Campcraft and Backcountry Ethics
Suggested Citation: Kerr, Andy. 2000. Oregon Desert Guide: 70 Hikes. Seattle: The Mountaineers Books. pp. 35-36.
This book assumes that you know how to car camp and/or backpack (both, no-trace camping) or are going with someone who does. Most of the skills and equipment are the same for forest or desert. If you need help in this regard, see Recommended Reading for some suggestions.
This book also assumes you are of good moral character and that you respect private property, and so forth. If you need help in this regard, see a priest, lawyer, therapist, or guru.
Don't litter. Even beer cans, though they be worth a nickel in this state, are far too common in the Oregon Desert. Careful field work by the author revealed that in each and every case, the tossed beer containers were "yahoo fuel" (Bud, Coors, and the like). In not one instance was a container that held an Oregon microbrew ever discovered out of place.
While there are few campgrounds, car-camping locations in the desert are plentiful. Often, but not always, water sources have good camp spots. As in the forest, don't camp right next to the water (200 feet away is ideal). If only livestock would do the same.
If building a campfire, make sure you need it and that it is small. Dead juniper and especially mahogany, aspen, and cottonwood should be used minimally. Dead sagebrush makes a nice-smelling smoke. If car camping, bring your own wood and use a fire pan (for example, a metal garbage can lid). Camp stoves are more convenient and efficient.
During the hot summer, avoid a fire altogether by not warming food at all. Go to bed at dark and get up at dawn. Under certain circumstances, sitting around staring into a campfire can be little different than sitting around and staring at a television.