Every hash has wallflowers: harriers and harriettes who show up every week but never ever hare. You can beg, plead, and threaten, but they always have an excuse.
I suspect that when you get right down to it, your really determined wallflower is afraid to hare. Afraid of doing something for the first time, afraid of being criticized for messing up the trail, afraid of being compared with better hares — and in a live hare hash, afraid of getting caught!
I’ve hared so many times I can’t begin to remember all the trails I’ve laid, but I’m still nervous every time I do it. I have nightmares the evening before, and once I start laying trail, for the first mile I can’t make up my mind whether I’m having an asthma attack or hyperventilating. I suspect most hares experience some sort of pre-trail anxiety. It comes with the territory, and it’s part of the thrill of haring.
Haring is a thrill, after all, and uniquely rewarding. It really is a kick to plan a trail, especially if you’ve discovered some unexplored, challenging terrain to spice it up. And there are so many possibilities — long straight A to Bs, eagle/turkey splits, uphill detours begging to be BTs, circular trails that can either be A to As, A to almost-As, even A to Bs. Trust me, few things in life come up to the level of fun you’ll get from finishing your trail, then running back to a vantage point where you can watch the pack finding their way on-in — except, perhaps, for the pleasure of knowing you finished your trail without getting caught! Yes, it’s rewarding. It adds a new dimension to your enjoyment of hashing, and once you’ve tried it, you’ll want to do it again.
For the benefit of experienced hares who want to learn more about the art, for novice hares, and especially for hashers who would sign up to hare if they didn’t find the whole deal so intimidating, here are some tips and techniques I’ve developed over the years:
Live Hare Trails
Find an experienced co-hare to help you lay your first trail, and listen to his or her advice. This really is the best way to learn — it’ll also give you added confidence, and you can be sure your co-hare will help you plan your trail to minimize the chance of getting caught. Here are some live hare techniques tailored to your own prowess as a runner:
Front Running Bastard. Shit, just go for it. You probably don’t even need a co-hare. All you have to worry about is using up your head start with checks, loops, and bad trails, so be sure to wear a stopwatch and remember to hack it when you take off. Plan a fairly straight A to B and you’re in there. If you can’t carry enough flour to lay the entire trail, you may want to go out ahead of time and stash an extra bag somewhere on trail.
Head of the Pack Runner. Go out one or two hours early and pre-lay your longer bad trails and loops. This will allow you (and your co-hare, if you have one) to take maximum advantage of your head start, live haring just the basic trail from start to finish. Be very careful if you’re laying a circular trail, though — short-cutters might head out backwards and catch you on your way in! Laying an A to B trail is the best way to avoid getting caught.
Middle of the Pack Runner. Recruit a good runner as co-hare, and have him or her run the complete trail, laying the middle portion. You lay the first part, then detour off trail to a place where you can pick up and lay the end. Alternately, have your co-hare lay the first two-thirds of the trail while you run straight to a point where you can pick up the last third. Both of these techniques require a circular trail, though not necessarily an A to A.
Back of the Pack Runner. Pre-lay half your trail, the middle part. Live hare the first quarter, hide until the pack passes, then detour straight to a point where you can pick up and lay the last quarter. Once again, you’ll need a circular trail for this to work.
Fat Boy. Pre-lay nine-tenths of your trail. Run the first tenth, then hop in the car you stashed ahead of time (don’t forget your keys!) and drive to the end (being sure to park the car out of sight). Trail type no longer matters — you can set it straight or you can set it circular. You can set a fucking rhomboid if you want.
Keep Up the Pretense. No matter which technique you use, keep the details to yourself and your co-hares. As far as the pack is concerned, you hared the entire trail live!
A Sobering Thought. You know what’s really depressing? The above is pretty much a description of my downhill progress at haring over the years!
Regardless of Running Ability. Start planning trail at least a couple of weeks before the event. Pick the area you want to run in, then select start and finish locations. Many hares pick the finish location first and start their planning from there. There are many considerations in picking start and finish locations — parking, shade, places for boys and girls to pee, and a reasonable amount of isolation from civilians so you can sing and drink afterwards. Plan the route from start to finish. Begin with map study, then walk the route. Look for animal or kid trails — they’ll lead you to the secret spots where chain link fences have been cut, the best places to cross streams, the best routes up and down cliffs, etc. Pick the best places for checks, and make your BTs convincing. Your trail should keep the FRBs busy solving checks, allowing the pack to catch up. Live run or walk your trail at least once, timing yourself. You should be able to run the basic trail (run the trail itself without taking bad trails or loops, that is) in 30 to 45 minutes, or walk it in 45 minutes to an hour. Don’t worry that it’s too short — with your checks, bad trails, and loops, the pack will be out for an hour or slightly longer.
Dead Hare Trails
At first glance, dead haring appears easier than live haring, but that’s not necessarily the case. I still recommend working with an experienced co-hare at first. Quite often, novice dead hares lay overly complicated, way-too-long trails, simply because without the worry of getting caught, they can. Here are some thoughts on dead hare trails:
Plan Ahead. Live or dead, the basics are the same: you need to plan ahead, putting some thought into start and finish locations as well as the route. You still want to lay a trail that will keep the pack together, slowing down the FRBs and allowing the slower runners an opportunity to catch up. Overall length should be the same as a live trail; it shouldn’t take you much more than an hour to walk your basic trail from start to finish.
Vive la Difference. The difference between live and dead haring is that you have time to lay a more complex trail, with no pressure to hurry — just don’t get carried away! Your only real-time constraint is how early you can pre-lay and still expect your trail to be there when the pack runs it. A rainstorm between your pre-lay and the start of the hash can undo all your hard work; so can an anal property owner with a broom or garden hose. My point? Don’t pre-lay trail too early — one to two hours before the start is about the right time to set out with your bag of flour.
Deus ex Machina. It’s easier to take advantage of public transportation when you dead hare. You can time the start so that the pack, after running the first half-mile, for example, will arrive at a bus or subway stop in time to catch a ride to another part of town, where trail will resume. Elevators and ferry boats are always a nice touch. Be inventive. Just be sure that if you try this, you do it early enough on trail so that the pack is still together and no one gets left behind. By the way, it’s up to you, the hare, to figure out how to pay for special items like this.
Boldly Go Where No Hare Has Gone Before. A live hare, running, is more likely to be challenged and turned away from certain venues than a dead hare, discreetly walking, looking innocent. What sort of venue? Oh, say, a fancy mall, tony stores inside the mall, hotel pool areas, casinos, train stations, private beaches, gated neighborhoods, outdoor wedding ceremonies — you can certainly set the pack up for some high profile encounters! Obviously, a little of this can go a long way, and personally, I always think twice about laying trail through areas where the pack is likely to get busted for trespassing — then I go ahead and do it anyway!
Sweep Your Trail. As a dead hare, you should plan to run or walk behind the pack, looking for DOTs and helping them get back on trail.
Other Hare Responsibilities
In most hashes, live or dead hare, the hares sweep trail when hashers are overdue, finding DOTs and bringing them on-in. On hot days, hares should provide for water or beer stops along the trail. In hashes without a biermeister, the hares are usually responsible for bringing the beer. In some hashes, the hares are expected to find a suitable on-after restaurant or pub, while in other hashes, the hares bring and cook food for on-afters. But uppermost and always, the hares are responsible for laying a challenging, entertaining trail, the heart of every hash.
As I said, I get excited about haring, and I hope what I’ve written will help get you excited too. You really haven’t experienced the full thrill of hashing until you’ve hared. Wallflowers, get with it — find an experienced co-hare and sign up now!
Back to Chalk Talk