Retracing steps of Donner Party

From left, Bob Crowley, Jennifer Hemmen, Tim Twietmeyer and Elke Reimer.


Four extreme athletes will set out on Dec. 16 to follow the 1846 route of the Donner Party’s Forlorn Hope. Over five or six days and 100 miles, they will go from Donner Lake, over Donner Pass and down to Johnson’s Ranch, near Wheatland in the Central Valley.

The general public knows the outlines of the Donner Party, fewer know the story of the Forlorn Hope, 17 people who left Donner Lake on Dec. 16, 1846, in a bid to get help and rescue their friends and families, according to Bill Oudegeest of the Donner Summit Historical Society. Only seven arrived in the Central Valley, emaciated, exhausted and near death, leaving bloody footprints behind them

Now 174 years, Bob Crowley, Tim Twietmeyer, Jennifer Hemmen and Elke Reimer will take on the challenge of crossing the Sierra in winter. There is the driving curiosity to get some idea of what the original Forlorn Hope went through as they overcame obstacles. The group spent seven years researching from primary and secondary sources and field trips to learn as much as possible about the Forlorn Hope and their route. To the best of their ability, the goal is to provide a historically accurate map of the Forlorn Hope journey and explore the multi-dimensional persona of each member.

The team will leave on Dec. 16 from Donner Memorial State Park. The public can track their route online. |