Q: My father, son and I were fly fishing on the Middle Fork of the Boise River a few days before the Trinity Ridge Fire started.
I have enjoyed staying at the Dutch Creek cabins before, but had to tent camp on this trip because the cabins were reserved.
The maps I have seen outlining the Trinity Ridge Fire perimeter encompasses the Dutch Creek Ranger Station, but I have heard nothing regarding any damage to these pretty cool accommodations.
This has been one of my favorite fishing spots, the cabins are unique accommodations, and I am just sick thinking of the destruction this fire has caused over such a huge area. Have you any information on the Dutch Creek Ranger Station?
KELLY TEMPLE, via email
A: I checked with the U.S. Forest Service, and sadly to say, 10 structures at Dutch Creek were lost to the fire. The area is located on the Middle Fork of the Boise River 46 miles east of Idaho City. One of two rental cabins burned.
Remember, things are constantly changing in a fire, but thats the latest information.
I didnt realize how large the Forest Service complex was although Ive driven by it a number of times.
Its located in a beautiful spot, situated in an open meadow surrounded by mature ponderosa pines at 4,800 feet in elevation.
There are two basic sites the Dutch Creek Guard Station and the Dutch Creek Administrative Site. Theres also a third site off by itself that includes a rental cabin.
At the Dutch Creek Guard Station, structures that were lost included the garage, main cabin (one of the rental cabins), bunk house, tool shed and an old outhouse.
At the Dutch Creek Administration Site, the main office, garage, gas house, tool shed and generator shed were lost.
The structures remaining and relatively undamaged, Boise National Forest spokesman Dave Olson said, include the horse barn, two (three-bedroom style) homes, and the other Dutch Creek rental cabin that was between the Middle Fork Road and the river.
Several retirees and current employees felt the loss of these structures, which had been a part of their lives when they were housed and based at the complex, Olson said.
Andy Brunelle, who is involved with Trout Unlimiteds youth fishing program at Dutch Creek, said the two houses used for the youth camp survived.
PUMP, PUMP, PUMP
Q: On your best campground water topic, consider writing to explain how to work the pumps.
We were camping north of McCall when we saw a family standing by a pump, hands behind their backs, wondering how to work it.
I got the kids to help me by pumping the handle, pulling up the brass knob and holding my water bottle under the stream of water.
The mom said they had wondered how it all worked. I dont think they realized how many times one must pump to pull the water up.
While I am on the topic, I am very pleased to see signs at pumps reminding people not to do their dishes, clean fish and bathe at the pump.
Some people just don't understand that there are no pipes connecting the campground pumps to sewer treatment plants.
K.D., via email
A: For a workout, you cant beat campground pumps. They can be as good as any exercise equipment at local gyms.
It does take a bit of pumping to prime the pump, so to speak, to finally get water flowing.
A lot of folks dont realize that. Ive seen people scratching their heads and giving up.
And youre right. A lot of newcomers dont know about the little brass knob that you have to hold up to get water to come out of the main spigot. This is part of Camping 101.
A trick is to pull up on the knob and put a small pebble under it to hold it up and to keep the water flowing out of the spigot so you can fill your camp jugs.
About the other point of your question. I saw a guy this summer cleaning his Dutch oven at a pump, and believe me, he left a mess even though he didnt realize it.
Small bits of food and leftover soap attract flies, yellowjackets, skunks and even bears.
It also makes the campground pump an unpleasant place for others. Thats not even considering potential pollution of a water source.
Its best to wash your dishes at your camp table. Its not that difficult.
All you need are three dish pans, a strainer and dish drainer.
Heat your dish water right after cooking so you can start washing immediately after dinner, before any food particles and grease harden on the dishes or pans.
Right after dinner have everyone lick their dishes and utensils clean. OK, if they dont like the leftovers on the plate, have fellow campers use paper towels to wipe dishes and utensils clean. Make sure the towels and leftover food particles go in the trash.
Use the three-basin system for washing dishes.
Your first basin should have warm to hot water (your call) and the least amount of biodegradable camp soap for cleaning and cutting the grease.
Boil water if you are using creek water instead of campground pump water to kill giardia.
The second basin is for rinsing with hot or cold water (theres a debate between my wife and I on this). Thats where you may want to use the tongs to transfer dishes and utensils in and out hot water.
The last basin is used to sterilize the dishes and utensils. Put several drops of bleach in slightly warm water.
Put the dishes and utensils on the dish drainer and let them air dry.
OK, what do you do with the used water? First, filter it with a kitchen strainer. Put the stuff in the strainer in the trash.
Strained water should be poured in the gray water drains at the campground, if they are available.
If not, take the water 200 feet from the campground and all water sources and broadcasting it over vegetation, soil and rocks. That means tossing it and spreading it around diluting it over a wide area.
© 2012 Idaho Statesman
Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445, Twitter: @Zimosoutdoors