Donner Memorial State Park

Donner Banner
Exploring the local landscape can be an effective tool for re-invigorating the creative process. I am currently in a situation where I need to live in a location that is not ideal for me. I really miss the lush green landscape of the Pacific Northwest, so instead of constantly complaining about my environmental situation, I have started looking for beauty in the nearby areas. Think of it somewhat like an old time animal safari hunt, but with a twist that I am on a pleasant environment quest looking for moments of beauty and peace in the nearby trails, parks, and towns. So far this process has had good results in making everyone feel refreshed and ready to go back to work spaces with a new vitality.

Amazingly tall dead tree

Amazingly tall dead tree

The following are the images that we collected during our visit to the Donner Memorial State Park, which is just west of Truckee, CA on Interstate 80. About a week ago the Sierra Nevada Range was blessed with several much needed snow falls, so parts of the trail and grounds still had remnants of those storms. A very merger amount compared to what the area needs and to what the Donner Party themselves, whom the area is named after, experienced well over a 100 years ago. It was this unfortunate group of pioneers heading west to California that the Donner Lake and the Donner Memorial State Park is named after. These were the ill famed settlers that either starved to death, succumbed to the elements, or were forced to apparent cannibalism to survive the severe conditions. They are definitely the poster children for the idea that not all short cuts or worth taking. They also made the mistake of not listening to the expert mountain men that told them not to take Hasting’s short cut, which could also be a lesson on doing due diligence on the people one works with or takes advice from.

Current museum structure

Current museum structure

Trail with points of interest.

Trail with points of interest.

Still clear waters create a beautiful reflective surface.

Still clear waters create a beautiful reflective surface.

Remaining snow of bridges and pathways were somewhat challenging for the unprepared.

Remaining snow on bridges and pathways were somewhat challenging for the unprepared.

More reflective surfaces on the water.  I took so many photos that I can not possible share them all here.

More reflective surfaces on the water.   I took so many photos that I could not possibly share them all here – perhaps some will end up being paintings.

Interesting marshy conditions left by recent snowfall.

Interesting marshy conditions left by recent snowfall.

Water so clear.  Lake Tahoe used to rival this clarity.

Water so clear.   Lake Tahoe used to rival this clarity.

Donner 08

Snow along the edge made me wonder just how cold was that clear water.  The air was cool that day as well.  Luckily we wore jackets.

Snow along the edge made me wonder just how cold was that clear water.   The air was cool that day as well.    Luckily we wore jackets.

Donner 10

Can you see the big face in this huge boulder?

Can you see the big face in this huge boulder?

Historical placard for the Donner Party.

Historical placard for the Donner Party.

The large memorial statue that was erected long before the museum and pathways.

The large memorial statue that was erected long before the museum and pathways.

The small museum structure has a modest display area, kindly staff, and a winding outdoor trail path with marked points of interest. Books on the subject matter of the Donner Party and other historical local topics can be found in the gift shop area. It is $8.00 to park in the lot which gives everyone within the vehicle admission and a chance to walk around the grounds, which for a car load of guests is worth the short adventure trip up the mountain. Donner Lake and the city of Truckee are nearby for other shopping and needs. I was fortunate enough to get some inspiring photos for my artwork, so the little trip was well worth the effort.

G. Winkler © 2014

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Gretchen Winkler is a Writer, Artist, Radio Show Co-Host, Costume Designer, and ordered Knight. For the past 20 years she has authored several informational websites, started several technical companies, and has been an avid student of art, literature, history, technology.

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Posted in Culture, Digital Photography, Inspiration

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