Tahoe Donner Snowshoeing

Happy New Year everyone! Given it was New Year’s Day and such a beautiful day in Truckee/Tahoe Donner area, I just had to get my last bit of snowshoeing in before driving back down the hill.

From Donner Pass Road, turn right onto Northwoods Blvd. in the direction of Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Resort. From there, a little jog on Fjord, then to the left brought me to Alder Creek Road, where there is limited parking off of the street, about ½ mile south from the entrance to the resort. There is a moderate size open area for family snow play, so I thought this was as good a place as any to start my hike.

The weather was perfect, not a cloud in the sky again with the temperatures in the mid-20s. In the sun and moving that felt pretty good. I followed some of the cross country ski marks then took off trailblazing on my own over the dry virgin powder. I came across several trail markers for snowshoers coming from Tahoe Donner resort but didn’t want to tread on their territory being a freeloader. So I just blazed some of my own trails making sure I wasn’t trespassing on private property as well. Not that many people there, and no one seemed concerned or could even see me. I was only out for about 45 minutes today, and that was enough to make sure I had fun before I left the snow.

After packing up my snowshoes, I headed for Donner Lake, as I hadn’t driven by the lake in over a year. It was wonderful to see snow covering parts of the mountain tops from lake level. I parked my car at the Vista Point turn out, just before the Rainbow Bridge. The bridge is also known as the Donner Summit Bridge, built during the 1920s. It was recently made famous in 2007 by a black bear who managed to get underneath the bridge, dangling precariously over the canyon below. Rest assured that he was safely rescued by Rangers and set free the next day, unharmed. The Vista Point is a perfect spot for photo opportunities of Donner Lake, Donner Summit and the snow tunnels for the trains that run between Sacramento and Reno.

I continued up and over Donner Summit on Donner Pass Road past the Soda Springs Ski Resort and Royal Gorge turn off. From there it was easy to pick up Highway 80 again and head on back to the bay. I’ll be back up to Tahoe as soon as we get another decent snowfall.

Until then, I’ll see you again somewhere in the Tahoe Wilderness

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Christmas Eve Snowshoeing at Royal Gorge

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Had so much fun last week, and we had a storm since, I headed back up to Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski area for more snowshoeing. What I didn’t expect, the snow on the trees from last week and the storm melted already by the time I got back up. Plenty on the ground, with beautiful blue skies, I started out down the Yuba Trail. I had to make a few of my own tracks though in some large mounds of untouched powder…well, untouched until I got there.

I did test my next step each time I trotted out into the ungroomed snow. (Prod ahead with your poles to make sure that there are no holes or branches you could fall into or get your foot caught on) Once back on the groomed portion, I tried to pick up my pace a bit and run in my snowshoes. A couple of trips to start out, but got the form and the pace quickly. With the altitude it didn’t last long before resuming my walking pace. Always takes me a few miles to get my legs and my wind before I’m good to go.

From Yuba, I picked up Sidewinder, went down Fast Draw to Hawk’s Run (both snowshoe trails, but had not been groomed yet, so it was a little slow going but great to be in the powder!) Finally back to Sidewinder, I took a right on Sleigh Ride, a large wide open area, well groomed that follows the power lines down the hill.

Arriving at a crossroads for several trails, (Palisade, Stagecoach, Snow Mountain and Hi Jinx) I took a short jog to the right then quick left to pick up the Maintenance Road. It had crusted over after the Snowcat was over it, so it was a little crunchy to walk on. It did provide some beautiful, untouched areas with up close views of small streams flowing through the snow and under the road. I was the only one around, so I took my time about getting back on track to the groomed areas. I will get an earlier jump on the trails next time so I can get down Stage Coach, a long and scenic trail passing close to Deer Lake.

Back on Palisade Trail now, I walked as far as Killy’s Cruise, taking me back to Lyle’s Lookout where I was the week before. This time, the views were more beautiful as the skies were clear and blue with no impending storm clouds. Someone had made a small snowman I called”Lyle” and had to take a selfie of us before leaving. The sun was getting lower in the sky pretty early now, with sunset at 16:41. It was already 15:00 (3 pm), and time for me to start making tracks for the Summit Station. It was getting pretty chilly and crusty in the shaded areas of the trail. Met some nice folks to chat with at Palisade and Rodney’s Run.

There was a nice, snow-covered pile of logs that was very picturesque and I had to take the photo opportunity while I had it. Palisade took me all the way back to the Summit Station, but it was just too nice to leave yet. I took off my snowshoes and sat in a big mound of snow and ate my crunchy apple, and sipped my cold bottle of carrot juice. The view, breathing in the cold fresh air and the solitude of being back in the mountains reminded me of several of the many sayings of John Muir…

“Another glorious Sierra day in which one seems to be dissolved and absorbed and sent pulsing onward we know not where. Life seems neither long nor short, and we take no more heed to save time or make haste than do the trees and stars. This is true freedom, a good practical sort of immortality.”
― John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra

“Going to the mountains is going home.”
― John Muir

See you soon on my next adventure in the Tahoe Wilderness

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