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Niche Hashing

A couple of years ago, in answer to an interview question, I speculated that the future of hashing would include the growth of smaller, specialty hashes. Most major population centers now have thriving hash kennels, and as these kennels grow and mature, many are producing smaller hashes with different ways of doing things.

As I write, there are currently five distinct hash kennels serving the 100 or so active hashers who live in and around Tucson, Arizona, USA. The main group is the jHavelina HHH, a mixed adult hash running live hare trails on Saturday afternoons year round. Down-downs are long and rambunctious, as are On-Afters. As American hashes go, the jHavelinas would be considered mainstream.

Then there’s the Mr. Happy’s Arizona Larrikins HHH, a pickup hash running on Wednesday evenings. In addition to running impromptu, pickup trails, this hash draws a younger crowd and the emphasis is on partying.

A little over two years ago I started a “traditional” hash modeled after Mother – a monthly men-only hash where the hares take responsibility for everything, including the bucket. There are no hash names, no organized down-downs, and very few rules . . . it’s meant to be a good night out with the mates.

Of course the harriettes immediately started a monthly wymyn-only hash, but theirs is different: they collect money from participants and supply champagne and chocolates at down-downs.

And most recently we started a once-a-month family-friendly hash, the Pima Independent Sunday Social HHH. It’s a no-fee BYOB hash, with hares laying live or dead trails as they desire. This hash is, intentionally, a conservative alternative to the louder Saturday hash.

Five distinct hash groups in one town, each with it’s own style and philosophy. Do 100 hashers need that many choices? To me, the question is not whether they need so many choices, but why those hashers created so many choices in the first place. I think that when a hash attains a certain mass, splinter groups form naturally, primarily to get the numbers back down. Sometimes hashers start new kennels because they dislike some aspects (or some personalities) of the older hash. These days a lot of hashers travel, and they bring back great ideas from other groups they’ve hashed with . . . and when they encounter resistance to change in their home hash, they start niche hashes to try out the new ideas. Some niche hashes will last and some will not, but hashers will continue to create them.

Hashing is a pretty big tent. If you’ve been itching to try something new in your area, why not try starting up a niche hash to see how many other hashers like your new idea? How about a hash that incorporates GPS navigation on trail? There’s a niche idea that’s begging to be tried, and screw the traditionalists who say it’s not hashing! I hope to write more on this subject soon, and I’d like to hear your ideas and experiences on the subject of niche hashing.

Well, that didn’t take long. Here’s an e-mail from “SW”:

I just read the February hash. Lo and behold you mentioned GPS hashing. We had just that thing this past weekend. It started like a traditional hash with flour trail, but at some point there was a GPS Check with the coordinates to go to for the next location which turned out to be a beer near. According to the coordinates the point was 1.1 miles as the crow flies. Unfortunately I’m not a crow. As the most experienced hasher with GPS (It’s a small part of my day job at NASA) I ran pretty much straight line to include numerous encounters with briar and all other types of shiggy. My legs were the bloodiest they’ve been in a few years. The ensuing pack was more intent on finding paths and trails in the area that seemed to head (here we say cranium) in the same general direction. After the BN we followed flour trail for a while until encountering another GPS coordinate. That lead us to the On In. ‘Twas different and would have been more fun with a bigger pack and more than two GPS units. But all-in-all it was a new and different experience.

- Flying Booger

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