Last I spoke of Mount Chocorua, it was a goal of mine, to climb the mountain’s summit and see for myself the glory of what lies. With help from Steve, a reader of my last blog, I researched the different trails, and with his recommendation, hiked up from Kancamagus Highway.
(Champney Brook Trail Sign on Kancamagus Highway, White Mountain National Forest)
From my home at White Lake State Park it’s about a 25 minute drive to the Champney Brook Trailhead just off the Kancamagus Highway (NH RT 112) in the amazing White Mountain National Forest.
(Champney Brook Trailhead)
(Champney Brook Trail)
From the start of the trailhead to the summit is 3.8 miles. Laughing off the aches and sores that will come tomorrow, I hiked up and up. What I found was an arboretum. The trees mesmerizing shades of green quickly calms one’s nerves. Like ornate chandeliers, the prism of florescent leaves glimmered while sheltering me from the sun. As such, the forest was cooler – making it absolutely suitable for hiking. Continuing the ascent and re-hydrating myself, halfway up I stopped to admire the cold waters of various waterfalls that parallel Champney Falls Trail. My favorite was situated at the edge of an enormous cliff and hidden between the cracks of bedrock. The cascades were shower like. It was neither strong nor weak, but exactly the right dose to soothe your face and keep you cool.
(View from the top of the Pitcher Falls, Champney Brook Trail, Mt Chocorua)
Refreshed, I walked onto the main trail leading to the summit of Mt. Chocorua. I must have hiked 45 minutes before I noticed a difference in the color and smell of the forest. The change was abrupt. From light shades of green and aromatic soil to darker shades of green and a heavy cool citrus smell. It was a visible distinction between the lower deciduous forest “broad leaf” and the higher coniferous forest “needle leaf” trees. I knew now I was getting closer to the summit.
(Hairpin curve on Mount Chocorua)
I continued climbing for another hour. I started to feel the heat of the sun bearing down as I exited away from the large coniferous trees and entered the realm of the dwarf trees. The dwarf trees are comprised of normal-sized coniferous trees that have been stunted by the extreme weather a top of the mountain. It is the farthest of where trees and plants survive before soil are completely blown off. Helping them to cope their small stature ensures the best means of mountain living. Some plant species are endemic to the mountain summits; hence, they are only found on top of mountains.
Leaving the dwarf trees, I reached the barren zone where all I had left to climb was a couple hundred meters of rock to get to the peak. As I reached the summit the view was breathtaking! I could see the White Mountain range all around me. It was a transcending experience. Vultures and hawks flew below as I stared down at them atop my heavens. In the far distance I could see White Lake State Park as it sits directly in the shadow of Mt. Chocorua. To think I was there only a few hours ago. I want to enjoy this moment before I return.