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Photo: Weekend bonfire

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(c) 2015 J.S. Reinitz

(c) 2015 J.S. Reinitz

 What better way to mark the end of months of ice and snow than with a backyard campfire. Smores were the daughter’s idea.

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Fire pit

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First fire in our new fire pit. Started with a Coleman striker. (c) J.S. Reinitz 2014.

First fire in our new fire pit. Started with a Coleman striker. (c) J.S. Reinitz 2014.

Today, we christened our new, partially completed fire pit.

With two of the three rows of bricks in place, we decided the circle was finished enough to ignite some backyard fun. This time, we sparked it with a Coleman striker (pictured sitting on the bricks in the photo above) using SOL Tinder-Quik and a whole lot of sort-of-dry leaves (it has been raining a lot lately). The Tinder-Quik took off easily from the sparks.

A few weeks ago, a passing storm deposited a huge tree limb in our yard, narrowly missing the garage and the swing set, so we have a good stock of firewood.

Firewood, courtesy of a recent storm. (c) J.S. Reinitz 2014

Firewood, courtesy of a recent storm. (c) J.S. Reinitz 2014

More rescue awards

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Here’s a follow-up the the National Park Service valor awards we wrote about a few days ago. Also earning the award, the highest for park service employees, were two Zion rangers who rescued an upside-down climber in 2010, and Joshua Tree National Park staff who responded to a plane crash in 2011.

Here’s the National Park Service account:

Two Zion National Park Rangers Receive Valor Awards
  May 8, 2014

Springdale, UT- In recognition of their quick actions and willingness to place themselves in positions of danger in an effort to save the life of another, Zion National Park Rangers Craig Thexton and Therese Picard are receiving Department of Interior Valor Awards.

The incident that is being recognized took place on the evening of April 30, 2010, after Zion National Park dispatch received a report that a canyoneer was in distress on the final rappel of Pine Creek. The reporting party stated that a member of his party had lost control while rappelling, was hanging upside down, and was unable to right himself.

The Pine Creek canyoneering route travels through a deep, narrow canyon and requires five rappels. The final rappel is 90 feet long and free hanging. After completing the final rappel, canyoneers must walk and scramble ¾-mile to reach a road. The one-mile long Zion/Mount Carmel tunnel parallels the rappel route and one of the tunnel windows is 200 feet above the anchor for the final rappel.

Rangers immediately recognized the life threatening nature of the situation. Rangers Ray O’Neil, Craig Thexton, Therese Picard, and Dan Hovanec responded to the tunnel window. They rigged a lowering system and a belay line and lowered Thexton and Picard out of the tunnel window 200 feet down to the subject.

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Primitive fire

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Our first flint and steel fire. (c) J.S. Reinitz

Our first flint and steel fire. (c) J.S. Reinitz

 

If at first you don’t succeed, keep showering sparks.

After a few attempts, we started our first primitive fire this week. My 11-year-old son and I used an old time steel striker with a piece of flint to scrape sparks onto a bed of dry leaves and dryer lint inside a tower of twigs.

It didn’t take off right away. Only one in every three or four passes generated a single spark, which fell onto our tinder pile and immediately winked out.

When we tired of the flint, we moved on to a modern version, a Gerber Strike Force. It works on the same principle but produces a greater yield of sparks.

Still nothing took (I’m guessing the dryer lint has a high concentration of fire-resistant cat hair), so we added a small char cloth tinder patch that came with the striker when I bought it years ago. Finally, a spark caught the patch, which slowly smoldered. We nursed it with hay and leaves until the fire began to burn on its own, then we kept adding leaves until the twigs caught.