I know it’s been a while since the hash trash has been written. There hasn’t been much to talk about. Until now. Pull up a chair. This one is worth a read.
Normally when I hare, I set the agenda. I like teaching the new kids how to hare, show them the ropes. I like to map trail, scout it, plan it out, stay organized. It’s work. Rarely do I get the chance to sit back, just show up, and run around throwing flour on some else’s trail. So I see Timmy is signed up to hare all by his lonesome. I’m thinking, he’s nothing if not experienced. He’s gotta have his shit together, right? I’ll co-hare with him. It’ll be a good idea, right?
Timmy will be the top. I’ll be the bottom. I just gotta show up. It’ll be easy.
Commitments kept me from scouting the trail until the Tuesday before, but hey, not my problem. Timmy is going to scout around in the woods above campus. Not an area I know, but I figure it’s a good time to learn. I show up at TImmy’s house 10 minutes late feeling quite confident that all will be taken care of. He’s got a print out of a google map with trail marked out. And another copy for me. Clipboard. Pens. Everything is just reinforcing my preconceived idea that Timmy has his shit together.
Quick aside: I just saw this documentary on Netflix about the Flat Earthers. They believe the world is flat, and whatever new information or evidence comes their way, they just hammer it into their crazy framework. They remain confident and secure knowing they are right. Contrary evidence can be blithely swatted out of the way, batted down, and ignored Denied. Belief overcoming knowledge. And I believed Timmy has his shit together.
Driving up to upper campus, I ask Timmy how many times he’s run trail.
“Three times. But just in parts. I haven’t run the whole thing yet.”
He shows me where the split will be where I will run off and he’ll go the other way. “Maybe let’s just stick together for now?” I say timidly. I’m really unfamiliar with this part of campus.
The sun is shining. The air is crisp and warm. It’s a beautiful day in the redwoods. A reminder why Santa Cruz is amazing. Timmy is silent. Timmy has stopped. Looking around. Not in a “soaking in the majesty of nature” way. More puzzled than that.
“We made a wrong turn.” he says. No matter. It’s a nice day. A walk in the woods.
“This is really fucked up” he says.
“We can’t be here.” he says.
“Where are we? This can’t be right. Where are we?” he says.
I suggest we backtrack. “No, I have no time. Let’s go. Take the road back to the parking lot. I’ll scout trail tomorrow.” Timmy quips. I notice some cracks in the facade of this well-groomed trail. Wait…is there a facade on this well-groomed trail? Wait…I haven’t run trail yet. There is no trail.
Timmy drives back to his house in silence, his gaze fixed on something beyond the horizon. I bounce along in the passenger seat of his pick-up. I’m not sure if I should ask a question to give myself faith this is an aberration, or keep silent to let the few remaining shreds of faith in Timmy hang precariously.
“I don’t know where trail is supposed to be.” I say plainly.
“Thursday.” Timmy is formulating a plan. An evolving plan. “Thursday. Can you show up early. Maybe 3:30? We’ll run it Thursday.” Timmy’s tone does not instill faith.
I don’t know where trail is going. But sure. Thursday. I agree.
The next day is Wednesday.
I get a text from Timmy. “Got trail all set today, good to go.” I’m not sure I believe it. But moving on.
I blow past the 3:30 arrival, show up closer to 4. I stopped at Trader Joe’s to pick up snacks for the pack, so I don’t feel bad for being late. Timmy has the car packed and ready to go.
It is a good omen.
We drive up to campus. “So Timmy, how many times have you run trail now?”
“Ohh…” He pauses thoughtfully. “Six or seven times.” Seems like enough, right?
We take off for the run a bit after 4 PM. Plenty of time for a one hour trail run, drop off the BN cooler, and wait down in parking lot before 6 PM.
We run past the spot where I will split up from Timmy to lay a quick YBF. Down the hill, to the side, you can’t get lost. I’ll dot it later. I keep with TImmy.
He points out some flour. “I dropped just little patches of flour on the turns yesterday at the turns so we can find them later. We can fill them in with big patches when we run live.”
Sounds like good plan. This time. Finally. The familiar parts of the trail go by quickly. We drop the LC, bury it carefully to keep the mountain bikers away, and proceed down past a cool little structure that is set up like a shinto shrine with a few icons hanging down.
“Fun little feature, we should draw people’s attention to it.” I suggest quite proud of my contribution to trail.
Timmy says he never noticed it before. It’s huge and prominent, and completely escaped Timmy’s attention. But he moves on like it’s no big deal. We pass some Christmas decorations in the trees. Timmy says he never noticed it before. But he moves on like it’s no big deal.
We get to the next fork in the trail. TImmy looks left. Timmy looks right. Timmy looks left. Timmy looks right. Timmy looks left.
No flour patches.
“No, this is wrong, we missed a turn.” TImmy announces unnecessarily.
“We can’t be lost. This shit is really fucked up. This is really fucked.” Timmy mutters as I nod in agreement.
We start backtracking to the liquor check, stepping off the trail to let two shakey novice mountain bikers pass.
Hitting the liquor check, we retrace our path a bit then take the next left. I’m not sure the liquor check is even on the trail. We go about one hundred yards when Timmy gets an idea.
“You wait here, I’ll go on ahead.”
Ok. I stand there. Timmy goes on ahead. I remain just standing in the woods. Alone. Standing in the forest.
I go through my pack to get my phone. I downloaded the topographic maps to my hiking app to find out where we are. I discover I left my cell phone in Timmy’s truck. And I’m just standing in the woods. Alone.
Ignoring Timmy’s advice to stay in one place, I take off running down the trail. I make a big loop, passing the same two mountain bikers, somewhat less shaky on their bikes. I don’t know where trail is. I don’t know where Timmy is. I don’t know where I am. I guess at a turn, I run, I guess at a turn. I run. I run past the shinto shrine.
“Timmy!” I yell. Nothing.
“Timmy” I yell. “Courtesy Flush!” I get a response. I run in that direction. I’m breathing hard trying to run quickly to catch up. My legs are pushing as fast as they can through the rough trail, occasionally stumbling, but pushing more. Panting hard. I finally come across Timmy.
“I found trail!” He looks at me, grinning. He has a funny look on his face that prompts me look around for whatever the joke is. A glance of my surrounding yields no clues, then my eyes return to TImmy and I scanned him up and down. His forearm is hanging awkwardly as a trickle of blood ran down from his elbow to his wrist, the skin torn up in several spots indicating more of a skid than just a single point of contact with the earth/rocks/trees or whatever. I stood silently waiting for him to acknowledge that he was, in fact, bleeding now, but was not when I first left him.
“So, I found trail, let’s go!” He takes off at his TImmy pace, in the same direction we’ve already been, passing the shinto shrine again. I imagine he’s leaving drops of blood that will be tracked by investigators at some point.
“Timmy, if we get lost again, I think the Blair Witch will be summoned and start taking our teeth.” I joke, realizing there is a greater probability that we will see the Blair Witch than we will complete the trail without getting lost again.
Passing the spot he was previously lost, with more certainty this time, we come across the same mountain bikers again. I secretly hope they are lost too. I take notice that they are not bleeding like TImmy.
“Here it is, the Turkey Eagle split!” It’s now after 5pm, over an hour into the hour long trail and we are just shy of the half-way point.
Timmy points out a few patches of flour as we make way down the trail. Running late, but back on track, and we come to the road.
Timmy stops. He looks behind him.
“I’m guessing we are lost.” I say astutely.
“We missed a turn.” Timmy says. I am aware that missing turns is what causes us to get lost.
Backtracking, we find the turn we missed. We hustle along the trail, reach the far end of the Eagle trail, the half way point. It’s 5:30. Timmy is the beer-meister and needs to be at the trough start at 6:00. It has taken an hour and a half to go halfway down the trail. And I have very little faith we can do the rest of the trail without getting lost.
Miraculously, we do not get lost, even taking a shortcut back to the car bypassing the Turkey trail. We haul a cooler for Beer Near into a grove and hide it. We bring the trough into the trough start at 6:15 like nothing ever happened. A few of the early hashers run over and grab their beers, blissfully unaware that we spent more than two hours without laying a trail that we are about to attempt laying within an hour.
“Hey Timmy are you bleeding?” a particularly observant half-mind asks.
Timmy lifts up his elbow, for the first time acknowledging the obvious, grabs a napkin to wipe down his arm to make it somewhat more presentable.
Timmy gives trail instruction to the assembled pack without hinting that we’ve spent more time on trail lost than actually knowing where we.
“Please charge your phone” I say waving a battery pack to the crowd. “Please download the offline google maps, there is no reception.” I beseech the assembled mass of hashers who still have the misplaced faith that the hares can lay a trail to bring them safely out of the forest.
We head with our bags of flour to lay a trail we have not done yet sucessfully, Timmy and I split up for me to leave the initial YBF onto portion of the trail I have not yet seen. I bound down the trail and come to a split, that I did not expect. Shit. Left probably. Meeting back up with Timmy, I leave extraordinary amounts of flour at every turn. On the Eagle split, I consult with the maps on my phone three different time to make sure I am not leading the pack astray. I run short on flour as I arrange sticks scavenged from the forest floor into arrows. At Turkey-Eagle rejoin, I have the opportunity to shortcut, but instead I make a giant wooden arrow just to make sure the pack does not get lost. Of course, the Eagles catch me while I’m working.
Bounding off down the trail, I run into the middle of the Turkey pack at a check. They ask me which way trial go.
“I have no fucking clue which way trail goes. I have no fucking clue if Timmy is lost. I have no fucking clue where the pack is. I have no fucking clue how many hashers are lost in woods. I have no fucking clue how many organs the police are going to find in the trees when the Blair Witch devours them.”
None of the turkeys are listening to me. Someone calls “on-on”, and I take off jogging in the middle of the pack I’m supposed to be leading.
At liquor check at the barrels, I wait for the DFLs, assuming at a minimum I’ll be able to hear their screams as the Blair Witch devours their souls. up
Finally heading back in with the last of the walkers, we stagger into the grove where Beer Near is. Timmy hands me beer.
“Anyone lost?” I ask not really wanting to know the answer.
“Everyone is here except Puff. He’ll be in whenever.” Timmy grins. “We finally got the trail right. See, I told you everything was gonna work out just fine.”