November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Murphy's Laws of Backpacking
Display Avatars Sort By:
Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Murphy's Laws of Backpacking on 12/18/2010 18:54:19 MST Print View

It is boring waiting for Santa so I am compiling a list of Murphy's Law (anything that can or will go wrong) about backpacking.

If anyone would like to contribute, please post here

(1) "Need is directly impacted by Scarcity. (in other words, the more scarce it is, the more you need it)and its natural corollary: If you bring a gob, you won't need any of it.

(2) Record cold will follow if you send home winter gear. The correlary: Record heat will follow if you decide to keep your winter gear another week.

(3) Pretending you don't hear (or just plain ignoring) a Park Ranger that is using his/her loudspeaker can get your butt thrown out of Yellowstone National Park.

(4) No matter how light you think your gear is, Brawny has just designed something infinitely lighter and more functional, and she will make a small fortune off it too.

(5) Leaving your ice axe and crampons at home in order to save weight is the surest way to get a mid-August snow storm in the high Sierras.

(6) Observing National Hike Naked Day assures one of meeting a lost, frustrated TV camera crew at a remote road crossing. They will be facing a deadline and have so far found nothing of interest to photograph.

Corollary: At least three of your blabber-mouthed friends will see
the pictures of you on the 6 o'clock news. At least one will call the
station to ID you. One of the others will post it to You-Tube.

Food Murphies:

1. The dehydrated dinner you prepared after a long 25 mile day on the trail will not look or taste anything like what the packaging described and will be inedible - even by a hungry hiker.

2. Only after irretrievably throwing your inedible dinner away will you discover that your pack is now devoid of food and it is still 34 miles to your re-supply point.

COROLLARY: 26 of those 34 miles will be up-hill

3. Sadly, there is no such thing as dehydrated water. You still have to carry those eight liters at 2 pounds each on your desert trek.

4. The sugar you just stirred into the group's evening tea turns out to be baking soda. While trying to avoid the rocks and insults hurled in your direction, you make a mental note to properly label everything before loading your pack.

5. The watched pot never boils. The unwatched pot carbonizes its contents solidly to the bottom in the blink of an eye.

6. In your haste to get to the trail, you neglect to test-fire your stove. Only AFTER your support vehicle leaves and you begin to prepare dinner do you discover that one of the fuel connections leaks under pressure. Unfortunately, you have already lit the match.

COROLLARY 1: In your rabid pursuit of ultralite Nirvana, you left the special wrench needed to tighten said connection at home.

COROLLARY 2: You learn to love slightly crunchy, cold re-hydrated food over the next 125 miles.

7. The packaging called the dinner "spicy". Out on the trail you discover that the manufacturer has discovered a process to dehydrate molten lava.

COROLLARY: You have three more of these dinners in your food bag.


Edited by wandering_bob on 12/18/2010 18:57:01 MST.

Jace Mullen
(climberslacker) - F

Locale: Your guess is as good as mine.
Re: urphey's laws of Backpacking on 12/18/2010 21:59:56 MST Print View

Pack size is inversely proportional to the amount of stuff you have to carry

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Murphy's Laws of Backpacking on 12/19/2010 08:26:18 MST Print View

I'd like to know more about #3.

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: Murphy's Laws of Backpacking on 12/19/2010 12:03:50 MST Print View

The tiny, easily overlooked side trail in the spring/summer/fall will look like a four-lane highway when the snow is deep, thus causing you to follow it instead of the main trail, and not realize this for hours.

(based on personal experience in the Adirondacks, but we had fun anyway)

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Murphy's Laws of Backpacking on 12/19/2010 14:07:28 MST Print View

Just after crawling out of the tent half asleep in the morning, you mix up a batch of cocoa for two hungry grandkids and their hungry dad that turns out to have been the instant chocolate pudding mix that you labeled on only one side of its plastic bag. Nobody is pleased at having to eat their "cocoa" with a spoon or with cocoa for dessert at the evening's dinner!

The nice level campsite you picked out (without paying enough attention to the nearby drainage) has become a lake in the morning after a cloudburst hit in the middle of the night. You discover that a wet synthetic bag has no more warmth than a wet down bag! It keeps snowing all day, so at noon you pack up your gear (twice as heavy as on the hike in, even after a lot of wringing out!), squish the miles back to the trailhead and drive home, arriving about midnight. A few days later you learn from friends on a separate trip in the area that it cleared up that night and the next few days were warm and sunny!

The fishing rule, which I learned in childhood: If you bring less food on a trip because you plan to catch fish for dinner/breakfast, you will never catch a single fish! In the rare event that Murphy decides to pass on this one, you will be so tired of fish by the end of the trip that you will never want to eat another one!

It's experiences like these that we learn from!

Edited by hikinggranny on 12/19/2010 14:11:56 MST.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
re on 12/19/2010 15:53:19 MST Print View

"The nice level campsite you picked out (without paying enough attention to the nearby drainage) has become a lake in the morning after a cloudburst hit in the middle of the night."

I did that last June

In the middle of the the night, the "lake" was 1/2 inch deep

My mattress is fortunately 1 inch thick so I stayed pretty dry

By the time I got up in the morning the "lake" had pretty much drained

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Murphy's Laws of Backpacking on 12/19/2010 17:06:21 MST Print View

Bring in a few 24oz's of adult beverage and one possibly two will spill? This unfortunately has happened to me more times than I want... THE HORROR!!

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Murphy's Laws of Backpacking on 12/19/2010 18:35:11 MST Print View

You will read the tide chart wrong sooner or later. It will always be against you.

THE HORROR!! Yes Jay I have witnessed that atrocity also. Oh yeah! You were there.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Murphy's Laws of Backpacking on 12/19/2010 19:02:58 MST Print View

On the plus side, poison oak appears to have a special provision for those who are lost and tangled in the brush. It won't give you nearly as bad a case as you think it will, and it might even let you off the hook entirely, leaving you unscathed.

My own Murphy's Law is going ultralight and having all the heavy weights be completely unimpressed that it takes over half an hour to cook your mac-n-cheese, especially because you can't keep your homemade alcohol stove lit. They're already done with dessert and you're still waiting for the water to boil.