Mt. Chocorua, NH, 15 October 2017

10:45 a.m. on October 16, 2017 (EDT)
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Saturday night I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to hike Mt Chocorua, N.H., on Sunday, threw a few things in my daypack, and had one of the worst nights of sleep I‘ve ever had. 

When I got up I really didn’t feel like going, but I showered, dressed, ate, and hit the road just the same. The whole way there I was basically looking for reasons to turn around—there won’t be a view because of how cloudy it is, it won’t be as fun without a partner, it‘s too late, etc.

But I didn’t turn around, not even when I started getting sleepy and had to pull into a parking lot and nap for maybe 1/2 hour. I got to the Piper Trail head right around noon, which WAS late, but I had 2 headlamps with me so that wasn’t an excuse. After finishing a bottle of water I put on my pack and headed out. 

The weather WAS pretty crappy, overcast & muggy, but the forecast was for the clouds to blow out in the afternoon. As I climbed it seemed that was the case, when I got to the first overlook the land to the east was a patchwork of sun & cloud shadows. 

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3F0807D7-1696-43EC-A636-8F419CF53F88.jpgLooking up at the summit, still enshrouded in cloud. 

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It had rained overnight and some of the rocks & ledges were still wet, but my new Lowa Camino GTX only lost traction and slipped once on the way up. The trail continued back into the trees, and I kept climbing. A while later I got to another spot with a view of the summit. It was clearing up there!


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Because of how heavily I sweat I keep my phone in my pack and only take it out when I stop for breaks, so I didn’t take any pics of the summit when I reached the tree line. This is the last pic I took until I actually made the summit. Champney Brook Trail is the one my friend Chad & I took on our winter ascent back in March.

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The summit of Chocorua is a huge rocky knob, very exposed and with steep dropoffs on all sides, and you have to do some scrambling to reach the summit. (From the winter climb, obviously.)

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Have I mentioned that I hate heights? Every step you take up there seems like a slip would have you bouncing once or twice then taking the express to the bottom. Add in the wind that had to be close to 40mph - as if I’M in any danger of being blown away! - and I had a few “WTF am I doing up here?” moments. But I made it to the summit and got the mandatory pic of the pin. You can see absolutely forever from here on a clear day.

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Holding my phone tightly I got a few pics of the surrounding area, then it was time to eat something and head down. One white chocolate macadamia nut Clif bar later, I was doing just that. And freaked the hell out by how close the dropoffs were. 

I generally don’t like descending on the same trail I ascended, so whenever feasible I take another. This time I took the Liberty Trail, to Hammond Trail, to Weetamoo Trail, which met up with Piper about 1/2 mile from the trailhead. Partway down Liberty Trail I came to the Jim Liberty Cabin. The chains holding it down are 3/4” link. 


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I really need to start bringing a stove and freeze-dried meal along, having only had the one Clif bar since breakfast I was famished! The cabin would have made a good place to eat. 

Hammond and Weetamoo Trails were little more than footpaths, with a lot of up & down and rocks just waiting to twist your ankle. Most of Weetamoo, and Piper to the trailhead, were done by headlamp. I reached the trailhead almost exactly 7.5 hours after leaving it, with 8.6 miles and 2900’ of elevation gain in between - longer and more gain than 1900-foot-taller Mt Monroe last month. My feet were sore, the taped blister on my heel wasn’t bothering me (I need to use those liner socks I bought!) but my toes hurt like hell because the Lowas are easy to overtighten. Maybe I need to be a little more patient when tying and retying. 

A 1h20m drive home, a call to Domino’s, and a shower, and I felt somewhat human again. My right knee was swollen a little but there was no undue pain, only what anyone would expect after that hike. Most of it was probably from not moving during the drive.

11:52 a.m. on October 16, 2017 (EDT)
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Re: Mt Chocorua NH, 15 October 2017

My first real White Mountain summit, and therefore one of my favorites. I'm surprised the cabin is still there -- I thought they took it out way back in the late 70s. Shows you how long it's been since I was there. Thanks for the memories!

11:57 a.m. on October 16, 2017 (EDT)
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Re: Mt Chocorua NH, 15 October 2017

You’re welcome! Until the climb this past March I hadn’t hiked Chocorua since back in the 80s so it was a little bit of a surprise to me as well, considering the damage from Hurricane Gloria back in 1985. 

2:03 p.m. on October 16, 2017 (EDT)
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Re: Mt Chocorua NH, 15 October 2017

way to go get it!

12:02 p.m. on October 17, 2017 (EDT)
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Re: Mt Chocorua NH, 15 October 2017

I seem to recall you threatening to climb Chocurua again. Looks like you made good on the threat :)

That snow had me going for a second until I read it was from a previous trip. I didn't think the cold had moved in until Monday. Thinking of heading over for a big Pemi loop tomorrow and expecting it to be chilly.

You do need to think about packing more food for a hike like that. Takes a lot of energy to get up there and a fair amount to get back down as well. I like to graze, small snacks, as I'm hiking. That way the tank never gets empty. I have a zip bag of crushed Doritos and a zip bag of unsalted nuts and berries. Easy to shake a mouthful right out of the bag so fingers never touch it. Lunch is sausage and cheese in a tortilla when I'm smart enough to stop and eat it. My choices are based on a fat fueling strategy, so bring what works for you.

Thanks for sharing another hike here, Phil.

6:01 p.m. on October 17, 2017 (EDT)
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Re: Mt Chocorua NH, 15 October 2017

I think we’re doing North & Middle Tripyramid this weekend, so maybe I’ll have another good trip report next week. :)

1:31 p.m. on October 18, 2017 (EDT)
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Re: Mt Chocorua, NH, 15 October 2017

Thanks for the trip report, Phil! It looks like a fun time up there. I'm glad you went and did it.

I have some extra affection for Mt. Chocorua because I have pictures from the 1930s of my grandmother and her brothers hiking it.

Have fun hiking the Tripyramids next weekend.

7:54 a.m. on October 19, 2017 (EDT)
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Nice story and beautiful pics-thanks. Always better to have more food than you might need 'cause you never know what lies ahead. A lifesaving and comfort giving stove can be as simple as a folding Esbit that fits in a shirt pocket. It will hold four fuel tabs or burn waste paper and twigs. Won't cook u a steak but will make tea, coffee, cocoa and heat other items.

10:10 a.m. on October 19, 2017 (EDT)
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I had 3 or 4 Clif bars in my hip belt pockets, but those only do so much. So from now on a stove and at least 1 meal (2 or more in winter) will be coming with me. And I suppose I’d better start practicing with the Whisperlite I bought a few weeks back, because my isopropane stove doesn’t work so well when it gets down around 0F. Propane boils at -42F so I’m guessing it’s the butane that causes the problems. 

Alicia,

I remember you mentioning those pics, maybe one day my nieces’ and nephews’ kids will see the pics I’ve taken on my hikes. 

9:30 p.m. on October 19, 2017 (EDT)
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Phil, the boiling point for butane is 31f. One can always keep a fuel canister warm to make it work some or better by sleeping with it or carrying it next to the body or placing it in hot or warm water, if you can make the hot water to begin with, and cooking with it then.

And of course elevation/altitude effects all fuels.

10:40 a.m. on October 30, 2017 (EDT)
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Phil Smith said:

Alicia,

I remember you mentioning those pics, maybe one day my nieces’ and nephews’ kids will see the pics I’ve taken on my hikes. 

 That would be nice!

7:40 p.m. on November 8, 2017 (EST)
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Beautiful pictures! Looks like a great trip and thanks for sharing.

7:17 a.m. on November 9, 2017 (EST)
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I love that mountain, I’ve been up it twice in the last 3 weeks. Here are pics I took last Saturday from the summit of the “Middle Sister” subpeak. 

Mt Passaconaway & Mt Tripyramid in the center background. 
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Zoomed in. 
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Looking toward Crawford Notch, just right of center. The Notch is the western access point to Mt Washington and the southern Presidentials. 
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Zoomed in. 
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Remnants of an old tower on the Middle Sister summit. We stopped here to eat lunch out of the wind. Temps at the summit were in the 30s, with a pretty constant 30-ish mph wind. 
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Mt Washington. Crawford Notch is just above the 3rd pine tree from the left. 
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Zoomed in. Mt Monroe’s summit is the smaller bump to the left. 
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Mt Kearsarge North, a nice climb with a great view. 
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Zoomed out.
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7:37 a.m. on November 9, 2017 (EST)
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Beautiful photos and who wouldn't enjoy the captions-Thanks.

August 19, 2019
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