Sometimes new isn’t as good as old: Donner Snow Sheds

Our loyal group of senior photographers made a return visit to the Donner Snow Sheds located above Donner Lake in Nevada County. No longer used as a shelter for trains coming through the Sierra Nevada mountains, they are now hosts to art and graffiti from locals.

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.

One off Linda’s bucket list: Donner Lake Tunnels

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.

 

 

 

From February to May: Donner Lake

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.

 

Fun day, snow day: Donner Lake, CA

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.