Posts Tagged ‘fire restrictions’

Slide (sigh!) Fire Update

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

So Oak Creek Canyon north of Slide Rock State Park is essentially on fire. This includes the West Fork of Oak Creek, and the famous and popular hiking trail that follows it.

Wilson Mountain and even Sterling Pass are not within the known fire boundaries, which starts just north of Slide Rock State park, and continues north up the canyon. At this writing, though, local particulate levels are listed as “Unhealthy”, AZ89A is closed, and very likely any local parking within hiking distance will be monopolized by service vehicles.

The press release says:

The Slide Fire, reported just before 4 pm May 20, is burning in Oak Creek Canyon just north of Slide Rock State Park. Closures include Highway 89A from Sedona to Fort Tuthill in Flagstaff and Forest Road 535 off Highway 89A. Power has been shut off by APS from Slide Rock, north through the canyon.   An approximate 2 to 3-mile stretch of area from Slide Rock State Park north toward the Sterling Springs Hatchery has been evacuated, as well as the East Pocket Forest Service Lookout Tower. Evacuees are being relocated to Sinagua Middle School in Flagstaff.

Photo from the US Forest Sevice

The InciWeb site can provide updates better than I can:


West Fork was chock full of gorgeous foliage of all kinds, but also of deadwood and dry brush. It will be decades before it becomes anywhere near the kind of scenery it was five days ago.




Elden Springs

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

#2 in the series of behind-the-scenes hike notes for 5 Star Trails Flagstaff and Sedona

DATE: 9/12/10


START TIME: 11:45am

END TIME: 2pm (one way)


OFFICIAL MILES: 4 miles one way

So the astute reader will note that 18.7 miles is a long way for a 4 mile hike, and this is because originally this was going to be a loop hike up and around Mount Elden. That didn’t work out because half the original route had been fried to a cinder in the Schultz Fire. We found our way up the mountain anyway, and I don’t want to comment on that route other than saying we should have found a different way.

As a not-necessarily related side note, if the FS wants to close a trail, they should put signs on BOTH sides of the trail. Don’t want to point to a specific instance – in writing. Just saying.

So we got to the top and became separated. You can use a combination of access road and connecting trail to basically orbit the peak, and Ben and I were on opposite sides of that circle, looking for each other, for the better part of an hour.

We found each other, still near the peak, in time to watch the light of Flagstaff twinkle on as the Sun set on the far side of the mountains.

Humphrey’s Peak trail switches steeply back down to Fatman’s Loop, so we got to hike that trail twice. It’s not a 5 star experience in the dark.

A You Tube clip from the morning, when things still seemed promising:

Elden Spring 5 Star Hike #2

Tonto News Round-up July 2009

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

Our monthly round-up of news affecting hiking and camping in general and the Tonto NF in particular.

Fire Restrictions Have Been Lifted in the Tonto National Forest – just in time for the hottest weekend of the year. Early monsoon humidity has reduced the overall dryness of, well, everything enough to allow open fires once more in the Tonto.

“Although campfires and smoking will now be allowed throughout the forest, visitors should properly extinguish cigarettes in ashtrays, and ashes in a campfire ring should be cold enough to touch before they are left,” said Tonto NF Fire Staff Officer Clay Templin.  “Campfires should be put out by drowning with water and stirring with a shovel to ensure the fire is cold.”

Forest Supervisor Gene Blankenbaker extended special thanks to the visiting public during the fire restrictions which began May 14.  “We want to thank everyone for their patience and understanding while we had to restrict access and activities on the Tonto during this fire season.  We appreciate our visitors’ support of the restrictions.”

Heading out to the desert lakes for the 4th weekend? Well – don’t forget your Tonto Pass, because there isn’t much you can do at any of the lakes without one. Also, be aware of stepped-up enforcement of drunk boating laws.

Oh – and the Bald eagle restrictions have been lifted from most of the desert lakes. As you may recall, portions of the lakes and other desert waterways are closed to traffice throughout spring to allow the more-or-less endangered Southwest Bald Eagles to nest in peace during breeding season. They’re done now. Have at it.

Look Out for Bears! Encounters between bears and humans are becoming more common in the high country, as humans expand their range and the bears stubbornly refuse to evaporate into thin air. The chief instigator in this would be food, which, from the bears’ perspective, includes the garbage.

“We don’t have any habitats devoid of humans. They don’t exist. Bears are large, powerful and unpredictable animals. If a bear constitutes a public safety threat in one location, a change in geography is simply not going to alter or diminish the threat,”

He adds later, “We don’t have any habitats devoid of humans. They don’t exist. Bears are large, powerful and unpredictable animals. If a bear constitutes a public safety threat in one location, a change in geography is simply not going to alter or diminish the threat,”

Speaking of human/animal conflict…

The deadline for the big game hunting Super-raffle has been extended to July 12th. You can stalk and kill (or attempt to anyway) all sorts of critters from elk and buffalo to bears and mountain lions – if you have a permit. More Information here.

One last thing: Native Fish Cam.


Fire Restriction vs Backpacking Stoves

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

The Tonto NF has announced fire restrictions from May 14th until, well, until the area gets serious rain.

The Prescott and Coconino NF’s have announced similar restictions starting tomorrow. Typically, these closures cover all the National Forests in the state by the beginning of June.

This is what that means, according to the press release:

Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire or charcoal-burning device is prohibited. Restrictions also apply to smoking outside of a cleared area, operating internal combustion power tools, using welding equipment or torches with open flames, operating combustion engines without spark- arresting devices in effective working order, or discharging firearms except in taking game in accordance with Arizona hunting laws. Use of petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns, and heating devices are allowed, and some developed campgrounds are also exempted from these restrictions. (Please see attached list).

Note, however, that fires are still permitted within designated fire pits in established campgrounds.

There is considerable gray area regarding which sort of backpacking stoves are legal under fire restriction. I know that my trusty MSR Pocket Rocket IS legal, because, like most liquid-fuel stoves of this type, I can shut it off instantly by turning the valve. I also know that my little metal Hobo Stove is NOT legal, because even though the fire is wholly contained in the cylinder, I can’t just shut it off.

The grey area, then, consists of alcohol stoves, Sterno stoves, and solid fuel stoves. From experience, I know that the legality of these depend upon which ranger you talk to. So I called the front office.

According to Tonto NF Fire Supervisor Helen Graham, alcohol and sterno would be legal, so long as they can be immediately extiguished.

“The real spirit behind the restrictions is that it’s a fire you can put out immediately.” She explained.

So, as long as you have a lid handy that will snuff the flame, light-em up. Good news, since alcohol and sterno stoves (particularly well-made alcohol stoves) have excellent weight/cost/btu ratios.

Just don’t be the jack-ass who started the fire that prompted the FS to outlaw all backcountry stoves.