After enjoying our fill of fake Middle Earth fantasying, we started jogging up the hill towards the ridgeline west of Mt. Wantastiquet. About half a mile up we stopped to enjoy the view at Indian Pond, then we decided to do a half-mile out-and-back up towards Mine Ledge. On our way up it started raining and we realized that the open rocky ledges would probably be pretty treacherous on the way back down, which they were. We turned back at what for lack of a better term I'm calling the easternmost summit of the Wantastiquet summit plateau, about half a mile east of Mine Ledge, which we'd run out to a year earlier.
Indian Pond pano
Indian Pond from above
Back down at Indian Pond, we started back out on the figure-8 of the Ann Stokes and Daniels Mountain loops. The initial climb up from the pond is steep and rugged, and we were barely able to jog it. But then once up and over the initial hill there was a really nice section beneath some hemlocks, and we enjoyed some roller-coastery swooping and whooping for a bit. After reaching an intersection, we continued east on the southern leg of the Daniels Mountain loop. There was a nice runnable section at first, with a couple of mossy boulder-strewn ravines and wet swales to cross, then the grade steepened for a steady ascent along the southern flank of the mountain.
a fun descent along the Ann Stokes loop
mossy boulder ravine along the Daniel's Mountain loop
approaching Moon Ledge on the Daniel's Mountain loop
The trail brought us to an intersection at Moon Ledge, which has a wide, sweeping view over Hinsdale, NH to the south. The rain had stopped and the sun was peeking out from between cloud layers, making for some pretty dramatic lighting across the valley below. We were thankful for the cool temps and light breeze that kept the bugs at bay. From there we headed about half a mile north to the actual summit of Daniels Mountain. The map didn't show any topo lines, but in reality not a single section of it was flat. The trail (mostly) gently rolled along the undulating plateau up there, with the occasional steep pitch to negotiate.
pretty light after the rain
Jen at the Moon Ledge vista overlooking far southern NH and northern MA
The descent from Daniels Mtn. was super fun. There were a couple of slightly overgrown areas where the mountain laurel bushes could stand to be trimmed back a bit (they were wet and soaked our shoulders each time we passed through a thicket), but mostly the trail was easy to follow and very fun to run. A mile or so later we found ourselves. back at the parking area, where we decided to log a few extra training miles along the dirt road. Speaking of the road, there's a really scenic section along the lower part of Gulf Road where the winding road passes through a narrow forested canyon right next to the stream. Recent rains ensured the water was roaring, and there were even a few temporary waterfall chutes cascading down the ledges on the south side of the road. After our late afternoon activities we headed over to The Marina near the mouth of the West River in Brattleboro for some excellent dinner and drinks. Cheers to a rewarding mid-week adventure!
Jen at a scenic ledge along the Daniel's Mountain loop
elevation profile of our run
iconic Madame Sherri