Where there's smoke...
When we arrived at the first Graveyard Lake on our recent trip to the Ansel Adams Wilderness we happened on a group of people about our age--that is to say, old people. We had turned left when arriving at the lake to look for a campsite, and within a hundred yards has stumbled on theirs.
We apologized (no harm, no foul) and explained that we would look for a campsite on the other side, to give both groups some privacy. As we were leaving, one of the guys asked us a question.
"When you applied for your permit, were you told that this is a no-fire zone?"
Well, yes we were. And we also saw the posted sign at the trailhead which identified the campfire exclusions zones in the area--one of which was Graveyard Lakes. And we also saw the sign sitting right on the trail just below the first lake which clearly read "NO FIRES BEYOND THIS POINT."
Well, they were bothered, because they wanted a fire. They hadn't built one the first night, but they had built one the second night...because they really wanted a fire. We encouraged them to follow the rules, and explained that the no-fire zone not only prevented fires, but also maintained organic material for the eco-system in these high alpine zones.
They took our advice under consideration...
The next day we ran into them as we were exploring the Graveyard Lakes basin, and had a nice chat. And that's when we learned that they were a group of friends who were all retired from the US Forest Service! What?
We gave them a little grief on that one...and I think we made our point. At least we didn't see the light of a campfire from their side of the lake that night.
And the next morning we woke to the smell of fire in the air. Both groups hiked out that day...and were then stuck at Lake Thomas Edison for 24 hours because the Creek Fire had trapped us and closed Highway 168 to all traffic. And that was our only escape route.
Sometimes, you just gotta wonder...