When we got to the famous "waterfall" that I always stop and take a picture of, we were in for a treat. Whereas last time it had been warm a few days before and the temerature dropped to 5 or so degrees the night before but the water was still running from the previous days' snowmelt -- this time that water had had a chance to freeze.
When we got to the Cedar Creek crossing to "the hotdog spot", the water was much lower, and the day was much warmer -- so we were able to cross on some rocks that were barely or only partially submerged.
And we started our first flint and steel (with tinder) fire. We used what I call "cedar down" ... stringy bits of cedar bark. The oils in the bark and the thin fluffiness of it make it almost ideal tinder.
We tried it a couple of times with the sun and our freznel lenses, and that worked, too.
Ryan brough a can of chili, so this time we had chili dogs. We tried rigging up a bow and drill set but I don't think by that time our hearts were in it. But after lunch I decided to try it with dried grass. We were able to get it to work. Then leaves, all crumbled up in your hand.
Your hand. We discovered the best way to start a fire with any tinder is to do it in your hand, especially a sunlight/magnifying glass fire. The reason, I guess, is that you can control the density of the tinder. You want it fairly dense (so you squeeze and pack) with a flat surface to focus the light on to get a tiny coal started. Then you ditch the magnifying glass and start to blow on it. As you blow, you slowly loosen your grip on the tinder, allowing it to expand in your hand. You should see more and more smoke each time you blow. Finally, at some point your hand is open with the tinder sitting on top and one final puff will get it to burst into flame. They you quickly set it down on something you don't mind burning (ie, not your hand) -- probably more tinder or kindling -- and start your fire.
Pretty friggin' cool. We should've taken a video of one of our many successful attempts.
(note: this shot is here to link to in my profile -- gotta put it somewhere on the web)