For a couple of months I've been eyeing this radio tower on the highest peak around here... I made an attempt to climb the mountain it perches on two weeks ago but got stuck on the wrong side of the Doubs with no bridges within 3 miles of the mountain... so today I decided to go for it again. I got up at a reasonable time (5:30), switched and folded laundry, ate a small jam-and-bread sandwich, and hit the road at 6:23. I was down past the loop of the Doubs (past centre ville) by 6:45, and on my way to uncharted territory. It's really beautiful in the deep valley carved out by the Doubs, and there's a great, flat bike trail that stretches 135 km (90 miles) along it. I probably went another 3 miles and then started an ascent into the town of Morre. The roads were twisty (switchbacks) and hard to predict... so I dead-ended a couple times. I've learned to pay attention to where cars are coming from, to look for military names in the street labels, using these clues to guess which roads are going up the mountain... but this time I was looking for a footpath, and had no idea which road that might be on. I eventually found one, and it was nice to avoid some switchbacks. Then the path ended on a road, where I soon hit the town of Morre, passing the wonderful scents of a fresh bakery (actually a very painful smell when I'm in the middle of a run because I'm so hungry) and then finally hit open country again... open farmland covered the top of this mountain. I could see snow-covered Alps off to the east, and I really enjoyed sharing the view that the mountain-dwelling villagers enjoyed every day from their own windows. To the south I got this great view of Besancon--the photo doesn't do it justice here, but the central hill/peak is Fort Chaudanne, just below it is a blurry stripe for the Citadel, and just to the right of it is Fort Bregille. I liked this perspective because I could clearly see the elevations of the three hills, and obviously the Citadel is the lowest. By about 90 minutes out on this run, I hit my goal--the radio towers! It was a great view, definitely worth a 90 minute run. I walked around, read all the signs, called Rebecca in an attempt to share the moment, but since it wasn't yet even 8am she didn't answer. I called a couple more times and then gave up and chose a way back down the mountain--a trail that would hopefully lead me past the chateau de Montfaucon. Then Rebecca called back and we chatted for a minute before I journeyed onward. The path seems to have taken the scenic route, as it went up around the north face of the mountain before hitting the west side. Along the way I found this cute little spring, frozen over, but with goldfish swimming around... I also passed this meticulously planted stand of evergreens. I finally hit the chateau, which is an 11th century creation that is now in ruin. Apparently it simply got abandoned when the Montfaucons lost power and therefore couldn't afford to stay around any more. I spent probably 45 minutes walking around the site... it was absolutely amazing. Next time I need to bring flashlights! Then I headed back down the mountain and got to see some of these beautiful spring flowers--they were covering the entire hillside. I hit the Doubs and continued running another 3 miles or so, and then just ran out of energy. I walk-ran for maybe 45 minutes, then just walked. I decided to bail and walked through centre ville to catch a bus. Unfortunately the first bus stop said I'd have to wait 19 minutes, and I knew that at 40 degrees and no jacket that would be impossible. So I walked on to find another bus line... and it said 14 minutes. I decided I'd walk along the route so the bus could catch up with me... and then I lost the trail. For the last mile and a half I had to walk and take breaks. Turns out I went about 18 miles (30k) and it took me 5 hours. Near the end it simply took all my willpower to just keep moving. That means I entirely lost track of time, I was kind of dazed & confused, and I didn't notice Rebecca's phone calls at all. She started to worry around 10am, and I didn't get home till 11:30. What a nightmare that return trip was!
After choking down some food (literally--for some reason my throat was very sore--seems sensitive to acidic foods since this run), I read to Callie for 10 minutes, had a 30 minute nap, showered, and lunched with the family. Then it was my turn to take over the kids for the afternoon. We cleaned up lunch (the kids helped), we headed outside to play bikes, and ended up climbing trees at the park for a while. Then we came back for the kids to watch tv and for me to read Rebecca's blog entries for the day... made dinner, gave kids baths, and voila... here I am, ready for bed myself!