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[pct-l] zip stoves, overuse ahd thru-hiking

Get serious folks. The recent tirade about zip stoves and fire regulations
has shown the lack of experience with the PCT (and with zip stoves) by most
of the posters. The majority of the posts concerned the alpine ban on fires
in some regions. The biggest area of this ban is along the high use JMT.
(big surprise!)

The Sequoia/KingsNP, YosemiteNP and InyoNF clearly state that reason for
the alpine fire ban is the scarcity of deadfall in the higher elevations,
combined with the high use (lots of folks who want to burn scarse wood).
They state that what little deadfall is there, needs to be left to decay
and provide sustenance to the remaining plant life.

The fire restrictions along the JMT section of the PCT are above 9600ft in
YNP, 10,000ft Muir/Ansel Adams Wilderness (INF) , KNP and 11,200 in the
SNP, in addition there are a few "High Use" areas, such as Tyndall Creek
that have also had fire restrictions imposed.

The alpine fire restrictions are not from fear of a wild fire. Only someone
who had never been there could even think that there was a chance of a
wildfire above 11,200 in Sequoia NP.

A through hiker would not probably not camp in areas where the fire
restriction was in effect because it is colder and harder to sleep at the
higher elevations. There is no point in sleeping below a snow covered pass
to get an early start climbing the next day since you need to wait till the
snow softens to get a foothold, and there is little point in stopping at a
higher elevation on the way down, since warmer, friendlier campsites are
waiting just below.

If a through hiker with a zip stove decided to cook up high, I don't think
anyone in authority would mind if he carried the fuel up with him; he
certainly would be in compliance with the reason for the regulation. If he
placed the stove on bare earth or on a rock in a campsite, there would be
no chance of damage to the plant life. Hell, he could probably find a fire
ring to set it in.

As far as rangers go, there is very little chance of a through hiker
running into one up high that late. The ranger won't be camping there, and
if a through hiker camps there, he will stop late and start early. At the
time when most through hikers are travelling through this section, the
rangers won't even be at their stations yet. The first place you are likely
to see a ranger is in Yosemite.(You might possibly meet one at the Mt
Whitney Trailhead if you go out that way to resupply). The technicality of
the strict interpretation of the rules just won't be a factor unless you do
something really stooopid like fire up your zip stove on the doorstep of a
rangers hut in an fire-restricted "high use" area.

The amount of fuel used to cook a meal in a zip stove is about what a
weekender burns in a campfire in 2 minutes. There is just not enough wood
burned to have a signficant impact. Some folks have a quasi religous hatred
of "campfires" that causes them to hate zip stove just on principal. They
aren't even in the same catagory as a campfire. Even Jardine in the second
edition of the Handbook mentions SMALL cooking fires as an alternative to

At the lower elevations there is plentifull firewood, as long as you look
more than 0.5 miles from the popular campsites.

Many of the regulations are in place to attempt to mitigate the over use
from the actions of typical "weekenders" that hike into a campsite close to
a trailhead, sit there in a group of 4 for 3 days clomping around in heavy
boots, crapping in the same place, having bon fires each night. Overuse is
a bad thing and should be prevented.

The impact of the through hiker is minimal: his craps are even 20 miles
apart, and he never stays camped for more than 8-10 hours anyway. He is
never in one place long enough to have much impact,

There are fire restrictions due to wildfire danger in other places, notably
the first 200 miles of the trail. I know that fires in BBQs are allowed in
most places in that region. I don't really see where a zip stove is any
different. Anyone who has used one knows that burning status of the ashes
in the stove are quite obvious by the time you put the stove away: flame or
no flame hot embers are still HOT. A conscientious hiker will have no
danger of starting a wildfire.

Flames sent to me privatley will be ignored. Flames sent on the list are
prohibited by the list charter. Polite dissenting opinions are always
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