The Beer - Uses Other than Drinking Theory

We have always tried to carry a couple of beers as a reward for when we finish a hike. Recently we noticed that, as we got closer to the trailhead and car, one or the other of us could actually smell the beer. This seemed an interesting phenomenon that we could not really understand. Given our penchant to examine and find logical reasons why things happen, we now turned our attention to this subject. We decided to give this lot of research -- we would keep track of who could smell it first, and how far away, etc.

Our Conclusions, after many Hikes and Beers:

  1. If we tend to mix the beers in the cooler (eg Coors Light and Miller Genuine Draft Light), we have to be a lot closer to smell the beer. Something about having different brands of beer tends to cancel out the potency of the smell. We then found if we only brought one brand, such as the one Doug liked the best. he'd smell it sooner, and visa versa.
  2. We then found if we put 4 cans of the same kind in, we could smell the beer further away. Similarly, 4 cans of mixed brands can be smelled further away than 2 cans of mixed brands, but not as far away a 4 cans of the same brand. This was a tremendously important discovery, for we tend not to remember key landmarks that would give us an indication of far we have to finish a hike. Now we just rely on our sense of smell. (Note: we once proposed that if 4 were better than 2, how about a whole case? Our wives stopped our research at that point. However, we can still wonder. So what we do now is make sure we have enough to know when we are a mile out.)
  3. 2 cans of beer can be smelled about a half-mile out. This means we have about 10 minutes to go; assuming we hold our downward speed to around 3 miles per hour.
  4. If we put in four cans, which after much thought seemed to make more sense, we could now smell the beer a mile out. Now we knew we only had 20 minutes to go -- and 2 beers each. Others, such as our wives, tend to discount this phenomenon, as they do not smell the beer. They bring up irrelevant facts -- of the beer being in cans, in a cooler, in the car. We're not deterred. We know what we can smell.
    We think there are 2 reasons for this: (i) they do not anticipate the beer as much as we do, and (ii) we've had a lot more hikes and beers. We believe this is an acquired skill -- just as knowing good wine from bad is an acquired taste. Unfortunately for Doug and I, this means that only a few others will ever be able to duplicate our findings.

For those who do decide to pursue this subject, we must warn you of potential problems we've had happen to us over the years -

The Wind: The direction and strength of the wind can have an effect. We're not quite sure of the total affect. Just be aware that we've found if the wind is blowing in our face, i.e. coming from the car, we tend to smell it sooner (on several occasions we have found ourselves still not at the car after 20 minutes - not a pleasant surprise). Conversely, with a strong wind blowing at our backs, we've actually arrived at the car without a hint of the beer smell.
The Trail: The degree of difficulty of the trail can have an effect. After a very long day out, on an otherwise calm day, we've smelled the beer - wow, only 20-30 minutes to go (you calculate the number of beers in the cooler, all the same brand), yet an hour later, we were still not to the car.
Air Miles v. Trail Miles: The smell of beer travels by air miles, not trail miles. We've often forgotten the effect a series of switchbacks can have. Once, we could actually see the parking lot when we smelled the from a "30 minutes to go" point, but it took an hour to switchback down to the car. We needed all the beer we had that day !

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