'Retirement' Journey travel blog

Top of Donner Pass

The Reward

OhmyGAWD....That was genuinely tough! We departed Auburn around 7:00 after not one but two Grand Slams from Denny's. Weather forcast was for temps in the 40's at Auburn and 30's at Truckee. We emerged at 5:30 to load our gear and found it already in the 50's so everyone started shedding clothing with the promise that we could get them prior to the descent. By 8:30 when the serious climbing started it was in the 60's and we were glad we did. Multiple short climbs of 12-16% resulting in a relatively rapid gain of 3500 of our needed 9000 feet of climbing...and it was through the trees with babbeling brooks and birds singing...how tough can this get?? That said, there was a clear difference in our group. There was no chatter, no taunts. No stopping for pictures, and only one potty stop. We rode single file with great intensity. Though we started last, we started picking off riders one and two at a time...your energy sustains when you get to do this. sounds pretty good so far huh!

At around mile 30 we had to enter I80 for 17 miles...there are no side roads mid mountain. While the grade was only 6% it did not waiver for the 17 miles. Trucks going by at 60, 6 feet of rubble strewn shoulder, construction making matters worse. At one point we were asked to get off and van for a mile and that is where EFI came in...EVERY FABULOUS INCH (naughty you if you thought it meant something else). We walked on a sand berm carrying the bikes for two hundred yards to avoid failure.

After 9 miles of this and it was noon we opted to give our shoulders, our ears, and our nerves a break...Burger King loomed. To all reading this please write down this advice...under any circumstances, don't eat a Whopper when you still have 2500 feet to climb...never, never, never....you will taste it for every gruelling stroke.

By the time we finally got to Donner summit...in spite of a still full tummy I was watching the tree tops for the relatives of the turkey vultures who rejoiced in the Donner Party demise in 1847...I was that beat.

Then it bacame apparent that it was all worth it. A 1500 descent down to the beauty of Donner Lake, the Donner Museum (why I know the 1847 piece), and getting ready for a 10 course pizza dinner.

Tomorrow Is reputed to be the toughest climb of the trip...Mt. Rose coming out of a tour of the north shore of Lake Tahoe...but that is tomorrow.


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