Saturday, October 31, 2020

Escaping the Silent Donner Tunnels

Happy Halloween!

 If you have not, please check out the previous blog before this one since this is the conclusion of this two part hike. So when I left off we were in a pitch black tunnel. I shot a few pictures with my camera that has a flash that showed where we were:
Somewhere I think we remembered on the way back we had cell phones that might be helpful like the Phial of Galadriel if we truly needed light. It took a few minutes, but finally I saw a tiny dot ahead that started to get bigger. Btw, in the video I did not show the pitch black part because I think it would have been ridiculous. It would have been like just showing a black screen because you cannot see anything. I show a few seconds of where the light at the end of the tunnel was bigger. In any case, we came out of the tunnel, looked ahead, and down to our left we saw Donner Lake. I show that in the video. The following picture was a bit earlier before the final tunnel we came out of. I just wanted to show how the cloud was over the lake.


 The following is looking back at the long tunnel we went through.

At this point I think it is a good idea to give a simple explanation as to what was going on here. If you were not sure what this was, these were train tunnels used with the transcontinental railroad built by Chinese workers and finished in 1867. It was used from 1868 to 1993. Without tunnels it would have been very difficult to maintain a railroad over the Sierra during the winter months. So, this tunnel was created.

When we left we drove down to an open area that gave us a good views of the area. Here you can clearly see the icy snow on the mountain as well as the train tunnel. Down below to our left was the following:

 The cloud over Donner Lake you saw earlier was gone. We went home after this, but I should say a few extra things here because I am not done with Donner Pass just yet.

This hike was done during last October, 2019. We knew we wanted to come back to do the other hike we originally thought we were going to do. Our goal was to do that and visit the Donner State Memorial Park during the summer of 2020. I ended up regretting not going to the Memorial Park during this October trip. I will explain why whenever I get around to putting those blogs together. Hopefully, by the end of the year. Until then...

The Silent Donner Tunnels (Youtube Video)

The music from Incompetech.com used in the video is called Symmetry and Man Down, and Crypto.

Friday, October 30, 2020

The Silent Donner Tunnels

Happy Halloween!

 (GPS:N39 19.000 W120 19.560) 

About a year ago my sister-in-law wanted to do a hike that my brother and I had never done before. So much of what I am about to show you I had no prior knowledge of before going. Originally, we were supposed to do a hike at Donner Pass. I was all for that because I was always curious about the history of Donner Pass and tragic story of the Donner Party. This area is a little out of the way from where I normally hang out in the Eastern Sierra. After leaving home in the dark, a couple of hours later we reached the following sign and parked nearby.

The drive thru Truckee had been rather foggy that morning. We noticed the mountain side was full of icy snow. I was slightly concerned about this since I had not really prepared for a snow hike and really had no idea where this hike would take us. As we started the first five minutes of the hike going up hill I felt pretty good, but my brother told me to stop since he was a bit concerned about my sister-in-law on this one. The icy snow did seem like it would get worse. In the past, when we have hiked through icy snowed in areas, the concern is not always right away during the early morning hours when the ice is solid. It is when the sun comes out and the day warms up that the ice melts. If one is not equipped and prepared that can be a bad thing when you a returning. So instead of being Donner Party part 2 we came back to the trailhead. My sister-in-law got out her cell phone and tried to come up with plan B for the day. There was something nearby...
This is part of the Historic Donner Pass Trail. I thought we were attempting to do that with the other trail we were on. Again, this is not a hike I planned out like I have done for most of the hikes on this blog. I usually have some idea of what to expect, but this was completely going without much knowledge of what I was getting into. So, the idea was, "Let's explore these tunnels!" Not too far in the first major tunnel we had an interesting ray of light.
That was interesting because we had been watching the Peter Jackson directed The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings movies during this time. This mountain and these tunnels definitely gave me the feeling I was near Erebor, the Misty Moutains, and the Mines of Moria all at the same time. I noticed there was a lot of graffiti as we headed in. The tunnels appeared to be quite old, but not used anymore.
As we went along the tunnels they were quite long. At moments the light from the outside was coming in through the slits the tunnels had, but was getting darker the more we went. We did not have flashlights, but I did have my camera with a flash so I took the above picture.
The one concern I did have was the idea that zombies, Gollum, or some other random person might show up! Sure enough, the only person we encountered during this time was coming back! Fortunately, that was in a area that was not too dark. I did see him and say "Hi!" before things got too creepy! Right after that the tunnel became pitch black. We were actually moving kind of slow during this point. It was not too bad. I could not see anything, but did walk through some water. 

I will finish this up in the next blog. Stay connected! 

The Silent Donner Tunnels (Youtube Video)

 The music from Incompetech.com used in the video is called Symmetry, Man Down, and Crypto.