Pandapas Pond and the Poverty Creek trail system in Blacksburg is one of my favorite places to run. It’s got miles of trails nestled in the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests, and it’s definitely one of my happy places. The weather was less than ideal this weekend, but I hadn’t run at Pandapas in over 6 months, so I was eager to get in a run there. Plus, I had good company, or an unsuspecting victim, in Kim.
Kim and I started our run from Hertigate Park in Blacksburg, on the backside of Brush Mountain. Since the partial government shutdown is ongoing, I figured the main entrance to Pandapas was probably closed. This meant we started our day climbing about 700 feet over 1.8 miles or so up the Gateway/Old Farm trail.
It was a rainy, blustery morning with 20+ mph winds. Probably not the best conditions, but you have to take what the day gives you. There has been a lot of rain lately, but the trails we were on drain well and were in good condition. The only sloppy section was at the very beginning of our run. Spoiler alert: the only time either one of us fell was when I slipped on that grass on the way back.
The rain petered out early in our run, and we were well protected from the wind during our climb up the mountain. Once we got to the top and were running along the ridge line, we were blasted with high winds and pelting sleet. It was literally hurting my face.
After half mile of running along the ridge, the trail dumped us out onto the fire road. It felt a bit safer here on the wide road, versus the singletrack trail, because I felt like it gave us more room to dodge a falling tree. Those tall trees at the top of the mountain were swaying big time.
It was easy running down the fire road, which has big rolling hills but a net downhill. Soon, we hit our turnaround at 3 miles and it was time to head back up the mountain to retrace our to Heritage Park. We were working hard, but running with Kim made the miles really fly by. The sun even peeked out during the last mile and a half.
Sure enough, right at the end of our run as we arrived back at the sloppy grassy area, my feet slipped out from under me and I found myself on my backside in the mud. I guess it wouldn’t be a trail run without at least one fall!