The Hash ... Chiang Rai HHH ...

An easy trail quickly turned into a muddy, rock strewn stream that had shrunk to a mere trickle in this dry season.  During a tropical downpour, an obvious death trap, but on the day a minor obstacle to focus ones attention and balance.  The first hill was a completely different matter.  With your heart leaping from your chest and your lungs searing with pain, you were also confronted with the proverbial, take two steps forward and one step back.  Unable to gain purchase on the soft, freshly tilled, hillside soil, many a stride failed to advance one even fractionally toward the distant crest.  Apparently all made it to the top but I had my doubts about that outcome, as I surveyed the scene and waited for my wife to catch up with Cookie and me.  Confronted with a choice after cresting that horrific hill, many a shattered soul opted for the short route back to food, beverage and relative comfort.  Cookie was already sniffing out the long trail and we had not driven 80 km just to take the easy way out. 

It became a much more lonely affair at that point.  We saw no one else on the trail, until we reached a bewildering crossroads.  We joined forces with a group of young women there and several trails were scouted before finding the way.  Our trekking poles helped us to navigate, without incident, down a very steep, dusty, and leaf strewn hill and to ford small streams.  Crouching low to navigate the bamboo thickets was made easier by the lack of leaves, giving one vantage beyond ones nose, which would not be the case most of the year.  Cookie helped us break trail but even she had difficulty finding the way at that one puzzling crossroads.  Our normal trails have ample water along the way, with a reservoir for swimming at the turnaround, but high on the hillside it was very dry and our little girl seemed to suffer from the heat.  We gave much of our water to her along the trail.  At the end she lay for minutes in the cool stream, just behind the host’s house and gathering area, luxuriating in the refreshing current.

According to our host, or hare, we were a rather large group, of which nearly half appeared to be virgins, in Hash terminology.  The host and scribe for the Hash, does a much more thorough job of producing statistics on his blog.  Naming names and recounting who did what, being his forte.  I might suggest clicking on his HHH BLOG for more details.  Children were well represented on the day but I cannot provide much insight as to what they brought away from their experience.  I found so many people cumbersome and difficult to navigate.  But then again, I have always come away from group gatherings feeling less than satisfied.  My taste runs more to a sit-down lunch or dinner with long hours of thoughtful discussion, with one or two other couples or families.  Often that leads to the children playing in the yard, the women doing as they wish and the men sitting around solving the world’s problems.

The Hashers seemed more focussed on the ceremonial drinking, rituals and chanting at the end of the day, than on the beauty and bounty of the trail.  I have always been in the minority, with my view of group activities like this.  So pay no mind of my words and if the opportunity presents, by all means go to a Hash and form your own opinion.  It will be a safe bet that no two trails will be identical, providing variety, and each evening will end the same, providing continuity.  So as the Hashers would say in their rather quirky terminology, ON-ON.