Tinder, and methods of getting fire without matches, will be considered in Volume II.
It is a good test of one's resourcefulness to make a fire out-of-doors in rainy weather. The best way to go about it depends upon local conditions. If fat pine can be found the trick is easy: just split it up, and start your fire under a big fallen log. Dry fuel and a place to build the fire can often be found under big uptilted logs, shelving rocks, and similar natural shelters, or in the core of an old stump. In default of these, look for a dead softwood tree that leans to the south. The wood and bark on the under side will be dry — chop some off, split it fine, and build your fire under the shelter of the trunk.
When there is nothing dry to strike it on, jerk the tip of the match forward against your teeth.
To light a match in the wind, face the wind. Cup your hands, with their backs toward the wind, and hold the match with its head pointing toward the rear of the cup — i. e., toward the wind. Remove the right hand just long enough to strike the match on something very close by; then instantly resume the former position. The flame will run up the match stick, instead of being blown away from it, and so will have something to feed on.
On state lands and on National forest reserves it is forbidden to use any but fallen timber for firewood. Different States have various other restrictions, some, I believe, not permitting campers to light a fire in the woods at all unless accompanied by a registered guide.
In New York the regulations prescribe that " Fires will be permitted for the purpose of cooking, warmth, and insect smudges; but before such fires are kindled sufficient snace around the spot where the fire is to be lighted must be cleared from all combustible material; and before the place is abandoned, fires so lighted must be thoroughly quenched".
In Pennsylvania forest reserves no fire may be made except in a hole or pit one foot deep, the pit being encircled by the excavated earth. In some of California, no fire at all may be lighted without first procuring a permit from the authorities.
Fire regulations are posted on all public lands, and if campers disregard them they are subject to arrest.
These are wise and good laws. Every camper who loves the forest, and who has any regard for public interests, will do his part 6y obeying them to the letter. However, if he occupies private property where he may use his own judgment, or if he travels in a wilderness far from civilization, where there are no regulations, it will be useful *or him to know something about the fuel value of all kinds of wood, green as well as dead, and for such people the following information is given:
The arts of fire-building are not so simple as they look. To practice them successfully in all sorts of wild regions we must know the different species ol trees one from another, and their relative fuel values, which, as we shall see, vary a great deal We must know how well, or ill, each of them burns in a green state, as well as when seasoned. It is important to discriminate between wood that makes lasting coals, and such as soon dies down to ashes. Some kinds of wood pop violently when burning and cast out embers that may burn holes in tents and bedding or set the neighborhood afire; others burn quietly, with clear, steady flame. Some are stubborn to split, others almost fall apart under the axe. In wet weather it takes a practiced woodsman to find tinder and dry wood, and to select a natural shelter where fire can be kept going during a storm of rain or snow, when a fire is most needed.
There are several handy little manuals by which one who has no botanical knowledge can soon learn how to identify the different species of trees by merely examining their leaves; or, late in the season, by their bark, buds, and habit of growth.
But no book gives the other information that I have referred to; so i shall offer, in the present chapter, a little rudimentary instruction in this important branch of w7oodcraft.
It is convenient for our purpose to divide the trees into two great groups, hardwoods and softwoods, using these terms not so loosely as lumbermen do, but drawing the line between sycamore, yellow birch, yellow pine, and slippery elm, on the one side, and red cedar, sassafras, pitch pine and white birch, on the other.
As a general rule, hardwoods make good, slow-burning fuel that yields lasting coals, and softwoods make a quick, hot fire that is soon spent. But each species has peculiarities that deserve close attention. The knack of finding what we want in the woods lies a good deal in knowing what we don't want, and passing it by at a glance.
The following woods will scarcely burn at all when they are green: basswood, black ash, balsam, box elder, buckeye, cucumber, black or pitch pine and white pine, poplar or aspen, yellow poplar or tulip, sassafras, service berry, sourwood, sycamore, tamarack, tu-pelo (sour gum), water oak. Butternut, chestnut, red oak, red maple, and persimmon burn very slowly in a green state. Such woods, or those of them that do not spit fire, are good for backlogs, hand-junks or andirons, and for side-logs in a cooking fire that is to be used continuously. Yellow birch and white ash, on the contrary, are better for a campfire when green than when seasoned. A dead pine log seldom burns well unless split. The outside catches fire readily, but it soon chars and goes out unless a blazing fire sticks is kept up against it.
Green wood burns best in autumn and winter, when the sap is down. Trees that grow on high, dry ground burn better than those of the same species that stand in moist soil. Chestnut cut on the summits of the Appalachians burns freely, even when green, and the mountain beech burns as ardently as birch. Green wood growing along a river bank is very hard to burn.