Well, there isn’t any snow out here, either — but, otherwise, we sure could’ve done a lot of skiing today. As we move north along Lake Tahoe, we keep passing steep, bare ski runs, stationary chairlifts, “Danger — Ski Area Ends Here!” signs, and so forth. They’re all pretty bizarre things to actually hike through in the summertime. (Hint to ski resort owners: they’d seem less bizarre if your cafés and taco stands were open for us to eat at. 😉 They do, however, pretty uniformly make for some spectacular views, especially since you can just stand there and look out over everything instead of having to dodge way-too-fast five-year-olds on skis.
We also crested Donner Summit today, that of the legendary Donner Party. (If you don’t know about this, look it up…cannibalism!) We stopped at US–40, which goes over the summit itself, and hitchhiked into Truckee, CA, which was an adventure unto itself. Truckee is the kind of ski town that’s packed with incredibly expensive boutique stores, chocolate shops, and everything else the very-well-to-do city dweller “needs” when they come up here skiing. I still have a lot of fun in these towns, coming in looking like a homeless person (but with the means to stay in nice hotels or eat at nice restaurants if I want). Locals typically know “what we are” — that is, PCT hikers — and are wonderful to us, but tourists are usually very wary and much more likely to imagine their weekend tourist town really has been overrun by homeless people without explanation.
Speaking of which, we still have gotten every single ride into or out of town from a local, despite often hitchhiking into towns that have tourists everywhere. If you happen to pass by hitchhikers at the side of the road on a trip sometime, look for one thing: trekking poles. Homeless people never carry them, while hikers almost always do. If you pick up a hiker, I promise you, you’ll have some incredibly grateful people on your hands…and usually filled with some entertaining stories, too.
We were actually only in Truckee for a few hours this afternoon; it’s too soon after our long stay in Reno to consider taking another zero, so we just stopped in to pick up our resupply box and take off. Of course, while we were there, we couldn’t miss lunch, either…we stopped at the Squeeze In and I feasted on banana-walnut pancakes, sausage, and eggs, while Bucket got a giant taco salad. Plus, we met our friend Rally there! She lent us use of the hotel she was staying at to sort through all the stuff from our resupply box…and, despite being very tempted by the idea of staying the night there, we were off again.
We’re currently on a relatively short stretch of trail that runs between US–40 and I–80 near Donner Summit, and it’s pretty entertaining — on one hand, it really feels like we’re in the wilderness in many ways, and, on the other, we can hear the nearly-constant traffic noise from the interstate and hear trains climbing the steep grade out here. Yet, even with that, the sunset out here was spectacular, and it feels like all the best parts of backpacking. Tomorrow I imagine we’ll be headed back deeper into the wild…but, tonight, this is pretty great, too.