Tuesday, 29 October 2013

My better half and I had a lucky escape when we left Fiji on Friday last, for the following day was Hash day at Pacific Harbour. I have received a report on Saturday's run, which was set by Ding Dong, and is well worth reporting here, as it ably verbalises what an interesting time can be had when attending a Hash run. They are normally enormous fun, and, for the last eight years of our stay in Fiji we really looked forward to the Saturday Hash run. The author of the report is the ever-erudite Wigless who has been known to run a half-marathon in the morning, set a Hash run after lunch, and then run the Hash run he set immediately after having set it.

All Hashers have a nickname.

'Lady' is Wigless' faithful mutt, that in dog-years is about 97 years old.

Here followeth the report:

BTW, Saturday’s run was a classic, set by Ding Dong. Only 5 runners set off in pouring rain and we walked through the jungle just across the river from the land I own at the end of Kamba Place.  We got through to the dirt road before Ding Dong said that we’d missed a turnoff up a hill, so we backtracked and found the path.  It was still pouring down and because the trail had been laid in newspaper it was disintegrating rapidly but we pressed on up some precipitous slopes which had been made difficult to negotiate by the mud.  Down the other side in sago swamp and wandering around like souls in purgatory in a sort of tropical Lord of the Rings landscape with rain pelting down making the swamp more like a lake, the grey skies made even more gloomy by the dense foliage overhead, looking for bedraggled newspaper that’s difficult to spot even in the best of circumstances.

Howard was saying that we’d eventually make our way back to the track that we’d just come from, which I took as meaning back to the dirt road.  I was up in front blazing a trail (as the proper marks were just a distant memory - in Ding Dong's case a very distant memory).  So after sloshing through swamp and getting slashed by the thorns I turned right up the hill again and started making my way around to the road.  By now Ding Dong, Crazy Water, One Hung Low and Soul Sister were all getting pretty tired and I wasn't feeling too chipper myself as I’d been for a 20k run with Lady that morning.  Goodness knows how she was feeling as a result.  Anyway by about 5.45 p.m. Ding Dong felt that we were heading in the wrong direction and, once I realised that he was trying to go back to our outward track out rather than to the dirt road obviously I agreed, so we headed left back through the swamp.

So left turn it was and then another left and by now it was 6.30 p.m. and we could hardly see anything.  I was guided by the sounds of Diwali big bangs from Mokasoi and was following that until darkness fell.  We couldn't even see our hands in front of our faces and so everyone held on to the shirt of the person ahead.  Being the first in line all I could do was hold on to the spiny leaves and trunks that I came across as we shuffled forwards at about 100m an hour.  Eventually it got so thick that Ding Dong and Crazy Water were battling a bit with bending down and were calling out stop so they could extricate themselves.  Stopping in sago is a bit of a lottery and 9 times out of 10 wherever you stop seems to contain ferocious ants.  So those stops were only about 15 seconds which was causing a bit of anguish both for the bitten and those left behind, albeit by only 4 or 5 metres.  At one point we stopped and stayed absolutely quiet to listen for more fireworks and that caused Lady, who was about 2m to one side, to start whinging much better as she thought she was lost and we’d left her.

At 7.30 p.m. they called it a day and said they’d sit for the night.  I was keen to carry on as I couldn't think of much worse than sitting in crotch deep water being bitten by mosquitoes for 10 hours.  Even blundering on as slowly as a squashed slug was better than doing nothing as both Ding Dong and I felt that we couldn't have been too far from the river.  Anyway, we did sit for about half an hour until Crazy Water remembered he has a tiny LED bulb on his car key ring.  He then shuffled about getting one or two palm fronds for us to sit on and eventually I suggested we carry on for as long as the battery lasted.  Amazing how something so puny as one tiny bulb can make such a difference in the pitch black.  In the land of the blind the one eyed man, etc.

We struggled through what is the thickest section of sago swamp it’s ever been my displeasure to battle past and after 15 minutes (or 50m) I broke out and could see the sky.  20m further on, there was the river so we waded across it and ambled back to Ding Dong's house.  Got back at about 8.30 p.m., covered in mud with ankles, legs, arms and hands slashed and lots of pointed sago thorns sticking out like sea urchins.  A night to remember.  The apr├Ęs was still fairly good, all things considered.  Pity you weren't with us to enjoy it.

Yeah, right!

Wigless has supplied a Google Earth picture so that we may visualise their adventure. The creek is known as the Qaraniqio, or "Shark Hole".

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