Unattended Campfire, Pemigewasset Wilderness

Pemigewasset Wilderness - Unattended campfire along the bank of the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River. Photographer put campfire out.
Unattended Backcountry Campfire – Pemigewasset Wilderness
 

Unattended Campfire, Pemigewasset Wilderness – In May 2010, I spent a day deep in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of New Hampshire doing research and verifying information along the old East Branch & Lincoln Railroad. It was a wonderful day, but what I stumbled upon caught me completely off guard.

As I worked my way along the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River, near the Thoreau Falls Trail and Wilderness Trail junction, I came across a campsite with a fire pit. I have found numerous campsites with fire pits, but what was different about this one is the FIRE was still going, and the site was vacant!

Pemigewasset Wilderness - Unattended campfire along the bank of the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River. Photographer put campfire out.
Unattended Backcountry Campfire – Pemigewasset Wilderness
 

I hesitated for a second thinking I walked into someone’s campsite but after looking around it was clear they were gone. The camper or campers pulled the blanket of moss from the top of the boulder (above) and stuffed it into and over the fire pit. They must have done this thinking it would put out the fire.

Campsite along the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of Lincoln, New Hampshire USA. When the photographer came upon this campsite, the fire was still going, and the camp was vacant. He put the fire out and stayed at the site for over 20 minutes to make sure the fire was out.
Unattended Backcountry Campfire – Pemigewasset Wilderness
 

After I pulled all the moss off the fire pit and threw it into the river, it was obvious the embers were still burning. The rocks surrounding the fire pit were so hot I couldn't even touch them! I filled one of my Sea to Summit bags with river water numerous times to put the fire out and hung around for about twenty minutes to make sure the fire was out.

How this campfire was left definitely isn’t considered leave no trace camping ethics. It is scary to think what the outcome could have been if I did not come along. When I got home, I contacted the Pemi district of Forest Service to let them know of the issue.

A few links on backcountry camping & fire:
See what Smokey the Bear says about putting a fire out
Backcountry camping regulations in the Pemigewasset Wilderness
Dispersed Camping in the White Mountain National Forest

Happy image making..


 

All of the above images can be licensed for publications by clicking on the image you are interested in, and you can view more images of human impact here.

Connect with us on Facebook | Subscribe to our blog | See our New Hampshire wall calendars

The following two tabs change content below.
Erin Paul is a professional photographer who specializes in environmental conservation and historic preservation photography in the New Hampshire White Mountains. His work is published worldwide, and credits include; Backpacker Magazine, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and The Wilderness Society.

Latest posts by Erin Paul Donovan (see all)

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>