Jul 13, 2013 at 9:13 am #1305330
For the last few months, I have been in contact with several agencies regarding the use of alcohol stoves in the wilderness. This is the latest update from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California.
On July 1, 2013, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks' instituted Stage 2 Fire Restriction. Stage 2 Fire Restriction prohibited campfires throughout the wilderness and stated that "gas or propane stoves may be used at all elevations."
On July 11th, Sequoia and King's Canyon National Parks' superintendent concurred with a recommendation from fire staff that the Stage 2 Fire Restriction is clarified to include the prohibition of alcohol-fueled stoves. This is consistent with the alcohol-fueled stove prohibition currently in place in the surrounding Inyo, Sierra, Stanislaus, and Sequoia National Forests. Due to the lack of a shutoff valve, there is concern about additional fire hazard associated with these stoves.
For more information, please contact:
Acting Fire Education Specialist
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
47050 Generals Hwy
Three Rivers, CA 93271
Be safe out there – JonJul 13, 2013 at 9:43 am #2005520
Jon, on July 8th, I spoke to a couple of backpackers who were heading into the Inyo National Forest with a Mount Whitney permit. I asked them what they were using for a stove, and one replied "Bob Cat Stove." I had heard of these fine products, but I had never held one in my hands. The one showed me the stove with a purple bottle of fuel. I asked what kind of fuel it was, assuming that it was some variation of denatured alcohol. He assured me that it was not alcohol, but he didn't know what it was exactly. I suspect that they finished their trip by the 11th. Otherwise, the order of the 11th would have affected them.
–B.G.–Jul 13, 2013 at 9:53 am #2005525
What would happen if you just used alcohol stove carefully and didn't cause any problems
Would a ranger ever notice?
If he did, would he fine you or anything?
You could just plead ignoranceJul 13, 2013 at 10:24 am #2005538
Jerry, excellent questions.
First of all, wilderness rangers roam around the Mount Whitney Trail where these two guys were going to be, and they specifically roam around at Trail Camp where most people spend the night. If you have a tent erected and are sitting there, then the ranger might wander up and ask about your stove (whether it is right or wrong). If you suspected that your stove was wrong, you might need to keep it under wraps except for cooking.
Now, Trail Camp is a pretty bleak place. It is far above timberline, and there isn't much of anything that would burn up there. However, rules are rules. I think maybe if you tried to plead ignorance, a nice ranger would simply give you a warning. If you gave him a hard time about it, he could issue a citation or escort you out. Those are kind of unlikely, but possible. That's why they normally ask to see your permit first, since it has all of your identification on it.
I had heard about the approaching fire restrictions, and I was thinking of going backpacking in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. When I packed my backpack at home, I specifically shifted over from Esbit to Butane, just to avoid some possible hassle like that. I'll probably stick with Butane until I hear that the fire restrictions have passed.
–B.G.–Jul 13, 2013 at 10:45 am #2005541
Chad BBPL Member
I would just follow the rules or stay home. They are in place for a reason.Jul 13, 2013 at 11:17 am #2005547
"I would just follow the rules or stay home."
Exactly, but it gets more complicated when you pack up at home with a legal stove, and then the Forest Service changes the rules.
I guess that if you start your trip with a legal stove, then if the rules change and you have an illegal stove, the ranger is likely to let it slide. But, you would have to ask the Forest Service office how that works.
I guess that makes it smarter to have a flexible fuel cooking system so that you can shift from one fuel to another as conditions or rules change.
–B.G.–Jul 13, 2013 at 11:44 am #2005551
"I would just follow the rules or stay home. They are in place for a reason."
rules are made to be broken
if there are fires caused by alcohol stoves, then there should be rules against.
if you are using an alcohol stove in a manner that has no chance of causing a wildfire, then you shouldn't feel bad about doing so. If your behavior influenced someone else to use an alcohol stove irresponsibily, then not so good. If some ranger hassles you, then maybe it's not worth it.
The goal should be to preserve the wilderness.Jul 13, 2013 at 6:05 pm #2005644
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> rules are made to be broken
"The rules don't apply to me"…
I am going to stick my neck out here and suggest it is PRECISELY that attitude which starts so many wildfires.
Strangely, one usually finds that more experienced walkers are the ones who do obey the rules.
CheersJul 13, 2013 at 6:10 pm #2005646
Ken T.BPL Member
Don't trust anyone over 60. They think they know everything,Jul 13, 2013 at 6:16 pm #2005648
I thought they know everything, and what they don't know isn't important :)Jul 13, 2013 at 6:44 pm #2005653
Paul MagnantiBPL Member
@paulmagsLocale: Front Range Zoo
I was on my soapbox in a previous thread, so I'll keep it short.
if there is a question of the legality of a stove, is it really such a big deal to take a canister stove (or go stoveless)?
With fines up to $3k dollars, I really don't want to leave my financial stability up to a ranger or ranger's office interpenetration of current fire regs. :)Jul 13, 2013 at 7:03 pm #2005658
Well, as an alcohol stove manufacture, I am adamant that will follow the rules and regulations. I have a trip planned this summer to hike from Onion Valley to Whitney to Horseshoe meadow. I was planning this trip around testing a bunch of new products and one of my goals was to dry bake a loaf of bread on Whitney. Due to the ban, I will be taking my canister stove.
Given the assumption that members of Backpackinglight represent some of the most knowledgeable, careful and best prepared backpackers, I would have thought that this would be the first group to support these rules and regulations. I would hope that experienced and knowledgeable backpackers would be good stewards in the wilderness. I have read discussions where some of you have dismantle inappropriate fire rings and campsites. I think that this is great. Some of you have also taken the time to discuss inappropriate practices (not packing out toilet paper, burning trash, the proper use of soap in the woods). All of these things support LNT and safety. With respect to the current ban on alcohol stoves, how is this any different? My 2 Cents – JonJul 13, 2013 at 7:31 pm #2005671
"> rules are made to be broken
"The rules don't apply to me"…
I am going to stick my neck out here and suggest it is PRECISELY that attitude which starts so many wildfires"
I think so many wildfires are caused by campfires, the ones that aren't caused by lightning. Or machines or fireworks or …
It just seems to me that alcohol stoves aren't that dangerous – a metal bowl contains the burning material and when it's done, there aren't any embers or anything. I've only used them on my patio so maybe I'm not seeing something.
If there have been actual wildfires caused by alcohol stoves then I'de change my opinion.Jul 13, 2013 at 7:40 pm #2005675
Well, The Hewlett Fire in CO was caused by a backpacker using an alcohol stove without a fire permit. Agreed, he wasn't very smart or capable but that is why these regulations are in place, they reduce the probability of an accident getting amplified due to extreme environmental conditions. That fire burn just under 10,000 acres. My 2 cents – JonJul 13, 2013 at 7:47 pm #2005681
Dan YeruskiBPL Member
Are you trying to have the rules changed?Jul 13, 2013 at 7:47 pm #2005682
You beat me to it! Even before the bans I had gone to a Clikstand stove as it was more stable. Now using a Kovea Spyder canister stove. I don't want to be that guy! Next on my list, stoveless per Paul's thoughts.Jul 13, 2013 at 7:57 pm #2005692
"Don't trust anyone over 60. They think they know everything,"
But Nick is over 60, and he does know everything.
–B.G.–Jul 13, 2013 at 7:57 pm #2005693
Okay, maybe alcohol stoves are more dangerous than I thought, I've only used them on my patioJul 13, 2013 at 8:46 pm #2005709
Justin BakerBPL Member
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
Are these restrictions in place everywhere in the parks? I thought fire restrictions based of wildfire danger didn't matter above a certain elevation when everything becomes rocky/granity and it's literally impossible to start a wildfire.
I went up to Mineral King during extreme fire danger and we were allowed to have wood fires above a certain elevation (I think it was between 8,000 and 10,400 feet.)Jul 13, 2013 at 9:04 pm #2005711
USA Duane HallBPL Member
@hikerduaneLocale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
I think its the idiots they want to protect the forest from, so all of us have to pay.
A couple years ago when I did the Rae Lakes Loop but over Kearsarge Pass, at Lower Paradise Valley CG, some youths had a campfire, still around it when I made camp early afternoon. When they finally left, they still had a chunk of firewood in the pit, smoking away. I dumped some water on it as they had made no attempt to put their fire out. Those are the people who are dangerous. I live in the mountains, please take care of my home.
DuaneJul 13, 2013 at 9:06 pm #2005713
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> maybe alcohol stoves are more dangerous than I thought, I've only used them on my patio
They can be very dangerous. Let me list some ways:
1: the full stove gets accidentally knocked over and the alcohol spills – while alight
2: the fuel bottle gets knocked over without the cap being screwed on at all – slosh
3: the fuel bottle gets knocked over without the cap being screwed on firmly – dribble
4: the user overfills the stove and doesn't notice before he lights up
5: priming the stove, some fuel is spilt on the duff nearby
6: the user thinks the stove is out and goes to refill it – but it wasn't, and stuff goes everywhere
I am sure I am missing several major fault scenarios. Feel free to add to the list.
Check the benches or tables at some huts & picnic grounds for char marks – you will find plenty. Some are due to white gas, some are due to alcohol.
CheersJul 13, 2013 at 9:13 pm #2005718
"But Nick is over 60, and he does know everything."
My wife will disagree. Sometimes she says I don't jack _____.Jul 13, 2013 at 9:17 pm #2005721
There have been quite a few fires started by PCT thru-hikers using alcohol stoves.
I have seen quite a few alcky, Esbit, and wood stoves reviewed here on BPL or URL links shown being used in what I would call unsafe conditions.Jul 13, 2013 at 9:49 pm #2005740
Don AmundsonBPL Member
@amrowincLocale: Southern California
FWIW this is the response I received from SEKI with my original question at the end:
SEKI Wilderness Office, NPS (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Picture of SEKI Wilderness Office, NPS
Alcohol and esbit stoves are allowed in our wilderness. Please let us know if you have any other questions.
-Wilderness Office Staff
On Fri, Jul 5, 2013 at 12:34 PM, SEKI Interpretation, NPS wrote:
Date: Fri, Jul 5, 2013 at 12:17 PM
Subject: From NPS.gov: Fire restrictions
Email submitted from: email@example.com at /seki/contacts.htm
In years past the question about the use of esbit and alcohol backpacking stoves has come up. These stoves are not addressed in the posted reg that says "No wood or barbecue fires permitted at any elevation. Gas or propane stoves are permitted at all elevations." Every back country ranger and the permit issuing office personal I've talked to have always said yes, esbit and alcohol stoves are allowed and that the concern was about open wood fires and wood burning stoves. I plan to use my esbit stove again this year on the JMT and have a hiking partner that uses an alcohol stove. Will this be OK? Thanks, Don
I also contacted INYO and Sierra National Forest. Their responses:
From Inyo NF:
Hello amrowinc, You can use an esbit stove and any pressurized liquid fuel stove with an on off valve. Forest Order Fire Restrictions
Phone us with questions 760 873-2483.
Inyo National Forest
Wilderness Permit Office
351 Pacu Lane Suite 200
Bishop, CA. 93514
From Sierra NF:
A burner, stove or lantern which can be turned off at a moment's notice is permissible for use during fire restrictions.
Please see the attached Forest Order regarding fire restrictions.
Have a great trip!
Information Services Assistant Sierra National Forest
559-297-0706 ext 4989
Info received from Yosemite from another person:
– –"I called the ranger at Yosemite just now, and was told that an alcohol stove was "absolutely no problem" anywhere on the JMT."Jul 13, 2013 at 10:20 pm #2005750
Don, it would be nice if you could put a date on each piece of correspondence for Inyo, Sierra, and Yosemite. That way, we would know when that information was relevant with respect to the July 11 restriction date at the beginning of this thread.
What SEKI sent on July 5 might have been accurate for July 5, and not accurate for July 11, etc.
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