For more than forty five years I have had the opportunity to paddle many of north western Canada’s wild rivers. Pulling ashore after a day of paddling, I look forward to a meal cooked over an open fire. The last thing I want to see are scars, litter or signs of others who have passed this way. I also want to make sure that we leave no trace of our passing so I have developed a way of making safe, functional, leave no trace campfire pits. These fire pits contain and direct the fire and, when finished, no trace can be seen.
Step 1: Selecting the Pit Place
Sighting a riverside fire pit is the most important step in the process. Select a steep section of large cobbles along of a river bar below the high water line.
Step 2: Preparing the Pit
Remove cobbles to form a pit about a foot deep, foot wide and about two feet long going into the slope. Place larger rocks level along the sides of the ditch type pit. Check to make sure the grill will fit across the rocks.
Step 3: Setting the Fire and Grill
Set kindling length wise along the bottom of the pit and place larger sticks on top. Light the kindling. The fire will move up the pit and ignite the larger sticks. Once these are burning well, add larger pieces of wood then place the grill over the fire. For slow cooking, wait until the fire has died down and a bed of coals have developed. This pit can be used for cooking breakfast. Try to make sure that only coals are left after your last fire.
Step 4: Putting Out the Fire
When finished using the fire pit, pour liberal amounts of water over the coals, then cover with sand. Refill the pit with the cobbles that were removed. Place the larger rocks in the stream.
Step 5: Cleaning Up the Site
When finished, you should not be able to see a trace of the fire pit or that there was a fire. Make sure that there are no traces of your cooking or use of the area. Next spring, following high water, any traces of human use will have completely disappeared.