Donner Lake is less than 100 miles from Sacramento. I have now travelled up to Donner Lake four times this year: twice in winter, twice in summer.
The Sierra Nevada Mountains has played an historic obstacle in settling California. One famous example is the tragic story of the Donner Party. Following bad advice about a short cut, and an early October snow in 1846, strand an unprepared group of pioneers. This tragedy ends with cannibalism for survival. Only half of the original emigrants made it to California. The top of the rock base represents the amount of snowfall that the Donner Party encountered. The pass through the Sierras was renamed for the Donner Party.
Visiting during the snowy winter and imagining the area without the modern highway system the area looks daunting.
The hardest part of connecting the transcontinental railroad lay in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This is the first time I visited the Summit Tunnel, Tunnel #6. Walking through the tunnels built by the Central Pacific Railroad to connect east with west, it is hard to believe that the Chinese laborers hand drilled through 1,659 feet the Sierras in 15 months between 1866- 1867. It was dangerous work placing first black powder, and running out in time. The debris then had to be removed. Later nitroglycerin was used: more unstable, but more powerful. Many workers did not survive. The hard work of tunneling through granite, the blasting, and the risk of avalanches in the deep snow, and freezing temperatures contributed to much loss of life. Work was finally completed in August 1867.
Walking into the tunnel I felt drops of water hitting my head. Dressed with a jacket, armed with a flashlight, prepared with my tripod I start walking. Pretty flat terrain, so a flashlight is just a security measure.
Compare this image with the next one processed with HDR. Do you have a preference?
This is a good location to utilize HDR (high dynamic range) technique. I already had my tripod, and the lighting ranged from dark to light. After shooting 5 images with different f-stops I brought my images into Photomatrix Pro 5. This takes the best from each image and merges them together for this affect.
I always look for puddles and reflections.
The tracks not covered by the mountains had snow sheds built to keep the deep snow off the tracks.This was sometime successful, other times mother nature wins.
In the spring and summer the area attracts families, hikers, and photographers. This is a good place to visit to get out of the Sacramento heat.
Graffiti has found a home. Some are artistic, some just making a statement that they were there.
This area is amazing, and I will be back to take in more of the beauty, and history of this area that is only an hour and a half from my home.