So as the camping season begins, so does the wild fire season.

There have already been a number of fires in the Sierras, one just outside Placerville.

King Fire

King Fire: September 2014 outside Pollock Pines, Rubicon Trail closed for weeks

Campfire permits are required for any fire on federal lands. That includes propane BBQs. Permits can be issued by the US Forest Service (USFS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Park Service (NPS), and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE).

Here is a link to the Cal Fire page about permits: Fire Permit Link, from there you can get a permit online.

The thing to remember about campfires, it’s not out until it’s cold and out. The Forest Service permit says to use the back of your hand to see if the fire is still warm. Hotshots and other wildland firefighters will actually run their hands through the ashes to make sure the fire is COLD!

Fire restrictions can change at any time. It is the users responsibility to know the current restrictions. I try and keep up to date information on fire permits on my “Conditions” page.

Clearing all flammable material from around the fire is a no brainer. Building on a granite slab is the best way to go but that is not always possible. If you build on dirt, make sure it is dirt. Duff consists of shed vegetative parts, such as leaves, branches, bark, and stems, existing in various stages of decomposition above the soil surface. It doesn’t burn well, but it does burn.

I have come across a campfire with smoke coming up from the ground six feet from the pit. The fire had traveled through the duff layer, finally surfacing six feet away as a whisp of smoke.

I have personally seen a forest service LEO write a ticket for not having someone at the fire at all times. The one guy who was left at camp was sleeping one off in his tent and the LEO didn’t buy the argument that  one the smoldering fire wasn’t a fire and two the guy in the tent was “watching” the fire. Don’t turn your back on a campfire.

Use four times as much water as you think you need to put out a fire. Pour and stir. Pour and stir. Make sure it’s out.

You don’t want to be the one that burns the Rubicon Trail.



Here I am, hanging out with Smokey Bear at the Reno Motorsports show:

Smokey Bear (Large)

Challenging the Richardson Lake Trail

After dropping off the county and engineering firm employees, our group of four rigs headed back up the Richardson Lake Trail, 14N39.

Here is John Briggs going over the Rolling Dip installed in 2014 near the cabin. (To be clear, this is the old hunters or grazing cabin that has the tree in to the roof at Miller Meadow, not the Ludlow Hut much further up the trail at Richardson Lake.)


This is looking up the trail from the cabin.


Don and Galen crossing the Arizona Crossing.


We crossed this puddle but turned around just on the other side. The trail runs to the left of the trees in the center of the picture. I drove past them to turn around and slid down to them as I drove past. Pin striping by nature.


This is where we turned around. I had a nasty side hill which slid me in to some small tress along the side of the trail. This is looking up the trail not too far past the Arizona Crossing just past the cabin.

Note the side hill. Just around the corner in the distance, the trail climbs. That would not be fun. Also, it was three in the afternoon and we didn’t really have time to play.



On the way out, we decided to pull a log to the trails edge to prevent further travel off the trail. The snow drift doesn’t look like an issue in this photo but in previous trips John said the drift was six feet tall and really wanted to send you in to the sediment trap in the lower left corner.


Later in the year, we should move the log over a little more to better protect the two trees along the trail’s edge. This will be a stopping point early in the spring due to the shade that creates the steep side hill.

Remember, the snow will eventually melt. “Turn Around, Don’t Go Around”. Come back a few weeks later and the trail will be passable.



Another Day on the Rubicon

Today I worked with a group of volunteers and we took out some Placer County representatives and some employees of the firm Placer has hired to work on addressing the water crossings within Placer County. John Briggs of FOTR worked with Placer to organize the day. Don from the Tahoe Donner 4wdc was there along with Galen from the Hi-Lo’s.

The trail is very wet, many puddles along the trail. Tread Lightly! Please stay on the trail. Do not drive around snow drifts, downed trees or puddles. “Turn Around, Don’t Go Around.” Be prepared for anything.

The group was testing the equipment that will be used to GPS the Tahoe Side. They were also learning what the Rubicon Trail was all about.


This shot is looking east at the border between the Tahoe National Forest and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. Right at the end of all the water bars. It was the first snow we encountered on the trail.


Further up the trail, again looking east, just past Miller Lake. Sort-of deep water and snow drifts. Please keep your speed down when driving through water.


Here is the pond and the outlet, again looking east. Snow in the back ground on the trail. The log on the east side of the outlet has broken free and will need to be put back in place or replaced with boulders. It broke and was pushed out of place.


The trail up to Ellis has a snow berm at the entrance and I’m sure more snow in the shaded areas.

Rub_Ellis Peak Trail

Further up the trail there were more snow drifts but we didn’t go any further. After dropping off the ‘workers’ at the staging area, we headed but up the trail to explore the Richardson Lake Trail.