Chocorua, Two Sisters and a Bear ??!!


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  1. #1

    Chocorua, Two Sisters and a Bear ??!!

    Date(s) Hiked: Tuesday Aug. 17 2004

    Trails(s) Hiked: Piper–Nickerson-Carter Ledge-Middle Sister-Piper Loop

    Total Distance: 9 miles

    Difficulty: Moderate to Tough

    Conditions: Trail erosion

    Special Required Equipment: Bear repellent

    Trip Report: When I left my house it was dark and raining. I put all my trust in the “forecasters” to have made a good call for the day, I remember hearing it would be sunny and warm.
    I set out to climb, Mt. Chocorua, rain or shine. This mountain holds a beauty and mystery like none other. It is completely understandable why so many come to Mt. Chocorua to hike.
    I got out of my car and into the first light of day. The sunrise had coloured some high clouds but the rest of the canvas was blue. My plan to leave out of the White Ledge Campground and travel up the Carter Ledge Trail changed at the last minute and I decided to park in the Piper Trail parking lot. This lot has undergone some extensive road work and now looks like a commuter lot, minus the pavement.
    Normally it is very quiet this early but with the close proximity to the road and civilization, that pristine silence was lost. I could hear water on both sides of the trail as I ascended Piper and there was a good rustling of wind through the tree tops. The forest was open and spacious, the sweet smells brought on by a fresh rain and a new day caused me to breathe just a little deeper and walk a little slower.
    I made the Nickerson Trail in no time at all and started up to the “rocks”. Now I understand, not everybody likes rocks but I simply adore them, in all sizes. Little did I know I was going to get my share of rocks today? The Nickerson “rocks” are a ledge, the trail walked along side and then across the top of them, where I chanced to see the cutest bunny in the world. From the top of this ledge it is a quick, flat walk to the next junction through a creepy, dark forest on a narrow, mud-hole of a trail. I was so happy to have reached the junction of Carter Ledge Trail. Let the games begin!
    The ascent was gradual on gritty ground and quickly changed to hiking up ravines where the trail used to be! The storms here had taken all of the soil from the trail and replaced it with little rivers and waterfalls. As I climbed, scaled and scampered my way up, skirting the first group of ledges I got my first unobstructed view of the peak by stepping out on one of the ledges. The sun had just begun to warm the rock face of Chocorua while the rest of the mountain set cool in the shadows.
    When I reached the first huge open ledge the immediate thought that came to mind was I had just entered the bear exhibit at any metro zoo. I half expected to find a little moat and fence somewhere. Maybe even a big steel door. What I didn’t expect to find was a real bear…
    …I was walking from one side of this ledge to the other and it’s a good ways when I happened upon fresh, warm, stinky, bear scat. My heart stopped and I was immediately aware of the wind direction. This bear felt close! I backed up to the open area just behind me and started singing and walking!! There was more bear scat, of the same description, at the top of this ledge, just as you enter the woods again. I started adding a few short, toots from my whistle every now and again, just for harmony, ha!! I have never been so frightened!! My eyes were dry, probably because they were the size of plates!! I don’t think I blinked for a good mile! There was a low grade current of electricity just below the surface of my skin and the hairs on the back of my neck were standing at attention!! The trail narrowed through the dark forest and climbed to the next ledge. I estimate that I sang “BINGO” roughly six times before clearing the forest, complete with leg slapping and whistle tooting. I lost that uneasy, bear right behind me, feeling at the top of the third ledge when my concentration was diverted to scrambling across and up some endless, slick and tricky walls “O” rock. Not a good trail for anyone afraid of heights. Good upper body strength and a long reach are recommended as well. I found myself peeking over each rise to see if Mr. Bear was waiting for me until I made the summit of the Middle Sister. It was a tough climb and as I was making my way up the ledges to the summit I heard singing and whistle tooting from below and behind me.
    It wasn’t completely clear and from the summit I could only see half way to forever because of the haze. I was amazed by 360 views and was taking it all in as I waited at the stone remains of a building, for the hiker behind me. I wanted to make sure he made it up and I wanted to hear his story. Sure enough, he had seen the scat too and thought it to be bear. Said he had caught scent of something rather foul and suggested it could have been “Yogi”. He was a bit winded and blamed the bear for quickening his pace. I was frightened all over again and couldn’t get off that summit fast enough. He tried to share all the reassuring stories about bears but he was talking to the back of my head. I felt better in the saddle between the two sisters and we took a slower pace but normal conversation soon turned back to bears. I’m guessing he was in his mid to late 50’s, from Colorado, visiting family in NH. He had actually seen bears before, real… in the wild… bears!! While he was telling bear stories, I had decided to make my descent on another trail.
    The first sister was just a beautiful as the middle. I walked around on all the rocks, looking from every side with my new friend, there is safety in numbers. I could hear people from the summit of the first sister, long before I could see them coming up the Champney Falls Trail. When we got to the junction, it was a traffic jam! Several people were going down, three were going up and then there was us. Everyone exchanged pleasantries and we gained an older gentleman with his lively, engaging and quite cute grandsons. The granddad asked if we had heard whistles blowing, we looked at each other, sort of laughed and said “Yup”. It was then that he gave us a look and reminded us that he had two young boys with him, meaning we couldn’t say the “B” word.
    We all climbed the summit together and went our own ways from there. I had a wonderful vantage point but wasn’t satisfied until I walked around the entire summit looking from all directions. I ate and apparently had a brief nap. Bear phobia is exhausting. When I leaned back on my pack and closed my eyes there were nine people on the summit… when I sat up, none of the nine were there and five new people had taken their place. I put my pillow on my back and made for home. I took the Piper Trail back to my car. It’s quite nice, loads of stairs (glad to be going down) paved with stone in places, lovely forest, creek crossings and absolutely no sign of bears!! Without question, I will visit this mountain many more times but perhaps not the same trail.


    In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities.
    In the expert's mind there are few.

    Shunryu Suzuki

  2. #2
    Heh-heh. See, you should have taken my recommendation ... beautiful waterfalls instead of piles of poop!

    But it does make for a great story. Clearly, they don't always go *in* the woods.

    Be careful with the whistle, make sure you don't blow triplets. Three in a row is the help signal. But for the most part, any non-woods sound will scare off the bear right away. Clanking hiking poles together, for example, is something I often do in the deeper wilderness.

    Of course, if you carry a picnic basket all bets are off!
    Skiing combines outdoor fun with knocking down trees with your face. - Dave Barry
    Waterville 11/30; Loon 12/7; Cannon 12/13, 1/17, 2/23; Sugarloaf 12/20, 21-22; Bretton Woods 1/3; Jay Peak 1/24-25; Heavenly 2/9; Squaw Valley 2/10-2/11; Wachusett 3/3; Sunday River 3/7-8

  3. #3
    Ya know... I can't help it... I'm a sucker for the climbing challenge of rocks and ledges. I'll go look at waterfalls when I get old

    Seriously, I have never been that scared. Major, red alert, whammies.
    I guess that's the price to pay for taking the path less traveled.

    I have had a few good laughs about it already today but that's because I'm alive and unmolested.

    Back pack = Picnic basket with zippers.

    In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities.
    In the expert's mind there are few.

    Shunryu Suzuki

  4. #4
    We just did Chocurua a couple weeks ago. What a nice mountain. Did you have the camera ready for the bear??? I have never seen a bear in the wild. I am anxious...kinda... for my first sighting.

    Just this last weekend, my wife had the same feelings you did with the moose at Chimney pond. Check out the trip report and pics here:
    lovin life,


  5. #5
    Yes, I read y'alls report from Chocorua and that’s one of the many reasons why I went. It sounded like a fun place to hike and it was one of the best!!
    However, I am a wicked scaredy-cat of bears!! Bears and sharks.
    Are you kidding, Up? I wasn't even conscious of having a camera!! I just wanted to put as much distance between me and his neighborhood as fast as possible... without running, of course! Just in case he was watching…
    I could blissfully go throughout my entire life never seeing a real, live, wild, bear!!
    Your report from Chimney Pond was great, lots of giggles in that weekend.
    You got great shots of that moose too!!

    In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities.
    In the expert's mind there are few.

    Shunryu Suzuki

  6. #6
    I've only run into one bear in the Whites. Running downhill on a trail, I spotted him about twenty feet away. He looked at me puzzled and took off into the woods. From what most people tell me, this is the most commom occurance. I did sing for awhile and was a little unnerved but I'd be willing to bet that I've walked past ton's of wildlife and never saw it. I would have walked past a Moose on Cabot if Grace hadn't said "ummm Jim rather large moose to your right". I sure it happens all the time to everyone.
    Glad to hear you had a good trip! I hear King Ravine is a tough scramble in places. Have you tried the North Slide on Tripyramid?

  7. #7
    bigbog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Bangor and the state's woodlands


    Nice report dirt_girl,
    When in an area of recent evidence of bear activity....picking up the pace when the adrenalin flows does give us humans some added feeling of confidence, however if you don't know where the animal[bear] has gone, it'll help to actually slow your pace and continue with the occasional noise until you're sure that you won't be taken for a stalking human in hot pursuit....that's when people get into trouble....when people head in the same direction without realizing it...and the animal feels like it or it's young is cornered and there's no way out.... When given the option, they'll avoid homo-sapiens as much as possible....

  8. #8

    Chocorua, first and a favorite

    I was introduced to hiking in Jr. High, when our adventure club did an outing to Mt Chocorua. The Piper trail was the one we took. I havent been up there in at least ten years. I have hiked up Chocorua from the south. Follow the raod in that crosses the bridge on the lake. As I remember it, you follow it way way back, staying to the right. Eventually you come to a fire road gate, and a trail head. This was a fairly fast trail up, about two hours, and it brings you right past a cabin. From there it brings you around the mountain along a very high and steep cliff, then on to the peak. Its a great trail up, gives the mountain a different feel. Good ol' Chocorua, they say you never forget your first

  9. #9
    Hey Photo!
    Welcome to the boards!!
    How right you are...I will never forget my first hike up Chocorua
    After reading the story and seeing the photos my son now wants to hike it. I am taking him up after the 9/11 event on the same trail, talk about tempting fate.
    It is truely my absolute favorite peak so far!!
    Keep posting... see ya 'round the boards.


    In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities.
    In the expert's mind there are few.

    Shunryu Suzuki

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