Sunday, July 28, 2013

Donner Lake Nature Trail

Monday July 22

I was out near Lake Tahoe for last week for a family reunion, and to celebrate my reamining sister's birthday.  While there, I managed a couple of hikes.  This one was a short - about 2 or so miles - nature hike along Donner Lake.

You've heard of the Donner Party, yes?  In 1846, they got lost while trying to make their way to the Promised Land of California.  Exhausted, they waited for five days for humans and oxen to rest, and the delay proved fatal.  A huge, early snowstorm moved in and trapped them in the Donner Pass area.  About half of them died of starvation and exposure, and more would have died except for the fact that the survivors ate some of the dead.  It must have been awful.

The area is anything but awful today, and easy to traverse.  The Donners would be amazed to watch motorists zoom by going 70 mph a few miles away.  It is quite a lovely area, and I will post a few photos of my hike, which was walked with my brothers, my sister-in-law, and one of my nieces.  Later, I will post an account of a mystery guest, an animal that I have not seen before (although I once saw a close cousin, in Yellowstone National Park.)

The cobalt-blue waters of Donner Lake must have been of no comfort to the Donner Party, nearly 170 years ago.

Here is our hiking party....
There were large pine trees in the area, and they produced some large pine cones.  I think that this is from a Jeffries Pine.
This part of the lake was more of stream, and was popular with small (human propelled) boats and paddle boards.
Near one end of the nature trail is the Emigrant Museum (which is very good, and also covered some of fascinating railroad construction history of the area) and this statue dedicated to pioneer spirit.  The little girl, huddled and shivering at her father's feet, was sad, though.
Two days later, several of us would get up early and go for a more strenuous hike, climbing Donner Peak - shown here - and Mount Judah.  More about that later.

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