Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Hash House Harriers

On Saturday, I went to Woodley Park with my roommate Joe. While there, we took a walk over the the Sepulveda Basin Dam. This flood control dam protects the San Fernando Valley from washing away during the rainy season.

While there, we climbed up and over the spillways of the dam, which are very steep and require a good running start to surmount. (Video forthcoming)

While at the top of the spillway, I looked out into the channel of the Los Angeles river.  Three middle aged white men in t-shirts, shorts and sneakers ran along the riverbed.  As they ran, I noticed that every 100 feet or so, one of the men would reach into a plastic shopping bag and hurl a handful of white powder into the wall of the channel.

"What in the hell?"  My mind, hard-wired into the post-9/11 mentality, immediately assumed the worst.  Terrorists were putting anthrax in the Los Angeles river.

Silly terrorists, don't you know the LA River is already poison?

I was contemplating in my mind, what to do.  I'd hate to have the deaths of thousands on my conscience for not speaking up, but at the same time, I knew there had to be a logical explanation.  As I was thinking this, a second group of folks seemed to come up towards the dam.  I shouted out to them.

"Do you know what's going on?"

"We're Hash House Harriers" he replied.

"Do you know how crazy and suspicious it looks to be throwing white powder into a body of water? I was this close to calling the police!"

He waved his hands above his head "No, no! It's baking powder, it's a biodegradable trail marker."  He climbed up a pipe attached to the spillway as he spoke. "we've been around since the 40's.  We blaze trails and drink beer."

I laughed.  He continued. "We once did a trail in an Ikea in Connecticut, and we were brought up on Federal charges. Dismissed, of course."

The little explorer in me was so enraptured by this amazingly adventurous concept.  Blazing a trial, it ties in with all my favorite activities, exploring, geocaching, hiking, urban exploration and infiltration.  Of course, I don't drink, and it seems like that's supposed to be half the point for this group.

Needless to say, it was fun to encounter this, and maybe I'll try it out someday.  Just thought I'd share.

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