The shavings were a good idea, but the thickness and moisture content are variables in how easy it will be to get them to flame up.

Digging down in a bed of pine needles under a tree is a good idea for tinder, and gathering the smallest twigs you can find on deadfall is good too. But in the conditions you were in, that might take some real searching to find the driest tinder and kindling available, and that's the key to getting a fire started. Having dry tinder before you need to start a fire is not cheating, it's being prepared.

Here's how I do it:

First, gather up a big pile of sticks ranging from the thickness of your wrist to the thickness of a pencil. That's your fuel. Set aside as many smaller twigs (less than a pencil to a toothpick size) as you can while you do that. That's your kindling.

If you have cedar in the forest you're in, find the driest side of the tree trunk and lightly scrape the bark with a knife downwards towards the open palm of your other hand so that it makes a fine pile of fuzzy fibers in your hand. Gather up several big handfuls of that cedar fuzz, being sure to remove any damp strips of the outside bark. That, and/or the smallest, driest, twigs you have is your tinder.

Now, Take some sticks about the thickness of your arm and line them up laying on the ground as close together as you can. Then take the next size smaller sticks you have and lay them crosswise on top of the first ones, again, as close together as you can. That's your foundation. It gets your fuel up off the wet ground and provides a bed for your coals to start building up and adds to them once they have.

One top of that foundation build your Log Cabin with sticks starting at 1 inch thick for the first layer and slightly thinner for each layer higher. I use sticks about 10-12 inches long for my cabin. When you get your cabin about 8-12 inches high start filling it very loosely with pencil sized sticks on the bottom and smaller one as if fills up, and end up with your smallest twigs, which should be not much bigger than toothpicks. Make sure there is lots of airspace in between all those sticks. If they're stacked like cordwood they won't light off.

Once your log cabin is filled this way gently make a little depression in the twigs on the top and fill it with your cedar fuzz. Very loosely place a few more of your smallest twigs on top of that.

If you have a box or book of matches you can break off the heads of 5-6 of them and put them inside of all that with the match legs added above them. Again, make sure there is some airspace in there so your fire can breath.

Now light your cedar fuzz (or whatever your finest tinder is) and tend to it by making sure that the flame can light off some of those smallest twigs above. Have some fuzz and twigs and sticks ready to add while the fire is starting up.

Once all that tinder flames up it should start burning down into the sticks in the log cabin below it. Once that's burning good the cabin itself should start burning. Keep adding sticks a couple at a time all the while, and again, add them so they are in the flames and have some airspace under them, you can stack them crosswise or tipi style, but don't smother any flame with them.

All this time you also want to start placing sticks close to your fire to start drying them out before you put them on the fire. Once your log cabin full of sticks and twigs has burned down to coals on top of the stick foundation under it you shouldn't have much trouble keeping it going as long you keep drying out your sticks before adding them and don't smother the flames when you do add them.

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