Photography Field Trip: Donner Lake

Donner Lake, originally uploaded by c8mills.

I realize that I’ve mentioned Donner Lake a few times and many of you may not understand the significance of this place in my life. You may have heard of the Donner Party, notorious for rumored cannibalism in 1847. This is the place were it happened; they were trapped by an October snowstorm, making it impossible to get over the summit.

The lake itself is about three miles long at 6000 feet in elevation. Its beauty lies in the water’s deep coloring, surrounded by pine forest and spectacular granite mountain peaks. When we had a house here, I walked in the State Park at least five days a week, three seasons out of the year. I miss it desperately.

Today, I was looking forward to taking my favorite walk, until I realized that the temperature was dropping fast and the winds were about 40 mph. It is downright dangerous to walk alone through a pine forest in winds like that, not only do the dead trees fall over, but the five pound pinecones fly through the air like hand grenades.

So, a little change of course, I went to the east end of the lake for some dramatic photos of the whitecap waves. I tucked under the canopy where it was a little more sheltered and took some photos of things on the forest floor, like pinedrops, desiccated tree trunks, light playing in small aspen trees. I heard a funny noise, I thought possibly it was a dog yelp, and looked around the corner. A couple was swimming! It’s about 48 degrees and WINDY! The water must have been about 50 degrees. How could they stand it?

No way was I taking my usual route along the shoreline, so I went toward the campground instead. This is where the original camps were and it’s an eerie feeling to be there all alone. Followed the path along the creek to the bridge and then decided to take some pictures of the statue. I drove passed this statue everyday and I haven’t taken a photo of it in probably twenty years. It’s George Donner and his wife, Tamsen, who actually never made it this far. They both died about five miles back.


Nessie Noodle said...

beautiful photos!
donner holds lots of good memories for me as well. Going to the docks and getting sun, or going at night and skinny dipping (how is it that the water is warmer at night?) Watching the fireworks on the fourth from the east end. Living on the lake and getting to see it every day- windy and choppy, calm like a mirror, or maybe full of people boats and activity and sometimes empty and lonely. It is a magical little lake isn't it?

Anonymous said...

I'm still upset with you for selling that beautiful house on the lake. I loved to sit in the living room or the top deck and watch all the activity on the lake. Even in the winter there was always something going on. And the lake itself ... it always looked different, sometimes it was calm, sometimes big waves with white caps and everything in between.

Oh well, your Reno house is beautiful too.

Love Mom

Barbara C. said...

I have a bitty cabin at Donner....it's just a lovely spot isn't it?
Where is that bridge? I'm lost!!!!

Cathy said...

The bridge is actually right behind the museum. There's a little nature trail that loops around by the creek. Thank you to everyone for the comments. Donner is truly a special place.