Don't forget to bring lunch! Donner Lake, CA, Monday 6/9/14

Monday, June 9th, dawned sunny and already as warm as biscuits right out of the oven.  We are active people, Nannie, Jimmy and me, and we don't like to just sit around, but it would be too hot to do much either in the Central Valley (as in the Sacramento area) or up here in the foothills.  We decided to hie ourselves up the mountain again to pay a (first) visit to Donner Memorial State Park, and perhaps hike around the lake.  We packed a lunch, and took plenty to drink.  The temp at 6,000 ft was in the 80's... not too bad.  Sunny and ... windy!

A lot of jokes are made about the ill-fated Donner party, and I'm as guilty as the next person.  Trying to imagine the horror of being stranded under such grueling conditions boggles the mind.  If you're not familiar with this bit of American history, Wikipedia has the story.  Please enlarge this picture if you can't read it -- the Pioneer Monument (below) was dedicated in 1918 to commemorate "the pioneers who crossed the plains to settle in California."

 "Near this spot the height of the monument shaft indicates the depth of the snow, which was twenty-two feet."

 Approximate area of the Murphy cabin (1846).  I cannot imagine 22 feet of snow here.  Certainly looks green and lush today, surrounded by majestic Lodgepole pines, Jeffrey pines, and White firs.  

 Clusters of pink Pussy Paws - so named because the packed flowers resemble upturned pads on cats' feet, and feel velvety - dotted the dry ground near the monument.

 The VC won't open till January, but the state park museum offered an array of interesting exhibits and information.  This sign was displayed behind the desk in the museum.  Little did the Donner Party know what lay ahead of them (but, then, who does?).

We left the museum to eat lunch at beautiful Donner Lake, and walk the easy lakeside trail.  The wind off the lake was pretty stiff and we changed our minds when we could actually see pine pollen blowing in the air, and a yellowish hue in the water at the shoreline.  Allergies kicked in big-time...

... so we finished our picnic and elected to leave and drive to Sagehen Creek to hike along the creek.  We figured the wind would be less there.  We were right.
I'll save those pictures for tomorrow.


  1. ahh yes, that yellow stuff accumulates on my porches at home. We saw thick swirls of it flying down as we drove out the driveway last Monday. Gets me big time. Was really happy for high desert mountain time with no pine pollen...just lots of other stuff! I don't think we will get snows like those ever again in the sierras in our lifetime at least.

  2. I agree, that depth of snow won't happen any time soon, but imagine! Must have been awful! And the pollen was dreadful for those of us who wear contact lens (namely, ME) and I could barely see for all the eye-watering going on. It was a good decision to abandon Donner Lake and hike elsewhere! And to think: the pine pollen is finishing up by the end of April here in the Baton Rouge area where we live.....

  3. 22 feet of snow ... boggles the mind.


We love hearing from you -- please leave us a note! (Comment moderation is turned on, and your comments, including anonymous comments, will be visible after they have been reviewed and published.)