Last Saturday, after a hectic week of driving back and forth to Boston twice, spending Thanksgiving with the family, working on the day before and after, and being generally sleep-deprived, I awoke early yet again to make the nearly three-hour drive to the Conway area with Yvonne and our friend Annie to hike one of the not-hidden gems of the White Mountains. We met a few more of Yvonne’s friends at the parking lot for the Piper Trail (which in the winter is a plowed yard next to the National Forest trailhead, which is closed– the residents charge $3 to park in the winter, which is the same as the usual fee for trailhead parking in the Whites), and started up Mount Chocorua.
At only 3500 feet in elevation, Chocorua is an amazingly little mountain. The summit is bare and rocky, with glorious views all around, and the hike up is fun for all ability levels. This being the end of autumn, the conditions were not ideal. Temperatures were well above freezing, so the snow that had fallen a few days ago was now ankle-deep slush for almost the entire 4.5 miles up. That made for slippery and wet hiking. Otherwise, it was a fine day. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
A parking lot with a view. It’s always nice to see exactly where you’re going from the start of the hike.
At best, the trail was a mix of rock and solid snow. A little slippery here, but less wet than the slush.
Above treeline, the rock slabs offered great views but with more slipping and sliding.
From our first viewpoint we could see where the Carter Ledge trail comes up. I think I’ll take that one next.
The prize is in sight!
Looking out toward Passaconaway, Whiteface, the Tripyramids, Osceola, and more. A really gorgeous section of the Whites.
Once on the summit ridge, the route becomes a free-for-all, making for a really entertaining walk.
Annie and Yvonne seem to think this ledge I led them up wasn’t the safest route.
There’s so much open space on the summit, it’s a great place for a picnic (cold, though).
It’s about time to head down.
Heading back down before the early sunset.
To top it all off, we stopped by the Eastern Mountain Sports in North Conway to check out some things, and I was ambushed by a hiking buddy from the PCT whom I had not seen in a year and a half. I didn’t even know she lived near Conway, so when she tackled me from behind in the store, I probably made a few parents clamp their hands over their kids’ ears before I realized who it was. Good times.