hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


November 21, 2013

A memorable birthday hike on Mt. Chocorua


Tour buses stopped in vain and many a car was seen pulled over to the side for nature’s call. Just the foliage alone made the trip worthwhile.

We opted for the Champney Falls Trail 10 miles into the highway, connecting onto the Piper Trail. On this day, the trail was replete with hikers, many of whom were accompanied by canines. Recommended time was 3½ hours to the peak and three hours down, with stops along the way.

Like any hike, I’m not in it for the foot race to the top, leaving that to the extremists. One shirtless guy on the trail was in such a rush, he may have bypassed the pleasures along the way.

The summit is a picturesque rocky cone, greeting us with hurricane-force winds. No surprise there. Others reported the wrenching elements on their way down. The mountain is purported to be one of the most photographed in the world.

All my children have photographs of Chocorua hanging in their homes taken during previous junkets to the site, embraced by colorful foliage. Admiring its beauty is one thing. I recommend the view from Fowler’s Mill Road. Hiking it is another matter, however.

The 360-degree views of the Presidentials were instant euphoria at an elevation of 3,500 feet. Once above the tree line, you feel on top of your world.

I’ve known that Alan Hovhaness (1911-2000) was among the more prolific composers of his time, Armenian or otherwise. I grew up around the corner from his home in Somerville. My dad graduated Somerville High with him and introduced me to the musical stalwart at a very young age.

What I didn’t know was his penchant for hiking. Hovhaness often climbed the White Mountains and listed Chocorua among his favorites. He often went there to escape the hubbub of the frantic world, which is why most of us hike anyway.

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