High on Herschel

https://www.strava.com/activities/4594264949
RATS #00352

Ah, a sunny Saturday in January! I took this opportunity to finish off some small streets near Herschel Park and then make my way over to Crafton Heights and Corliss to tackle that conundrum.

If you’ve never been to Herschel Park, get out the door and GO! It’ll take a few twists and turns and maybe some back-tracking, but once you’re there, sitting high on a hill, the tremendous views of Heinz Field at the confluence of the Mon and Allegheny are amazing. The trek out there seems so arduous, I didn’t realize that it’s less than a mile away, as the crow flies. Damn crow.

View from Herschel Field
View from Herschel Field

From this starting point, I trotted down toward Noblestown Road, winking in and out of small alleys perched on the cliffs. For some reason, even after several forays here, I had not completed Weston Way. This time I made sure I ran it from end-to-end. Now I understood. Where Weston is supposed to intersect Steuben Street there are houses. Weston Way ends in a path which takes you down front steps to Steuben. Argh, so much for a public path!

With my first little goal accomplished, I hit a secondary goal; the three-street Whitehead Drive subdivision between Steuben and Arnold. Nothing much too see there, as split level fifties houses curved along the concrete streets.

Now to my number one goal, a mysterious section of Pittsburgh off of Middletown Road. What makes that area “mysterious”? Well, for one, I’m not familiar with it, so I don’t have a “mental map” of it. Secondly, while it can be approached from several directions, it is high above each of them (Chartiers Avenue, Berry Street and Middletown Road). Thirdly, there is a curious mix of streets, paths and steps. I wasn’t sure which would be truly passable and which sections were just lines on the map.

I shouldn’t have been worried. It is a beautiful neighborhood. The tree lined streets are broad. The houses are generally large and well maintained. Folks were walking dogs, chatting with neighbors and enjoying the day. The streets do tend to dead-end on the top of what I’ll call “Chartier’s Hill”. However, unlike some sections of Pittsburgh, where run down houses mar the view, these semi-country estates added to it.

In planning this run, I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to understand Straka Street. In an overgrown summer, the Straka sign on Berry seems to be another misplaced Pittsburgh street sign. From Google maps, it looks like a walk-way, or a long driveway. Finally the Pittsburgh’s step website indicated that Straka way was a reality. So, I tentatively planned to do it.

Again, nothing to be worried about. A driveway lead to a walkway and then a long series of shallow steps from Sanborn Street to Berry. The collage below takes it all in. These must be super convenient, as Chartiers and Berry are busy with buses and this leads to the heart of this hillside neighborhood.

Straka Way Steps
Straka Way Steps

With this, I made my way back to Herschel Park. I skipped part four of this run as that would have pushed me to nearly fifteen miles.

Winding Thru Windgap

https://www.strava.com/activities/3890197520
RATS #00277 in the Windgap neighborhood of Pittsburgh

Whew, another hot summer run! This time I sought out Windgap and Chartiers for a rather flat run in Pittsburgh’s western neighborhoods. I started from Chartiers Playground. As I waited there for my Garmin to synch to a satellite, I noticed an elderly man slowly walking a little fluffy white and brown dog up the street. I figured I would be long gone before he passed. As the satellites blinked overhead, refusing to connect, the man passed, chatting away on his cell phone, significantly younger than I had thought. While I stood there, getting old myself, he turned up the street and continued on. The effect was, that once Garmin did actually tune into the mothership, he was on the street I had originally intended to run. I felt awkward running by him now, so I decided to go around the block.

On this, my two-hundred and seventy-seventh run in Pittsburgh, I should have known you can’t just “go around the block” here. I dabbled a little on the other side of Chartiers Avenue, then found myself in the far end of Windgap, where large yards contain sprawling ranch houses or small two story homes. It’s rather remarkable how wide open this area is and I think it is on the Chartiers Creek floodplain.

At the upper edge of this plain, long streets such as Summerdale and Isolene provided some shade from the withering sun. Isolene has the distinction of being the first street you come to when hurtling down Middletown Road, which has about a quarter mile of nasty turns before hitting this flat area.

There wasn’t too much to see here. As it was garbage night, people were starting to bring out their trash. I seem to have a habit of running on garbage night, wherever I go. I liked the baby blue house below. Most houses were actually in better shape than that one. Large yards are the norm, many with large, flourishing gardens.

Approaching four miles, I finally made it around the block and called it a day. According to Strava, it was 88 degrees, but it felt hotter.