Sweet to Bittersweet: Hiking Sagehen And Donner Summit Trails

Yesterday hiking in Nevada and California took me from the sweet to the bittersweet. The Sagehen trail can only be described as a “sweet” trail. Trails have personalities. Some played with you and make you earn the summit. Some are just sweetheart, girl-next-door trails. That is the Sagehen trail. A lovely 5 miles there-and-back to a lake with added side trails available. I then did the Donner Summit and Mount Judas trails. That one is not sweet but gorgeous. Think of Mary Ann and Ginger. It was a great combination on a spectacular day.

Sagehen is a lovely hike through pine, aspen, and birch forests. You end up at a wonderfully secluded lakes with trails around the lake. It was a wonderful early morning hike. Great for dogs but you should try to get there early on weekends. Here are some pics from that hike.

I then went to the Donner Pass museum and the memorial to the Donner party. I would not recommend it. The film at the museum was remarkably poor quality and not worth the wait. I am astonished that more effort was not made for the museum and film. Even though I am a huge museum buff, I would skip this one unless you have time to burn.

I then went to Donner Summit and Mount Jude. The drive up the mountain is a bit chilling if you do not like heights. The Donner Summit is very steep but worth it with vast vistas on all sides. Remarkably, at the very top, I encountered some hikers I met below at the trailhead. They brought wedding outfits, hiked up the steep mountain, and were taking pictures near sun set. They agreed to allow me to share a photo.

The hike is awesome. Make sure to leave time if you do both Donner and Judah to be sure to make the drive down the mountain with some light. You are at around 8000 feet above sea level. It is a great hike and worth the effort. Here are some pics:

10 thoughts on “Sweet to Bittersweet: Hiking Sagehen And Donner Summit Trails”

    1. Darren…….I cannot hear that name without hearing Robin Williams’ voice from his classic comedy routine as a Maitre d’:
      ` Donner, party of 8, your table is ready”! lord help me but I laugh every time!

  1. Thanks, JT. Beautiful photos. I have twice attempted to drive the Donner Pass on Interstate 80 during the winter. Closed both times.

  2. The Donner Party is such a sad story.

    If you thought the hike was tough, imagine doing so in a wagon train. Once you start a wagon going up a steep hill, you cannot turn around. If you try it, the wagon will tip and roll, likely breaking your horses’ legs. You cannot stop, either, while going uphill. It is extremely difficult to get the wagon started again. It’s hard to block the iron wheels on a steep hill, but even if you manage it, you have to get a lot of people pushing, or the horses won’t be able to start it. It could get going backwards, killing the horses. Sometimes, there were terrible emergencies where they couldn’t get the wagon up hills along pioneer trails. They had to block it, unhitch the teams, and just let the wagon go. That is one of the reasons why pioneers would lighten the load as much as possible when attempting mountain crossings. If a horse tied up, which is like a whole body muscle cramp and failure, they would lose control of the wagon. So they would abandon the non essentials at the base of the mountains. Pianos, furniture, even pots and pans would litter the road as exhausted people just tried to survive the journey. That’s one of the reasons why you can find artifacts in the mountains along pioneer routes. Some people carried what they could and walked beside, while others pushed the wagon from behind, an extraordinarily dangerous position. If the wagon went, it was taking them with them.

    Years ago, one of our relatives was driving a wagon up a steep hill that he was familiar with. There had been a rain, which had carved a narrow gully out perpendicular across the road. He hadn’t realized until after he’d started up. Horses can’t really jump when they are pulling a load, especially up a hill. But they can do a little hop. He had to get them going as fast as they could manage, and just go right over it. He could not let them screetch to a halt and look down at it, as a horse would normally do. It was go quickly or doom.

    1. Cindy thinks her dear leader is a sophisticated gentleman.

      “At a rally in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina on Monday evening, Trump pointed to the statement he released earlier in the day.
      “Should I read you the statement?” he asked.
      The crowd enthusiastically agreed that he should.
      “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on,” he said, adding the word “hell” for emphasis this time.

      “In an interview with NBC News in September 1989, Trump remarked, “A well-educated black has a tremendous advantage over a well-educated white in terms of the job market.”
      He continued: “If I were starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black, because I believe they do have an actual advantage.”

      ‘They’re rapists … some, I assume, are good people’
      Trump kicked off his presidential campaign on June 16 from the Trump Tower in Manhattan, and immediately touched off a furor with his comments about immigration.

      “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people,” Trump said at his campaign announcement. “But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. It only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people. It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably— probably— from the Middle East. But we don’t know. Because we have no protection and we have no competence, we don’t know what’s happening. And it’s got to stop and it’s got to stop fast.”


      “If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence. It does not matter what  we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies.”
      Tea Party menace Dick Armey perhaps put it best of all. “You can’t call someone ugly and expect them to go to the prom with you,” he told the writers of the GOP autopsy. “We’ve chased the Hispanic voter out of his natural home.” Trump’s rhetoric guarantees they won’t return.

      washingtonpost dot com

      “President Donald Trump expressed frustration behind closed doors with people coming to the US from “sh*thole countries,” sources told CNN on Thursday. One of the sources briefed on the Thursday Oval Office meeting with lawmakers confirmed Trump asked, “Why do we want all these people from ‘sh*thole countries’ coming here?”

      Trump, in vulgar terms, rejects bipartisan immigration proposal at White House meeting

      A person familiar with the meeting said Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin and South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham brought a plan to Trump that involved cutting the visa lottery in half and, at the behest of the Congressional Black Caucus, the rest would go to underrepresented countries in Africa and Temporary Protective Status nations, including Haiti. The person said the language was salty on both sides.

      One person briefed on the meeting said when Durbin got to Haiti, Trump began to ask why we want people from Haiti and more Africans in the US and added that the US should get more people from countries like Norway. A person familiar with what was said at the meeting told CNN that Trump also said: “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.”

      cnn dot com

      1. CNN is Fake News. Constantly Negative News. They suck. No one listens to that garbage. The enemy of the people. All they do is lie. And brainwash. Need an example of what your brain on CNN does? Read a few comments by Natacha. Enough said.

      2. Huffington Post. “80% of Women crossing central american border are being raped.”

  3. I have hike some of that area but not Donner. Thanks for the great pics. 🙂

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