Author Archives: admin

Picture of the week 10/14/12

This week’s image is an historical photo comparison of part of Summit Valley. The future of the Van Norden meadow after it becomes public open space with the acquisition of Royal Gorge by the Truckee-Donner Land Trust is an open … Continue reading

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Picture of the week 9/30/12

Autumn is coming to the summit and the colors are changing. Here is Van Norden meadow from the top of Soda Springs ski hill.

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Picture of the week 9/23/12

People have passed through the summit area for thousands of years. Van Norden meadow shows signs of these early visitors in the stone mortars and metates that are spread through the meadow. Signs of later travelers are evident in the … Continue reading

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Picture of the week 9/9/12

A little history in this weeks image. This is a “horizontal billboard” ad for a Truckee hotel that still survives on the granite slabs next to the route of the Old Lincoln Hwy trail in Donner Pass.

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Video of the week 9-2-12

This week I am putting up a video that expresses what I love about the summit area and why I think it is a good idea for us to preserve by having it become open space. (The video is best … Continue reading

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Picture of the week 8/26/12

Hiking the Old Lincoln Highway in Donner Pass is a great way to relive some of the history of early life on the summit.

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Picture of the week 8/19/12

The summit is home to many raptors, but one of the most proficient is the Osprey or Fish Eagle (it is not technically a real eagle). This one had to do a fly over to show off it’s catch from … Continue reading

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Picture of the week 8/12/12

It is the peak of hiking season on the summit as these hikers on Soda Springs ski hill can attest.

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Picture of the week 8/5/12

Crater Lake is a beautiful little melt pond on Boreal Ridge. It offers great views of the entire summit area. It is worth the hike up.

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Picture of the week 7/29/12

Common Merganser mother and ducklings at Van Norden Lake. This is avian maternity time on the summit for many of the birds that are summer residents.

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Picture of the week 7/22/12

  It is the peak of the wildflower season on the summit. For the next couple of weeks we will have the largest number of wildflower varieties in bloom.

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Not just another fish story…

This post is a cautionary tale to all the dog owners that visit the summit. Anyone that frequents this site probably knows that we have two golden retrievers that we share our lives with up here on the summit. Calla … Continue reading

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Picture of the week 7/8/12

The Mariposa Lilies are in bloom all over the summit area. Look for them on dry rocky ridges.

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Picture of the week 7/1/12

Crossing the natural bridge when we come to it. This unique formation is on the ridge near Rowton Peak. Camas Alert For you Camas Liliy freaks, there are a few plants still blooming in Van Norden Meadow east of the … Continue reading

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Picture of the week 6/24/12

Kellogg’s Lewisia is one of our local treasures. We are just at the end of the blooming season.

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The birds are back

Winter visitors to the summit are usually here to enjoy the skiing, sledding and other snow-related activities. The cold sterile white landscape of winter keeps our warm weather visitors away. After the snow melts, however, the warm weather crowd returns … Continue reading

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Revisiting Rowton Peak

This week we took advantage of the early spring we are having on the summit this year and did one of our favorite hikes, up to Rowton Peak (see the trail description here). As with most hikes here on the … Continue reading

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Picture of the week 6/10/12

White Pelicans are a frequent summer visitor to the summit. They like to hang out at Van Norden Lake on their special rock.

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Picture of the week 6/3/12

The snow is gone and it’s time to strap on the hiking boots and get out to the forest. This is at the meadow along the Eastridge trail out to Mariah Point.

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Picture of the week 5/27/12

Spring continues on the summit and water is everywhere. This week’s photo is of another beautiful waterfall currently running at full blast in Serena Creek Canyon. For more info about waterfalls on the summit see this weeks blog post.

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Spring has sprung and the falls have begun

Spring has sprung on the summit… Unlike a year ago, this year we are having a normal spring after a mild winter. Spring on the summit is all about water and its change is state from solid to liquid. The … Continue reading

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Picture of the week 5/20/12

This is the time for waterfalls on the summit. This is the falls at Donner Pass that only last for a few weeks in spring as the snow melts. They are not visible from the road so you’ll have to … Continue reading

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Picture of the week 5/13/12

“Super” moon rise over Serene Lakes. Last week we had the largest full moon of the year and it was a spectacular sight as it rose over the ridge on the east side of Serene Lakes.

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Picture of the week 5/6/12

It’s that time of the year again. We are transitioning from winter to summer and the ski season has obviously come to an end for this season.

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Picture of the week 4/29/12

Spring has sprung on the summit and the melt is in full swing. The sound of running water is everywhere and the snow is doing its yearly vanishing act. It won’t be long before we start seeing wildflowers.

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Picture of the week 4/22/12

(Click on image for larger version)One of the harbingers of spring on the summit is the awakening of our resident bears which happens every April. This year was no exception and here is the track of one of the hungry … Continue reading

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Picture of the week 4/15/12

(Click on image for larger version)The view from Palisades Peak is one of the most spectacular in the summit area. Devil’s Peak is in the background with a frozen Palisades Lake in the foreground. The ski up to the summit … Continue reading

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Picture of the Week 4/8/12

April is usually still a great time to ski on the summit. Serene Lakes is still frozen with an accumulation of the winters snow on it. It’s always best to ski with a friend and in this case with two … Continue reading

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Picture of the Week 4/1/12

(click on image for larger sizes)The view from the top of the Silverbelt run at Sugar Bowl ski resort. Taken the day after a large snow storm that dropped almost 8 feet of snow on the summit. This was true … Continue reading

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The Summit without Us

I’m sure many of you that read this site have been out exploring the summit at sometime and thought, “What would the summit look like if humans had never discovered it?”. Of course, everyone is familiar with at least some … Continue reading

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Come on out, the skating’s fine

1/7/12 Update: It has been pretty warm at Serene Lakes for the last week and the ice has gotten pretty thin. There have been reports of people going through the ice on the edges. It is probably best to wait … Continue reading

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A Trip for the Birds

As we start the winter months on the summit and the lakes freeze, one of the natural fixtures from summer disappears. The migratory water fowl including ducks, geese and even pelicans that ply the summit lakes have deserted us for … Continue reading

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Propane on Donner Summit – Part III

(Download a pdf of this post) In Part I and Part II of this article the current status of propane use on the summit was laid out based on the propane survey project that mapped each installation in Serene Lakes. … Continue reading

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Propane on Donner Summit – Part II

(Download a pdf of this post) In Part I of this article the basics of propane usage on the summit and the possible problems with it were discussed. In this part the current status of propane usage in Serene Lakes, … Continue reading

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Propane on Donner Summt – Part I

(Download pdf of this post) Many visitors to this site may have noticed there have not been any new posts recently. Apologies to our readers but this was due to a large commitment of time that was devoted to a … Continue reading

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Kayaking at Sand Harbor

As I post this at the beginning of October, we just had 10 inches of snow so I think it is safe to say that summer is over on the summit. While it may be a little late for this … Continue reading

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Summer, we hardly knew ya

This week in mid September saw the first frost on the meadows on the summit signaling the end of a very short summer and the start of autumn. With snow on the ground until July, there were really only about … Continue reading

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The Summit in 360 degrees

One of the advantages of publishing a blog like this for a serious photographer like myself is I get to feature my work on these pages. The summit is a landscape photographer’s dream and I never get tired of photographing … Continue reading

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Who owns the summit?

In most of the posts on this site the natural beauty and wonder of the summit are presented and discussed. I guess on some higher plain, that natural beauty belongs to all of us, but in modern human culture, especially … Continue reading

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Independence Lake – Turning back the clock

Have you ever been at Donner Lake and thought about what the lake looked like back when the Donner Party was there, before it was developed? There are some old black & white photos of the lake from the early … Continue reading

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A very rare local treasure

If you follow the posts here on a regular basis, you have probably picked up on the fact that many things up on the summit follow a tight schedule and happen for a limited amount of time. This week is … Continue reading

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Kayaking on Lake Van Norden

Lake Van Norden is located in the center of the summit area and is the head waters of the Yuba River. The lake is fed by the snow accumulation in surrounding water shed and is usually at it’s peak in … Continue reading

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Way off the summit

This week’s post is going way off the summit to southern Africa(it may be as far as you can get on this planet). Last September Linda and I went on the number one trip in our bucket list to South … Continue reading

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Summer comes to the summit

Time for the Snow Plants Now that the snow is finally disappearing and summer weather is breaking out all over, it’s time for the wildflowers to make their appearance. One of the first to appear is the bright red Snow … Continue reading

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Cycling the upper Yuba

The melt is finally full on at the summit and there is water everywhere. Of course being at the summit, gravity is pulling all this water away in every stream and river flowing down from the summit. One of the … Continue reading

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It’s Camas time

Camas time is very short, so if you want to see them, you better hurry. I am of course talking about one of our floral treasures up here in the Sierras, the Camas Lily. A few weeks ago I recommended … Continue reading

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Kayaking at Mono Lake

June is here and that means it’s time for our annual trek down to Mono Lake to kayak among the tufa formations. We look forward to this trip every year, but this year after the winter we have had and … Continue reading

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One more winter hit

The summit like just about every other place has its good days and, its bad days. Fortunately, the number of good days far exceeds the bad, but the last two days were definitely bad. The severity of this winter has … Continue reading

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Down the hill

The sunny weather is here and the thaw is on at the summit. However, we have so much snow up here that it’s going to be very white for a few more weeks. So what’s a person to do with … Continue reading

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Transition time

It is transition time up on the summit. It is the time between winter and summer (there isn’t really much of a spring up here). The ski resorts are closing, even with plenty of snow still on the ground. Normally, … Continue reading

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Winter 2010-11 retrospect

Now that the winter of 2010-11 is winding down on the summit, in this post we would like to share a personal retrospect in images rather than words. This winter has been a hard and long one on the summit … Continue reading

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Dog days of winter

As many of you know that read this blog, life here at the summit has been tough for the last couple of weeks due to the monster winter we have had. Between the storm itself and it’s ongoing aftermath, life … Continue reading

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We lost a cabin last night

Unfortunately,  the worst case scenario happened on Friday night.  A cabin in Serene Lakes was destroyed due to a propane explosion. Despite the best efforts of all the agencies working hard in the Serene Lakes area to prevent it, there … Continue reading

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The aftermath…

A week has gone by since the “big storm” and the summit is now experiencing the aftermath and it’s not pretty. In just the kind of extreme weather change you can expect on the summit, the temperature went from a … Continue reading

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Monster storm in a monster winter

Much of the information on this site discusses the winter snows on the summit. Well this week there was a monster set of storms that may put the snowfall for this year over the already impressive record from 1938 (65 … Continue reading

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Off the summit: Death Valley

At this time of the year there is a bit of a disconnect from life on the summit and the rest of California. As the first day of spring approaches, the summit is still deep in winter with 10-15 ft … Continue reading

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When the snow gets in the way

Most people coming to the summit area know that it is a “snow magnet”. For most that is the reason they visit or live in the area in the winter. In fact, Donner summit gets some the heaviest snowfall of … Continue reading

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Smell propane, call 911

One of the consequences of living up on the summit is there is no infrastructure for providing gas to homes. Instead each home has to provide it’s own heating fuel supply. The predominate system used on the summit utilizes propane … Continue reading

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Global warming comes to Lake Serena

At least the study of global warming has come. Many people reading this may have noticed in the last month a strange looking space age object out on Lake Serena at Serene Lakes. As the pictures show, it looks like … Continue reading

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Faster DSL on the summit

There is good news for users of AT&T DSL in the Serene Lakes and surrounding areas who have been struggling with the basic DSL speeds of 784 kiolbits/sec. Over the last couple of months AT&T has been upgrading its equipment … Continue reading

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Skiing free on the summit

Many people come up to the summit to cross country ski at the Royal Gorge resort which occupies large areas of the summit and has miles of groomed trails in the scenic back country. It is a skaters paradise and … Continue reading

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And So It Begins…

Welcome to our new site about the Donner Summit area in the Sierra-Nevada mountains in California. My wife Linda and I were lucky enough to retire early a few years ago and have taken up residence in the vacation community … Continue reading

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