Things didn’t come together as I hoped on Sunday afternoon. It wasn’t until almost an hour and half after hash time that I was able to get freed up. Still, I had to give it a shot; the start was only minutes from my front door and I knew the shiggy would be glorious. After covering myself from head to toe in deet *glorious deet,* I was off.
It was a slow start; 20+ minutes to solve the first check. After that, things got better. I moved pretty quickly along trail (considering I was a pack of one) and I was enjoying myself. I finally popped out of the woods at a check on the south side right-of-way of a very wide bayou.
There was a large spot of flour to the west, so I ran a quarter mile that was finding nothing. I returned to the check to find another large spot of flour immediately to the east. I ran that to some dirt bike trails headed SE, and make a triangle back to the bayou. Nothing. Eventually I found trail headed SW from the check, back into the woods. It was great territory, well marked and I was in the groove. I swear, I knew where the marks were before I could even see them. Everything was as it should be.
At some point, I saw another part of some kids’ tree house. I say “another” because I remembered seeing a similar part earlier. Wait a minute! It was not similar, it was IDENTICAL. I got vertigo for a few seconds trying to figure out where I was and trying to make sense out of what I was seeing. I kept going and soon it was apparent that I did a loop. I tried again; same result. Next time I got to the arrow, I saw a mark coming from the opposite direction (I had not been there). I scrambled across a ditch found a few marks and more arrows pointing me back the other way. I figured *for sure* the hare had to double back and got his exit trail too close to the inbound trail, so I tried unsuccessfully for 20 minutes to find a different trail taking me away from the loop of death. At some point I didn’t see any marks for a long time and got completely turned around so I has no idea which way was up. Light is starting to fade too, so I am getting a little nervous. Finally I stumble back upon the loop of death and decide it’s time to run back out the way I came.
It turns out it much harder to follow trail backward in the woods versus the proper direction. It is slow going and light is fading fast. I trip badly, loose my balance, and plant my shoulder right into a coon trap. Luckily it only tears my flesh; the large stick that went in with me saved me any broken bones. I am bleeding quite a bit, but I manage to get up and continue. It’s really getting hard to pick out the marks now; the mosquitoes are starting to ignore the deet too. The smell of blood had brought them. That’s not the only predator that is attracted to the scent of blood as I would soon discover.
I first thought it was my imagination; movements in my peripheral vision, but nothing there when I turned to look. Then I was sure I heard something large out there; seemingly all around me. Then I saw them; a pack of wild dogs. Before I knew it, one on them had me by the shorts and pulled me to the ground. Another two were on me as soon as I hit the ground; one on each shoe. Then the leader came for my throat. Something snapped. I was no longer a human, but a wild animal fighting for survival. As the leader jumped for me, I kicked loose of my shoes just in time to roll into the oncoming attack. My hands caught him on either side of his head and my thumbs found his eyes. I head a bloodcurdling cry and felt his powerful body go limp. Only then did I realize how hard I had driven my thumbs into his eye sockets. Their leader dead, the other dogs quickly retreated. I was shocked at what I had done, but there was no time to ponder it.
I had no shoes. It was now dark. One foot was badly injured and I was loosing blood. I could see the ligaments of the angle exposed through the hanging flesh. I did not think that I could go on, but I remembered that my friends (the hash) were out there and they would be looking for me. That thought alone is probably the only thing that got me through the next hour as I staggered and eventually crawled my way back to the start. I had lost a lot of blood and was extremely dehydrated. Any minute I knew a hasher that was part of the search party would stumble across me…. Four hours later, I crawled across the four lanes of traffic on Clay Road to get back to my car in the Bear Creek Park parking lot. The parking lot was deserted except for my car and there was an open beer can on my hood with about an ounce of warm beer in it. A tear came to my eye; by god, they really do care about me!