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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Tahoe Donner Snowshoe Running

Left my friends house in Verdi, Nevada at 7 AM, where it was chilly 2 degrees. All of my bottles of water in the car were frozen solid. I headed up to Tahoe Donner ski area to meet up with Helen from the Donner Party Mountain Runners. From there we carpooled up the hill to start our run for the morning.

It was a nice straight run, a couple of rolling hills to get up which made me gasp for air early on. Helen came back to check on me as I was bringing up the rear of the group. The 5° temperatures made your nose and lungs burn a little bit until you got used to the cold air. Except for that, the conditions were flawless, not a cloud in sight, snowshoe running on a perfectly groomed trail. I got about half to three quarters of the way until I stopped wait up for the group to double back. Ran with Helen a little bit more, and then we all met up at the house for some hot cider and a warm fireplace.

Though it’s still the 31st, I’ll call it a great start for the New Year.

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Mt. Rose to Galena Falls – Snowshoes in May

OK, a new day, a new adventure. Headed back up to Mt. Rose Summit parking area for a day hike to Galena Falls and maybe Relay Peak if I can get that far with the snow. Left my bike with Max at Flume Trail Bikes for babysitting while I went out to play in the snow.

The trailhead at Mt. Rose starts on the south side of the parking area, climbing quickly to open area overlooking Tahoe Meadows. As you climb, you can see the northern part of Lake Tahoe and some of the higher peaks in the basin. The trail soon turns north into a more forested area.

Within the next 1/2 mile, the trail became more obscure with the snow. There are not as many trail markers on this section of the TRT. With the snow covering the trail, you just had to hike in the general direction of where you thought it was. Not always easy with or without the snowshoes. I had them on and off many times in an hour of hiking.

The weather was beautiful, sunny, clear and warm, so I wasn’t about to quit too soon. Finally, I came to the sharp turn in the trail below Tamarak Peak, slowly making my way to Galena Falls. The snow was getting more prevalent the deeper I got into the canyon.

At the base of the falls, I decided that the switchbacks up the side of the mountain to Relay Peak would have been more than I could do in snowshoes today. Since I was going so slow, I would not get back to the car before dusk, and I was already on the shaded side of the mountain.

The return trip back took longer than I wanted – walking on a 20% slope in snowshoes was tiring. The trail was not flat, and snowshoes weren’t designed to walk sideways. Several hours later, I’m back at the car, pretty spent from my workout today. A hot shower would be nice, but that will have to wait for another day. Back in camp, it was time for a campfire, hot tea and bedtime.

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Another day ahead… I need my beauty rest