The snow beckons, but not in the middle of a storm or when it’s 6-feet deep. I’m a fair-weather-snow type of gal. I like the ambient temperature not freezing and to have ample snow on the ground. Had we made it up to Donner Lake a few days earlier it would have been perfect, but life did not permit. But it was still good when we did get there.
Donner Lake Village is a small town wrapping around the lake. It’s quaint and attracts tourists and residents year round. It is close to all major sky areas for winter sports, and in the summer is just stunning. When we went up, I didn’t even need to put my snow boots on. The weather was perfect.
The lake is about 1 1/2 hours from my home. Richard drove and Ray and Sally came along. Here are some of my images captured that day.
The wonderful thing about living in Sacramento is being able to visit Winter, enjoy for a few hours and come back to mild temperatures and no snow! Oh, I forgot to mention that if you time it right, you won’t need snow tires or chains to get to the snow and ski resorts. But timing is critical.
I remember taking two members of my SkillbuildersToastmasters Club to Reno,Nevada for a District 39 conference. We didn’t see any snow on the 2-hour ride up to Reno. We were just about to find a place to eat dinner when my husband called and said to come home. There was a big storm ready to hit Reno and further west. We didn’t hesitate. By the time we got to the car, the snow was already falling. When we got to the California border, I couldn’t see in front of me; the snow was falling that heavy. I managed to get down the mountain by following truck tracks that sort of plowed the road. I didn’t have snow tires or chains. However, the scenery was simply beautiful. Freshly fallen snow on pine trees; a photographer’s dream. It’s too bad I was driving. I would have been taking pictures.
While the timing was wrong for that trip, it was right for our February 2016 trip to the small town of Donner Lake, near Truckee, in Nevada County. The weather was perfect, roads were plowed and plenty of snow available to photograph. Linda drove and Marlene and I went along. It was an amazing day, topped off by the best pizza. Yes, we are foodies of sort.
Thank you Ann-Christine, and this challenge, for taking me back to a wonderful day! Check the captions for image details.
I’ve been up the mountain to shoot snow since, but never experienced a day like this. Isn’t it wonderful that we have our images to help us remember. Keep beauty in your heart!
Since these works of art change as they are painted over, we decided it was time for another walk through the tunnels. I was there in July 2016 with Linda and Marlene. Neither of them were available for this visit.
Honestly, I was disappointed with the art. First, the initial tunnel was barren of art. I did find familiar scenery in between that and the second tunnel. The third tunnel had the most to photograph. Of course, there was beautiful Donner Lake!
To make matters worse, I experienced some altitude illness. At an elevation of 7,057 feet above sea level, I shouldn’t have had that trouble! I’ve been over Donner Pass and at Donner Lake a few times without trouble.
But all things come to pass! It was an enjoyable outing with great friends. Maybe I’ll do it again in a couple of years as the graffiti is painted over.
I’m sorry to say that I really don’t have a bucket list. But, happily, photo buddy Linda does!
Her bucket list brought her, Marlene and I back to Donner Lake for the third time this year. I’ve lived in the Sacramento area for 15 years and had never been there. Thank goodness for photography. This hobby has taken me to more places I could imagine. And, back to those places.
During this Donner Lake trip, we specifically went to see the Donner Lake Railroad Tunnels that were on Linda’s bucket list. Fortunately, she knew of a way we could get there without hiking up the rocky mountain. Driving there and parking the car was easier, especially for three seniors.
These three tunnels totaling 1,659 feet were the first railroad line to traverse the Sierra Nevada Range. Built largely by Chinese workers, the tunnels were completed in August 1867 and the first train passed through it on June 18th, 1868. The last train passed through in 1993 when the route was changed to a new location.
We passed through it on July 2, 2016. Well, we made it through the first two short tunnels and half way through the long third one. The train rails are gone, and the walls are decorated with graffiti. It’s an experience to do at least once, and the doors in the third tunnel exit to an excellent view of Donner Lake.
After the tunnels, we drove back down and rode around the Lake. It was very different in the summer. In the winter it was serene and beautiful; however, in the summer, it was crowded. I’ll show you both images.
I enjoyed this trip, but I wonder what else is on Linda’s photo bucket list? We’ll see.
The entrance to the first tunnel.
Puddle reflection inside the tunnel.
Graffiti on the wood.
The view in between the tunnels.
We weren’t the only ones there.
The vibrant grafitti.
Another view point.
Construction: rock and wood.
Visitors standing on the roof of a tunnel entrance.
The lake view outside the third tunnel door.
An outside view of the tunnel.
Graffiti is also on the outside.
This was taken in February.
The same view, but a little more distant. Not as serene.
I was surprised that there was still snow on the ground when we made our trip to Donner Lake. The area around the lake wasn’t as pretty though. The gray snow that still surrounded some houses was negligible. We did stop at the same overlook and, wow, what a difference 3 months can make. Snow still capped the mountains, and the scene was beautiful.
The overlook was the only place that we visited before. This time we went into Donner Lake Memorial State Park. It was here that I had an opportunity to play with a crystal orb. Now that was fun. It took some getting used to, but I was happy with the results. A crystal orb is now on my list.
What did I learn? I believe I’m shooting with more confidence. I’m also getting a great deal of positive feed back on my images, and waiting for the five black and white prints I ordered. I do hope there are no surprises when I open the box. Meaning, I want them to look as they do on my computer!
Here’s a glimpse of Donner Lake and the State Park.
In February, this overlook was covered in snow.
Snow is still on surrounding rocks.
This memorial to the Donner Party stands at the opening to the State Park.
Just an expressive dead tree and its reflection.
A bridge crossing the stream.
Rocks at the side of the stream.
The top of a little waterfall.
When you shoot into the orb, the scene is upside down.
So, I inverted the entire picture.
Another orb scene.
The stream again.
Pretty flowers. Maybe thistles?
Taken at a crystal store in Truckee.
I cropped close to just catch the colors of the art objects.
Let’s see: boots, check; flannel lined leggings, check; three layers on top, check; knitted head scarf, check. I’m all ready for a fun day of shooting in the snow at Donner Lake.
Marlene, Linda and I went off early one Saturday morning to get ahead of the weekend crowds. However, to our surprise, there weren’t a bunch of people on the Donner Lake roads. It was beautiful with temperatures in the high 50’s (Fahrenheit) and sunny. What fun.
The reality is that we drove around the lake, drove to the mountain top and drove into the nearby town of Truckee. Yes, we did get out, walk around and shoot. But, we didn’t hike. Still, the thrill of stepping into a foot of snow was there. At one time, I did fall, butt down, into the fresh icy snow. When I fall, so do my two cameras hanging from a sling. I got up and wiped them down with a towel I brought along. They didn’t suffer. Neither did I.
Since this was my first time shooting in the snow, I read tutorials. Of course they contradicted each other! That’s the frustrating about learning photography, there are many ways to achieve the same end. So, I decided to bracket my shots. At least one of the three would be good, right? When I uploaded them to my computer, I decided that the original exposure shot was the correct one. They did need some processing in Lightroom to tone down the white and, sometimes, blue of the snow.
And, we met a few nice people who were more than willing to chat. I get it now Greg! What did I learn from this experience? I discovered that whatever your physical capabilities you can have fun in the snow. Just make sure you’re covered for whatever weather Mother Nature brings–boots, hat, enough clothing layers and good friends.
Donner Lake as seen from almost to the summit.
Now these people are hiking! Underneath the snow there is a trail!
Icicles hanging from a roof.
Now this small house is truly snowed in!
We talked to the man who’s sons made this snowman and another. What fun!
A look at some of the lake side homes.
In Truckee, a brewery has made a home of an old gas station.
In Cisco Grove (down the mountain from Donner Lake) a young boy is getting a sled ride.
These red buds were abundant in Cisco Grove.
Here’s a closer view.
Back at Donner: The stairway to…..?
I enjoyed shooting with my ultra-wide lens. A deep view of the Lake.
This gentleman in his 80’s built this home. He’s come up to do some shoveling on the stairs. He summers in Alaska!
The sun’s rays are streaming through the trees, giving a rainbow effect.