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 Donner Lake and Pass, California 
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Sovereign Woodsman
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Joined: Sat Sep 05, 2009 7:35 pm
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Location: south of the notches
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 Donner Lake and Pass, California
Since not much activity herein lately, figured a trip report of any kind is better than none.

Headed out the Donner Lake area in April. Excellent choice. Stayed at a cabin pretty close
to the lake, and about 10 mins from Donner Pass. Did you know that none of the Donner's
themselves made it as far as the pass? Yeah. Incredible story. Some of their party did
make it that far. While I was out there I read the book "Desperate Passage." Well, I
read until they started eating each other and then I put it down. You know, late night
reading, on vacation, struggling to adjust to altitude, disgusting visuals.....

We flew into Reno on a Saturday afternoon and were able to stay for eight days.
It rained for at least three of them, but we managed to stay busy and have fun.
The lake is near the little town of Truckee, named after the only river to flow OUT of
Lake Tahoe (there are about 16 that flow INTO it). The river was named by
American Emigrants who were guided by a Native American who they thought
said his name was Truckee. HA HA. It was probably Chucky or something. :wink:

The lake is about 40 mins or so from both Reno and Lake Tahoe. We'd been to Tahoe
before so we went there for just a day to see the sights - that was on one of the rainy days
and it was one of those cold, raw, drizzly, foggy could-be-miserable-with-the-wrong-mindset
kind of days but we made the best of it, taking the scenic route.

We were able to ski at Sugar Bowl (Squaw was our 2nd choice) which was about ten mins
from the cabin just over the pass. The skiing is crazy out there. They had record snowfall
this year and while driving through along Donner Pass Road you can see that people just
pull over, not always off the roadway b/c they can't. They just pull over, get their gear and
step over the guardrail and ski. They generally spot a car at the bottom and hope they end
up close to it. It's crazy. Rock climbers also just pull off, organize their gear and just start
climbing right from the roadside. Surprisingly we saw no accidents, though the potential
was ever present whenever we were there.

We thought it would be cool to be able to hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, which does cross
the pass. We think we did but with so much snow any trail markers were buried. We
checked our maps and I'm confident that though we may not have been on the trail proper
we were pretty darned close. We couldn't tell, so we just climbed up onto the ridgeline and
went overland. My brother commented that he now has such an increased appreciation for
the trail systems here in the Northeast. Go us!

Of the 800+ photos it was hard to choose just a few, but here they are.

Donner Lake

Image


Snow banks must have been beautiful when freshly fallen snow

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But, lesson to learn is don't park too close to the edge of the roadway b/c when your cars and trucks then get covered with snow the plows don't know they're there...DOH!

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Skiing - back-country - at the pass

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View of Lake Tahoe and Emerald Isle

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Talk about resilience and perseverance...the little engine that could ain't got nuthin on this tree!

Image

This is bad....I cannot remember the name of this hill...some aren't even named.
This might be a close up of Mt. Judah, near where the Chinese Immigrants built
tunnels for the trains. That's another amazing story.

Image

SH*T! Don't underestimate the incline, or the effects of the altitude when trying to beat the timer.
SO close!

Image

Chillin - like Villians

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Town of Truckee is an old western-style, one horse kinda town

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Along the Truckee River. They plow the bike paths out there! SO nice.

Image

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Between Reno and Truckee, the Toiyabe National Forest was a nice respite

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We NEED these signs in the Whites :lol:

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Found this along one of the ski runs at Sugar Bowl. We managed a great deal there:
We both skied for the day, rentals (we brought our own boots and helmets) and passes
for $120. Cannon's one day tickets this year were $85 IIRC. Pretty sweet deal.

Image

A great trip. Can't wait to go back. Hope they get as much snow next year!

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Sat May 27, 2017 9:31 am
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Sovereign Woodsman

Joined: Sat Jul 28, 2012 2:40 pm
Posts: 1664
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 Re: Donner Lake and Pass, California
Thank God!!!!! This place isn't dead! Thanks for posting this. You maintain The East Pond Trail (from the Kanc), don't you? That first photo of the lake with the mtn in the distance made me think "What an appropriate photo for the East Pond maintainer on vacation!" That pile of pine cones is cute! And that was some road walk. We just bought a new computer (after 9 years!), so the pictures look even better.

Come on, everybody! Check out Kathy's report!


Sun May 28, 2017 10:28 pm
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Sovereign Woodsman
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Location: south of the notches
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 Re: Donner Lake and Pass, California
HA! Yep. I do maintain the EPT from the Kanc. Almost went there yesterday but then I came to my senses and decided against being anywhere on the Kanc this weekend.

That road walk is the bike path! Incredible, right? That runs right along the Truckee River.

I've hiked a bit lately - here in the whites - but Flickr has been Fickle and a tr w/no pics - to me - is boring so I have not been posting.

Good to see you're still hangin' around and congrats on the new computer purchase. I should probably do the same...it's been at least 9 years since I bought mine.

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Mon May 29, 2017 7:53 am
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Location: Mt Lafayette Winter 2009
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 Re: Donner Lake and Pass, California
I've been to that area a couple times before but never hit Donner. Did manage to get to Donahue however. What's interesting is that the rangers required us to have snow gear. We're from New England and can handle snow, granted this year was extraordinary in the Sierras, but they still insisted we have gear. SO we each bought an ice axe and they honored our permit. That year the snow was minimal so in order to use our new tools, we had to go off-trail to find some scrambles. Nothing happened but it's kind of ironic that we put ourselves in more dangerous situations just to use the gear they made us buy.
Great pic's, I imagine in places the snowpack may not melt completely this year but glad to see the drought conditions in CA have been eliminated.

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Thu Jun 01, 2017 11:21 am
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Sovereign Woodsman

Joined: Sat Jul 28, 2012 2:40 pm
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 Re: Donner Lake and Pass, California
Hey! Someone else responded! We're coming out of hibernation. Keep 'em coming!


Thu Jun 01, 2017 9:10 pm
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Peak Bagger
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Location: Brutasaur on Franconia Ridge
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 Re: Donner Lake and Pass, California
I was in CA several days ago, and drove over Donner Pass. Interesting place, and I marvel at the anti-avalanche measures they've taken to safeguard trains passing thru the most avalance-prone chutes . When I first retired in 2005 I iived in the Eastern Sierra for 7 years, and one of my neighbors was a descendant of that Donner family. Apparently many of them settled in the Sacramento area (where he was from). He was born into a farming family (growing stuff is his first love) but was now semi-retired from the near-by China Lake Weapons Research Station as - quite literally, a rocket scientist. He loved tools, and came over a few times when I was building our house and my late wife's yoga studio with his tractor and bucket loader, and helped me hoist some of the support beams for the house, as well as the roofing panels for the studio into place.

He had lots of interesting stories, and told me the primary reason the Donners were delayed in getting thru the Sierra in time was they loved to stop in late afternoon while crossing the Great Plains, pull out chairs from the wagons, and relax and watch the sunset... They didn't know (or perhaps believe) that snows in the Sierra begin in mid-September, and the storms were unlike anything they'd ever experienced.

The snow this winter in the Sierra were of "biblical proportion", so if places like Whitney or the Cascades further north are on your radar this summer, do your research. It may be necessary to push them back about a month or so. But remember - the window for 14'ers in that area of the country begins to close in mid-September, so don't plan anything firm if it involves elevation later that without a proverbial "Plan B"!


Sat Jun 03, 2017 5:40 am
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 Re: Donner Lake and Pass, California
I hope you didn't have the urge to eat the other members of your party while you were there. :P

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Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:28 am
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