Join me to a place of cool brisk water and gentle breezes where people can unwind to escape the summer’s heat. Unpack, relax, and meander the trails. Take in a forest redolent of conifers and blooming blueberries. Explore the Pitch Pine forests or stroll the entire circumference of the lake. After hiking, take a listen, before sunrise and after sunset become mesmerized by the eerie call of the Common Loon. Only a nesting pair of these birds returns every year to brood their young. This is White Lake State Park! It is a gem in the Chocorua Valley where visitors camp under the spectacular ambiance of rural New Hampshire.
As I walk toward White Lake for the first time, I catch my first glimpse of Mount Chocorua in the horizon. Wow! This magnificent mountain is seemingly formidable. So, this is where my journey begins? I must say, things are looking pretty good from here. Mount Chocorua (pronounced “Cho-koó-ra”) is located in the town of Albany and is the easternmost peak of the Sandwich Range in the White Mountain National Forest. It has an elevation of 3,480 ft and can be seen from almost every direction. If you enjoy hiking, you’re in luck. People travel in large numbers to hike this rocky summit. The beauty and vastness of this mountain is stunning right along white lakes shore. I feel lucky to call it home…for the meanwhile that is.
The Legend of Chocorua:
People say the name “Chocorua” belonged to a Native American man living in the early 1700’s. This story—rife with vengeance and grief—has been passed along at campfires, family dinners, and throughout the township of Tamworth, New Hampshire. Chocorua is believed to have befriended settlers in the region; one in particular, the Campbell Family. Chocorua took journey unexpectedly and entrusted the care of his son with the Campbell family. Upon his return, to his shock and horror, he learned his son died due to accidental poisoning. Consumed with vengeance and grief, Chocorua vowed revenge. Not soon after, Mr. Campbell arrived home to find his family massacred. Immediately, Chocorua became suspect and fled high into the mountains—which bear his name. Campbell chased Chocorua deep into the mountains and shot him with his rifle. Chococura, wounded and without options, leaped from a cliff to his death. But, before doing so, Chocorua cursed the white settlers’ homes, livestock, and crops. Talking with the today’s locals, they say the mountain is still cursed and share story accounts of family or friends. In all accounts the stories end with a mysterious fire set ablaze to the property of any who try to settle the mountain. Truth or fib it has inspired me to explore Mount Chocorua in near future!
As I relax near the shore and breathe in the fresh air, I witness the New Hampshire wilderness unfolding before me. In the corner of my eye, an enormous “crow” bigger than a Canadian goose, swoops down from an old White Pine to snatch unguarded trash. Admiring the girth and size, I quickly realized I had just seen a raven for the first time.
Soon after, ducklings—not weeks old with their mother in tow, waddle into beach traffic. I panicked. I thought mayhem was sure to follow. Fortunately, the ducks were afforded a wide berth. Gallantly, and admired by all, beach goers bestowed VIP status befitting of a celebrity movie star. I thought to myself, “What a great way to start my week at White Lake State Park”!
As I am sitting at the lake, an adult Ephemeroptera (Mayfly) stretches its abdomen and wings as it prepares on a once-in-a-lifetime event. Congregating in the thousands here at White Lake’s forests, Mayflies transcend into a mating ritual that captivates any audience. Despite this short emergence in the summer night sky, I admire the Mayfly’s life. A life adopting purpose with one goal in mind: progeny. I cannot help but relate to my own goal this summer. Absorbing all of what White Lake State Park has to offer. For instance, taking night strolls as loons tantalize the night while bull frogs chant like crazed fans around the lake. The best part is when new visitors come every week to enjoy the same sounds—no night is ever the same.
As I step outside I pause to absorb familiar sounds, but the night is still…freakishly silent except for this thrashing sound against the gutter and shingles of my house. I investigate the noise and discover “this fella” trying to catch a foothold on the surface wall. At first glance I thought it was a butterfly. As I leaned in for a better look, what I found was not a butterfly but a moth. I was excited! Now, I venture out every night in hopes of finding more moths. I’m having a blast! The species are abundant in White Lake State Park and there is so much to experience and learn. I suggest you give the moths a chance and learn all you can. Who knows, one night you may go looking for moths and discover so much more!
By: Luis Nandall, Interpretive Ranger at White Lake State Park
One thought to “Dry Sands & Moonlit Waters”
Nice blog. You’ll enjoy Chocorua when you get a chance to climb it. Climbing from the north side (Kancamagus Highway) has you pass a beautiful set of waterfalls.