So, this was the plan… Start at Threadbare Cider, run east and north on Spring Garden Ave until I got to a cross-street, wind up into Spring Hill, find Essen Street, cross I-279 and find my way back to Threadbare within an hour and fifteen minutes. I expected to cross into Reserve Township for a little, but I wasn’t sure how long. A mile or two?
My start was inauspicious, fitting the scenery. Spring Garden Avenue is depicted as a major road on maps. The mapmakers haven’t been on it, apparently. It is a two lane, flat, narrow road squeezed between the hillsides of Spring Hill and Troy Hill. At the start, there are dusty, narrow sidewalks on either side, with the smallest curbs in Pittsburgh. Narrow houses with narrow siding crowd the sidewalks. Sometimes I would see wood siding with peeling paint in older homes, or the amazingly ugly asphalt, faux brick style siding on 1930’s houses or perhaps vinyl siding in newer homes. Every now and then I exchanged friendly morning greetings with couples sitting out on their porches enjoying coffee and newspaper. Every now and then an eager dog would start barking as I tromped past. Cats just slinked away.
Sooner than I expected, I saw the “Reserve Township” sign. There wasn’t a big difference in the look of the street between Pittsburgh and Reserve Township, outside of losing the sidewalk. The yards did become bigger, but the houses looked very similar. Then the road became a winding country road. Several bicyclists passed me going up the hill. The houses started to give way to steep, green hills on one side and a rushing creek on the other. It was a bit nerve-wracking to run on that road, keeping an ear and eye out for any speeding car coming my way. Luckily it wasn’t a busy road.
Finally I made it up to Ramage Road and took a left. I wasn’t sure where it went, but figured I’d be at Ross Park Mall soon if I didn’t turn. I was disappointed that the street signs were green – signaling I was still outside of Pittsburgh. But at least the area was pretty nice with well kept houses and green yards. Then, finally, a blue “Chapin St” sign! I had made it back to Pittsburgh! This area was also very suburban. Nice two story split level houses with well tended lawns, gardens and driveways. I wandered a bit here, going down several small roads which dead-ended in cliffs above I-279. At this point, I was worried about time and took Colby Street south. I was thinking that I would soon be in the familiar territory of Spring Hill City View, but I had forgotten about Northview Heights neighborhood. From this direction, Mt Pleasant Road was blocked by a gate and security guard, so I veered off the to left, down Beech St. Alas, I was out of the city again. And I noticed that half of Beech St was blocked by fallen tree limbs. Hmm, strange!
Once again I ran onto Spring Garden Ave and back into Pittsburgh. It wasn’t far to Threadbare and now I had plenty of time. So, of course, I went up a road I hadn’t run on before. Wow! Williams Road kept going uphill! More and more tree limbs were scattered across the road, slowing down the few cars that went past. Eventually I made a left onto Sunset Avenue, saw Essen Road and made my way down to Threadbare. (Essen Road was on the original plan.) As I went, more and more tree limbs were in the streets, crews were repairing power lines and several streets were completely blocked off. The Spring Hill City View neighborhood is densely packed with small houses, small gardens and lots of steep, winding roads and dead-ends. Between the blocked off roads and the maze of streets, I wondered if I’d ever find my way back. Eventually, I found Homer St, which took me all the way down the hill to Spring Garden Ave, near Threadbare.
So, I made it back in time to join up with Mis-step‘s stair tour. I even had chance to change my clothes (though apparently I was still a sweaty mess). For the record, it was in about 85 degrees during this run, with high humidity. My sweat soaked hands and foggy reading glasses made using Google maps on my phone very difficult. As I later found out, the night before, a micro-burst had gone through the neighborhood, resulting in the downed tree limbs.