Monday, May 31, 2010

Mt Chocorua

We headed north on Route 16 at 7 am, directly into the smoke-tinted haze blanketing northern New Hampshire and beyond. It seemed like many more people were headed the other way, perhaps heading home early from a long weekend to escape the smoke. Strong winds had forced smoky air from Quebec fires our way, smothering views of the high peaks, as well as our destination at just under 3,500' -- Mt. Chocorua.

As we set off on the Champney Falls Trail with Kodi trotting by our side, the air seemed clear and just cool enough for pleasant hiking. Not until 2 miles in did we meet other people; for the rest of the hike though we passed many others with the same idea, including at least 7 other dogs. Kodi was polite with everyone and every dog.

This was Kodi's first long hike of his life (that we know of). Much to our delight we discovered that he is a superb hiking companion. Only once did he make our heart skip a beat, when he scrambled down a steep rock along Champney Brook, then turned to climb back up, only to slide backwards over into a deep pool. He swam calmly to shore and raced back up to the trail. From then on we were confident of his back country skills.

Me and Kodi atop Mt. Chocorua

We discovered black flies on top of Mt. Chocorua. They swarmed us whenever the breeze died, which seemed too often. They crawled in our hair, under watch bands, inside our clothes. After a quick lunch we retreated back down the trail. No one paused long on top, given the persistent black flies and the hazy views.

  A smoke-tinted view

Despite the smoke, and the haze, and the flies, it was a great hike. Pink lady's slippers dotted the trail side, including the all-white versions. Along the way we listened to warblers, vireos, thrushes, and a winter wren. On the way down we splashed cold water from Champney Brook on our faces, while Kodi drank the clear mountain water.

pink lady's slipper (Cypripedium acaule), white form

Champney Falls

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