When I was in Burma on my first trip, we had a guide leading us through the jungle who seemed to know every inch of the place. This was before my military experience, and I was fairly young and certainly dumb, but I did my best to follow all instructions laid out by light hearted, humorous but ultimately rough man who accompanied us. We would walk for a while, take a break, drink water, and then walk again. On and on and on — it was a good introduction into rucking.

Our guide always told me never to step off the path — there were landmines strewed about in that neck of the woods, and though the paths had been cleared fairly recently, no one had cleared beyond the paths. If you had to pee, you had to do it from the safety of the path, or in a designated area that was cleared. It wasn’t a big deal and it wasn’t a big source of drama — just stay on the path, which was a pretty easy thing to do, considering the rest of it was thick, merciless jungle that would probably kill me landmines or not.

We eventually wound up on a dried up creek bed, heaving our way up the rocks one by one. I had to relieve myself, so I stepped to the side of the same creek bed, sure to stay on the larger rocks.

I got yelled at. Despite the fact that we were on a large creek bed full of boulders and huge rocks where nothing could be buried, the threat was still very real. The guide was taking us a specific way through the creek bed, and I had wrongfully assumed that meant the entire creek bed was clear and safe. Deviating from that path was an absolute no-go. Would anything likely happen to me if I stepped on a large, obviously clear boulder that was off the path? It’s not likely, as something would have had to be placed under or right next to the boulder, but people shouldn’t bet their lives on things that probably won’t happen, especially out there.