The Hash on 25 August was to the Pellumba Caves, in the mountains on the way to Elbasan.  The day was broiling hot – in the high 30’s celsius, which puts it in the 90’s fahrenheit – and a correspondingly smaller number of hashers came out for the event.
The drive was relatively quick, despite the winding nature of the road, and soon we were at the base of the mountain.  After some instructions on how to get there, we were off.  I’d worn light hiking boots instead of running shoes and, while this was a good decision for the conditions higher up, the weight made the running more difficult.  However, since we started on an immediate uphill grade, and the heat became worse as we climbed, this might not have been just due to the shoes.
The views were stunning but the path became more difficult as we went up.  At one point, we were rock-climbing, not hiking, and crossing over narrow paths where there had been rockslides.  At one particularly narrow and rocky bit, one of the Albanian guys looked over the rocks and into the valley and said to me “One false step and you’ll be dead”, and he was right.
So I was cursing Victor, the hash leader, all the way up the mountain (especially after I ran out of water), but suddenly we hit the cave entrance.  A rush of cool air was flowing from the cave mouth, and we could see a small candle that someone had placed at the end of the entrance, right before the bend.  As soon as we had a critical mass, we began exploring, plodding through mud and bat guano (and disturbing the occasional bat guano producer) as we pushed deeper into the cave, and suddenly the painful climb was worth it.  Of course, the descent – me hungry, thirsty and tired, the mountain still rocky and steep – was painful in its own way, and it damn near killed me.