I lost my virginity in Nepal in 2007. My status as a Hash House Harrier Virgin ended after a Hash sponsored 10K walk through rice fields when I managed to slog down the required Hash urn of beer before the end of the ceremonial group initiation song. I even have the t-shirt to prove it because if you’re going to lose it, there’s no better t-shirt to boast about it with than the Kathmandu Himalayan Hash House Harriers. The U.S. Ambassador to Nepal was an avid Hasher (he was a runner; I was a walker) and helped with the initiation. It turns out there’s a Kitsap County Hash Club which requires further investigation on my part because as the tagline goes for all international HHH Clubs – “Hash House Harriers – “A Drinking Club With A Running Problem.” But I digress. It’s really volkswalking I want to talk about in this post.
I was grabbing a latte at the Port Gamble General Store when I noticed the plastic box next to the front door. “Kitsap Volkssporters Walk Box”. Inside were maps, registration logs and information about the Kitsap Volkssporters. It sounded like a significantly tamer version of the Hash House Harriers.
Volkswalking, also called volksmarching, originated in Europe as a way to encourage fitness by offering non-competitive biking, swimming, walking and other activities in scenic or historical areas. Volksmarsch is a German word that literally means “peoples’ march”. Kitsap County has a Volkssporters Club that offers a full array of volkswalking (and some biking) activities from one time traditional walks to year round walks. This coming 2016 summer, the Kitsap club will be offering a Tuesday Night Guided Walk Series all over the county.
The group sponsors regular group walks on the first and third Saturdays of the month. The 2016 schedule can be found here.
If you don’t have the time to participate in the guided walk series, the club has walk boxes in eleven locations throughout the county. Inside each box are specific directions and descriptions of local walks between 5 and 10 kilometers. Each walk is rated from 1-A (easiest) to 5E (hardest) and the description advises whether it’s appropriate for strollers, pets and if it has bathroom facilities. I checked out two other walk box locations in addition to the one in Port Gamble. Located in coffee shops, stores and medical facilities, I found that employees in the locations often didn’t know there was a walk box there. Ask around. They’re generally located in a visible location in the front of the premises.
The traditional group walks often end with group refreshments, though I suspect not with drinking songs and virgin initiations. And while I’m not sure if there are t-shirts, there are club sanctioned achievement awards based on mileage and number of walks completed.