Stairs In the Knotweed

https://www.strava.com/activities/3585301254
RATS #00253 – One Wild Place… and more!

This run took me around Highland Park, the park not the neighborhood, to the rear of the Pittsburgh Zoo and down Butler Street to Lawrenceville. I also was planning to hit three small areas that had short streets and steps. It turns out, one set of steps was just wildly overgrown, one was broken and one didn’t exist anymore.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Starting in Highland Park, my troublesome hamstring reared its ugly head as I went up Farmhouse Road. From there on out I only managed a mostly slow trot. However, Highland Park, in the brightly sunny, blue-sky day was magnificent. Lush green trees towered over plush green lawns.

I made my way on Lake Drive to Carnegie Lake. This little man-made pond has wooden boardwalks out into the water. Earnest young men were trying to fish while excited little girls were throwing bread to the fish. The large swimming pool is still unfilled, but several beach volleyball games were underway on the sand courts. The players had gone all out, playing in bikinis and swim trunks. Past this beach scene, pavilions disappeared into the deep groves and a flight of stairs led to trails.

Lake Drive winds around the back of the zoo as it ascends to One Wild Place. This two lane road is split between a lower ascending lane and an upper descending lane. Along the wall between the two are cute mosaics fancifully depicting animal antics.

From there I went out on Butler Street then went up Baker Street. It is a fairly steep street going right up into Morningside.

Past the “Welcome to Morningside” sign was one of the little side streets I had targeted. It was shaped like an upside down “V” with a set of stairs crossing the open part of the “V”. Alas, the brilliant sun and ample rain caused everything to be overgrown on steps known as Dressing Way. I ventured up for a bit, crunching the Japanese Knotweed underfoot. Finally, it looked too dense to continue, so I backed down the crunchy steps and instead ran up Marietta Street. Marietta ends at the apex of the “V” and intersects Premo Street. As Premo dissoved into a driveway, I saw the top of the Dressing Way steps and thought “That looks doable!” So I went all the way down them through the forest of knotweed again. Whew! I hope I’m not allergic.

Along Butler Street again, I winded my way to Osborne Street, hoping to find a stairway down to Butler. No dice. No sign of those steps.

Back on Butler, I encountered a friend biking home. I don’t think I had seen Antonella since the Covid19 lockdown and we got to chat for a couple of minutes. I love it when I’m in a random spot in Pittsburgh and come across a fellow runner.

My next step encounter looked much better. This was a short flight up to Sawyer Street. Unfortunately, tree damage prevented a full traverse of those steps. The top conveniently doubled as a staging area for some brick work.

From there, I ran to Stanton and Holmes. I had one section of Holmes to complete and did it, crossing Holmes off my list for good. By the time I got to Kendall Street, though. my hammies had had enough and I walked back to the car. Over six miles in with a great evening, so can’t complain.

‘Sno Way! A Trek through Morningside and Stanton Heights

https://www.strava.com/activities/3183121606
RATS #00197

Much has happened since my last post. Most notably, COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, has become rampant across the world and has started to make real, day-to-day impacts on the lives of Americans in general and Pittsburgh in particular. There’s lots of ‘news’, some of it suspect and some of it very solid. Johns Hopkins’ site is pretty informative. In general, the genie is out of the bottle and ‘social distancing’ is being stressed in order to mitigate the effects of the virus. Hopefully, this effort to quash large groups will decrease the total number of cases of covid-19, and spread out the number of cases, so people who are severely sick can get the care they will need. Enough about that.

For the time being, I’ll be avoiding large group runs, but my Spring marathon hasn’t been moved or cancelled and I still have hundreds of Pittsburgh streets to run. Today I started out with Cathy, running from Point Breeze. Cathy wanted some company on the back-half of the Pittsburgh Marathon course, so we ran together for about five miles.

Then I headed over to Morningside to finish some streets in that area, notably Snow Way and pop up into Stanton Heights. So, running up Stanton, I expected to see an alley on the right, with a four letter name starting with “S”. There it was, Swan Way? Hmm, cool house on the corner, a long alley, this must be it. Swan Way continued deep into Morningside, nearly a mile. As I progressed, I dutifully went up and down many of the cross streets. When I got to Martha Street, I finally noticed street signs for Snow Way and realized I had made a mistake. Well, as they say “nothing to it but to do it“, so I made my way back to Stanton in order to pick up the start of Snow Way. Turns out, that’s nigh impossible since Snow Way, while getting really, really close to Stanton Ave, actually dead-ends in a retaining wall holding that street up. To make matters worse, it progresses only a couple of blocks before becoming a grassy track behind houses.. Thanks for the stop sign, neighbor. It does pick up on the far side, though and parallels Swan Way up the hill.

Morningside is a rather nice neighborhood. The well-maintained houses are pretty tight with each other, but each has a yard and often a garage off the alley. At the high end of Morningside, the Baker Street overlooks the Allegheny while on Jancey Street, the old elementary school, Morningside Public School, is now apartments.

From the top end of Morningside, there are three ways to quickly reach Stanton Heights, two sets of staircases without streets (Martha and Adelphia) and a steep street with sidewalk steps (Greenwood).

Going up Greenwood, I was pleasantly surprised at this piece of Stanton Heights. It was similar to Morningside with bigger houses, large shade trees and quiet streets. Since I had gone up Adelphia’s wooden stairs where pieces of asphalt roofing shingles were thoughtfully nailed down for traction, I actually went down Martha concrete steps, all 105 of them. At the bottom, I was vigorously chased by a freedom loving tiny weiner dog, no more than six inches high. Man, those tiny legs can move!

Stanton Heights

Heading to Stanton Heights once more, I was greeted by the official Stanton Heights welcome sign. My hands were still shaking from the weiner dog incident, so the pic is blurry. I covered more streets behind Sunnyside Elementary School then followed Camelia Street, Christopher Street and 57th Street to Upper Lawrenceville. On that steep route down into Lawrenceville, I saw several immense sets of stairs off to the left, which I will have to cover later. I stopped at Caffe d’Amore Coffeeshop, over sixteen miles done and many new streets covered.

In Friendship We Meet

Friendship Perk & Brew – start of run, thanks to HPRC

This was a cool run, both in temps and character. A cold front had pushed out the scorching August heat. The day was sunny, too! The Highland Park Running Club had met at Perk and Brew earlier in the morning and their runners were finishing up. Many were relaxing outside or lined up inside getting coffee and ice cream. I chatted a bit and then set off. My plan today was to do a few streets in Friendship and then take off to Morningside.

Running in Friendship was great! The flat, tree-lined streets were lined with large brick houses. There were many runners and walkers out. Children rode bikes and parents pushed strollers. I liked the street names, too; Harriet, Evaline, Winebiddle, South Pacific and South Atlantic, to mention a few. Even the alleys had cool names. Who can resist Asterisk Alley?

My overall goal was to run at least 13.1 miles, a half-marathon distance. I wasn’t exactly sure how many miles I’d get in Morningside, so getting two or three in Friendship would be a good start. Peeling off of Harriet, I went up Roup Street, then zig-zagged over to North Aiken Ave. North Aiken is one of the few of theses streets to go straight through Garfield. It also rises precipitously once you’ve crossed Penn Ave. Another zig and another zag found me on Chislett Street, which would take me into the heart of Morningside.

Morningside is a long narrow neighborhood nestled between Highland Park, the Pittsburgh Zoo and Stanton Heights. It is comprised of four parallel streets, Chislett, Jancey, Morningside and Duffield, and an equal number of alleys. At their northern end, are bluffs overlooking the Allegheny River. There are a number of cross streets, too. Also, at the end of Chislett and to the right is a section of short roads and alleys. While Friendship is tree-lined, Morningside is mostly open. Small lots with small houses line the streets. It is packed with people; few vacant houses, no open lots. As I ran on Chislett, I passed a coffee house and a few other small businesses. This was rather plain running. Then, at the end of Chislett was a nice view of the Allegheny River. Making a right onto Witherspoon St, I came to a flight of public stairs. Of course, I had to go down them, whereupon I realized I was very near the road entrance to the Pittsburgh Zoo! That was a little surprise!

I re-traced my steps back to Witherspoon and did the necessary ins and outs to run the warren of streets there. The edge street, Antietam, directly overlooks the zoo entrance. At the end of Antietam, a baseball game was in progress at Natoli Field. Also a working water fountain! (Yay!)

From there I went back and forth on Jancy Street, Morningside Avenue, and intervening alleys; stopping for a moment at a Rite Aid to get some OJ. I spied the Adelphia stairs (there’s a street sign on them), but resisted the urge to run up them. I was getting tired and wasn’t going to cover every street at once. I made my way back to Perk & Brew, via North Negley and Mellon Street, getting in a solid fifteen miles.

From Friendship to the end of Morningside: RATS #00111