Author Archives: admin
Today’s mapping resources as a result of high resolution satellite mapping are a modern wonder. The new information that these resources provide are invaluable to finding out what’s going on around us. Global Forest Watch is a new service that … Continue reading
(Click on image for a larger version) It can definitely be worth getting up before the sun on the summit. Caught this beautiful predawn moment at Van Norden Lake just before it was drained. Sad to think we may never … Continue reading
A winter storm moves into the Donner Summit area laying down a blanket of snow.
It’s not New England, but Donner Summit has its own special colors when autumn comes.
(Click on image for larger view) Autumn sunrise over the crest of Donner Pass. From left to right – Donner, Judah, Stephens and Stewart peaks
Nature can get pretty twisted up here on the Summit. This fearsome creature lives in the roots of tree up near the Catfish Pond at Donner Pass. All you need to see him is a little imagination.
Now that our second summer of trail use in the Royal Gorge area is coming to an end, I would like to revisit what we have learned from these two years. As many of you will remember, there was quite … Continue reading
I am sure this happened to everyone that ever went into the back country armed with a map and a compass. No matter how careful you are, you eventually come to situation in which where you think you are and … Continue reading
Everyday during the summer many hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail walk through the beautiful Castle Valley in the Donner Summit area. Little do they know that they walk right by signs left by Native Americans that shared the same … Continue reading
With the current drought, our question early this spring was how would it affect the summer wildflower season. Well after taking a walk out to Lyle’s Lookout yesterday, it appears that the wildflowers have gone crazy out there. In spite of … Continue reading
There are many unique features of the Donner Summit area, but probably one of the most unique is the small plant that only grows here and a few other places in the Sierras, the Kellogg’s Lewisia. This hearty plant grows … Continue reading
It has become a yearly tradition for this site to let everyone know when the Camas Lilies are flowering. Camas Lilies have beautiful blue flowers and are truly a treat to see when they are flowering. This year everything … Continue reading
Our annual first trip down to Palisade Falls came very early this year. This is the earliest we have ever been able to get down Kidd Lakes Rd which is usually choked with snow at this time. The really scary … Continue reading
If you haven’t picked up on it already, I have a very strong addiction, namely, wildlife photography. I’ve been afflicted with this compulsion for going on 30 years and it doesn’t seem to be subsiding. This week I had one … Continue reading
Just two weeks ago we were skiing out on Van Norden after what looks like the last significant snow storm of the winter. This week spring has sprung and the lake is clear of ice and ready to kayak. This … Continue reading
This picture of Van Norden Meadow may look like it was taken during the spring melt, but it was actually taken the day before this post. Where you would expect to see 6-8 ft of snow blanketing the meadow, … Continue reading
The winter started out pretty well on the Summit this year and for a while it looked like winter was going to return to its snowy ways. Unfortunately, after the storms just before Christmas, the dreaded Pacific high pressure moved … Continue reading
Real snow finally came to the summit this week. Took advantage of a beautiful day and wonderful snow to do a back country ski through Tiny Tim meadow. This is the first track through the meadow.
Winter is coming slowly to the summit this year. This early teaser storm dropped about 4 inches of the white stuff, but was gone in 3 days. While we have had a couple of potentially good storms come through, they … Continue reading
(Click on image for larger view) We had our first real snow on the summit this week. A pretty cold storm rolled in and dropped 4-6 inches over the entire summit area. On our first ski of the season … Continue reading
This week we spent some time over at Donner Pass hiking around. It reminded me of the little trek we took a couple of years ago out that rock promontory right out in the middle of the pass. It’s a … Continue reading
This last week autumn really started kicking in here on the summit. We even had our first storm of the season that left a dusting of snow. Here is what a stormy autumn day at Donner Pass looked like this … Continue reading
This week we hiked up to the top of Beacon Hill which is the Soda Springs ski hill in the Donner Summit area. It was just after the first snow of the season. Here is a 360° view of the … Continue reading
About this same time two years ago our picture of the week was of a beaver that had taken up residence in Lake Van Norden. Over those two years we have heard from many people about their own sightings of … Continue reading
For the last week the summit has been inundated with heavy smoke from the King fire which was an arson started fire near Pollock Pines along Highway 50. Unfortunately for the summit we lie northwest of the fire and the … Continue reading
Even on this beautiful summit, sometimes you just have to get away. So last week we hooked up the trailer, put the kayaks on the roof racks, and headed down one of our favorite drives, down Highway 395 to Lee … Continue reading
Readers of this site know that there has been considerable controversy concerning the original trail plan developed by the Truckee Donner Land Trust for the Royal Gorge area. Several posts have been published on this site discussing the plan and … Continue reading
This week we took a little walk up to Catfish Pond in Donner Pass. Unfortunately, we found a pretty shameful sight on the way to this little pond. Apparently, a group of visitors left their calling cards all over the … Continue reading
Anyone that has skied at Royal Gorge has probably appreciated a little break at one of the warming huts strategically located on the many trails at the resort. If you have taken advantage of these little shelters in the last … Continue reading
This week we would like to share a rare sighting up here on the summit. We found this Washingtonian Lily tucked in the foliage on the Sterling Canyon trail just about 50 yards the other side of the newly restored … Continue reading
Yes they are back out in the forest again. This week the forest restoration project being carried out by the Truckee Donner Land Trust has started up in the Royal Gorge area surrounding Serene Lakes. The map in Figure 1 … Continue reading
Well the Alpine Lilies (Lilium parvum) are out this week on the summit. This is a little early, but then so again are all the other wildflowers in this very dry year. Look for these orange beauties in shady areas along the … Continue reading
I am starting to notice a new and totally unexpected trend in my life, ever since the acquisition of the Royal Gorge Properties. Contrary to my expectations that we had saved Donner Summit I find that we seem to actually … Continue reading
It’s time to get the kayaks out and do a paddle on Van Norden Lake. With this very dry year, the water level is already dropping below the spillway and the seasonal lake will be drying out very early this … Continue reading
We had a great hike last week along Razorback Ridge and up to Rowton Peak. The weather was perfect and many of the wild flowers were out. Now is the time to get up there to see the last of … Continue reading
I finally climbed up to the top of Castle Peak this week after 15 years of having a cabin here on the summit. I know, all you old timers are thinking “what a tenderfoot”. It’s funny how every year I … Continue reading
As readers of this blog know, there has been a lot of discussion on this site concerning the trail system that Truckee Donner Land Trust (TDLT) is developing on the Royal Gorge open space. There have been claims put forward … Continue reading
(Click for larger image) This week Serena Creek is running at full flow over the Serena Creek dam.
This week we are hiking down to Serena Creek Falls. Please come and join us on our first hike of the season. For more information click here.
If there are children in the room you might want to send them out for this video (tic). As spring comes to the summit valley the wildlife is doing their best to carry on the species. This week I tramped … Continue reading
This week we received disturbing news concerning an icon of the Donner Summit area. The Truckee Donner Land Trust (TDLT) revealed their plan for the future of Van Norden Lake. The future of the lake is that it has no … Continue reading
Another sign of spring on the summit. Skied out to Lyle’s lookout and was pleasantly surprised to hear the bullfrogs croaking up a storm
Click on the image to see a larger view This week we had a late springs storm that dumped 2 ft of snow on the summit. Broke out the skis again and headed up to Palisade Peak. It was a … Continue reading
(Download a pdf of this post) In the last few weeks I have had the opportunity to see quite a bit of commentary and user feedback concerning the trail system in the Royal Gorge area. It is evident from many … Continue reading
I mark this week as the beginning of the summer cycle here on the summit. It is when the snow melt is in full progress that the water falls start to flow. This week we skied down to Palisade Creek … Continue reading
(Download a pdf of this post) As promised, this post about open space use will deal with equestrian users. For this topic I feel that because I don’t ride horses and really don’t know all the issues, I would take … Continue reading
Regular readers of this blog know that I’ve been dealing with some controversial subject matter lately concerning trail use. I have to admit that some of the issues are creating a negative vibe. I feel like it’s time for a … Continue reading
(Download a pdf of this post) In this installment about open space use on the summit, I would like to discuss what seems to have become one of the hotter of the hot button issues concerning trail use, mountain biking. … Continue reading
As many of you probably know part of the acquisition of the Royal Gorge Properties by Truckee Donner Land Trust (TDLT) hinged on a land swap deal with Sugar Bowl. A large portion of the Van Norden Meadow was owned … Continue reading
(Download a pdf of this post) In this second installment about open space use on the summit, I would like to discuss some of the issues concerning trail use and regulation as it pertains to the trail plan proposed by … Continue reading
(Download a pdf of this post) In the last two years there have been historic changes in the status of land ownership and use at Donner Summit. Due to an momentous effort led by the Truckee Donner Land Trust (TDLT), … Continue reading
Snoops Loop had plenty of snow coverage in Van Norden Meadow this week.
Snow has finally come to the Summit this week. This was a beautiful day of skiing on Mt Disney at Sugar Bowl.
This week the snow returned to the summit. Not as much as we need, but it’s a start. Van Norden Lake was frozen and snowy as this panorama shot from smack dab in the middle of the lake shows.
I am cheating this week. This is actually a picture of Sugar Bowl from the same week last January. Just to remind us all what a real winter looks like.
This week I am going to refer you to a new website that has been created to promote the preservation of Van Norden Lake and its surrounding wetlands. Please visit and explore this site to learn more about this important … Continue reading
Anyone driving up Soda Springs road will notice that there is a new view of Van Norden Meadow from the road. That new clarity is due to a forest clearing project by PG&E that started last September. Apparently PG&E was … Continue reading
Not much happening on the summit this week. Still waiting for new snow. A good time to get down to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge to see one of the natural wonders, a fly up of the hordes of migratory … Continue reading
The snow is here and the meadow is open for skiing. Get your dog and head out to Snoop’s Loop.
The summit received its first significant snowfall this week, so it’s time to break out to the skis. We did our first ski out to one of our favorite spots on the summit, Lyle’s Lookout. There was about a foot … Continue reading
Any of you Sugar Bowl skiers out there will be glad to see this update on the new Crow’s Peak lift. On Saturday, Oct 19th, I could here the chop-chop-chop of a helicopter over the summit area. I grabbed my … Continue reading
Took a walk up to Crow’s Nest last week to check out the new lift at Sugar Bowl. As you can see from the pictures below, the top of the lift is still in the construction stage. I was … Continue reading
(Download a pdf of this post) Figure 1. The ¼ mile forest restoration perimeter around Serene Lakes community. For 2013 the 120 acres west of Hillside Dr is currently being restored. (Click on image for larger map) When the Truckee-Donner … Continue reading
This week we get a little moody as autumn asserts itself and winter is on the way on the summit.
This week picture is sort of a repeat of last week’s picture except that I thought it would be interesting to see the new forest in 360 degrees. For those of you that have Java enabled on your computer, you … Continue reading
Welcome to Royal Gorge Park. This week the masticators cleaned up the brush in the TDLT forest restoration project in the Royal Gorge area. The result is this park-like landscape.
So who is this tagger decorating our trails? Well it’s none other than TDLT’s stewardship czar, John Svahn. John was out this week marking the trail drainage points that will be excavated on the Royal Gorge trails starting this week. … Continue reading
Regular readers know that there is no bigger advocate for getting out into the new Royal Gorge open spaces than this author. I have often had people ask me if it safe to go out in the forest. The person … Continue reading
In my last post I featured the new proposed trail system for the Royal Gorge area designed by the Truckee Donner Land trust (TDLT). I commented that most of the feedback I had heard was positive and supportive of the … Continue reading
The Plan Ever since the acquisition of the Royal Gorge property in Dec of 2012 by the Truckee-Donner Land Trust (TDLT) we have all been waiting to get a glimpse of their new plan for the use of the property … Continue reading
The Mission As many of you that visit this site know, I am passionate about preserving Van Norden Lake and its surrounding wetlands. For the last year I have been advocating this preservation and what I considered a simple plan … Continue reading
This week we visit the headwaters of the South Yuba located at Sugarbowl near Harriets Hollow. It is prime wildflower season right now and the outflow area is beautiful.
The White Pelicans have taken up summer residence in Van Norden Lake. These large birds are a sight to behold. There is still plenty of water in the lake so get out there in your kayaks and watch these beautiful … Continue reading
Let’s get small this week. Nature is busy going about its business out on the summit. I caught this rather colorful little beetle earnestly going about his business and at the same time pollinating this Cinquefoil flower.
Van Norden Meadow is at its prime this week for wildflowers. The Meadow Penstamon are really spectacular this year. This 360 degree pano gives you some idea of how great it is out there. Technote: The viewer that is used … Continue reading
Calling all wildflower lovers again. We found another bloom of Camas Lilies, this one is up at Tiny Tim meadow on the way to Rowton Peak. The plants are in much fresher condition than the ones we saw in Van … Continue reading
If you’re a lover of Camas Lilies then you need to get down to Van Norden Meadow in the next couple of days to see this years crop before they dry up. I have included a map of the meadow … Continue reading
Summer has come early to the summit this year and it’s time to get out and hike. This week we took our first hike around Van Norden Meadow.
Spring is in full swing on the summit and the wildflowers are making their splashes of color. This week I found a couple of Brown Peony plants over near Beacon Meadow on the east side of Serene Lakes (many thanks … Continue reading
This week we’re tooting our own horn a little. Linda and I installed our Historic Hwy 40 sign on Van Norden dam with Bill Oudegeest this week. We are proud to sponser this sign on one of our local landmarks. … Continue reading
If you are a waterfall lover like me, this is the best time of the year on the summit. With the snow melt at its peak for the next couple of weeks, the creekas are full and the falls are … Continue reading
(download a pdf of this post) The good news about this post is that it is going to be short because there really isn’t much history to talk about. This post is a follow up to my previous post concerning … Continue reading
We had a special treat out on Van Norden Lake this week. A pair of Sandhill Cranes was taking a break at the lake on their migratory flight back up to Canada. These are magnificent birds and they put on a bit … Continue reading
Welcome back Lake Van Norden. This is the earliest melt of the lake I have seen.
Waterfall season is coming early to the summit this year. Here is top of Palisades Falls running almost full bore. This is one of the most beautiful sites on the summit.
The melt is starting early this year. The South Yuba has started to flow in Summit Valley.
The resurrection of the Royal Gorge cross country ski resort this year under the management of Sugar Bowl has been great for all us skiers, both skaters and striders, that like to burn up the groomed trails. However, there are … Continue reading
Powder day at Sugar Bowl. The view of Donner Summit area from Fuller’s Folly run at Sugar Bowl.
(Download a pdf of this post) In the previous part of this article about the future of the Donner Summit Open Space Area (DSOSA), the issues of public access to the area were discussed. In this part of the article … Continue reading
(Download a pdf of this post) In the summer of 2012 a phenomenal thing happened on the summit. Through a sequence of remarkable events, 3000 acres of prime open space on the summit was conserved for public access by a … Continue reading
(Download pdf of this post) Most of you that frequent this site are well aware that of the big changes that have occurred with land ownership on the summit. After a whirlwind summer of local fundraising by several different organizations, … Continue reading
Snow kiting has come to Summit Valley year. If you are interested in this relatively new sport you should check out the Snow Kiting Center website.
Happy New Year to all On the Summit!
This week we celebrate the completion of the acquisition of the Royal Gorge property by the Truckee-Donner Land Trust to make it public open space. (Fireworks provided by Cliff Busby of Serene Lakes)
A very wet storm hit the summit this week bringing gray skies and cold rain. It also brought some rare visitors seeking a rest stop on their long journey from the arctic tundra to warmer climes for the winter. These … Continue reading
Along with changes in the weather, October brings spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Here the dawn sunlight creates a fiery cloud formation above Castle Peak.
Winter in autumn comes to the summit. Usually the autumn leaves are gone by the time the snow comes. This year an early October storm left us with the best of both seasons. Autumn was still in full bloom at … Continue reading