A Mountain Life

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.

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The ‘run’ begins at our cabin perched on the side of the mountain among the treetops (elevation: 2,925 ft / 891 m).

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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.

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Mailboxes are clustered on the steepest road for the houses scattered along the mountainside.

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.

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This dog has barked at me in front of her house on the steep road for years. We’ve grown old together, although no less committed to our mission.

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.

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The creek meanders along the right side as I climb the steep road.
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Waterfalls cascade down the rocky mountainside on my left.
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I love the freshly planted fields of a mountain farm.

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.

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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.

Miles Run: 3-5, Miles Walked: 1.45   

Total Elevation Gain/Loss: 1,344 ft / 410m

Elapsed Time: 58-80 minutes, including time spent talking to cows, dogs, cyclists, and neighbors.

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4 thoughts on “A Mountain Life

  1. BEautiful photos! I find that running downhill is dangerous! I do my cove walk/run each morning for 30 minutes…try to run paritally up waterfall road and from mail box to there Of course it’s in the dark with my little headlight! So glad you have a place in the mountains again. Feeds the soul, doesn’t it!

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    1. Yes, the mountains are fabulous. I’ve missed being there more than I realized. Running downhill can be dangerous, but it can also be strengthening (sounds like a post to me, haha). We remember seeing your headlight going up and down the mountain every morning!! Hope to see you soon.

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    1. Thanks! It’s so good to be back!! We really can’t believe we left. I’ve been to the Soap Co. to replenish all my soaps and potions, and everything is once again well with the world. 🙂 Hope to see you soon.

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