When it comes to Hiking (and forest in general), I must admit that my love for the ocean, among other hobbies, kept me away from doing much of it.
However, in 2014, I was introduced to an activity called Hashing which has since made up for my “absence in the woods” (lol).
Hiking is a very popular outdoor activity in the world, and the Caribbean is no exception.
In addition to being able to breathe fresh air, free from car exhausts, fumes from factories, etc., Hiking can be quite a generous workout.
Although Trinidad has been experiencing an overwhelming rainy season (storm warning included), I have recently resumed hiking.
At Hikes, the group goes at its own pace and can relax (for an hour or more), once they have reached their destination. They can freely take pictures/videos along the way. Depending on the location and duration of the hike back to the starting point, the guides will know when to head back.
The fitness level of the entire group usually dictates the duration of the hike & relaxation period. Even though organizers tend to give an average for the hike’s duration, they are unaware of their customers stamina and overall health until the day of the hike. So only take their duration info as a guide.
My Recent Hikes
My most recent hike was last month to go to Paria Beach and Waterfall, in Trinidad. That hike took 2.5 hours (one way), with an hour rest once at the waterfall.
It was raining most of the day, so the waterfall and its surrounding were all brown. Quite a turnoff to me, swimming wise, so I’ll definitely have to wait for the dry season to do this hike again. Both the beach and waterfall have the potential to be amazing on a sunny day. Can’t wait to see that!
I must admit that this particular hike was the hardest I’ve ever done, due to the steep and slippery terrain throughout. However, I am glad for such brutal workout, lol and look forward to hiking there during the dry season.
It seems that most hiking tours won’t go to that particular hike (Paria) more than once a year because of how tough it is!! Ok Folks, so you’ve been warned!
A sneak peek of that hike is in the video below, as the rain didn’t allow for much usable footage. However, you can only know how tough it is by actually doing it!
The hike I did a few weeks prior to this one was in Rio Seco Waterfalls, in Trinidad (see photo above). Simple one-hour hike (one way), and though it was also on a rainy day, the waterfall was nice and I got to enjoy it for about 2 hours. Just the type of rewards I like!
Usually, most people I’ve told about Hashing have no clue what I am referring to.
You can think of it as a group of people who come together, mostly in a forest (as sometimes it takes place in the city) to mostly run (or walk). Afterwards, everyone socialize while having a couple/too many drinks, lol. You can read more about the origins of Hashing here.
Unlike Hiking, the leaders of the hash (the Hares) set false trails, which they mark with flour or shredded paper, in the shape of a big X. Check points are marked in the shape of an O . That’s where people will go back to, if they stumble on an X. The Runners would have to find the correct trails to complete the hash. Correct Trails would be marked with blobs of flour or shredded paper.
The Walkers would have to follow the Hare in charge of that particular group, and are sometimes taken to the false trails, just for the fun of it.
Throughout a hash, people will from time to time shout ” On On” to indicate to others nearby that they are on the right trail.
At the end of each Hash, there is an After Hash Ceremony (Down-Down) gathering all the participants. It is conducted by the Hash Master.
A few traditions/rituals (& “chants”) take place before the crowd is able to resume socializing/drinking. Rituals include, but are not limited to, welcoming first-timers, celebrating birthdays and sanctioning hashers who would have been caught breaking the rules during the hash (eg., littering, holding hands with spouse/partner, taking too many pictures,…). Sanctions usually involve beers, wearing a muddy dress (poor fella!) or t-shirt.
I won’t say more as I would prefer you check it out for yourself, as there are about 2,000 hash clubs (Hash House Harriers) worldwide. Click here to see the full list.
Running through the forest doesn’t tickle my fancy, so I rather sticking with the Walkers group. It still turns out to be a pretty good workout. Indeed, it has an intense pace and the terrain varies (different levels of difficulties). However, it is not as tough as the Runners trails.
Unlike most Hikes, Alcohol is consumed at Hashes: before, during, or after (or all of the above)!! If you read about Hashing’s origins earlier on, you’ll understand why.
I remember going to a hash once that had a “Beer Stop” set at the bottom of a very steep hill we had to “climb” afterwards.
Sorry, but I just can’t drink alcohol while exercising! So I totally ignored that Beer Stop and tackled the mean-looking hill instead, lol.
Funny how I still remember my first hash, as if it were yesterday. Hearing their Hash songs felt as though I was in the presence of (drunk) Pirates, lol!!
Anyway, it’s definitely a fun atmosphere throughout, no doubt.
The age group is quite wide (20s to 70’s) and there is also a wide variety of nationalities, in addition to locals.
The Hash I featured a glimpse of in the video below is one which involved taking a boat to the Hash location. Of course, I thought Seaside Forest was the ideal environment for me to sign up. (I’m such a #waterbaby, lol)
Oh and I must admit that the boat party before and (especially) after the hash was a great feature to this particular hash.
Prior to this hash, I only went to inland hashes, more or less isolated from civilization. My most memorable one took place in Mathura, Trinidad, where only the moon light shined upon those who like me, stayed to socialize until 9pm, in the middle of nowhere.
Simple outdoors wonders…!
A Few Tips:
- Make sure your fitness level is up to mark, BEFORE, partaking in a hike or a hash. It’s probably not much fun to be the one keeping the whole group back.
- Ensure you eat properly AND digest BEFORE the Hike/Hash starts.
- Make sure you bring the right food/snacks and in the right quantity
- Bring enough liquid to hydrate you throughout the activity. Using a hydration backpack is rather convenient.
- For the sake of your feet, you must wear a proper footwear: a pair of sneakers with good grip if you know the terrain will involve crossing rivers. Otherwise, hiking boots will do.
- Always pack a change of clothes and a towel.
- Ensure your electronic device(s) are secured in waterproof bags.
- Always walk with bags to collect your trash and discard the trash afterwards.
- Pack some sunblock, insect repellent and meds (if any, eg. for your allergies, headaches, etc.)
- Though it’s optional, wearing gloves during such activity gives you the freedom to slide on the floor, or grab on to anything (branch, tree, etc.) without worrying about damaging your skin. Same applies to High socks.
- Avoid alcohol consumption the night before, especially for hikes.
- Have a restful night prior to the day of the activity.
- Monitor the water level, when being near a river, on rainy days.
- For obvious Safety reasons, it’s best to venture in the woods in an organized tour/ with experienced guides.
Be Safe & Watch Your Step!!
Whether you like Hiking, Hashing or both, your Body, Mind & Spirit would probably Thank you.
I simply wouldn’t know which to pick if i had to choose. So I’ll keep on enjoying both, whenever I can.
There are both good Stress Relievers. In case you have missed my post about fighting Stress, Read more here.