Danby Forest Re-Hash

posted in: Creative Nonfiction | 0

It was a sunny, partly cloudy, and lukewarm day; a pre-cursor to the balmy days of summer. I sat in the back of MoW & Crimes’ sedan with Charlie the Wonderdog, window partly down with a stiff breeze blowing in from the outskirts of Ithaca.

“Crimes, What’s the weather forecast for today?”

Crimes checked her fancy-pants smartphone. “Looks like 50% chance of rain, mid-70s. It could go either way!” Weather is such a slut.

We’re going to candy mountain, Charlie!” I excitedly told Charlie, as the road we were on suddenly changed to dirt road, as if we were entering Hazzard County, or more likely, Deliverance Country. A mile or so down the road, there were a few cars pulled to the side, with an “HHH” marked in the gravel with white flour. Here it was: the Danby Forest Hash.

As is apparently custom, after the meet and greets, staggered arrivals (2:69 pm sharp!), the hares, Climb-in and Beaver, did chalk talk. They had a diminuitive assistant, an energetic young girl (6 years old, it turns out) with chin-length blonde hair wearing a bandana and a green shirt with the letters “FRB” (“Front r*nning buddy”, in this case) emblazoned  on the back. While Climb-in started chalk talk, FRB grabbed a satchel of flour and assisted with drawing trail markers on the gravel.

In addition the normal trail markings, there were also marks for “MM” (a Beer Near with margaritas), T/E, and SE as well.

“T/E, that’s ‘tough or easy’, right?” someone jokingly asked.

“Turkey / Eagle, yes, and there’s also a Super Eagle!”

In addition to myself, Crimes & MoW, there was also Brides, FRB, Superstar (from out of town), Beaver, Climb-in, Flossil, Virgin Lisa, Virgin Dave, Jiffy (and some family / friends that were going to hike semi-separately), Just Pete, Spike, Mr. Bush, and a nice fellow with a beard, glasses, and a bandanna whose name I didn’t catch; or have regrettably forgotten — apologies! (if someone can set me right, I’ll update it up here) and CC.

This was my first time in Danby Forest; someone warned me that some of the trails can be pretty vicious with their hills. We were about to find out, as the Hash Hounds took off into a narrow passage through tall grass.

If I had to sum up this trail with one word, it would be “Shiggy.” Lots, and lots, and lots of shiggy, of all shapes, textures, and wetness. The kind that hashers vocally bitch about but secretly love. Ithaca is Shiggy indeed.

The trail almost immediately ramped up into a good climb, and continued that way for quite some time, occasionally interrupted by a downhill, mud pit, or stream that must be forded Oregon Trail style. I am reasonably sure that at some point on this first leg, every one of us plowed our feet ankle-deep in either mud or water. The more seasoned hashers, with foreknowledge of the futility of fancy feet on a Shiggerific trail like this one, forged forwards into the fray, with no fear, just “fuck it!” (I succumbed to the inevitable with a foot misplaced in a massive mudpit)

Man-o-Whore was a champion fast r*nning bastard, staying ahead of the pack despite repeated attempts by check points to slow him down — he would not have it! The shiggy, hills, and false trails eventually brought us all together where the trail crosses a road that several r*cist hashers recognized from overachieving beerless hash practice; and therein lay a problem. Apparently, the hares had placed a beer near right near this intersection, which Jiffy’s slower-paced hiking troupe discovered, but in all of the trail-chasing frenzy, our group completely overlooked it. C’est la vie; La soif inassouvie!

As we pounded the trail onwards with unflagging “on-on”, a growing number of us began to wonder how much longer until we reached the first Beer Near (oops!). With even more hills to climb, even the energetic and jovial FRB (who, because of exertion, I started referring to as just “Furby”) was starting to show wear. Crimes, Mr. Bush, myself and others all encouraged and entreated her to “on-on”, but she needed to refuel — about halfway up the last hill, I gave her a piggyback ride to Margarita Beer Near Paradise.

And boy was it ever.

All of the shiggy, the hills, the hills, the shiggy, and the hills were instantly redeemed at the beautiful beer near our hares found for us.

The trees were cleared out for a view of a valley that went on for miles. With the sun out, the clouds parted, and two nalgenes full of margaritas, it was an oasis.

I don’t know, or rather don’t recall, whether the weather had actually warmed up, or if we were just hot and bothered from all of the up and down action, but nearly everyone cast off their sweaty shirts and cooled off in the shade. We lounged leisurely for longer than normal, in the hopes that Jiff and her crew would regroup with us. They did. And that’s when we found out about the Beer Near we missed.

Oh man, there was most definitely some elbow pointing going on, initially in MoW’s direction, but ultimately everyone owned up to group culpability.

Jiff’s group, with Superstar, decided to retreat from whence they came, valiantly offering to dispose of the remaining beverages on their way back, while the rest of us continued on-on. The trail continued as it had before, except it was mostly downhill this time. I am not completely sure what happened here, but there was another hasher-half-mind moment involving the Turkey/Eagle/Supereagle split. From what I understand, one of the FRBs (MoW or Brides?) was still visible through all the trees even though they were quite a ways ahead — the trail weaved back and forth down the mountain. We trailing hounds pulled a cheatyface and shortcutted as directly as possible to where we saw them — completely missing the Turkey (short bushwhacker trail)/Eagle (longer shiggy trail) split, and instead re-grouping with the overachievers at the Eagle / Supereagle split. Oops.

Brides, Beaver, Virgin Lisa, Climb-in, and a few others I didn’t see (MoW?) ran down the Super Eagle trail (~1 mile extra), while the rest of us took Eagle. I have to say, this particular leg of the hash was by far my favorite (margarita vista aside), it was just beautiful. It was also the muddiest and most moist, but at this point, I didn’t care and I don’t think anyone else did either.

Just Pete, myself, and Crimes all had hash crashes around the same area, around a patch of particularly devious mud, though the earth only drew blood from Just Pete. Crimes rolled her ankle and I ripped my pants and got painted with mud. FRB got a few more piggy back rides from Crimes, Mr. Bush, Just Pete, and myself, but champed it up for the last leg.

Along the way, we crossed paths with Master Baster, bobbitting in after a morning of that-which-shall-not-be-named. The rest of this leg, while just plain gorgeous, was equally uneventful, and we accidental overachievers re-grouped with the intentional overachievers back on the road, where MoW and others had discovered the last Beer Near. After this, I don’t think anyone really jogged, we just hoofed it the short distance back to the start, where PG, Jiff, Superstar, and the rest joined us for circle.

Brides brought in some special Ithaca Brewery nectar, in addition to the coolers of chilled beverages, and FRB helped by flouring an actual shame circle onto the gravel (and then ensuring that a nearby puddle was adequately thickened). Just Pete’s pedometer clocked in at 6.1 miles for the accidental overachievers.

“How was the trail today?” Baster asked, with the hares standing in the center.

“Too short.”

“Too flat.”

“Too clearly marked.”

“Not enough shiggy.”

Many awards were given out, including the Bobbitt award, given to PG, and an award was given to FRB that was more or less a drum. I think Brides particularly appreciated that one. There was also a re-naming brought forth for Phoenix (Flossil’s dog), since he has habitually been racing downhill and unintentionally plowing into hashers. Suggested names were:

  • Torpedo
  • Red Rocket
  • Juggernaut
  • Idiot Dog

Ultimately, re-naming was tabled.

After much drinking and merriment, circle was concluded, and we all went our respective ways. Until next time!