A Quick Guide to Marking BFM Trails
Think there’s a chance that you’ll pick the short straw? Well you’re right there is, but it’s no cause for alarm. Don’t sweat it, with a few tips from this guide, you’ll be ready to toss down trail like a champ. Asking yourself why we do all of this? Duh, it’s all in the name of BEER!
- • (Mark, blob): A standard mark (usually a dollop of flour). Three in a row will have harriers screaming “On-On” for true trail. If you don't find three in a row after a while, chances are the hares lead you astray. Turn back!
- X (Check): The trail can go in any direction, split up and start looking.
- F (False): Go back to the last Check and try a different direction.
- ← (Arrow, True Trail): Used to keep harriers headed the right way. If you’re crossing a street, or turning a corner and aren’t using a Check, you should put down an Arrow. Use these any time the trail direction is a bit confusing (unless you put down a Check).
- BC# (Back Check): Accompanied by a number (i.e. 5). Harriers retrace this number of Marks, treating the final one like a Check. Hares may mark CB, it’s the same thing.
- BN (BEER Near): Mark on a BFM trail this mark indicates a BEER check. Harriers will look for a close bar with an Arrow pointing in, or a pre-arranged spot with a stash of beverages.
- SN (Shot Near): Sometimes the hare brings a premixed shot instead of, or in addition to a BN.
- ♫ (Song Check): A mark on trail to keep the pack together - it's essentially a spot where everyone must stop and wait for other hashers and then sing a song, then treat it as a check.
- ON-IN: Written near the on-in, obviously, but sometimes a few blocks away so as not to cross trail and have to drink even more down downs. After the On-In you can cross any trail without penalty that you used previously but should still leave some arrows if the trail is hard to follow back to the end.
Other Marks We May Use Occasionally
- Y (Y Check): This type of check can only go one of 2 ways - not in 369 degrees, but only in the 2 directions specified. Only 1 is correct
- T-E split (Turkey/Eagle Split): Usually drawn as a Y check with a T on one side and the E on the other, this check tells the pack that one way is shorter/slightly less strenuous (Turkey trail) and the other path is longer for those ballbusting, masochistic FRB's (Eagle trail). Of course, sometimes the difference is negligible and the hare may be tricky so choose at your own risk. And sometimes the Eagle trail is waaaay more interesting and fun than the shorter, direct path.
- J (J Check): Rarely used around these parts due to impracticality in urban areas, but this mark usually has 2 small shots inside it. The FRB must take one shot to the back of the pack until he/she finds the DFL and take the shot with him/her before continuing.
- FRB (Front Running Beer): Very rarely do our hares set this mark, but when they do, the Front Running B*st*rd should look around for a beer hidden - behind a rock, tree, mailbox, etc.
- BQ (Beer Quest): Beer Quest means beer is near but you need to find it hidden somewhere nearby!
- MFR (Mississippi Family Reunion): If you see this mark, wait for everyone on trail to arrive before going any further, as well as one of the hares and the hare(s) will give you instructions on what to do next (and often some type of beverage)
- Dispensing container: Most folks use some sort of bag, typically we’ll have a plastic grocery bag or two that work just fine. If you’ve offered to pre-lay a trail, you might choose to use a detergent bottle or a more creative dispensing device.
- Ball: A tennis ball makes laying trail easy. Dip it in chalk and bounce it. If you’ve got enough chalk on it, it’ll leave a perfect circle on the ground. It’ll also make it easy to keep r*nning while you lay trail.
- Colored Flour (Chalk): We always try to color our flour. We don’t want to create another Wolfman incident. We typically mix the flour with carpenter’s chalk so it doesn’t look like a dangerous white powder. Color 1 and Color 2 work best. Jello and Cool-aid also work pretty well. BTW, Chalk typically refers to all kinds of marking materials.
- Chalk: Actual chalk (sidewalk chalk) works pretty well if the trail is on pavement, concrete, etc. It’s really good for making quick Arrows and Falses. It’s not so good if you are trying to mark trail on grass or dirt.
- Ribbons: Red, pink, orange, or yellow construction ribbon works pretty well if you are marking trails in woods, fields, etc. They especially work well if there’s a lot of rain, snow, or wet/muddy trail.
- Masking Tape or Stickers: If you decide to set any trail in a subway, this or chalk is the only way to go.
- Two a block: Hares should put down at least two marks per block. Any fewer than that and we’ll have a very lost pack. They’ll be a very sullen pack when they traipse back to the bar, quite frustrated; giving up on what could have been a great trail. It’s best to toss them down every 30 50.
- Arrows: If you’re crossing a street or turning a corner, and aren’t using a Check, you should put down an Arrow. Use these any time the trail direction is a bit confusing (unless you put down a Check). The mob gets spread out and lost enough without out any help from a lackadaisical hare.
- Don’t cross back over: Creating a full loop in the trail, before getting back to the bar, is a bad idea, unless you use subway stations, bridges, or other means of physically separating the two segments of trail (it’s best if harriers can’t even see the two segments). If you violate this rule, you best be a hare of great ability and stature, like the might G.
- Falses: Okay, we’re a live, five minute head start hash. We’ll understand if you don’t mark all of your falses appropriately. No big deal. But, if you do start a false and don’t mark it with anF’, then don’t put down more than two Marks down. Also, try to space your marks consistently. Laying two marks off of a check with 50 yards between them will piss off the mob. Try to space all of your marks consistently.
- No flour in the Independence Mall Area or in the Subway system: We have the OK from authorities to pass through these areas but have been advised to only use chalk or tape/ribbon to avoid people calling in suspicious/hazmat calls. If you want to keep hashing, please don't leave flour in these areas or we will risk getting arrested.
- Don’t go straight: You stand a better chance of eluding the mob, and creating an interesting trail if you don’t lay a bunch of straight sections. Three to five blocks in a row are plenty.
- BN: Want some extra time, or be known for good trails? Toss in a BEER check (or two). Slapping down $30-40 to cover a round will buy you 10-15 min and a lot of friends when you get back to the circle. (You might only get one down-down).Try to have enough money to cover a round and at least a $5 tip (take a rough count before you start laying trail). If you’re nice you might even get some hash cash or donations to help defray the cost.
- Shorter trails with no BN: Are you broke but still want to hare? No problem, you don't have to leave a BN every time, even though we love them. Just don't set a trail longer than about 3~ miles so we can get back to circle earlier and start drinking sooner. If you lay a long trail with no BN, your pack may give up on trail and go on-in or just make up their own impromptu BN.
- Hidden marks: Want some extra time? Toss marks on the backside of objects or just behind them. Try to make sure your marks are spaced consistently. If not, the mob will get frustrated and lost, and eventually short cut back to the bar. This is a good way to conceal true trail out of a check, but I wouldn’t use it for the whole trail. As you get closer to the BN you may consider leaving more marks and even a couple arrows so you don't sit at the bar with 30 undrank beers.
- Length: Two to four-and-a-half miles are about right (excluding falses). Much less than two, isn’t a big deal, but you could get a name for it and we don’t need the extra drinking time. Much past five and: (1) you’ll drink for being an overachieving ass-clown, (2) the mob will be prepared to short cut the next time you hare.
- Getting back to the bar: Don’t know where anything is at in the city? Not to worry, pay attention to your cross streets Front Street and Columbus/Delaware Ave. are next to the Delaware River, the numbers go up as you head West some where around 30th you’ll cross the Schuylkill end up in University City. South to North major streets are Snyder, Washington, South, Market, Vine, Spring Garden and Fairmount. Get lost? Walk into a bar or store and ask them to point you towards the bar cross streets.
- Catching the hare: Should you get apprehended by a FRB, keep your pants on (if the FRB doesn’t get to them first), chill out, and give the new hare a five (three) minute head start.
- Moderate your use of flour: Five to ten pounds of flour should be ample for a trail, try to avoid dumping it all out when you mark a Check (if you have actual chalk this is a good use for it). Don’t be too stingy though we’d rather find the marks and have a short trail than end up trying to follow crappy marks made by some a**hole scratching out things with a rock
- Volunteer: Want to participate in a good hash? Check out the area ahead of time and volunteer to live hare, just don’t tell anyone you scouted things out (you’ll have to drink for that). Want a whole lot of time? Volunteer to set a dead hare trail. Scout it out a day or more in advance, set it a few hours early, and have a BEER. The mob loves a well-laid trail with a BEER check or two.
- Don’t know the neighborhood? No worries, if you’re new to the area, talk to the GM you’ll likely get someone to lend a hand.
- Concerned about safety? Talk to the GM, you’ll likely get a trail laying partner but try to keep your trail away from the ghetto. The mob is concerned about their safety too. If you know you want to go somewhere a little sketchy but worth it - let the group know ahead of time to use the buddy system and leave no hashers behind.
- There’s so many things to pay attention to? No worries, we’ve r*n good trails and bad. Try to follow some of the tips and have a good time. If you do, the mob is sure to have a good time too.