July 5, 2015.
My last trip to Chocorua, at least for redlining, will be today. It's a simple plan to head up Liberty Trail to the summit, back down Liberty to Hammond Trail, Hammond Trail to Weetamoo Trail, a down and back up Weetamoo, finish down Hammond and then return to Liberty Trail head via the trails. Well that's the plan anyways and plans are always open to change (hint hint).
My original plan was to head over to Maine for some more trails in the Evans Notch area. Getting off I-93 onto Route 104 in New Hampton and seeing the sunrise ahead of me I start reformulating my plan. It's going to be too nice of a day plus I really don't feel like driving three hours into Maine. So the new plan is head to Chocorua with a nice early start. It's 6:40 when I head past the Liberty Trail sign.
Liberty Trail was supposed to be done back in September of last year but after falling on a ledgey section I bailed on that plan as I would of had to repeat that very ledge. So here I am heading up Liberty Trail and determined to finish the last three trails on Chocorua. Logistically it is going to a lot of miles and elevation with a lot of repeating of trails due to the layout. It's a quiet trip up as the lot only had one another car in it and most likely they are up at Jim Liberty Cabin for the night. The trail is a mild climb and time goes by quickly in the early morning light. By seven the sun has risen over the ridge and is filtering through the trees.
An easy crossing of Durrell Brook and before I know it I am at the junction with Hammond Trail. Heading up the spline of the ridge now as Liberty Trail continues all the way to the summit. It traverses through the woods still reaching some ledges and finally a view of the target. It does not look like anything New Englandish from this angle more like something you would see out west.
Just up ahead is Jim Liberty Cabin and I take a few pics and continue on as there are overnight "guests" staying there.
The trail changes dramatically from here on up. Ledgey and scrambly all the way up to the junction with Brook Trail. Being a nice dry day the ledges are fun and in a few spots a little challenging.
There is the occasional peek at Chocorua as the trail winds around the side of the mountain. One last good scramble up and over a ledge before hitting the junction with Brook Trail.
At the open trail junction ledge there are views out to the west with Mt Paugus being the closest and right behind it are Whiteface and Passaconaway. Over to the right are the Osceolas and Mt Kancamagus.
One of the most impressive dikes is at this spot and goes quite the distance as I take a shot of it looking both ways.
Passing the next junction of West Side Trail and the fun climb up continues. First it heads straight up and then makes its way around the backside before reaching the final junction just below the summit with Piper Trail.
The final pitch is steep and I remember it well the other time I came up here back in March of 2014. It was much icier than today and I have no fears this time of slipping. Oddly I did not take a photo at this spot that day but just picture it with a ice covered crust.
Just two hours and fifteen minutes and I am on top of Chocorua for only the second time. Weather kept me off here one time and time constraints the last time. I haven't found a boring trail in this area yet. All the approaches offer great views along the way with great ledges. Considering how popular this mountain is I have the summit to myself. Probably not many people can lay claim to that especially in the summer.
I pause to take in the views for my pictures. Across the way are the Three Sisters. On the opposite side my exit route where Hammond Trail travels over the ridge, behind it is Chocorua Lake.
Wanting to get out of the sun I find a little secluded spot to the west of the summit and sit down to dry out as the shirt is soaked through. Off come the socks and shirt and the shade feels good as I have some snacks and water enjoying the view from up here. I take a good twenty minutes and start to hear voices behind me and that is my cue to pack up and get going. But before I do there is a great view of Passaconaway through the rocks where I am sitting. There is also a flowering bush beside me with white blossoms.
This is a perfect example of why it sometimes takes me so long to do my write-ups. I have this anal personality that I must identify all my pictures before putting them up. I dislike looking at someone's pictures and you have no clue as to what you are looking at because they don't label them. Google Earth helps with all the mountains and after a while you get to know the major ones. Mountains aren't my weak spot anymore but flowers are a whole different subject. And don't even mention trees. I do have a few resources and the one I use for flowers is here and has been pretty good since it is NH specific. But every once in a while I come across a stumper and this one was a doozy. I spent a good five to six hours off and on trying to find this plant. After exhaustive searching I typed something about flowers on Chocorua for the umpteenth time and came up with this weird hit from an old book on Google, Rhodora Journal of the New England Botanical Club 1916. You can find the referenced page here. Look at the entry on page 25 and they make mention of a plant called Paronychia Argyrocoma. At this point I said what the hell do I have to lose so I Googled that name and lo and behold there was my plant! Who would of thought I had to go to a book a hundred years old to find a plant.
Packed up I decide to head over to the edge of the ledge where I took my break on and see if I could see the cabin from this vantage point. I couldn't see it and probably should have gone down further but I had trail agenda to get back to. Back up to the trail and then down to the junction with Piper Trail for a return to Jim Liberty Cabin. The cabin was now empty so I went in to get a couple of shots.
A short side trip down the water spring path and it must be dry as I never saw any evidence of water. A few minutes later and I am back at the junction with Hammond Trail heading across the ridge it runs along. It is a great little trail and I really love ridges especially for their occasional views. A view back at Chocorua's dome looking summit. Along the trail a quite large split erratic always impresses me.
Further up and there is a clam shell looking split erratic. Looking across the valley at Carter Ledge and White Ledge is behind it to the right.
The trail is pretty mild with a few minor ups and downs and maybe this is another reason why I like trailed ridges. One more large erratic with multiple splits in it but still in one piece at least for now.
An hour and twenty minutes from leaving the summit and I am at the junction for Weetamoo Trail. A left turn and a trip down and then back up Weetamoo for my redlining. Just a few minutes down the trail and unfortunately hidden behind the trees is a huge, and I mean huge, boulder called appropriately Weetamoo Rock. This is one of those times I wouldn't mind some tree removal to get the full sense of the immensity of this rock. Looks like a return trip is in order during the leafless season. Right down the trail on the left side is another large rock or more of an outcropping.
Down the trail and at the point where the trail takes a right turn there is a small brook where I stop to refill my water. I have a cold liter right away and refill the bottle as I continue to head down the trail. Passing an old logging road (this might actually be a part of the old Weetamoo Trail before a relocation as it shows up on some older maps at 1400 feet) that intersects with the trail and the trail goes over a evergreen hump before making a left heading down into the valley.
At the bottom of the valley I make it to Chocorua River and stop to have some more fresh water before making it across and to the end where the trail meets the Piper Trail.
The usual turn around and right back up the trail I head as the I reach the steep section and the days miles begin to have there effect on me. Trudging along and I make it back to the ridge and turn left onto Hammond Trail. The long descent begins and I start to rethink my plan for the return to the parking lot. Originally I was going to return via the trails and after thinking about the elevation I would have to regain I didn't really like that idea. Stopping to pull out the maps and the mileage via some roads would be about the same as the trails. This looked like the better option and yet there was a third way to get back with less mileage. Unfortunately there was no guarantee that the old logging and woods roads on some maps where still passable. Too bad because it would have cut a good 2.5 miles off my hike back. The trip down is long with a mixture of steep and mild but being the end of the day all trails seem never ending.
Reaching the first crossing of Stony Brook and the trail is obvious on the other side. However a few minutes down the trail and at the next crossing the trail just dies at the brook. Looking around and there is a blaze behind me not none on the other side. Nothing else on this side and definitely no trail on this side going forward. With no other option I cross to the other side and pick up the trail. Winding around the woods and finally after what seems like a long time, just an hour from the junction with Weetamoo Trail, I reach the trail head of Hammond Trail.
A brief pause as I contemplate for a quick second of turning right onto the woods road and hoping for the best. But I can just picture that turning into a total disaster since there are too many unknowns. So making the left out of the parking lot and the long 6.2 mile trek back to the car begins. Reaching Route 16 and turning right onto it and it's a couple miles down to Chocorua Lake Road and turning right onto it a positive out of a long death march. I have always wanted to stop to get a picture of Chocorua from this vantage point but never do. So at the bridge I stop to get the picturesque shot across Chocorua Lake.
Reaching the height of land on Fowlers Mill Road and there is another shot of Chocorua across an open field. On the opposite is a view of Whiteface and Passaconaway.
A short pause along the side of the road as there are some wild raspberries and blueberries already ripe and taste wicked delicious after a long road walk in the sun. They hit the spot and one final turn onto Paugus Road and the 6.2 miles is done in pretty good time just taking two hours and twenty minutes. Not something I want to repeat but on the plus side Mt Chocorua is done as far as redlining its trails.
Final numbers: 18.1 miles, 9 hours and 40 minutes.
Redline Miles: 8.5, Total to Date: 853.7