This manual1 provides basic guidelines for setting a successful trail for the Baltimore-Annapolis Hash House Harriers (BAH3). It is intended to clarify what is expected of a BAH3 hare, and to offer guidance about some of the logistics involved. It is not intended to teach you the concepts and strategies involved in first planning and then setting (“giving birth to,” as one veteran hare has been known to say) a good trail.
We hope this manual will help you to spend less time sweating the details, and more time developing your skills as a hare. Haring involves a lot of planning and hard work if you want to do it well, but it’s also a very satisfying experience which will definitely give you a better understanding of what hashing is all about. And it’s also a lot of fun!
If you have any questions about this manual or about haring in general, finding a co-hare, particular issues relating to your trail, or if you’d like some help of any kind with your trail, the Hare Raiser and other members of MisManagement are ALWAYS available to assist you. Please do not hesitate to contact them at any time.
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VIRGIN/INEXPERIENCED HARES: For your first trail as lead hare, we strongly recommend you find an experienced hare to co-hare with you. Less experienced hares are also encouraged to find a co-hare to help them. An experienced co-hare can advise you with regard to trail layout, food/beer, hash logistics, and can help you avoid some of the common missteps that can totally screw up an otherwise great trail. If you don’t know who to ask, ask the Hare Raiser to help you find a co-hare.
BAH3 TRAILS: BAH3 trails are typically 4-6 miles long, and should take the pack about 60 to 90 minutes to complete. We hash in the Land of Pleasant Shiggy, so trails consisting almost exclusively of pavement generally do not get rave reviews. The occasional city hash is the exception. We prefer to run mostly off-road on trails (park, 4 wheeler, deer, etc.), which are usually more interesting than pavement, and easier on the body as well. We like shiggy – flesh-ripping briars, shoe-sucking mud, water crossings, swamps and such – year-round. In reasonable amounts. Five miles of nothing but bushwhacking or slogging through swamps is not reasonable. And most of us like a trail with a beer check.
CHOOSING A ROUTE: A good place to begin is to look for parks or other large tracts of public land, preferably somewhere where we haven’t been in a while. Try looking for green areas on Google Maps. Google Maps also lets you look at an area’s topography if you choose “Terrain” from the menu. Think about what has made past trails interesting and enjoyable for you, and try to incorporate some of those things into your trail. Varied terrain, scenic vistas, interesting ruins/relics/wrecks, gloomy pine forests, storm drains, water crossings, etc.; be creative. Make sure the area where you plan to set your trail is large enough to allow for a 4-6 mile trail without doubling back on itself, which risks the pack short cutting a large part of your trail. You may find that you will need a larger area than you think.
NOTE: DO NOT SET TRAIL ON PRIVATE PROPERTY WITHOUT THE EXPRESS PERMISSION OF THE LANDOWNER.
Then you need to do your homework – there is simply no substitute for scouting your trail and the surrounding area thoroughly by foot. That means not just going over your planned route several times, but also finding out where the other forks take you, where the other trails go, or what’s over that next hill. Not only will you avoid setting a check that inadvertently invites the pack to find a major short cut around the best part of your trail, but you’re almost certain to stumble onto some interesting surprises that you’ll want to incorporate into your trail.
WALKERS: BAH3 has a number of regular walkers, and others who walk on occasion due to injury, hangover, laziness or other considerations. There should be a walkers’ trail, shorter and less difficult than the runners’ trail, for every hash. Ideally the walkers and the runners should arrive at the On In at the same time. Your options include setting a separate walkers’ trail, telling the walkers after the runners have departed how and where to shortcut the runners’ trail, transporting the walkers to an intermediate starting point somewhere along the runners’ trail, or some combination of the above. Just remember that the walkers are hashers too, and a good walkers’ trail includes checks, some shiggy and, if the runners have one, a beer check.
START, FINISH AND BEER CHECK: The start location should allow for enough parking for the pack to park safely and legally. Some of us are punctuality challenged, so if you will be leaving the start after the pack departs, leave a hare’s arrow near start circle directing latecomers to the beginning of your trail.
The hare is also responsible for manning/stocking the beer check(s), if any, which should be located discreetly in order to reduce the risk of attracting unwanted attention. Before leaving the beer check, please leave a hare’s arrow directing stragglers or late starters to the continuation of your trail.
The finish (On In) should also be somewhere discreet – out of sight, and preferably out of earshot, of the police and the non-hashing public, so that we can drink our beer, change clothes, and conduct the circle unmolested. Parks should usually be avoided as On In locations unless an appropriate alcohol permit has been obtained in advance. Everyone should drink beer out of cups, rather than bottles or cans, at all times.
TYPE OF TRAIL: The most common type of trail, and logistically the simplest for you as a hare, is an “A to A”, meaning it starts and ends at the same place. If you set an A to B trail (which ends some distance from the start), you are responsible for providing the bag vehicle(s) to transport the pack’s dry bags to the end, for making sure the bags are secure while you man your beer check, and for arranging transportation for the pack back to the start. The latter is typically accomplished by shuttling several vehicles back and forth until everyone has gotten back to their cars.
D’ERECTIONS AND TRAIL NOTES: Trail Notes including D’erections to the start should be emailed to the Hare Raiser and the Web Mucker by noon on the Wednesday before your hash. D’erections should also include the type of trail (A to A, etc.), friendlies (walker, dog, stroller), and any special trail notes. You can find the email template here.
SAFETY: This is very important, and dead serious. Hashing is supposed to be fun, not a life-threatening experience. The hare is responsible for taking reasonable measures to protect the safety of the pack while on trail. That means clearly marking or otherwise warning the pack of such hazards as barbed wire in the woods, dangerous debris, jagged metal or other hazards in creek beds or tunnels, especially if it’s not clearly visible. That means shortening or changing your trail on the day of your hash if a stream has risen to a level which cannot be crossed safely by the smallest members of the pack. The crossing of major roadways and high speed railroad tracks is discouraged. If you can’t avoid crossing a major road, do it at a light. Poison ivy (PI) is everywhere in the Land of Pleasant Shiggy and, while not life-threatening, it is something to be aware of as you plan your trail. Your fellow hashers will not appreciate a trail which forces them to fight through head-high thickets of PI.
It’s impossible to list all of the potential hazards out there; the important thing is to be on the lookout for them as you scout and set your trail, and then use your common sense to minimize their danger.
The hare is also responsible for ensuring that all starters make it to the On In or are otherwise accounted for. A sweep of the trail should be organized for anyone unaccounted for after a reasonable period of time.
SETTING YOUR TRAIL: This section addresses the basic mechanics of setting your trail. You should pre-set your trail so that it is ready to be run by 3:00 p.m. on your Sunday. You will need to buy enough flour, tempera paint or another substance to color it if necessary, chalk (for marking on pavement), and toilet paper (for marking in woods or high grass) on the day before. Depending upon the length of your trail, how much pavement you mark with chalk rather than with flour, and the amount and kind of shiggy on trail, (dense shiggy dictates that marks be larger and spaced more closely together in order to be seen), plan on using about 10 – 15 lbs of flour to set your trail. It’s always better to have flour left over for our next trail than to run out at 2:15 on Sunday in the middle of nowhere.
We strongly recommend that you use colored flour (or chalk on pavement) when setting your trail in public areas, especially in residential neighborhoods and heavily used portions of parks, shopping centers, etc. Powdered tempera paint (which often comes in 16 oz. plastic bottles) works well, can be found in many art supply stores, washes out (most of the time) and is non-toxic. Surveyors chalk found in hardware stores is toxic and it stains, so it is not recommended. And remember, you want your colored flour to continue to be highly visible to the pack. Yellow probably works best under most conditions except in the snow, while many wankers have complained that red can be difficult to see, particularly in the woods. Some less brilliant oranges look brown in low light conditions and are also hard to see in the woods. Whichever color you select, be sure to mix enough paint into your flour so that it is obviously not white. All it takes is for one Chicken Little to call in an anthrax, cocaine (yes, it’s happened) or other HazMat scare to ruin everybody’s day.
While most BAH3 trails are set with flour and/or chalk, some conditions may call for other types of marks. Pieces of toilet paper twisted around weed stalks or scrub branches are visible in open fields of dense grass into which a handful of flour disappears without a trace. And TP holds up surprisingly well in the rain, while flour on the open ground is being washed away. Brightly colored surveyor’s tape is another alternative.
Give yourself plenty of time to set your trail. Setting false trails and back checks, forgetting how many marks you’ve laid since the target of the back check you’re just about to set and having to go back and count them again, getting lost – all of that takes time. Allow yourself at least four (4) hours to set your trail until you’ve hared often enough to become comfortable with it.
At least one hare should be present before the start of the hash to give the “chalk talk” demonstrating and explaining the marks which you’ve used to set your trail. Your chalk talk should also inform the pack about any hazards, dangerous conditions or other things – such as parts of the trail set with alternative trail markings as discussed above – to be alert for while on trail.
BEER, WATER, SNACKS: The hare is responsible for providing the beer for the beer check, if there is one, and beer and snacks (“orange food”) for the On In and the circle afterward. A good rule of thumb is to get one (1) case of beer for approximately every ten (10) attendees, which for typical turnout in 2015 means three (3) to four (4) cases total – maybe one (1) case of Yuengling Lager (a safe choice – cheap and most of us will drink it) and at least 1 or 2 different types of tasty (read non-lite) beer for the remaining cases – PLUS a 12 pack of Natty Boh for down downs. You should bring a few ciders for both the beer check and the end circle for the gluten intolerant. In addition, you should have water and some non-alcoholic drinks at the On In, especially in hot weather. Water should be available at the beer check as well. You should also provide several large bags of various snacks – pretzels, cheese doodles, corn and/or potato chips, cookies, etc. for the On In.
CUPS, ETC.: The hare must provide enough cups for everyone to drink out of and, most importantly, for down downs. With no beer check or one that’s well hidden, 50 cups will usually do; if cups are needed at the beer check, think 75 to be safe. You should also bring trash bags to clean up after your beer check and the On In. Always sweep the area and make sure that no trash is left behind.
HASH CASH: The hare does not pay hash cash, and gets $5 out of each $6 payment of hash cash collected on that day as reimbursement for his/her outlays for beer, snacks, etc. The remaining dollar is kept by BAH3 for kennel expenses. If you get more hash cash than you spent, it’s customary to buy beer and/or food for the pack at the On After with the excess. On the other hand, while the intent is that haring shouldn’t cost you any money out of pocket, occasionally the hash cash received may not be enough to cover the hare’s outlays. On those occasions, the hash thanks you for your generosity. Keep this in mind when deciding what kind of beer to buy, etc. It’s also not uncommon for hares to occasionally spend a few of their own dollars for a little something extra for everyone, but that’s strictly voluntary and is not expected of any hare.
THE ON AFTER: It is up to the hare to select a suitable nearby location for the On After, preferably within a few minutes’ drive. We tend to gravitate toward a certain type of dive serving some imports/micros and decent food at reasonable prices. Beer by the pitcher is usually cheaper and is therefore appreciated. If the beer selection is limited to Bud, Coors Light and Miller Lite, or the food is barely edible, try to find someplace else. You should go to your intended On After beforehand to check out the food, and talk to a manager about bringing 20- 25 people in early on a Sunday evening, in order to (a) make sure that they’ll have enough space and staff that day, especially kitchen staff, to handle us; and (b) try to negotiate some beer and food specials. Sunday evening is usually a slow night for most bars, except during football season, and many will agree to give you some specials for bringing in a group at that time. And you won’t end up leading us in there after a great trail only to discover that the local over-60 bowling league has reserved 3/4 of the place for their awards night that evening. Of course, if you want to invite us into your home instead, that’ll work too. As long as you’ve got enough beer.
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Now that you know what to do, email the Hare Raiser and reserve a date for your trail!
1Portions shamelessly stolen from hare manuals posted by other kennels. Last updated October 2015.