Chocorua & A Refusal For an Out and Back
Updated: Nov 6, 2022
Whenever I go up north to meet Ryan post-climbing, you better believe I’m doing more than just driving up. Originally, I was thinking of a chill day of little things. Hedgehog, Potash, some discovery trails on the Kancamangus, things like that.
This did not occur.
I got to the Champney Falls Trailhead around 8 am and knew I was setting out to FINALLY do Chocorua, but had not decided if I was out and backing or looping.
I truly felt like crap when I started, but after passing the same handful of parties multiple times as I roamed around certain sections of trails in strange ways to trace the area, I realized I was pushing way too fast- a common solo occurrence. Once I evened out my pace and got past the waterfalls (and the 0.3 that isn’t the jug handle for the trace) there was a huge mental and physical shift for me.
I got up to the intersection to head over to Middle Sister quite quickly and enjoyed my quiet jaunt over there. I looped back around the front, then back down to the trail intersection for another out and back to cross my map, and then proceeded to Chocorua.
As someone who doesn’t love ledges, it wasn’t my favorite thing to do alone, but it was doable. I just kept telling myself it was Monadnock and it really did feel like it. And as always, seeing dogs ahead of me was a huge motivator.
I chilled at the summit for about 3 minutes before making my pole-throw heavy descent. Though I’d already decided to do the loop and take Bee Line & Bolles down, the AllTrails reports were practically begging me to not go. Several reviews contained experienced hikers reporting this descent as the worst of their entire hiking careers. None of them had anything remotely positive to say other than one that said Bee Line went quick. Nonetheless, I went on. I knew I’d go slow and manage anything that comes my way with extreme caution.
Cause like I always say, no matter how slow you’re going, you’d be going down slower if you were getting carried in a litter.
Immediately, I discovered what the reviews were talking about. Getting down to Bee Line on the Brook Trail challenged me just as much as the Tripyramids slides, there were points I didn’t even have my feet on the ground while I lowered myself with my arms. I guess this is what I’d been training tricep dominant for all this time in the gym.
Once I finally descended nearly all my elevation in under a mile, I hit Bee Line and cruised at a comfortable 20-minute mile pace. I enjoyed this section of the trail! It was open, had manageable water crossings, and was very easy to follow.
Finally, I arrived at another major complaint of the AllTrail’s community, the Bolles Trail. The Bolles Trail started extremely pleasant- so pleased I was rocking sub-20 minute miles. It rolled in a way I’d never seen before as if things were decomposing beneath certain aspects of the trail. At first, I was confused about the complaining reviews that it was poorly marked, for the first mile or so was marked with crisp yellow blazes. Then, after a simple water crossing, the trail started playing hide and go seek.
Ordinarily, I would’ve hated this. But, with the Dry River Cutoff, Mt. Clinton Trail, and Downes Brook Trail all in recent trips, this wasn’t so bad. I only doubted myself twice along the whole trail and mostly found that if I followed this weird instinct I was getting all afternoon, I’d get back on the trail if I strayed off.
About halfway through Bolles, there’s an unnamed but oddly large wooded peak that suddenly and sharply brings you up on what feels like a bushwhack and eventually drops you just as sharp as it brought you up. Past this peak, I entered stream land and crossed the brook every other blink. Again, something that didn’t bother me too much after doing this trail’s older sister, the Downes Brook.
Once I finally reached the lower part of the trail where the suddenly wide walkway and ease of movement meant I was almost done, I punched forward just a little faster until I got to the parking lot where I did a lot of happy cussing. It felt good to do this one and especially good to have conquered it solo. I did a bunch of weird out and backs that got me odd looks, got some 52s, went up a cone that scares me, went down wet slides that involved a lot of pole throwing, and then navigated through very wild trails.
I’ll be back Chocorua, but hopefully with less wet ledges this time.