Campfire near Fuller Ridge/Deer Springs JCT

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Campfire near Fuller Ridge/Deer Springs JCT

Postby Ellen » Thu Sep 28, 2017 12:05 pm

Howdy All :)

Alternate title -- "How an unattended campfire nearly ruined a lovely Fuller ridge hike."

Miracle Marilyn, Sister Sally and I started up the exquisitely beautiful Fuller Ridge trail yesterday morning. The air was crisp, chilly breeze, colors changing to fall. A large group of CCC workers were heading down, carrying backpacks and coolers. At the Fuller ridge/Deer Springs junction we smelled smoke and assumed there were still folks in the CCC camp. Thanks to the cool weather, climbing up to the peak was pleasant. Enjoyed the views and lunch at the summit.

As we approached the Fuller ridge/Deer Springs junction, smoke was blowing across the trail :o Sally and Marilyn hustled down the slope to investigate. By the time I joined them, they were looking at a VW bus sized unattended campfire (with no fire ring) slowly moving uphill. It appeared that idiots had tried to burn their trash (complete with plastic water bottle and pieces of aluminum foil).When we tried to put dirt on the hot coals and spread then out with rocks, small flames erupted. Sally moved uphill into a clearing to call 911, while Marilyn tried to suppress the uphill movement of the fire by creating a large rock fire break as shown in the photo below.

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Sally told the 911 operator the location of fire. By pinging her phone, the operator determined that we were just below the junction of the PCT. Hallelujah! We eagerly waited for a copter. An hour passed. Finally saw one -- the three of us stood in the clearing and signaled (Sally waved her red windbreaker). Copter flew right over us and disappeared. Arrgh! Sally called 911 again -- a different operator said this wasn't her jurisdiction and asked what town we were in :roll: We wanted to say, "We're in the Cathedral of the Mountain Goddess -- but SPEFICICALLY near the junction of Fuller Ridge and Deer Springs."

The calls kept dropping, Sally kept calling. Curmudgeon Ellen wanted to descend as we had done our best to contain the fire and contact the authorities. I tried my cell and was able to call the Idylwild Ranger Station phone number on the permit. Got a recording saying, "If this is a FIRE, medical emergency... call 911." :x We had no shovel and were 15 minutes any from any water source. Even if we had hiked to a creek and back (30 minutes total), we could only carry 9 liters between the three of us. After two hours, we'd had enough and started hiking down. We left a sign on the trail right above the campfire and I set a waypoint on Gaia.

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When we were having a late dinner at the Lumber Mill in Idylwild, we were finally able to talk to Matt, the local fire suppression boss (he'd left a message on Sally's phone when she didn't have service). Matt explained that the 911 operators gave him faulty data -- the copter that flew over us was looking for a fire in Round Valley. I e-mailed him the photos and waypoint.

I hope that the idiots who started an illegal fire, did not extinguish it, and endangered the west side of the San Jacinto wilderness are discovered and punished. I am suspicious that the fire was started by persons exiting the CCC camp. Does anyone know if there any oversight of the CCC workers?

Miles of smiles,
Ellen
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Re: Campfire near Fuller Ridge/Deer Springs JCT

Postby Hikin_Jim » Thu Sep 28, 2017 2:00 pm

Oversight? None whatever, apparently.
They're camping in an area that has been closed since the 1970's.
They're camping within 100' of water (sometimes only 10').
They've cut terraces into the mountain side.
They frequently camp within 10' of the trail.
Trash is left on site.
They have multiple fire pits in an area where wood fires are banned.
They've cut a path through the meadow.
They've cut up trees to make camp furniture, etc.
They've created an attractive nuisance. Whereas people weren't going down there before, now they are since there are now paths that lead down there.
There is a urinal constructed about 20' from the creek.

They did have the good sense to turn the "sensitive area, no camping" sign face down though. :roll:

I appreciate that they're working on the trails, but a little LNT training might be in order. It's not 1902 anymore, you know.

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Re: Campfire near Fuller Ridge/Deer Springs JCT

Postby Hikin_Jim » Thu Sep 28, 2017 3:07 pm

Sign taken down by CCC. It was facing down, but I turned it up to take a photo.
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Stand up urinal about 10 or 20 feet from creek.
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Illegal fire pit with garbage.
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Cut tree.
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Another fire pit.
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Terrace built into mountain side.
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Trash, junk, and another terrace.
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More terracing.
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Trees cut to form table legs.
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Another fire pit.
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Trees cut to make... shelves? Not sure.
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Abandoned CCC junk.
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More terracing.
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Large communal fire pit.
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Seating around communal fire pit.
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Discarded debris.
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Trash.
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Clear trails leading into area.
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Discarded clothing.
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Piles of supplies left to rot.
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Re: Campfire near Fuller Ridge/Deer Springs JCT

Postby CatB » Thu Sep 28, 2017 3:21 pm

OMG what is wrong with people???
Back in April I think, there was still some snow on the ground, Maddie & I were coming down to Humber Park when we came upon a still smoking/smoldering campfire. Location was between Strawberry Jct & the switchbacks above Saddle Jct, in the vicinity of the 'pyramid' rock. Someone or some folks had gone thru the trouble of building a fire ring. We suppressed it as best we could by mixing water & snow in it. I went to the ranger station to report it. I didn't follow up so I don't know what or if any action was taken.
I'm thinking it was some PCTers & I wish we had gone up that way in the morning because they probably would have still been there & I could have given them an 'education'. Even if it is illegal I don't understand why people would leave a fire without making sure it is completely out.
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Re: Campfire near Fuller Ridge/Deer Springs JCT

Postby Ken M » Thu Sep 28, 2017 3:52 pm

This does not make sense. No CCC group just goes into the forest, they go there to do a task. To do this, they must have the permission of the Agency involved, and they are supposed to follow the rules.

I don't know, offhand, which agency has responsibility for the area, but they need to know what happened. Also, depending upon the agency, they appear to have exceeded the maximum size allowed in as a group (usually 15).

This is important, because whoever the leaders of the CCC group were, need serious education! As it is, they have trained a group of people to abuse the land.
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Re: Campfire near Fuller Ridge/Deer Springs JCT

Postby cynthia23 » Thu Sep 28, 2017 3:52 pm

These stories are INSANE. I would have tremendous trepidation merely building a small campfire in the wilderness these days--but then to leave it still going???? Who does that?? This is like driving while dead drunk--grossly irresponsible, an action which very well could result in people's death and massive damage. Do they not understand they have criminal and financial liability for these actions? Ellen, kudos to you and your crew for doing your best to deal with the criminal actions of morons.
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Re: Campfire near Fuller Ridge/Deer Springs JCT

Postby Ken M » Thu Sep 28, 2017 4:07 pm

Here is an interesting picture and description of the CCC crew work on Fuller Ridge:

http://www.ccc.ca.gov/work/programs/Sta ... rails.aspx
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Re: Campfire near Fuller Ridge/Deer Springs JCT

Postby Hikin_Jim » Thu Sep 28, 2017 4:44 pm

Well, and that's the nutty thing about it. They're doing good work, but dang it they need to police up after themselves and play by the rules. Camping in a meadow area clearly marked as "no camping" just isn't good.

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Re: Campfire near Fuller Ridge/Deer Springs JCT

Postby Sally » Thu Sep 28, 2017 8:07 pm

This was one of the most disturbing and frustrating and helpless experiences I've ever had. I truly mourned when we lost a huge chunk of the San Jacintos to the Mountain Fire, and then again when we lost a huge chunk of the San Gorgonio Wilderness to the Lake Fire. While Ellen, Marilyn and I were doing what little we could do with the lack of resources we had, I could not erase from my mind a nightmare of a scene of that whole side of the mountain burning up, animals running for their lives, people losing homes, and never being able to enjoy that slice of paradise in the San Jacintos.

I would not jump to conclusion that the CCC built the fire, however. Their camp is a bit lower on the trail. The fire may just as well have been started by any other idiot. After speaking to Matt from the Forest Service fire operations, I learned that the crew we passed by on Fuller Ridge was actually a crew contracted by State Parks, not the CCC crew. He told me that the CCC crew was still at the Deer Springs Camp.

I spoke to Matt at about 6:00 this evening and he told me that the smoldering pit had not grown since we left it. Fire personnel hiked up and completely extinguished it and we're on their way back down the trail. I told Matt that they would really be ready for dinner when they got back down. I would have liked to have treated them to a meal and a beer or Coke. As for the POS that built the fire, I can't even tell you what I would like to do to them.
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Re: Campfire near Fuller Ridge/Deer Springs JCT

Postby arocknoid » Thu Sep 28, 2017 10:14 pm

Kudos for taking the initiative, and persevering til definitive action was taken. How frustrating that must have been to observe the delay due to miscommunication relay, and jurisdictional issues. (compulsory movie quote for Ellen: "...so my jurisdiction is pretty much in your FACE.")

Three miscreant sets:
1. Unattached camper, fire ignoramus , giving BOTD that the fire was not due to 2 or 3. Complete and utter idiot and self-centered 'outdoors lover.'
Sometimes they are emboldened even more that they don't have to follow the ules when they see the conduct of 2 and 3 below. "If the Forest and Park Service folks can do it, so can I."


2. Park Service contracted trail crew
3. CCC crew

They do know better, but get away with destructive behavior because they are allowed to by their bosses, the "authorities." No consequences. Rules don't apply to us because we are doing such good things for the forest an its visitors." This sort of defilement and desecration is out of the 1930s and '40s ( and a couple decades thereafter).

Completely unacceptable. Intolerable.
"Everybody in this room is smart. All of the agency experts are smart. But the forest is destroyed. Who do I talk to about that?" ((...Paul Newman...))

Sic the dogs of the Snow Creek Posse on the defilers for some payback. A little rough justice would ensue.


Thanks to Ellen, Sally, Marilyn and Matt and the fire crew for their fine deeds.
Thanks to HJ for all the pics, and bringing this to light once again.

Shades of Steve Martin, 1974: "I'll never forget the wise advice my uncle once gave me. Never..... no, wait; ALWAYS carry a litter bag in your car.
If it gets full, you can just throw it out the window."

My, my, how far we've come.

howls and growls,
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