parks Service."

That wouldn't do much good since the National Park Service has no jurisdiction at all over the Camels Hump. It is a state park.


Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Aha on 12/24/2012 16:37:08 MST Print View

Wouldn't do much good period, since I already notified the VT State Parks DFPR of our trip, our camping agenda, and our names, with dates. A good practice for any potentially dangerous trip, I think.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Following the Rules in U.S. Forests on 12/24/2012 19:04:28 MST Print View

Max, I'd say as a leader of others which is commendable, I think you should be setting an example. If any of your students found out what you do, they'd be wondering if what you instructed them on may be rubbish. I live on true NF lands out west here, I don't have much restriction on my camping activity. The only restrictions in my area is in the summer when things dry out and campfires outside of established campgrounds are prohibited as is chainsaw use once moisture in fuelwood reaches a certain level. Due to the serious and moral consequences, I'd never do any of that. Maybe what you are doing does not have much consequence. Being a leader demands more of you and it seems you have accepted a leadership role. I'm also of the opinion that some laws are not enforced, just there for Law Enforcement to follow as conditions warrant. Just my opinion.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Role Modeling on 12/24/2012 21:26:23 MST Print View

The trips that I lead are very different from the trips I do on my own. On led trips, I always use designated campgrounds and trails- no exceptions. I also never do anything in inclement weather. it's a way to get other college students out in the wild.

That being said, when it's just me and my experienced friends, we'll abide by the "as conditions warrant" principle, but only on rare occasions... stealth camping in Maine is a good example. Set up camp in the dark, no fire, gone at dawn- nobody's hurt, and nobody's the wiser. We're good at selecting spots where there wouldn't likely be a conflict if we were found.

I make my best campsites public, usually. I like to share my experiences. I also advocate for safe practices very publicly, so I can be a good example. I don't hesitate to call myself a role model; the occasional bent rule does not, I feel, influence this.

Plus, I don't want to lose context here; it's not like I'm spending time seeing how I can get away with things. 95% of the time, I'm perfectly within camping restrictions and I'm doing nothing to go against LNT practices anyways. It's just the odd time when we try something creative that I need to think about whether what we're doing is warranted.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Role Modeling on 12/24/2012 23:00:51 MST Print View


Calm down :)

I don't know what kind of a response you expected when you started the thread. I don't think you have been around here very long and I could see the train wreck coming right away.

But I would propose you look at your first post, last sentence; "Please, educate us!"

Well some are trying, but it is not their responsibility. This is not about rules, but about a system of values. Values that each individual must determine for themselves. It seems you want someone to tell you what to do, or agree/rationalize your solution.

It has been a long time since I was in college. When I was, Philosophy classes were required and difficult, and we did not have backpacking or similar pursuits as a part of our curriculum.

Maybe it is time to review your course of studies and take some serious classes in Philosophy. You need Philosophy -- Then you will never need to ask others what you should do, you will already know what to do -- no matter what the dilemma may be.

This is not meant to be critical.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Role Modeling on 12/25/2012 10:11:44 MST Print View

Ah, I see a little more of where you are coming from now. It is a challenge to see how little impact you can have where you camp. Take those students out in inclement weather too then, make them think how to set up a camp and not disturb the earth in an effort to keep dry. I see so many places where trenching has been done and then not covered back up.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Re: Nick on 12/25/2012 10:24:42 MST Print View


I wouldn't call this a train wreck, not remotely. Also, I know from being on the bicycle camping forums that people are eager to share. My request for education assumed many were ready to share, and I was right!

My education includes environmental ethics and philosophy- my graduate entrance exams reflect a sound education across a broad range of subjects. I appreciate what you're trying to say. Put me in an unknown wilderness, and I will make my own decisions with confidence. However, it helps to know what others expect since it can inform my decisions further.

The way I see it, he who relies only on himself can only go so far. I embrace collaboration.


Edited by mdilthey on 12/25/2012 10:29:03 MST.

Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F

Locale: norcal
Re: Following the Rules in U.S. Forests? on 12/25/2012 13:11:37 MST Print View

I actually agree for the most part that if you LITERALLY leave no trace then you're probably ok. Especially if no one sees you.

For example, I will sometimes camp RIGHT near a parking lot after a long drive to the trailhead. I am a hammock camper too and if I just walk in 200 yards or so I can setup camp and NO ONE will know I'm there. I arrive at 10pm and I'm out of there before sunrise.

That said, there may be secondary reasons why an area is prohibited.

- Unknown dangers. Apparently, though I haven't tested it, the Mendocino area has illegal grow operations in the wilderness that you could accidentally stumble upon. I've heard this from locals which and online but I could see it happening in some areas.

- Wilderness preservation. You could be entering an area which unknown impact. For example, in the Big Sur area there is an endangered salamander and it's location is NOT documented to prevent collectors from poaching them and selling them online. In the bay area some of the trails prevent dogs and people 'break' the rules. I've asked many people why they are breaking the rules and they say "my dog is friendly" not realizing that the real reason is to give the coyotes living space since they use urine to mark their territory.

... just playing devils advocate on these issues. Generally I agree if you are STRICT LNT and you follow the spirit of the rules and are educated you are fine.

Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F

Locale: norcal
Re: Following the Rules in U.S. Forests? on 12/25/2012 13:18:39 MST Print View

Another issue is where you KNOW the rules haven't yet adapted to the technology.

For example, in some areas of the Ansel Adams Wilderness there are areas that are completely free of firewood due to campers setting fires.

They now have "no wood fire" rules.

However, I have a small EmberLit stove and I do NOT pack in my own fuel. In 95% of the Sierra Nevadas this is fine.

What I do in these situations is I wait until I"m at the *edge* of the no fire zone. Then I pick up LITERALLY 3-4 sticks (like 2' in length), and attach them to my pack...

That's plenty of wood to boil 2-3L of water and I don't touch any of the wood in the no fire zone.

I asked a park ranger what he/she thought of this and his response was "no comment.. " with a wink that I'm probably good.

As an aside, it's AMAZING how little wood a small titanium stove uses...

Bill Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
Re: Why the Negatives? on 12/25/2012 18:56:52 MST Print View

Excellent points, Ben. Most of the rules aren't there to prevent the minimal damage that a single backpacker might do. They're there to prevent the damage that 20, 50 or a 100 could and probably would do, even if they're trying to be careful, and even if each them thought that one person won't hurt anything.

Bill S.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
"Responsible" Stealth Camping on 12/25/2012 20:10:44 MST Print View

I have stealth camped on the AT in the Shenanndoah Nat'l. Park in a totlly responsible manner,

1. No forest floor disturbance

2. No wood fire (see # 1.)

3. Hidden way off the trail

4. Complete LNT camping

Some Park Rangers are so anal and truly uncaring that they INSIST all backpackers stay IN a shelter even when it is overflowing with bodies. These Rangers stupidly force people to stealth camp.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Rangers on 12/25/2012 20:54:07 MST Print View

I'd rather them be too harsh than too meek, to be honest.

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
+1 Justin on 12/26/2012 13:42:41 MST Print View

I am with Justin Baker on this and probably on more.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
rules on 12/26/2012 13:52:31 MST Print View

if you break em its up to you ...

just dont get mad should people remind you of it ... that is THEIR right after all especially if they are following em ...

and dont pout should that nice ranger give you a ticket ... you took your chances, and you got caught ...

the rules apply to everyone else except for me ;)

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Following the Rules in U.S. Forests? on 12/26/2012 18:54:53 MST Print View


Edited by skopeo on 09/08/2015 15:51:22 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: +1 Justin on 12/26/2012 19:53:00 MST Print View

I'm with Justin too.

Sometimes I build a fire where it's illegal but there's lots of wood and not very many people.

Sometimes I don't where it's legal but there isn't a lot of wood. The beauty of many places is all the dead wood around.

But I don't fault them for creating rules - they do the best they can

And if someone criticizes me, so be it, and if they want to fine me, whatever...

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Following the Rules in U.S. Forests? on 12/26/2012 20:04:46 MST Print View

"If the environmental folks have concerns for an area that they have watched for a long period of time and decide it needs a break from people, who are you to argue? What do you really know about the area? Try 40 more years of "lab time" and see if you still feel the same about bending the rules."

+1 Well said, Mike.