Sandpit#15: respite from sauna season

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It was that time of year again: sauna season.

But we figured there was still time to squeeze in one final Sandpit weekend by canyoning through the pools at Hatta and then “camping” in the climate-controlled environs of the Hatta Fort Hotel.

Even though the weekend coincided with a cold snap (a relative term in the sun-baked UAE – it meant it was only 43degC as we crossed Madam Plain instead of the usual 50degC), there was a mammoth gathering of the usual Abu Dhabi suspects augmented by a great turnout from the Al Ain and Dubai hashers.

Once the heat moderated a little, we headed in convoy towards Hatta Pools then wandered down to the main pool.

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The canyon was in two parts. The cruisy upper part was reached by heading along the side of the canyon until there was a point where you could access the bottom of the wadi then we headed back downstream towards the main pool.

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At first, it was cruisy. Then when there was a traffic jam of hashers ahead, we realised we’d reached the first constriction.

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But it was all good.

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The canyon changes every time a flood comes through. This time there was a lot more gravel than on the Sandpit here last year.

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Then we hit the main pool.

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This was about a 100m swim, ending in the main pool.

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Some opted for a, er, rest halfway along, trying to climb the side of the canyon for a break.

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When this was tougher than it looked, it turned out the various subcontinental visitors were more than willing to give a hand, which was applied posterially. What selfless fellows!

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Inevitably, this improved the impetus out of the water in more ways than just one!

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This was the site of the beer stop. A fact only slightly affected by the popularity of this weekend outstripping the supplies of beer on hand…

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Then it was time for the second half of the gorge, downstream from the main pool, which I’d described as being “more sporting”.

A hint of exactly what that meant came within a few metres.

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This began with a leap of faith into a pool of indeterminate depth.

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Lucky for us, Aarfabithore did some depth-testing for us, complete with beer in hand.

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This was a different world to the one we’d just come from.

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But with high and steep walls, the bottom of the canyon here rarely saw the sun and it was appreciable cooler than outside.

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It was certainly more sporting.

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And then the roof closed over to form a cave.

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Usually you can sneak through using a kind of tunnel at water level to the right but it wasn’t working this time so we had no option but to go up and over the rock pile.

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There were a series of willing helpers for this process.

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There was a delicate descent on the far side…

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And then a final pool through a cave.

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And we were done.

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Then it was just a short matter of walking back to the cars.

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Then returning to the villas at the Hatta Fort Hotel, which are sufficiently far from the rest of the resort to allow for the usual shenanigans.

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We had a quick circle where infringements actual and imagined were punished.

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And this included the awarding of the Sandpit Hash Sh!t, a barbecue which was transmogrified at Sandpit#13 when one of our hashers fell on it after an evening of dining not wisely but too well.

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And who else could it possibly go to other than Jaws, who’d managed to lose his car key in the pools, including the Emirates ID card which would normally be crucial for crossing back into the UAE…

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Then it was time for a night of conviviality, leading to the usual casualties.

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Sandpit#16

BREAKING: There will be a sauna version of the Sandpit in August, in the beautiful winery country of Al Gharbia.

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Stay tuned for details but we’ll stay in the Mirfa Hotel, which is dirt cheap at this time of year.

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