Summit Canyon-Donner Pass-Tinker Knob- Coldstream Canyon

My kids have been away on vacation for two weeks, and each day apart the ache in my heart (and lately my stomach) increases. The pain is almost overwhelming, and the only thing I thought would make me feel better was a long trail run. Or, as long as I could handle, coming off of a 50 mile race last weekend. Perhaps I wasn’t quite ready yet.

heading down from Tinker Knob on the PCT
We started at the Summit canyon trailhead near the bottom of old Hwy 40, around 10:00 am.

JP and Kathy in Summit Canyon

JP, our friend Kathy D, and I took off at a very leisurely pace up the gradual climb towards Donner Pass. I found this to be the most difficult section for me, as it is really hard to climb when you are trying not to hyperventilate from crying. I just took it slow and eventually calmed down enough to focus on the run.

why go around when you can climb straight up?

We paused to check out the petroglyphs and carefully step around them as we followed the old wagon road up towards the Pacific Crest Trail.


We cooled off for a few moments in the train tunnels


JP and KD on Donner Pass
We made it to the PCT, and made the climb up towards Mt. Lincoln



on the saddle between Mt Lincoln and Mt Judah
KD heading South on the PCT

KD on the side of Mt. Lincoln

6 miles in, just as we had reached my favorite section of trail, between Mt Lincoln and Tinker Knob, I stopped to take this picture of Kathy


And almost immediately after I rolled my ankle hard, heard and felt a snap, and started screaming and crying. Awesome.

We could either backtrack the 6 miles to the car, or continue on 12 miles to our finish point (and the other car). Initially I wanted to turn around, but after discussing with Kathy I decided I could just take it slow (with the aid of 3 ibuprofen) and see how it went. JP was too far ahead of us to confer, and Kathy offered to hike along with me until I could finish. So we continued on enjoying the spectacular surroundings and trying to ignore the pain. It worked for awhile, and I was able to start running again after about 10 minutes.

me in between Mt. Anderson and Tinker Knob
feet are still working
JP with Tinker Knob up ahead
JP climbing strong
JP’s perfect running form
made it to the high point.
 Shortly after Tinker Knob, we took a left turn towards Truckee and Coldstream Canyon.


The Coldstream Trail, about 7.5 miles down to Truckee
 IMG_0265[1]Now that we were descending again, the pain in my ankle flared up and I let Kathy and JP know that I was worried about making it the rest of the way. I asked them to run ahead and not wait for me, and bring the car back down Coldstream Rd to pick me up, if they made it back early enough.

I continued on walking solo, trying not to cry, took a couple more ibuprofen, and after about 10 minutes I realized I was able to run at a slow pace again.

Coldstream Trail, looking up towards Anderson Peak (where we had just run by)

On one steep descent, where I was forced to walk, I decided it was a good time to have my PBJ sandwich, but as I was taking it out of my pack, I fell off the trail and landed on some rocks and a very spiny plant. The new pain in my other leg and the puncture wound in my hand took my mind of the pain in my ankle for awhile and I continued on.
When I reached the Lost Creek Lodge, and didn’t see anywhere to re-fill my pack, I came to terms with the fact that I was going to run out of water very soon (seems to be a recurring theme) and it was still about 4 miles to Truckee. I turned on some music, picked up the pace, and cruised along trying to ignore the 89 degree heat. I was now completely out and I had cotton mouth and couldn’t stop licking my lips, even though they would immediately dry up again.
I texted JP and Kathy with about 1/2 mile to go, letting them know I was almost done and running to the gas station for water. As I came around the corner, I saw them at the car, they had arrived only moments before, and had a cooler with cold drinks ready for me. Despite the pain, despite the thirst, it had been a good day, with 18.8 miles and about 3,300 feet of climbing.

my ankle the next day. probably need to take a little time off.

1 responses to Summit Canyon-Donner Pass-Tinker Knob- Coldstream Canyon

  1. I rolled my ankle on the same trail last October, although we were already in Coldstream Canyon on the way down. Ouch! The Lost Trail Lodge always has the drinking fountain on in the summer, and almost always has an open door. Please feel free to refill your water anytime you’re running by. And if you’re injured, don’t be afraid to come ask for a ride out, too! We’re here to help.


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