Pandapas Pond Trail Run – As I mentioned on Sunday, while in Blacksburg last week for the Thursday night Virginia Tech football game, Bill and I took advantage of the gorgeous weather and changing leaves and headed out to Pandapas Pond for our first of two trail adventures.

Unfortunately, Bill isn’t able to run a lot these days because of his knee, but since dirt-packed trails are much more forgiving than asphalt, he joined me for a seven-mile Pandapas Pond trail run. We skipped the easier trail around the pond and opted for the more challenging trail that winds up to the top of Brush Mountain, a loop that Meagan introduced us to earlier last month.


Map credit: WeaselWorks

We agreed in advance that if Bill needed to hold back, I would run ahead and circle back as necessary. That ended up hardly being the case as we stayed pretty much together most of the way up Poverty Creek Trail and onto Snake Root Trail – once we found it. At some point early on – we think we were talking to a guy and his dog – we missed the turn onto Snake Root and had to turn back around to find it, adding a mile to our run.


Once we got to the clearing that we remembered from our run with Meagan, we paused to take some GoPro video and pictures with the views of the other mountains in the background.




Shortly after we left the clearing my Fitbit started buzzing and when I saw who was calling I grabbed my phone out of my SPIbelt (affiliate links) and answered it. My dear friend and I had been playing phone tag and I didn’t want to miss her call. She wanted to let me know that she was thinking of me because the following day was the third anniversary of my dad’s death – I couldn’t think of a better place to be to honor my dad than on a leaf-covered trail enjoying the mountains of Southwestern Virginia during his two favorite seasons – fall and Hokie football.

At the top of Brush Mountain, we paused to catch our breath and to take a couple of pictures with the sun moving lower in the sky before continuing on our Pandapas Pond trail run.


We headed out the fire road running along the ridge of the mountain for about a mile before finding the blue blaze to continue on Horse Nettle back down to the pond. We were starting to become concerned thinking that we’d run past our turn without seeing it. By this time we knew that it was going to be tight making it off of the mountain before it got dark; and the only light we had with us was my iPhone flashlight.


I charged down the mountain, turning occasionally to run back up and find Bill who was making his way down slowly to protect his knee. At one point just as it was almost dark, I asked Bill, “Isn’t this the time that bears and mountain lions like to forage for food?” The answer was, “Yes.”

Once off the mountain and out from the cover of the trees, we could see a little better as we crossed the bridge and headed back toward the parking lot.


And back at the parking lot, as any good runner would do, I ran around the loop for .12 mile to make it an even 7-mile run for my Pandapas Pond trail run. You know you’d do the same!


  • Questions:
  • Have you gotten caught out running in the dark without a light?
  • Do you run that extra fraction of a mile to make it an even number?
  • Are you racing this weekend?


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