Date: September 3, 2016
Place: Donner Memorial State Park, Truckee, California
Trailhead coordinates: 39.319047, -120.251484
Length: 2.5 miles
The first weekend of September found us looking for a campground in the Sierra Nevada north of Lake Tahoe. We had no reservations but there are plenty of first come first serve campgrounds in that area, and there were enough campsites that were not occupied by people. The problem was that they were all occupied by yellowjacket wasps that hoarded every picnic table and every water spigot. Eventually we did find a place in a small campground that had no water and very few other campers. Possibly because of that, there were considerably fewer yellowjackets. Either way, we knew that we would not spend much time in the campground, so after pitching the tent we were ready to go hiking.
We were there with friends, but their son wasn't feeling very well so they remained in the campsite while us Quails drove off to check out Donner Memorial Park.
There is a pretty blue narrow lake visible when driving past Truckee on I-80, and that is the Donner Lake, a man-made reservoir. Various estates and resorts are lined along its north shores, and on the south east side there is Donner Memorial State Park - a fee area.
We drove into the park and, following the gate attendant's instructions, we continued all the way to the end and parked right at the trailhead of what we were promised to be a nice forest trail.
|Our hike at Donner Memorial State Park, as captured by Pappa Quail's GPS|
|A few yards into the trail|
We advanced quickly through the first part of the hike. The trail meanders between trees and boulders, some of the rocks enticing my chikas to climb.
The park was full of people, but only very few could be seen on the trail. We had the forest literally to ourselves.
We could hear the birds all around us, and occasionally saw one flying between the trees, but none came out to pose for the camera. We also didn't see much of other wildlife, but did see evidence of wildlife activity in the forest. They simply weren't coming out to play.
The atmosphere in the forest was of stillness and quiet anticipation. The trees looked healthy, but tired and ready to go into dormancy. Either way, they were beautiful to look at.
|Craning my neck|
For a short part the trail climbed up the hillside with a mild slope. There, right by the turning point back downward, there was a larger clearing in the middle of which, basking in full sunlight, was a small grove of quaking aspen. Had we been there a month later they's be wearing gold.
|Quaking Aspen, Populus tremuloides|
There were many people on the shoreline trail too, and now we had to watch also for bikers as well as for pedestrians. Every now and then I caught a moment with no people in view.
|The shoreline trail|
|Lupine, Lupinus sp.|
|Fireweed, Chamerion angustifolium, dispersing its seeds.|
After dinner we sat by the campfire and the chikas told their friend about the park and the lake. I told them that we would go back there on the morrow - that there was another trail that I wished to hike in that park. I promised them that after the hike we would go to the lake and see if we could rent kayaks and go on the water. And with that happy prospect we quenched the fire and went inside the tents.