I know it might sound silly, but the fact that we crossed I–80 this morning seems like a big deal to me. It’s kind of crazy walking underneath an interstate — in what looks like a drainage tunnel, to boot — and realize that if we just got on that road (erm, with a car, that is), we’d end up in San Francisco in about four hours. The last time we crossed an interstate was months ago — and that was I–15, way, way down south. This is progress! I checked and the next interstate we’ll cross isn’t until we’re nearly in Washington, so this is a big milestone for a while.
We got a little impromptu trail magic this morning, even, right after we crossed. There’s a side trail from the PCT that leads a quarter-mile off to a nearby rest area from the interstate. The appeal of a rest area is very simple: real toilets! (Out here, anything that you can actually sit down on to use the bathroom is incredibly precious — it doesn’t even matter if it actually flushes; just not having to dig a hole in the ground is so nice.) We made a trip over, and, on the way out, stopped to fill up our water from the drinking fountains. Most people coming in or out just looked at us as if we were crazy homeless people, but one guy recognized exactly what we were, and struck up a conversation. Just a few minutes later, he’d given us a Coke, a Mountain Dew, some Red Vines, and even some bread he’d taken from the buffet at his casino the previous night. I completely recognize that to most people this doesn’t seem exactly wonderful, but, to us, it sure was. Sitting at that rest area at 7:30 AM, drinking an unexpected soda, was wonderful — and so was eating bread and Red Vines for lunch. I’m so grateful for all the random people like him who’ve stopped to help us along our way.
Only a few miles after we’d passed I–80, we came upon another place that was pretty special, in a completely different way: the Peter Grubb hut, a rather beautiful, yes, hut, in the middle of a gorgeous meadow. This place is only a little over three miles on the trail from I–80, yet it’s completely serene, beautiful, and relatively untouched. It was built by the Sierra Club decades ago and is still extremely well-maintained; there are two levels, a giant fireplace, an amazing stone floor, and a huge stockpile of firewood. In the summer, you don’t even have to reserve it — you can just stay there, any time you want. It amazes me that places like this exist, and amazes me even more that more people don’t take advantage of them. In the winter it surely must be spectacular, and in the summer it’s equally beautiful. What a cool place!
The rest of the day was spent walking across mountainsides, in and out of forest. It’s interesting terrain — you’ll be in a pine forest for a little while, then emerge onto a hillside that’s been completely taken over by a plant that I think is called Mule Ears. (There’s a Mule Ears Creek nearby, and the plant sure looks like a mule’s ears.) It’s absolutely everywhere, and has pretty yellow flowers that flourished a week or so ago. It makes for pretty hiking, especially since you can often see far off across into alpine lakes, onto distant peaks, and into rivers.
Tonight, we’re just plain exhausted from hiking nearly twenty-four miles. Tomorrow, we get to spend the evening in Sierra City, a town stop that we’ll be at only briefly — but it’s still a great place to get something to eat and stay in a real bed!