Another crystal clear Sunday morning which at this time of the year comes with big helpings of frost. Laying the trail early on such a day meant a runny nose, hands like blocks of ice, earth as hard as iron and water like a stone, but thankfully not snow on snow. Part way through laying the trail we encountered Small Box from Portsmouth HHH who had picked up our scent. He declined our generous offer to join us later for the real thing.
With the JMs still cruising it fell to Old Faithful to welcome a small but concentrated pack. Tigger showed her face for ten minutes but then rushed off to some more important (yes I know, what can be more important?) family event not far away, she is such a tease.
We did not hang about getting cold with the preliminaries and were soon under way north east into the heart of the village. Bika spent a lot of time looking for non existent flour by the church while the rest made their way south to the foot of the steep hill on the Rushmere road. Now it was Snake Charmer's turn to overrun a falsie west in the field below the hill and go a long long wrong way.
Up the hill on the road was the way to go a few making a pretence at running and Can Man receiving a good tow from the lead attached to the collar of the energy cell known as Buddy. To the delight of the hares, the check at the top confounded the pack as they all failed to notice the obscure path on the edge of the drive of a house which heads east to The Stud Farm.
There are only two ways to go from here, and both had very recently been ploughed, and the hard as iron earth had melted in the early sunshine. Again Snake charmer made the wrong choice, egged on by Pancsi as she headed north east with huge clods of shiggy on the ends of her legs. Meanwhile Spiderman was venturing south east with the same problem but at least finding the true trail.
This energy sapping terrain continued, in fact getting ever harder with deeper and deeper furrows as we headed south past the copse around the disused pit and west on to Rushmere lane. I think that Olive Oyl made it first but I was too busy trying to lift the anvils around my ankles and avoiding falling over to notice.
Some easy checks on nice grassy bits with Sinbad and Pancsi out front then went north until we reached the road towards Bury Lodge. Here Old Faithful had devised one of his special figure of eight puzzlers which as usual included a fair bit of DRM (Dynamic Route Modification). Down the slope almost back to the start but then back up to the top to find the same check but now different.
Some of the pack like Popeye thought that they were almost finished, however a loop down to and across the main road followed by the path north via Cams to return to the village followed, with the On-In arriving one hour and thirty minutes of very sticky hashing.
At the circle it was pointed out that Spiderwoman had neglected to carry the Hash-It, somehow she managed to get away without censure for this heinous crime. Her partner appeared to be wearing brand spanking new Dunlop Green Flashes. The HS was presented to Snake Charmer as reward for managing to choose a false trail at almost every check, even the one up hill right at the end. The Vine, right next to the chariots was the obvious place to stagger into and out from.