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Exceptionally Wet Halloween Run in Tourettes-sur-Loup

It rained Saturday evening, it rained all through the night, it was still raining Sunday morning.
It rained while we drove up to Tourettes-sur-Loup, it rained as we set out on the trail, it didn't lessen a bit all through the first half.
It rained throughout the beer stop, and it rained as we sloshed our way through the second half.
It rained while we did the down-downs, and it was still pouring when we came out of the restaurant.

We all felt pretty certain it was the wettest hash we had ever been to.

But we had a great time!

As we drove up to Tourettes, we predicted that No Satisfaction would be there because whenever the weather is bad she is overcome with concern for the hare. Sure enough, the first thing we noticed as we turned into the parking lot was No Satisfaction and Sadist peering out of a bus shelter, watching for arriving hashers.

Sadist was wearing blue shorts, a blue jacket and a luminous orange construction worker's vest, rather than the sleeveless pink t-shirt he has worn at other rainy hashes. But then he was the hare this time, and had been out since dawn preparing the trail, so that explains the extra garments. He said they made no difference one way or the other, as he was already completely soaked - the rain had penetrated his construction vest, his jacket, his epidermis, his dermis and well into his subcutaneous tissue. Tiny webs were starting to sprout between his fingers and toes.

Nine tough, dedicated hashers showed up for this run, plus Contessa, who arrived thirty or forty minutes late (so falls into a separate category). Who were these tough, dedicated hashers - could they possibly have been the same ones who braved the sweltering heat of July to attend Prestressed's World Cup run? Yes, they were! The very same ones ! - Confusion, Two Cheeky, Virgin Mouth and Farty Bum - joined this time by Pedo, Tosspot, Dire Rear, and No Satisfaction (and Sadist of course, and Contessa).

We were supposed to be dressed for Halloween (it was the actual day - October 31st), but everyone, even Sadist, had ditched the Halloween outfit in favour of a raincoat (though Two Cheeky was wearing an orange sweater).

Two Cheeky was disappointed to find that the trail would be too rough for her bum knee, and was obliged to drive off to a warm, dry café for a couple of hours, to wait for us. There she was joined by Contessa (when Contessa eventually arrived.)

The rest of us headed out into the rain, and the first thing that happened was that less than a minute after the start, Sadist cancelled the runners' trail. This was very gracious of him considering he had just spent an entire morning (and probably the day before) in the pouring rain laying flour on it. A less humane hare would have preferred to see the runners DROWN than to sacrifice his trail!!

So we all started merrily on our way - runners and walkers together - down a residential street that was actually Sadist's very own neighbourhood. We passed a large arrow pointing to a gigantic flat rock with water streaming across it and pouring over the edge into the valley below. This was the beginning of the abandoned runner's trail; if we had stayed to watch, I would not have been surprised to see salmon leaping up it.

After splashing down the wet road for quite some time, we turned off into the bush and began to descend a rocky path which was rapidly reverting to streambed. Little rivulets of red muddy water became dammed by piles of dead leaves, turning into a series of terraced puddles that we sloshed through as we made our way down. Funnily enough, as we got lower down, the puddles disappeared and the trail became drier. I couldn't quite figure that out.

Down at the bottom was a little stream which had been basically a dry gully on Friday, and a gentle brook early Sunday morning, but was now a boiling current at least a foot deep. There was a large slippery stepping stone beside it, but Sadist insisted we take the safer route of stepping directly into the water. We were already so wet that not even Virgin Mouth balked at the thought of submerging her boots.

But the stream was narrow and we only had to put one foot in to step across, so we each still had one semi-dry boot (and leg) as we scrambled up the path on the other side.

At a bend in the trail we caught up to our two runners (who, although officially walkers for the day, couldn't help being ever so slightly ahead of the rest of us). Pedo had just received a call from Contessa, and while he chatted with her and explained how to find Two Cheeky, No Satisfaction showed us a salamander that had been crossing the path when they arrived. It was all washed clean by the rain, so that its brilliant black and yellow stripes were positively gleaming. We watched it slowly creep away through the dripping undergrowth. Sadist had already seen it early in the morning! Dire Rear kept saying, "Où? Où? Je ne vois rien!", until Pedo pointed it out to her in French.

Since we had come a long way down, we now had a long way to go back up. We were all wearing several layers of warm clothes under our raincoats, so began to feel extremely warm as we climbed upwards. The choice was to sweat and get wet from within, or to open our raincoats a bit and get wet from without.

As we laboured our way up the hill, every once in awhile Dire Rear would call out, "Ca va, mon coeur?" , and Tosspot would grunt, "Ca va".

After just over an hour on the trail, we arrived at the beer stop. It was out in the open with no trees nearby to protect us from the rain. Dire Rear had an umbrella, and two people could shelter under the raised back of Pedo's jeep, which left five standing in the pouring rain. So it was one of the shortest beer stops we have ever had.

We started out again, walked a short distance down the road, and then turned back into the valley we had just climbed out of. So basically the return was exactly the same trail in reverse, only moved over to the right a bit.

This time the path down seemed a little grassier and not so rocky. We went through the stream at the bottom again, having to put both feet underwater this time, if I remember correctly, but by then the "dry" foot was just as wet as the wet one, so we didn't care and in fact, we were glad to get the dry boot washed as clean as the wet one was.

As we started up the slope on the other side of the stream, we thought we were on the home stretch. Then all of a sudden Virgin Mouth cried out, "Oh no! Look!"

In front of us was another stream, much wider than the other, and roaring down the hillside to join it was a waterfall that probably hadn't been there the day before. Right at the junction of the two raging torrents, like some kind of a colossus, lashed by the rain, his grey hair plastered wetly to his forehead, the angry waters boiling and seething around his knees, stood Sadist.

We had to cross this raging torrent, and as we stepped into the water one by one we were taken by surprise at the power of the current. Only the firm grip of Sadist's hand saved us all from being swept away. Sadist, our brave and wondrous hare, stood there solid as a rock.

It required four or five steps to get across. In No Satisfaction's pictures you can see Virgin Mouth and Farty Bum in their red jackets, bent double as they struggle against the force of the current. What a trail! What a thrill!

Once across, we scrambled up the bank and then it wasn't long before we were back on the road, which was covered by an inch-deep sheet of descending water. We splashed our way upwards, the stream water gurgling around inside our boots and the rain flowing down our faces, feeling exhilarated. Dire Rear demanded that we sing "Singin' In the Rain" while she skipped and twirled and pranced about, waving her umbrella.

We passed the big flat rock - salmon leaping about all over the place - and arrived at the parking lot. There we found Pedo's jeep parked almost inside the bus shelter, and inside it were Contessa and Two Cheeky, who had clearly bonded, giggling and laughing. They rolled the window down a tiny crack to say hello to us.

Great hash! Thank-you Sadist!

As I write this summary, my running shoes are now just about dry, one week after the last HASH. That gives you an idea of just how wet ‘Sadist’s run was.

There was a considerable turn out, considering the extreme weather warnings communicated by the authorities.
For once, ‘France Meteo’ was correct, as that day ‘Tourettes sur Loup’ became ‘Tourettes sous Loup’ Rain was lashing down from the mountains and fog covering the village.

Within seconds of leaving our cars, we were all drenched and that’s when we started enjoying ourselves!

With water bouncing off the ground, our massive crowd of somewhere between 0 and 10 splashed down-hill to the first obstacle, a smooth rock face.
With the ski season very close, ‘Pedo’ and I (the runners) refused to run down it, wimping out instead for the river of the road.

We scrambled up muddy hillsides and inched gingerly down wet rocky slopes. ‘Pedo’ forged ahead checking out the wildlife. He found a salamander, walking up the stream that had been path. Our luminous green and black friend was trying to climb somewhere for shelter.
Although famous in this area, it was the first time for many of us to see one. That is the bonus of going running on a horrible day.

In keeping with tradition, we held a ‘beer stop’, where the only shelter was the boot door of Pedos’ flashy new car.
In minutes even the crisps were soggy.

Off we squelched, thinking the second half would be along the road. In fact, we ended up hanging on to each other, wading through quite a tricky fast torrent, which had suddenly swelled.
Anything that was not yet wet, was wet afterwards, except my camera. Our valiant hare, having helped all of us across, took a bit of tumble and nearly fell.

Back at base, we chose a convenient bus stop for the circle.
‘Pedo’ drove practically into it, so that ‘Too Cheeky’ and latecomer ‘Contessa’ could hop out of the car into the dry hut.

By now the lower car park was flooding, water gushing over the steps.

‘Diarrhea’ treated us to a respectable rendering of ‘Singing in the Rain, all smiles, skipping and splashing, throwing away the umbrella, just like Fred.

During this performance, ‘Pedo’ tried his best to recruit a new member, who was waiting for her boyfriend in the bus shelter. She was so busy refusing all ‘Pedo’s’ offers, that her boyfriend drove past without seeing her.

And so to the ‘down-downs’:

To the wet hare, ‘Sadist’
‘Contessa’ and ‘Too Cheeky’ for stripping in Pedos car (and for going to a café instead of the run)
‘Farty Bum’ for deciding to stay for the meal, instead of going to see her husband off on a trip.
‘Confusion’ for stripping in a public place (bus stop)
‘Pedo’ for having a new car

‘Shit of the week’ dedicated to all those of you who stayed away and read the Sunday papers instead. ‘Sneaky Bastard’ you did didn’t you!

The ‘on in’ was in the tiniest of restaurants, where the only other customer was a cat.
Dicing with death on the staircase to get to the loo, was not for the faint hearted.
The lady who did all the cooking alone, managed to serve us all at the same. Something restaurants manage to get wrong.

Thanks, ‘Sadist’ for a fabulous HASH.
Thanks also to ‘Incredible Hulk’. At least I know one person has read this!

Nice-Cannes marathon 14th November 2010.
Details here.

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