We left the city last Monday to spend a week in the mountains. Mornings began with the sound of the creek down below, a sky full of birds up above – each with their own unique song, leisurely conversations over coffee, and a beautiful run through the mountains we once again call home.
In these parts, there’s four types of road: the 4-lane connecting each of the surrounding villages, the road that leads into town from the 4-lane. . . which connects to the road leading to houses scattered along the mountainside, and the driveways to the homes that cling to that mountain – better described in runner speak: hilly, steep, steepest and vertical, respectively.
Run Downhill. Walk Up . . . a strategy used by ultra trail runners to extend endurance; perhaps a legitimate strategy for life as well.
The ‘run’ begins at our cabin perched on the side of the mountain among the treetops (elevation: 2,925 ft / 891 m).
Being the most vertical of all the roads, I walk roughly 2/10 of a mile down the drive (185 feet of elevation loss) to where the steepest road begins, and then I run.
The steepest road ends after 1.2 miles, and another 455 feet down. Sometimes I turn to the left, which leads up the mountain and eventually intersects with the 4-lane, and sometimes I turn right, a slightly downhill route into town (elevation: 2,012 ft / 613m). Going left, up the mountain is actually my favorite route.
Along the way, roosters crow in the background, wild turkey and snakes cross the road, dogs bark in the distance – and at my feet, and two cyclists bid me good-morning on their trek up the steep road that connects to another steepest road (3,317 ft elevation / 1,011m), across a bridge to the Blue Ridge Parkway (up to 5000+ ft / 1,524+m), with a return trip back down the same route into town some 2 odd hours later. A lady walking up the steep road stops to ask if I still run all the way down to Walmart – something she remembers me telling her years ago.
An older, toothless man waits at the end of his drive to ask how far I’m running. He says, “I ran 5 miles down to ‘PJs’ the other day.” (Who, or where is PJs, I’m wondering?) We talk about how beautiful the steep road is, and how the road into town is too busy. I ask if he runs often. “When I take a mind to,” he says, and I spend the rest of the run marveling that this man can run these mountain roads whenever he takes a mind to.
Sometimes the creek is roaring beside me while a little further up the road, one wrong step, and I’d tumble 30 feet or more down its rocky bank.
Back at the steepest road leading to my driveway, running ends and the long walk up begins. The cows come back to the fence, grass still in their mouths, as if to say, “You’re back! Good job,” except for the little gal in the back that seems to be saying, “RUN! You weenie.” I talk to the cows, and decide I should give them names – despite my husband’s warning.
It has been a splendid week of running, and a fine way to recover from my recent menopausal meltdown, proving nothing lasts forever – and sometimes that’s just lovely indeed.