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Friday, October 21, 2016


I was having a great day. I enjoyed a ride with Shyla, and then I went on a longish ride that I haven't done in about a year. It's a fairly remote ride and I saw no one else the whole time. It was a good day in paradise.

As I was getting close to home, I contemplated the four different routes I could take, ultimately deciding that I was tired and I should go home as directly as possible on trails. Then, I smelled smoke.

I was about 400' lower on a steep slope than an area where people like to camp. Climbing that slope on my bike was not something that my tired body wanted to do. I started to convince myself that smoke always rises - so there was no way that the smoke was coming from up near the campsites.

Then, I stopped. I thought to myself that, if a wildfire started up there today, I would never forgive myself. I turned around and started the slog up one of the steepest slopes that I can ride on a mountain bike.

As I rode, the smell of smoke got stronger. My legs churned faster because it seemed like too much smoke to be just a campfire. And, who the heck has a campfire midday when it's sunny and warm?

Alas, I was shocked to find a burning campfire in a campsite occupied with a camping trailer and tons of other junk like a mattress on the ground, dirty pans on the ground, and food completely out in the open for bears to get into. At first, I was scared that someone was inside the trailer, and facing these kind of vagrants in person is not something that I like to do.

Here's what the scene looked like. The trailer is just to the left of the photo. It looks as if they are moving in for the long term.

And here was the fire with glowing embers and smoke going up from it. It wasn't huge but the wind was howling.

This very short video will give you a feel for the way the wind was fanning the flames and sending hot ash flying.

I rode away and contemplated the situation. I felt that I couldn't call the authorities without knowing whether the campfire was truly unattended, and I couldn't leave unless I knew that someone was containing the fire.

That line of reasoning sent me riding back down the road toward the campsite. As I approached the campsite, I called out like a friendly visiting neighbor "Hello! Is anyone home?". No reply. I called two more times, and no one stirred. So, I called the authorities. And then I got to work making a trail of orange surveyor's tape from the main road to the campsite.

I am frustrated. It seems that we are attracting campers of the worst kind. They don't care about the forest or the animals or the neighborhood that they are camped in. They are slobs and downright dangerous. I am not the only one who has "had it" with this situation. Yet, the Forest Service acts as if they are as helpless as the rest of us. Change the rules! It's that simple. Ban dispersed camping in our area. That will solve it. And we will all be much safer.

Remember July 11, 2016, when our entire area was evacuated due to a raging wildfire started by the smoldering ashes of a campfire that had not been adequately doused a couple of days earlier. Several people lost their homes, and one couple, both of whom were firefighters lost their home, with their dogs in it. They were out fighting this monstrous blaze when it took their home and furry family.
If you care even the slightest bit about the forest, animals and people of the area, you would never drive away leaving your campfire burning. I'm sure that no one who is reading this post needs to hear this message but I need to vent!


  1. That is awful! Here they don't allow campfires in the summer except for designated campgrounds. We just had a huge fire that burned 22 houses in Reno, NV and it started because the Forest Service was doing a controlled burn and the next day we had high winds so at 2 am they were evacuating hundreds of homes and many had horses/livestock and animals. It was so sad and just because the fire wasn't all the way out. I think you guys should keep pressing it and get the campfires banned.

  2. This is frustrating. I'm glad to you found and reported this one.

    On a brighter note, I am quite curious about this remote ride route of yours. :)

  3. OMD, that is just terrible! I am so glad you were riding in the area to smell it and make it safe. I'm glad you weren't in danger. That is just crazy that people leave a smoldering fire! You're right, some rules have to be changed, it's just too dangerous, especially in the dry west.
    Butts, I'm glad you gurls had a FABulous ride! Oh,and tell R that I say Arrrrrooooooooooo! right back at him! Oh, and Ma says I make the most noises of any doggie she has ever had! whatevers. ☺
    Ruby ♥

  4. We understand completely. We love our river, but we constantly find fires that haven't been put out, revolting rubbish and dumped household rubbish. Just no consideration for others, the wildlife or environment. Self-centred louts.

  5. Hari Om
    And if you can't vent to your friends, who can you vent to??! I can appreciate that it would be extremely difficult to police a 'no camping' rule; but the threat of potential heavy fines or other meaningful punishment would surely have an effect. Legislation change is not the easiest thing, anywhere in the world. Your frustration is both justified and understood. ... glad you had a terrific ride, apart from this! Have a good weekend. YAM xx

  6. I think you could make all the laws you want and vagrants of this sort would still violate the laws. Certainly it would be a start as the park service people would have more authority that way. Throughout the world, there are uncaring, selfish people such as this. Sadly, there are whole nations with this mind set, government and all!

  7. Unfortunately it seems nobody had the balls to stop crap like this these days. Sad but true.

  8. I am glad you are venting here. Just sorry there is this ongoing threat encroaching on your peace of mind. I often wonder if the dog that was missing during the recent fires in your area was found safely. Do you know the one I mean? It was posted on twitter many times during the days of the firefighting. And I still wonder if that sad little bear in your video was reunited with her/his mama. Do you know? This kind of thing stays with me forever.
    Take care, KB.

    1. He was never found, Quinn. It is so sad. The signs are still up, and people still actively look for him. There are reports of sightings every now and then but it always turns out to be a look-alike. I have to admit that I've accepted that he was probably in the house when it burned, but then I remember that bones don't burn down to nothing. So maybe he's still alive.

    2. Thanks for following up, KB. I'll keep a good thought for that lovely dog. And for the little bear as well.

    3. Sorry, I forgot about the bear cub. Yes, the family was reunited!!!!! I'm sorry that I forgot to reply to that part - the happy part!

  9. You need to vent,, so your words are heard! Your concerns are our concerns too!

  10. It is a terrible problem and I don't blame you one single bit for needing to vent!! I wish someone would do something! We are having issues with homeless people in tents moving into our community as well....and they do not care about anything...the environment, the animals...they leave trash and drug paraphernalia is just disgusting. I sure do wish they would get tougher with the laws!!

  11. I live in the suburbs in the southern US. But I was so affected by Smokey the Bear when I was a kid that I can't even leave my freestanding fire pit without drowning the ashes, stirring them, and drowning them again.

    I wish the folks in your area could learn to do the same.


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