Saturday, January 7, 2012

Trail Running in Truckee, CA

Wooden path through the marsh
I was out in the Truckee/Tahoe area just before New Years. Out for a bit of business and to visit my sister and the family. My awesome little nephew taught me how to make proper engine-revving noises as you push a toy car/truck/motorcycle/train around. I showed him how to dress up in clean running clothes and return a while later half covered in mud.

Out the backdoor one evening I ran alongside a creek bed that lead directly to the infamous Donner Party Campsite. Sort of the last unfortunate stop for a wagon train of pioneers in the 1840's. The party of 87 men, women, and children (lots of children actually), traveled all the way from Illinois on their way to the coast, but were halted at this point by un-navigable snow pack and cold. Almost all eventually succumbed to exposure, starvation, and other sordid and horrific means of death. I found the conditions to be quite a bit better during my visit so I sort of strode on down the interpretive path and tried to be respectful of history and man's mortality.

Donner Camp Site marker - difficult to read, but the last line says 'They came west seeking a new life and found misery and death'
I exited the Donner Trail and headed out along another cool Sierra creekbed. The footing turned to marsh and mud and then to frozen marsh. Pretty neat but kind of eerie and graveyard like if you catch my drift. Soon I was running along a giant dug-in creek that probably sees some serious cfs during the Spring season. My cross-country adventure soon cast me into the Prosser Lake reservoir catchment. I was running through what would've been several feet underwater only a few months ago (70 feet of snowpack last year, no joke). Ominous yet again.

Frozen graveyard marsh trail
What was left of the lake I finally caught up with was frozen over - even though there was almost no snow to be seen. In fact, this apparently was the first December since the late 1800's where snow has not fallen in the Tahoe Valley. My hosts were not amused by the many NM skiing stories I'd brought with me. Across the frozen lake I saw a group of guys playing hockey which gave me the idea to get out on the ice a few feet and skate along for a bit. Fun, but also kind of freaky and near-death like actually.

Hockey players on the far bank of ice

Imminent death and the ghostly whiteness of my knee

Finding more trail on the south side of the lake I ran home through winding trail beneath giant pines and a darkening night. Recovered later with beer and sake, a wistful toast to those who traveled so far just not far enough.

The haunted and apparition-y visage of an ice-walking trail-roamer

View Donner Camp Trail, Truckee, CA in a larger map


  1. Very entertaining. (I liked "training for a cookie eating contest" too.) You sure do get around.

    I've actually run near there myself. Further down the river, on the Nevada side, where it's winding through some hills. I saw a two-track that went along the river and up and down those hills and found a place to park at the next exit. I only run about five miles, probably a good warmup for you, but if my heart doesn't explode going up those hills I feel pretty satisfied with myself.

    I've run right in Reno, too, up a big hill. I just pulled over on an exit ramp where I saw some motorcycle tracks going up a big hill and ran through the streets to the foot of the hill. On my way down I saw a cop car parked behind the truck, but he was gone when I got back.

    By the way, there's a TA truck stop in Reno with a casino in it and the waitresses at the restaurant are actually not rude. On the walls, the owner has a huge pistol collection with a lot of old pistols in it, if you like huge pistol collections with a lot of old pistols in them.

    I prefer the waitress, probably even huge ones, but it is interesting. You can see the evolution of the pistol and he's got pistols that were owned by Elvis or Ronald McDonald or whatever.

  2. Right on man, hadn't sized you up as a runner. I was working in Reno but missed the truck stop casino and pistols. I'll be back out there though. I appreciate the insider tip.



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