During our time here in Grenada, I have heard of several friends going on hashes. From what I understood, it was basically a walk (or run) through various parts of the country on a Saturday with maybe 100 other people. Our friends, Beth and Tanner, have been on a couple of hashes, so this past Saturday, Ryan and I decided to join them. We piled onto one of the school's buses with around 45 other students and drove about half an hour north to the mountainous little town of St. Paul.
There was already a large crowd assembled when we arrived, so we signed our names on the clipboards and listened to our instructions. There was a runners trail which they said was a little longer and more strenuous, and a walker's trail that included a few good climbs but was mostly paved. Ryan chose the runner's trail, and I, of course, opted for the walker's trail. Paved roads sounded like my kind of hiking!
The walkers left first, so away we went. The trail is marked by piles of shredded paper. We followed the trail up a paved road into the mountains. About 15 minutes into our walk, the pavement stopped and we were on a gravel path. The scenery was beautiful, and there was a cooling breeze. Next we came to a field and continued walking through the grass. Before too long, we came to a wooded area and were greeted with a muddy trail over rocks, rusted water pipes, creeks, and ditches. I kept thinking this part was only going to last a few minutes. After all, they did say that the walker's trail was mostly paved, right? I lost track of time as I was concentrating on not sliding down the steep parts or grabbing onto to a prickly branch on the side of the path.
Before too long, I gave up trying to keep my shoes clean. I had mud half way up my legs, covering my hands, and smudged onto my face from wiping away the sweat. The breeze had ended long ago. I ignored the dozens of small scratches on my arms and kept walking. The hike itself was either straight up or straight down (it seemed) for the rest of the time. No more level, paved roads for us! At one point we came to a little village and thought we were at the end. But it was just a teaser, as the path led us right back into the woods for a final climb through even deeper mud towards the finish line.
An hour and a half after starting, we made it to the end (which is also the beginning point). I signed out on the clipboard, and waited just a couple minutes for Ryan to finish his trail. Fortunately we were all at the front of our respective trails, and made it back a lot sooner than most people. We found a spigot on the side of the road and waited in line to rinse off our legs. But not before getting a couple pictures of us covered in mud!
There is usually a big party at the end of a hash involving lots of beer, so we obviously weren't interested in staying for that. The four of us took a taxi back to town. We waited at one of the bus stops in the pouring rain for about 15 minutes before giving up on a bus coming. By this time the rain had stopped, and we walked the last mile back to campus. We stopped at one of the restaurants and picked up a couple of yummy wraps for dinner. While eating in Beth and Tanner's room, we put all our shoes into the washing machine. Amazingly, they all came out great! Usually we play games or stay up late talking with them, but we were all so tired that as soon as dinner was over, we went home and went to bed.
In talking to other people who have been on many hashes, this was not only the longest one they had been on, but also one of the most difficult. I guess if we survived this one, we should be able to do any of them!
I was curious as to the origination of the hash, so I looked up some information online this weekend. Come to find out, there are hash groups (called kennels) in 110 different countries! The hash was founded in 1938 by a few Brits living in Malaya. They wanted an energetic, physical activity, and one that allowed them to see the beautiful countryside as well. Every two years, several thousand people participate in an International Hash. In 2012, hashers will meet in Indonesia. From what I understand, the hash is also an excuse for people to get together and drink. In Grenada, the hashes all begin and end at a rum house. You can, however, participate in the actual hike without the drinking afterwards. The US has several hundred kennels, so if you have some free time and enjoy exploring new areas, look up the kennel closest to you. There are even a couple kennels in Antarctica. No mud and sweat there!