One would think this would be an unnecessary page,
–but in our years of camping we have seen on a regular basis a shocking lack of care and concern when it comes to dousing a campfire properly. On one occasion at Lucille Lake in British Columbia we came across an abandoned campsite deep in the underbrush and someone had not only had a campfire on a thick bed of pine needles and forest debris, they had left it and it had traveled underground. There was actually a trail of smoke wafting up beneath the forest debris. I hate to think what would have happened if we hadn’t come upon it.
Partyers seem to be the worst offenders. They get out there at campsites and drink and carouse all night for a whole weekend, then sneak off the last day, leaving piles of garbage and smoking campfires.
It’s easy to put out a campfire.
The morning you are about to leave, make it your first priority to pour gallons of water on the fire pit. Then have breakfast and a cup of coffee. After that, go back to the river, refill the 5- or 10-gallon water jug and douse it again. Then break down your tent. Go back to the water, refill, douse again. Pack everything up, get a stick, and give the fire pit a stir. Is it just mud now? Great. Is it suspiciously dry? Remember, you’ve had a fire going for three days in that little rock circle. The heat from the rocks surrounding it alone can turn most of the water to steam before the wood is wet. If it seems dry douse it one more time. Then shovel dirt over it.
Don’t fool around with fire. Don’t assume that just because it’s surrounded by dirt and there’s a ring of rocks around it, that it’s OK to leave. Make sure there’s a forest for you to come back to, the next time you go camping.