I spent this last weekend in Meadow Valley, California, a small town 10 miles west of Quincy. In 2010, there were only 46 people who lived there. In the summer, the population doubles when buses full of UC Berkeley students arrive with the hopes of learning more about Sierra Nevada ecology and forestry.
Last year, I was one of forty students who ventured out into the wilderness for 8 weeks to get a minor in Forestry and Natural Resources. The classes were incredibly informative and difficult but my fellow campers helped make the summer go by faster than I could’ve ever thought possible.
I picked up Alegra and Ben from Berkeley around 2PM. We took a small break somewhere between Sacramento and Oroville with a big field of sunflowers.
Going back to Meadow Valley for the weekend was a surreal experience. I didn’t realize just how much I missed being in the trees and hiking around. On Saturday, a big group of us went to the beloved Morning Thunder cafe for breakfast. The wait was long but well worth it, and left us all feeling prepared for the hike into Gold Lake.
The weather was in the high 90s and I couldn’t think about anything but jumping into the lake on the slightly strenuous hike up. When we got down to the lake and I jumped in, I almost lost my breath. The water was so much colder than I could’ve ever expected. I banged one of my toes on a rock on the bottom of the lake and awkwardly paddled while gasping for air and muttering obscenities about how ridiculously cold the water was.
I hung out on a large rock with half a dozen friends and we went in and out of the water for a good 3 hours, cooling off only when the sun became too hot to bear. We hiked out around 5PM, and got dinner at the Polka Dot in Quincy, a road side fast food place with killer fries and milkshakes.
The rest of the night was spent bonding over beers and various other alcoholic beverages and catching up with other alumni who hadn’t been able to make it to the lake earlier in the day.