But this little jaunt favoured me quite positively and definitely trended towards NEVER having such an extensive trail sabbatical ever again. I decided to take a westward bound trail towards Versailles as the climbs there are meandering and sheltered to begin with. The first thing I noticed once hopping from road to trail (roughly 5 minutes) was how utterly compacted the forest floor was. After months of the trees scattering their leaves this multi coloured carpet, an Autumn-Winter jigsaw of iridescence, coerced me unhurriedly up through a winding and foggy track. The ascent itself was remarkable in its quietness as usually this part of the trail is a hikers paradise.
Regarding clothing I was pretty happy with my layers from the start. I opted not for a jacket but arm warmers, t-shirt and under shirt, compression sleeves and the vital tool of traction the Speedcross 2. Now, I have never been much of a gear junkie and was always the first to disregard certain products as 'gimmicks' but, having switched over to a specialist trail running company I now see the error of my short sightedness. Firstly, having spent the amount time (and winters) I have running trails on road shoes is akin to giving a person a pair of skis and telling them to try and run a Marathon with them. It doesn't compute. But that was not my thinking back in previous summers as crisp leaves crinkled underfoot and single track trails were littered with nothing more than ferns and pine. All in all it never demanded anything technical from my footwear. It was the beginning of last years winter though that taught me otherwise, knees were scarred, elbows bruised and palms grazed from slipping and stumbling. "I think I need to investigate some off piste shoes" was my first thought and since the change over its been bliss.
My confidence in scrambling up inclines and hammering downhill has been bolstered by educating myself in the ways of the trail and this run underlined the importance of not only having confidence in ones own ability, but also the assurance of using the right gear to optimise the experience.
I am looking forward to leaving many foot prints on the snow this winter and embracing the chilly mornings. The hours spent meandering through the hills may seem harsh when the alarm goes off at a ridiculous hour, but returning home caked in mud from head to to far outweighs it.
See you round the bend,
(Stats: 1:17, 14km, elevation gain.... no idea)