Donner Pass

Today was a full hiking day and a full town day and it was amazing. We started by hiking up to Tinker Knob and following the ridge for several miles.



We made it down to the road at Donner Pass by lunchtime. The plan had been to go a couple of miles west to Soda Springs, where there is only a restaurant and general store, so that we wouldn’t get stuck. But it turned out the restaurant is closed on Wednesdays, so we had to go east to Truckee. As soon as I stuck my thumb out, a couple of guys from the local land conservation agency pulled over and gave us a ride down.

We went to a Mexican restaurant for lunch first, then to the Safeway to pick up a few things. I met the wife of the inventor of the Ursack, a lightweight bear can alternative, in the parking lot. She said to email him when I got to Washington and he’d send me one.

I just needed a few things in the store. After, we were sitting at a table outside eating ice cream, when who should walk up but Talker, another AT ’13er! He apparently lives here.


I ran into the outfitter quickly to grab some mosquito repellant and then we stuck our thumbs out again to head back up to the trail. Dan pulled over on his way back from mountain biking and offered us whatever we needed. We ended up stopping back at his place for quick showers and watermelon before being dropped back off at the pass.


Trail angel Reno Dave was sitting there with coolers and a grill so we had a drink and chatted with him for a bit before starting.


Donner Pass is named after the emigrant wagon train party who wintered near there in 1846-47. Almost half of them died, and many resorted to cannibalism to stay alive. We had driven past the exact place their cabins were in town and saw the memorial that was 22′ high to show the snow level that winter.

Also near the pass is a remnant of the first transcontinental railroad’s summit tunnel. It was built by Chinese immigrants and finished in 1867, and was the Central Pacific Railroad’s way through the Sierra. 1659′ long, it took fifteen months to complete. There is a piece of the “Chinese wall” still there.


We passed lots of rock climbers for the first couple of miles in from the road. This town seems really outdoorsy and I love it!

We hiked over Castle Pass at 7962′ and made it to the Peter Grubb Hut for the night. It’s a backcountry ski hut that is open to hikers in the summer, and it may be the only shelter on this trail. I wanted to stay in it for that reason, but it was pretty hot inside and a large family with kids was set up in it, so I ended up just setting my tent up any way.


There are lights powered by a solar panel in the bottom level so we cooked dinner and hung out in there for a while before bed. 18.7 miles today.


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  1. Nice day! šŸ™‚

  2. Incredible views!

  3. Glad you had a nice day!

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