Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Best Trail Run Ever!


Nope. Last Tuesday's run rocked. Monday's run was pretty good too.

Part I

Helen and I spent those days in the Luberon mountains in the Provence region of Southern France. I'd been to Provence before, but not to this part; Helen had been to France, but not to Provence. Our general plan had been to just go there and wander around, but I came across this book – and we finally broke down and bought it. Really glad we did. We were only in the region for a few days, but it gave us some great routes for trail runs. Granted, it's aimed at walkers, but we figured, why walk when you can run? That said, there were definitely parts that were too technical for us. And there were parts of Wednesday's run where we were just too tired.

It was surprisingly hard to find good maps on-line of the region, but basically, our starting point was at the 'A.'

Specifically, the village of Vaugines. That was the start of our second run, anyway. The first we started in Seguin (which can be seen on the third map). Both of our runs also went through Sivergues and Le Castelas. The local maps tended to have some of the places we went to, but not all.

I should note here that Vaugines is the only one of these places that really counts as a village. It's got a nice little central square with a fountain, a café, a restaurant, and a fair number of houses. Sivergues is the next largest, and that was really more of a hamlet, there's an inn there and a little city hall and a few other houses, but that was around it; Le Castelas is just a few buildings, and Seguin is just an inn.

The two runs overlapped; both included the stretch from Seguin to Sivergues and Le Castelas, a stretch that winds up from the valley and into the mountains. The first was listed as a 2 hour walk, which we wound up doing in an hour and a half. We weren't in much of a hurry; as a note for anyone planning on using the book, when they say something like "take this path for 20 minutes," that's a pretty slow 20 minutes, which should take significantly less than 10, running; on the other hand, you do wind up spending a lot of time checking directions. We also added on a bunch to that route. The way they designed it, it's basically a loop with a spur added on, but when we took the spur – to Le Caselas – it seemed pretty clear that it would be even nicer if we kept going further. That's not to say that the first part wasn't nice, it was pretty awesome. We went into the woods right behind the Auberge de Seguin, followed a series of trails climbed out of a valley – called, I should note, the "ravin d'enfer," or ravine from hell – looking across the valley at cliffs on the other side with caves and mountain goats. But up by the village of Sivergues, it starts to open up, and you can really see a lot. This was even truer up by Le Castelas, so we kept going and reached a point around a wall where the views were amazing, and we realized that we should have brought the camera. After we turned back, we saw a couple of guys heading up; they told us that, even further, the view opened up more; when you get to the top on a really clear day, they said, you could see all the way to the Alps.

The route back was nicer than the route out, albeit a bit less picturesque. (No mountain goats, for instance). It was a more direct route, following a stream; the beautiful vistas replaced by a nice, shaded path. More like Valley Green, actually.

So that first run just whetted our appetite for more trail running in the Luberon. The rest of that story is coming soon.

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