Building A Fire In The Rain
Most think they can, but reality is most can't. Starting a fire in the rain can be like lighting a cigarette in a hurricane - not an easy task. One, if not the, most crucial thing to remember is when it's wet out, give yourself three times as much time for fire building than you would in dry conditions. Whatever you're out doing during the day - hiking, hunting, fishing or just exploring - collect dry tinder as you go. A good supply of dry tinder (or lack thereof) can make or break you here. Look under rocks, ledges, dense shrubs - The underside of leaning deadfall can be a goldmine for dry tinder and moss in wet weather. On your way, collect the flammable resins found in coniferous tree stumps (referred to as pitch); pitch is a natural substitute to petroleum-based fire starters, and just as effective. "The sappy substance actually exudes from the wood in the form of highly flammable, yellowish globs—known as pitch balls t hat cling to the bark. Pitch balls as big as a prizefighter's fists can sometimes be found near the bases of young pine trees, while in spruce and fir forests pitch balls rarely exceed the size of peas." - Mother Earth News. The pine pitch can be rubbed onto your dry tinder to make a more effective fire starter.
Find the driest spot possible and assemble your fire in a small teepee. Use dry moss or thin tinder rubbed in pitch at the centre and build from there. As the fire begins to sustain itself, construct a 'log cabin' of wood around it. Preferably use the driest wood available and slowly advance to wet wood. The wet wood surrounding the fire will begin to dry and the fire burns and will eventually become more easily combustible.
Photo credit courtesy of Kinfolk