Another clear weekend night with a nearly full moon and I was ready to try another night hike. I considered MW, but MW was unfamiliar to me and the plan would have taken too much time from the weekend and we had guests.
So I planned a nice sunrise trip to Mt. Chocorua instead. Got to the trailhead at 1:30am...pretty quiet. Ascended via Piper Trail then Nickerson Ledge and then Carter Ledge. Of course the clouds had rolled in just as I parked, but I could still see in the diffused light of the moon. The route was picked hoping to be out in the open for most of the trip, but the hidden moon was hampering my ability to hike without a light. The views from the ledges at night were still spectacular and I was enjoying my first big solo hike in a few weeks. Carter Ledge is large and open and following the trail on it without a light was not difficult in the low light. At the top of Carter Ledge I needed the light again until I got near the summit of Middle Sister. From there I decided to use no light for the rest of the trip. That worked well except for trying to read the map.
Made good time and had an easy hike over the Sisters and up to the open rock on Chocorua. The clouds had now cleared and I was in nearly full moonlight for the final ascent. As I came across the false summit of Chocorua I nearly stepped on and then impaled (with my pole) a "body" bivvied in between the rocks. Startled me a bit...I didn't expect to see anyone (neither did they apparently) and it took a few seconds for my brain to catch up with my eyes. They didn't move and I just kept on going...I considered for a moment that they might need help, but I seriously doubted that.
I got to the summit around 4:30 and sat, ate, rested, watched the sun rise and took many pictures. I marvel at what G_d created and I get to enjoy it in this kind of peace. I didn't leave until 6am only because I wanted to be home before everyone else was up. Headed down the Piper Trail, checked out the Penacook Shelter and still made it to my car before 8am.
This is the first (second really) of many more night hikes for me.