Tales from the trails

Barry and I got back up to Pandapas Pond today for some trail running. It was in the 20’s, but felt like single digits with the windchill. I think I should have gone with tights instead capris! We started out on the Horse Nettle trail and made our way up into the woods.

The trail was very gentle for a bit, and then started to climb up and got very steep. I found myself switching from running to hiking before I ever reached mile 1. Just before mile 1, we arrived at an intersection and turned onto the Joe Pye trail to head down to the pond. The last time we ran here, I never actually got to see the pond. I told Barry that if the place was called Pandapas Pond, I wanted to see the pond this time. Joe Pye trail was no joke.
Seriously. I don’t know how people ride their bikes on these trails. I nearly fall off of my bike when I run over a stick on a perfectly flat trail. The above picture was taken after we had come down through that mess, and I decided I needed to turn around and take a photo of it to document. I survived the Joe Pye trail and we finally arrived at the pond!
There is a gravel trail that goes around the pond and wetlands area, and as you can see the pond itself was half frozen. This is where my tale from the trail comes in for the day. As we arrived at the pond, there were two women walking with one dog on a leash and calling for another dog. The dog they were calling for was across the pond. They continued to call for it, and the dog walked down onto the ice on the pond and started to walk across it to them. I was so scared that the dog was going to fall through, but they were laughing. I don’t know if they didn’t realize the danger or what. I stood there paralyzed with fear, just waiting for the dog to fall through the ice. Luckily, it made it across and to it’s owners and they put a leash back on it. That was one of the scariest things I’ve ever watched. 
With my heart pounding like I had just run up a mountain, thanks to watching that dog cross on the ice, we started to make our way around the pond. I wanted to check out the wetland area. There was a neat bridge that goes over the water there.
But it was insanely windy out in the open, so Barry and I headed back into the woods and onto a trail called Lady Slipper. This trail was listed as easy, and it was easier in terms of there not being any roots or rocks. But it was also uphill. We were approaching three miles and I was feeling really worn out, so I found myself hiking again.
Lady Slipper connected back with Horse Nettle (where do they get these names??). I was kind of ready to head back to the parking lot, but Barry wanted to head up Horse Nettle some more so I tagged along. And by tagged along I mean I walked/ran while Barry disappeared in the distance. Just before mile 4 he circled back and I informed him that I was going to head back down the trail to the parking area. We both had a set of car keys, so he headed back up Horse Nettle to finish out his run while I made the 1.2 mile trek back to the car. 
Horse Nettle was a little scary for me to run down, as it was a single track that dropped off sharply on one side. I trip a lot while I’m running on trails and I had this vision of me tripping and going over the edge. I stayed to the far left of the trail, away from the edge. I don’t know if the below picture does it justice, but trust me it was a long way down.
I am proud to say I ran the entire rest of the way, as it was mostly downhill with a few uphill sections. There were also at least 5 creek crossings during our run, but none of them were as big as the ones on the Poverty Creek trail. I was able to cross them by stepping on rocks and logs and thus was able to keep my feet dry. 
I beat Barry back to the car by about 25 minutes, so I sat there under a blanket with the sun shining in the car and read until he got back. When we got home, I quickly changed into a dry set of running clothes and headed back out to meet Kim at the Dora trail for her first run post-baby! 
We ran two miles together. We had more purpose than just Kim’s first run back, though. Today we were also running for Meg. This past Monday, Meg Menzies, a runner and mother of 3 small children was killed by a drunk driver while out on her morning run in Richmond, Virginia. We dedicated our miles together in her honor today.
If you would like to dedicate your miles to Meg, you can do so at Meg’s Miles. From the event page:
“This Saturday, January 18, 2014, no matter what your distance, no matter where you live, run for Meg. Take in the fresh air, be aware of your surroundings, keep your headphones on low, feel the heaviness in your lungs, the soreness in your legs, and be grateful for it–for all of it. The sweat, the pain, the wind, the cold…everything. Be grateful for that moment.

Feel free to post pictures of yourself pre-run or post-run, post your distance, post your thoughts, prayers, condolences with the hashtag #megsmiles. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. Let all runners unite together and remember the loss of a beautiful spirit. It’s not a coincidence the hashtag reads either “Meg’s Miles” or “Meg Smiles.” She will be smiling on all of us forevermore.”

Did you run any miles for Meg today?

What would you have done in the situation with the dog crossing the icy pond? 

Who else has a long weekend this weekend?
It’s a four day weekend for me. Yesterday was a state holiday (Lee-Jackson Day) and Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

10 Comments

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  1. I’m pretty sure I wiped out hard coming down Joe Pye on my mountain bike many years ago! My husband (then boyfriend) and I rode at Pandapas Pond all the time. I much prefer trail running to mountain biking! I don’t wipe out near as often, and walking up a steep hill still beats pushing a bike up a steep hill!

    1. That doesn’t surprise me. That trail was really tricky! There’s no way I could ever ride my bike at any of the trails at Pandapas.

  2. That looks like a fun run, except for the scary part! Two runs? You must have had a lot of energy today!

    1. Not so much energy, but the desire to run with my running buddy again after about 1.5 months apart! I was wiped out after those two runs and went to bed way early and slept for a long time.

  3. The hike sounds like hard work ~ but fun.
    If I had watched the dog cross the ice I would have frozen (not meant to be a pun!).
    4 for Meg today.

    1. It was so scary! I was just holding my breath and saying a prayer that the dog would make it across.

  4. I loved your trail run review! The pond is beautiful. I can’t believe that I’d never heard of it until you and Nicole started mentioning it.

    I ran 12 miles for Meg on Saturday.

    1. I predict a Pandapas Pond trail run in your future the next time you find your way to the ‘burg. 🙂

  5. That pond is gorgeous and it looks like a perfect day for running. I could not run on Saturday (moving all day), but I dedicated my Sunday miles to Meg. What a tragic story 🙁

    1. It was very clear, but pretty windy and cold. But conditions certainly could have been worse. Glad you were able to get some miles in for Meg. It’s an awful thing that happened.

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