Things You Should Never Say While Hiking or Backpacking

It started innocently enough. My wife and I, along with a good friend, were going on an overnight backpacking trip in late July. We got dropped off by a friend and were going to walk back to our home over a two-day period, covering a distance of about eighteen miles. The goal for the night was a beautiful lake about eight miles away; a piece of cake.

Did I mention it was late July? And about ninety-five degrees, and about the same percentage of humidity, making everything seem more difficult. As we walked through the woods with our packs weighing us down, the sweat ran off us in rivers. We were drenched and it was truly a grueling walk in that heat. One of us mentioned that a rain shower would probably feel good. Soon the sky began to darken. The clouds blocking the sun did not however lessen the temperature, in fact it seemed like it was getting hotter and more humid. And now we began to climb. It was a tough slog but after a while we neared the top and it was there that we first heard the rain splattering the leaves at the top of the canopy. A few reached the ground and even fewer seemed to hit us. We were thrilled to have the prospect of a nice cooling rain. We should have known better.

Soon the rain began to increase in volume and we began to get wet. It felt great. Then it seemed to change to big fat drops splattering all about. When one hit you, it felt like someone had dumped a glass of water on you. We began to cool off as we got wet and it felt so good. The humidity seemed to increase though. Soon we heard thunder and saw lightning. This was getting to be a very cool experience. Merrily we continued on our way, as the rain came down in increasing amounts. After about half an hour, we were soaked but still happy. It was still warm enough that we were not cold from the rain but I noticed that the rain was increasing in intensity.

Soon it was a downpour. Still we trudged along, soaked but cooler and happy not to be sweating gallons. After about another ten minutes, the downpour became a deluge and the fun began to fade. It was hard to walk. The trail was a mess and getting DEEP. And then to my surprise, it began to rain even harder. I could barely see ten feet in front of me, and the rain was pounding down. We had rain gear with us but had decided to forgo using it because it was so hot and the rain felt so good. And now it was too late. We were soaked. I decided we needed to seek shelter.

The only place that presented itself was a narrow overhang next to the trail. It was about two feet wide and water was running over the edge, but if you went through the torrent flowing over the edge there was a dry spot underneath. And there was just enough room for three people and their gear. In we went. And it was dry. We weren’t dry but we were not getting wet anymore and that was good. We made ourselves comfortable and began to wait out the rain.

Well, after about ten minutes we began to get uncomfortable. We had to crouch and press our back to the wall to stay dry and it was just a pain to stay in the narrow dry area and not get wet. The rain was still pounding down with no sign of a let up. We waited some more. We shifted our weight. We told jokes, and about twenty minutes later the rain began to increase. Where it had been pounding down in an unrelenting torrent before it, now seemed like a Noah-worthy event. We had to shout to hear each other and we had to press further into our hideout to stay dry. We watched in amazement as the water rained down. And then it got worse. Harder and harder it came down. It was so loud we stopped talking to each other because we could not hear what anyone was saying.

That was when my wife said it. She really had no idea about tempting fate so she said in all innocence, “I don’t think it could rain any harder”. Actually she shouted it. Neither I, nor our friend, had time to register our utter horror at her statement, because the echo had not yet faded when the rain did rain harder, exponentially harder. I think the Rain God heard her and decided to fix her wagon. It was like someone had thrown a switch. A switch that could have been labeled, INSTANT FLOOD. Our little hideaway was overrun with water in the blink of an eye, and we had to grab our packs and move on.

The rain did eventually stop about an hour later. I suppose she could have said something worse, like “At least it’s not snow”. I shudder to think what could have happened then. We did get to the lake where we dried everything out. The humidity was gone soon after the rain left, and the weather turned cooler and very nice. Our friend counseled my wife about famous last words and how you should never tempt fate. She is much more cautious now.

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  • Patrick

    Oh my! That sure is one way of tempting fate. It must have been really painful trek towards the lake with all the weather conditions you have to go through. But to be safe, you did reach your destination and you did get to have a lot of stories to tell afterward.

  • emily

    That was a great piece. Tempting the weather gods…… thank God you arrived safely and will leave to tell your story.

  • Del Bancroft

    Hahaha This reminds of a hike my wife and I did last summer. I checked the forecast and had 6-8 hours before it was suppose to have light showers. We hike the 4 miles of the east rim of a canyon and decided to hike the river back. As we descended into the canyon it began to sprinkle a little. But the sky was still pretty light and as we past the last point to leave was getting lighter…. my wife said “This isn’t bad”… that changed. A few minutes later the rain started and 20 minutes later it was really was coming down. I laughed about her comment earlier….We thought about turning back, but our vehicle was 3.5 miles ahead. We pressed forward,,, and my wife said “This isn’t that bad”. Well a few minutes later the wind started howling down the canyon and we couldn’t see 50feet from the rain. I made mention of her comment. The rock steps on the side had become water falls… path were 4-6 inches of rushing water… We laughed as you can only get so wet… Again my wife said “This isn’t that bad” BOOM as light stuck a tree within a 100 yards of us. I don’t know if she got the complete sentence out of her mouth. This time I just looked at her with a glare. Lighting was everywhere around us…. Several times the sound was ringing in our ears during the flash…..We pressed on as the path was at times 8-10inches of water. About 20 minutes later, my wife open her mouth again….”This isn’t that bad, a little scary but not that bad”… well within two minutes came a huge BANG from the other side of the canyon (50-75 yards away). A car size boulder fell 100 feet down into the canyon taking out trees as it rolled toward the river between us. I looked at my and told her not to say anything about the weather again….. As we neared the end it all stopped and the sun came out……