Rugged, Rocky, Remote: The Desert

November 14, 2014

On a warm sunny late fall weekend… I got to do my first hash run out in the desert!! I’d heard about these hash clubs before I moved to Saudi Arabia and was excited to try it!

Now, you’re probably wondering what a hash is… and thinking of a substance that is definitely mafi qwayas in Saudi Arabia. Well. It’s nothing like what you’re thinking.
According to Wikipedia (I know… not the world’s most reliable source, but it gives you good info and a basic rundown when you need it.)

Hash House Harries or HHH or H3 or simply referred to as hashing, is an international group of non-competitive running social clubs. An event organized by a club is known as a hash or hash run, with participants calling themselves hashers or hares and hounds.

In other parts of the world, drinking beer or ginger beer at the end of a hash run is a huge component of the event. Some groups describe themselves as a “drinking club with a running problem.” However, here in Saudi Arabia, there is no drinking involved. We do quench the thirst the run has brought on with some cool water and fresh oranges though and just enjoy meeting new people and catching up with old friends, socializing, maybe enjoying a good BBQ or campout at the end of the run…

We drove out of the city and the awful smog that constantly surrounds Riyadh… and way out in to the desert… along a highway… and then down a bumpy gravel road… and then down a little track that was dusty and even bumpier with deep ruts… following the little arrows the hares had laid out for us to follow…

The sky was a beautiful blue… the sun so blissfully warm… the sand and rocks a warm brown… absolutely gorgeous in such a dry dusty desert sort of way. Completely different from the lush green mountainous views I’m accustomed to back home in British Columbia!

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Before beginning the hash run, we all gathered around in a circle. As the newbies, we had to stand in the center of the circle and all together, shout out our names and where we are from and what we are doing in Riyadh, as loud as we could. Everyone cheered and laughed and welcomed us. Then, one of the hares (leaders) described the different trails for us… either a long walk, a short walk, or a run. We decided to do the long walk. (It’s still a bit too hot out here to go running mid day in the middle of the desert!)

Today we are hiking around Faisal’s finger… a beautiful natural rock structure that looks remarkably like a finger actually… hence the name!

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We set off on the trail… up some hills… past an absolutely stunning outcropping of rock… a large escarpment that actually runs for miles and miles through the desert…

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Up and around Faisal’s finger…

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Down and around the backside of Faisal’s finger… bypassing a bit of a wadi or valley… and along the edge of the wadi… watching the sun begin to sink down along the horizon… silhouetting the other hashers further on the trail…

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Back to our starting point… following the chalk marks the whole way…

Near the start of the hash… was the most beautiful vantage point of Faisal’s finger… you could see the finger, as well as the sharp point of the escarpment where it almost meets the finger, and as some point in history, may have been connected to Faisal’s finger… but time and nature eroded the rock away between the two…

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Back at the starting point, I climbed up a small ridge that looked out into the valley beyond… beautiful flat and desolate desert for miles with beautiful cliffs jutting up from the desert far in the distance… rock and rugged and absolutely beautiful!! This far out in the desert it is so calm and peaceful. Walking in silence, hearing the gentle whistle of the wind blowing about me… absolute stillness and serenity… I am absolutely in LOVE with this country. It is stunningly beautiful, in a way I’ve never seen before in my life… the culture, the people… the opportunities it has provided me with…

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These people especially… they’re a wonderful group of friends and I am so blessed to know them and to be having experiences like this one with them!

As the sun was starting to set, we quickly headed out of the desert as we didn’t want to get caught out there after sunset as it would be very difficult to find the path out again!

However, in our rush to get out of the desert and on to a decent road by dark, we hit a very sharp rock which punctured the tire and suddenly we had a flat tire to change.

And so… the sun set on my first hash run… my second desert experience… one of the most beautiful hikes of my life!!!

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Goodnight and Goodbye… with much love like always… from the desert to you, wherever you may be…

Annemarie

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