Hangover Run Jan 2005

Hanging Over on the Hangover Run …..  As sure as the Earth travels round the Sun once a year, God makes little green apples, and the brown bear goes ca-ca in the woods – on New Year’s Day, you’ll find a band of Tamers once again heading into the cold and snow for another race to the top of the hill. This year’s Hangover Run was no exception, except that there wasn’t anywhere near the usual amount of snow on the ground. Many years, when heading out to the Iron Goat trailhead, trailers have been parked somewhere out on Rt 2, not too far past Gold Bar. And at the trailhead, usually just barely the top of the outhouse can be seen, with 5 to 7 feet of snow on the ground. Well – this year, the trailers got parked in front of the outhouse instead, on the bare gravel.

Now – there wasn’t really a whole lot truly outstanding about the run. With a small amount of snow, going up the trail wasn’t a particularly large challenge. The weather was nice, and unfortunately another wheeling group who were displaying an IQ on the lower portion of the quadrant, decided to do some trail repairs – in the middle of the road, after only about half our group got past. So – Billie, Dirtball, Moose, Mikes G. and R., John and Gina, and Mary (aka Auto-M) got up towards the top of the hill. Billie got there first and highest – so he got the trophy for the snow run again this year. And – most of the rigs getting up that far had some minor breaks – Billie put a hole in the side of his new 44” boggers; Dirtball popped a front tire off a bead; Moose got a hole in the return line of his power steering box; Mike G. broke his fuel pump, somehow banging it into a frame rail. I think John popped a bead while coming back from the top. Auto-M, as usual, broke nothing, and Mike R. I think also was similarly unscathed. Being on the opposite side of the mountaintop from the rest of the group, we didn’t realize that they couldn’t make it up to where we were. They’d been blocked from coming up by the other doofus group I alluded to earlier. So when we came back to the first main landing area – they’d already headed back to the parking lot to head home. Which was a bummer.

But you know – that’s not what I really want to write about. What I really wanted to discuss, is the Tamer’s apparent inability to make a fire. Even in the presence of certain large and repeated doses of “accelerant.” Once we got past the big landing area, and up on those snow covered, knife edge ridges with the biting wind blowing across them, things got mighty cold mighty fast. Once off the hill, we were really looking forward to a toasty fire to complement the distribution of moose-nuts and Lori’s cookies. Mike R. actually did have a few pieces of dry fire wood on his rig, and John cranked up the chain saw Santa brought him (since he’s been such a good boy this year) in order to cut a little more of the deadfall that was poking up out of the snow.

Well – one major problem with the fuel source. You’d think that it being dead wood would be a good thing. But it was actually wet, dead wood. And with the temperature where it was, it was frozen, wet, dead wood. Meaning that you want that stuff to burn, it’s like trying to burn the stick while it’s still sitting inside the popsicle. First you have to warm it up enough to turn the ice into water. Then heat it up more to turn water into steam. And only once the steam blows off are you gonna actually have some fuel to burn. That takes a whole lotta heat! Oy!

But we tried. Lord KNOWS we tried. It would be hard to describe how much we just wanted to have a toasty, even burning fire. It seems that the road flare used for fire starter  would have been a good place to start. Then Mike’s dry wood. Then a little skunky old racing gas on top of that. And then the “popsicle sticks.” Well – that’s where things came to a grinding halt. The frozen wood really wouldn’t catch. Not with the repeated application of gasoline (and other petroleum-based products.) Not with air from John Lane’s compressor (which eventually ran dry and seized) blowing on the little bit of flames we could coax from the balky pile. In fact – under the heading of “what’s wrong with this picture” we were noting that the gas-soaked snow around the fire pit had more flames erupting from it than the tepid wood anemically melting its way down to the gravel below. In fact – it was an interesting dance. The fire would dwindle, dwindle, dwindle, and we all moved in closer, closer, closer. Then – a dose of gas, a mushroom cloud, and everyone would run away from the fire pit. And then repeat this same motion as the gas burned off, and the wood sullenly returned to a smoky, pitiful mass. Countless mushroom clouds later, finally – it became apparent that there was a footrace going on between the wet wood catching fire, and sundown – and sundown was looking like it was gonna win. It’s rare that Tamers will acknowledge they’ve been bested in a battle of will – but with cold and dark coming on, we kicked the smoldering pile full of snow, packed up, and headed for home.

Thanks for the pictures Teri