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Hash House Harrier Trail Manual, 2011 Edition

Chapter 1
The Art of the Trail

Sometimes it seems a little presumptuous to presume that a physical activity could be an art, but to a hasher, the design and deployment of a successful Hare and Hounds trail is like the completion of a masterpiece. It is a work beheld and appreciated by the pack, who are more demanding than any art critics you will ever meet. Of course, you will never please all the hashers, but on rare occasions you can obtain, in the circle, an overwhelming consensus of a job well done. That is what makes the scouting, practice and hard work worth the effort.

Tastes vary widely in trail design and features and I am the last person to try and understand it, even when I am successful. Sometimes you tend to be your own worst critic. Even after a well received trail, I tend to think of areas that could have been done better.

In my hash tradition there is a zero to four beer award for trails given from best to worst appropriately. On the vary rare occasion that I have received a zero beer award, it has usually come as a surprise. But even more important, there are times when I thought I had laid the perfect trail only to get a beer or three due to the capricious nature of the pack. The pack can be somewhat of a guide as to your success, but don't always depend on your hashing peers for an objective view.

Every Hash House Harriers group should have a Trailmaster. In smaller hashes, this is usually the Hash Master (HM) or Joint Hash Master (JM) (although some hashes only have a Grand Master, due to size or differing terminology in the local tradition). The larger hashes have a person dedicated to the development and training of hares, as well as keeping the Hareline (or scheduled runs with hares) full. This Trailmaster (sometimes called Hare Raiser) should be one of the more experienced hares in the group, have an ability to teach others (with some amount of tact) and keep the most important aspect of the hash healthy and well-scheduled - the trails.

I know, any hasher will humorously state that beer is the most important aspect of a Hash House Harriers, but this is simply not true. Trail does not make a hash and may be viewed as a means of getting to the beer by many of us, however, without the trail, you are simply a drinking club - not a Hash House Harriers. I think a lot of hashers seem to have lost sight of this, judging from their poor trails, pub crawls without any defined trail and the clamor from the fat and lazy at interhashes: "Never leave camp!" You only want to party? Join a fraternity. Hashers are first and foremost sportsmen (or sportspersons so as not to offend the harriettes). The first hash and everyone thereafter were formed to chase the paper or follow the trail. The drinking, singing and other social activity were simply what set us apart from other Hare and Hounds groups - we like to relax after our trails and enjoy ourselves.

All that said, this work is for those who take seriously the main point of the sport - the laying of the trail and in most cases the chasing of the hare. As hares, we take great pride in our efforts to thwart the pack, deceiving them within the boundaries of our local tradition, yet laying a well-defined and easily followed trail. It is a tough balancing act and one that takes a lot of effort and time to perfect. As Trailmasters, we get great satisfaction out of seeing well-done trails set by our students.

A well set hash trail is a work of art - held in highest esteem by our peers and a source of great pride. It is hoped that this humble work will give you ideas on how to improve your own art - from marking ideas to strategy suggestions to the other bits of experience passed on here. May your trails always bring the pack into the beer and may you always keep alive that excitement from your first haring to your next.

Cheers and On On
Stray Dog



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