Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Day 15: Mount Massive Junction to Tennessee Creek

People often refer to the Appalachian Trail as the long green tunnel because so much of the trail passes through wooded areas with long sections between views. Today's hike on the CDT felt like traveling through a long green tunnel as we passed through multiple pine forests with only occasional glimpses back to a snow covered Mount Massive or forward to the snow-capped mountains ahead. 

We passed below several beautiful waterfalls, with torrents of water tumbling and cascading over mossy rocks and logs. The rivers, creeks, and streams are running high, swollen with seasonal snowmelt. And with so much snow left in the mountains, the melt will continue for some time. 

Reaching the top of a saddle, we stopped for a short break. With a clear line of sight to Leadville, I decided to pull out my phone and check my email. Noticing several responses to my pleas for help finding Maple, I began to browse through the messages and discovered that MAPLE HAS BEEN FOUND!!!

We won't know the full story until we reach Leadville, but for now we know that Groceries, who is providing support for a CDT hiker named Smudge, has Maple and is planning to leave him in the care of Wild Bill at the Leadville hostel. Sierra immediately did a happy dance in the snow.  She should be reunited with Maple tomorrow morning.  We are so grateful to Groceries and the rest of the hiking community for their support!

We spent our afternoon postholing through the snow in the trees. Opportunistic mosquitoes swarmed in as we slowed our pace through the snow. A quick glissade sped our travel down one short, steep slope, but the mosquitoes continued to follow us. 

We stopped briefly while Atlas filtered water from a creek. Lorax, another CDT hiker, stopped briefly to talk, then sauntered off into the snowy woods calling "Trail, where are you?".  The trail continued to elude us underneath mounds of snow until we reached the swampy valley below.  Frogs croaked from marshy ponds. 

Leaving Holy Cross Wilderness, we also left behind the snow. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes followed us. We each had our own personal swarm. We killed hundreds, but the clouds of mosquitoes did not diminish. 

We stopped for camp at a high knoll above Tennessee Creek. We should reach the highway at Tennessee Pass in the morning, and will enjoy a nearo day in Leadville tomorrow. 

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