Hawley is a very rural mountainous town somewhere out in western Mass and seemed to be within spitting distance of a number of WMAC snowshoe races (Savoy, Moody Springs, Hallocville to name a few). A little factoid about Hawley is it's one of the most wintery towns in Massachussetts, averaging nearly 110" of snow each year.
Although the course had its share of hills (500ft of climbing), most of the climbing today was done in the car getting to the start (thankfully). If you looked up 'low frills race' in the dictionary, you'd find Hawley Kiln listed first. Registration looked like some sort of drug deal was going down, with people lining up at the drivers window of a small white van, handing the driver cash. Turns out this same white van doubled as the official timer as well.
Onto the race. The start climbed steadily for just under a mile on nicely groomed (and frozen) snowmobile trail before turning sharply into the woods on a trail that was just barely a single track. About 2/3 of the race would be on single track and it was not easy going. First, it was impossible to pass, stepping off the trail would put you in knee deep snow. Second, although the single track was frozen and seemed firm, it was an illusion. Almost immediately we were post holing, breaking through the thin frozen surface and sinking into a foot of snow. I followed a runner the entire time on the first 2 mile section of rolling single track, never looking up from his shoes, trying to avoid his post holes and not end up on my face. Somewhere around 3 miles we joined back up for a brief run on snowmobile trails before heading back onto the final mile of single track. I managed to pass the runner in front of me during this section and made up a little time. Turns out it was a little easier in front since I was a bit lighter and didn't break through as much. I knew I should have asked to pass.....oh well. At about 4 miles we jumped back onto the snowmobile trail for the last .6 miles to the finish.
Overall I was happy with my race, felt pretty good and finished strong. The top 20 are listed below and full results are located at WMAC. Turns out fellow acidotic RACING team mate Matt Cartier was there but I had no idea. With a no-frills race and no shelter, nobody really sticks around and chats much. Beth Herder has some great photos of the race here.
After the race a few of us did head over to the South Face Farm Sugar House for breakfast. Blueberry wheat pancakes with real maple syrup, bacon and coffee and good company. Not a bad way to end the season.
Now a little history of the kiln, the races namesake (courtesy of the 2002 WMAC newsletter).
The kiln was built in 1870 by a man named Albert Dyer. Mr. Dyer was building the kiln for a man named William O. Bassett, who in 1870 was Hawley’s most successful farmer. I don’t think at the time that Mr. Dyer thought he was building the most historical site in the Hawley State Forest. The kiln is also the oldest known flagstone charcoal kiln in New England.
The kiln is a beehive structure, 25ft high, 25ft in diameter and could hold 25 cord of wood during the charcoal process. Today, it is apparently a very popular hangout for connoisseurs of hops and barley based on the number of cans that litter its interior.