Setting a ballbreaker isn’t easy – it takes a LOT of work, both in scouting and in managing logistics – it takes a deal of work to pull it off, and the hares pulled it off, so great job! I had 17.3km in around 3 hours, including 470m elevation gain. By the end I was happy to finish and have a beer.
The A-site was the Country Cabin near Doi Saket – a great little restaurant that I’ve many times sat reading a book and passing the afternoon away. We showed up, and waited for the rest to appear, listening attentively for any hints the hares might inadvertently give away. And boy were there hares!!! Alice, Blows Herself, Mr. Poo, Foxy Cleopatra, Burritto Butt, perhaps even Strangely Anal? How many cooks does it take to perfect the broth?
I know this area – it’s my backyard – I’d even made a prediction about which hill it would be – I was wrong… But when the songthaew dropped us off, I had a pretty good idea, and my heart sank just a little. We started off not far from Wangtarn Resort, heading towards the high mountains. Suckit must be close to 60 now, but I remember around his 50th we did a 50k from Wangtarn resort, and BF, GI and I pieced together a bit of a connection there. I was holding back trying to stick with my philosophy of staying with the front of the pack while putting in the minimal effort.
The trail came out onto the tarmac road, and for some insane reason hashers seemed to scatter down the hill? Angry Inch lead the way up the road, and I followed gingerly. Please not this hill, please not again, the nightmares are still coming… Sure enough Angry called ONON, and the ascent was on. We past the abandoned house where the Ballbreaker started 5 years ago, and from here the ascent is quite brutal. Gorf skipped by as though he hadn’t realised he was setting off on a Ball Breaker, under the impression he was just on a 5k park run. A V-Check, and for me turning left was a 0% chance – it might look tempting, but a sharp pain to my ribs reminds me of a fall I took in that dark gully. Memories were leading me up this hill – unlike most of the rest of the pack, I knew the torture of the climb, and I could also predict where the hare would let us free.
Gorf jogged up next to me like a freak of nature. Does he not appreciate that we are going up? A circle… Strange place for it, I only know one option to keep going. Gorf must have gone 98yards before giving up and dancing back. I could have encouraged him to check somewhere else, but I didn’t have the energy, so we carried on to the inevitable paper. Up to a little ridge, with a great view. The hares had even placed the paper to lead us to enjoy the view before heading back to the left of a hill. So far we were on the trail I’d set 5 years back with Shagless – I’d spent nearly 300km and many many hours all over this mountain. I was confident I knew every possibility, but the trail carried on following the way Shagless and I had set. Finally Gorf came running back and normalcy returned as we headed back down the hill – perhaps even more slowly that we’d gone up it.
I knew this trail was there, but for a bit I was on new ground, and while the descent was dodgy, when we hit the bottom there was a good check, and then some great running trails. A few more checks would have perhaps let the rest of the pack stay close, but there was a good pack of FRBs turning over the lead at the front. I was doing a good job of staying amongst them with little effort – such as when GI and I called a clear false trail off to the left, and got a head start along the main trail. We emerged into the valley where the dogs home is, and it was long before one of the FRBs disturbed them while checking a circle. Scooby Doo led us on true trail around the edge of the field, between the two small lakes and to a circle check. We’d been promised 7-8km on the first leg, and we were short of that – heading out to the road now couldn’t be right, so I helped Brownie check off to the left, while Sloppy lucked out to the right and out to the road. We could see the first beer stop waiting for us not far along the canal, and a race emerged in front of me for winning to the beerstop – I think Sloppy got it from his raised fist pumps. I walked in and as I was carrying my own water I carried on not wanting my legs to seize up…
The trail turned back to the mountains, and I edged along fully expecting a trick – perhaps a sneaky false trail? THe path leads to a gate which is always locked and impenetrable. Today it was locked, but the hares had found a way of getting past it – interesting! I walked along waiting for the pack to catch me. Perhaps they were enjoying the water / snacks, or probably the beer. Finally I got to a circle check, and somewhere behind I heard TMB calling “RU?” I had a very clear idea of where the trail was likely to go, and quickly called ONON. There was a fallen tree blocking the trail, which was a little confusing, and held the pack up a bit behind. I was excited about the next check though, as I really love the hidden trail off to the right – I can only imagine the hares excitement the first time they found it… As I approached the circle I heard someone calling checking from up ahead. That someone sounded a lot like Frozen Dick… And looked a lot like Frozen Dick when I got to him. No idea how long he’d been poking around for it, but I helped him out.
I like these trails – I’ve set them, but this was the first time I’ve been able to run them on a hash. “Run” is maybe not the right word, as it was a while before we could actually get running. The pace was pedestrian as we all were cagey about putting too much effort in. We emerged from the hill shoulder and down the trail. A circle check as Gorf caught me again. I carried on, and where once there was a small wooden house, today there was a bustling collection of wooden houses, a plethora of children, and a school of aggressive dogs. I got a stick to fend off the dogs… The kids were clearly on my side – friendly, happy, and much more aggressive when it came to hurling lumps of mud at the dogs. I had a chat with them about white paper. One pointed me in one direction, and then was scolded by his friends as they pointed me onwards. I knew I was more than 100m from the check, but there were a few strips of paper on the ground, and the evidence suggested paper had been torn down. I was on trail and bellowed ONON back, which surely Gorf heard otherwise that check might be difficult!
I carried on and sure enough at the next circle, Gorf wasn’t far behind. I turned right, confidently, and happy this time there were no bees. Of course we wouldn’t be going up the hill to the right, so as I had a bit of time, I found a nice stick to prepare myself for the next pack of dogs. Gorf caught me as we passed the trail off to the right – playing the percentages I was tempted to head that way, or at least as the ladies that were stood around, but as I was up front I did the decent thing and jogged(ish) to the FT. I turned back a lot quicker than Gorf and sure enough we were heading off back dangerously close towards where we’d been before.
Here the pack started passing me. There was a chance of another FT up front, and there was a way to cut down the field to the left, but nope. Further ahead there was a cross junction, and surely there we had to turn left – otherwise trail was getting close. Sloppy and I headed left, but finally Gorf called it straight on. Ugh. I had made a mistake. By now the FRB pack was well established, and sticking together as a group – sure we’d lost the walkers, but the checks were good enough to keep a sizable group together, and keep turning over the lead. I was slipping backwards though, but was surprised when Graven suddenly appeared, and passed me somewhat similar to Marvin in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
We got back to the road, just 100m or so away from the first beer stop. This time I got a beer. I was still wary about stopping – as I write this, I am looking at my anti inflammatories, and hoping I can move my knee tomorrow! I kept on going and promptly got the circle check wrong. The 2nd beer stop was at a small shelter I’d set a male hash run from a couple of years back, and I set off on the way I’d set the run. Today we ended up in the same spot, but Alice used a nicer route to get there. I walked along, enjoying my beer.
Somehow I caught up again as they were spread out looking for a solution to a false trail. A big sign on the gate saying NO ENTRY (or something like that in Thai), was scaring people off. My mind drifted back to the day I spent 2+ hours trying to find a way to avoid this property, hitting deadend after deadend, before sneaking around the edge, only to meet the nicest, kindest English gentleman you could imagine. I had no qualms going through the gate, and happily waved at his wife today – seriously, this property is gorgeous, and the owner is a star. I didn’t see him today, but I recall him welcoming me onto his land in the past saying “We are but custodians of this land, you are very welcome to enjoy it!”. The traditional wooden houses are great, the land well maintained, and the walk across the grounds through the water buffalo and peacocks out to the ricefields is beautiful.
TMB and Brownie led the way along the trail through the ricefields, and we were starting to get to more familiar Alice area. He’d set runs here, and I remember him finding some connects to abandoned moobaans. I never switched out of minimal effort mode, just trying to plod along. Every time there was a slight incline my legs screamed at me. Every time there was a slight decline my legs screamed “NO!”. I was doing ok… I was comfortable… I was going to finish.
The pack rejoined to solve a false trail. There was an interesting shift in philosophy here… Normally when we have a problem to solve, we are fairly combative – we spread out as individuals, wanting to be the winner who solves it. By now, we were resigned, a team created by our group experience. Almost to the point of sitting down to discuss our options. We all checked one way down the road, then we all went another, discussing what might be possible, because most of us were reluctant to risk being badly wrong. I suspect in the end, paper was taken down and not left at all helpfully for those who followed. The collective exhaustion perhaps.
A bit later the front runners managed to run straight through a sharp left that just led to a false trail. They were clean away while a pack grew behind them. We had to be getting close to the end… I hadn’t seen NOYB since the start, so I was confident he wouldn’t catch me, so I was satisfied. Knock Out passed and I thought – no problem, I can be beaten by a girl (TMB didn’t count she was already ahead). Then Able Semen passed… – ok no problem, I guess I can be beaten by a kid – but he better be signed by a premier league club so I have a story to tell my grandkids!
Then all of a sudden we were all back together. A circle check, and the shortcutting FRBs were caught by the rest of us. Out of nowhere Graven darted down a hole in the hedge and called ONON. Graven and Sloppy had decided that one beer wasn’t enough at the beerstops, they should have at least 2. They had set off way behind everyone else. The drunkards could barely stagger their way along the edge of the quarry walls, and yet somehow they had catapulted themselves to the front. Although we all agreed it was way too wet, muddy, stinky, so we should just go down the road instead.
A few more steps, and we were at the canal, a short way further and we were back at the A.
Thanks hares for the efforts – right about now I need a long sleep…