Printer Friendly

ADVENTURER SEEKS TO SOLVE RIDDLE OF THE DONNER PARTY.

Byline: Dennis Anderson Associated Press

On a day usually devoted to decorating trees and scouring stores for last-minute gifts, a hardy crew plans a Homeric hike into the Nevada and California wilderness to answer the question: ``Where did the Donner party go wrong?''

Lee Bergthold, 61, was to begin a planned 35-day trek today, the day before Christmas eve.

``We know what happened to the Donners,'' Bergthold said, sketching a map of his proposed desert itinerary. ``They could have gone south. Why they didn't is a good question, and I've got to find out.''

Two other backpacking enthusiasts, Marshall Landin and Tina Bowers, will accompany him at least part of the way. But he believes much of the trip will be solo.

The Donner party, a group of California-bound settlers led by George and Jacob Donner, was stranded by an early blizzard in the Sierra Nevadas in eastern California at the end of October 1846.

``As long as they had good weather, they were fine,'' Bergthold said.

Only 42 of 89 people survived, some by eating the bodies of the dead. The tragedy occurred about a day's journey from what today is 7,000-foot Donner Summit.

It still can be treacherous. Over the weekend, snow closed highways in the area and stranded thousands of travelers in the Lake Tahoe area.

The Donner party gained extra miles and lost time by cutting away from the California Trail, traveling through Wyoming and Utah and into Nevada before rejoining it a few miles west of Elko, Nev.

Bergthold plans to take the route he believes the Donner party should have taken, trekking south through desert and mountains on the Nevada side.

Departing from Battle Mountain, Nev., Bergthold hopes to make about 10 miles a day on a southerly heading. He wants to reach Bad Water in Death Valley, 350 miles distant, a little over a month after his start.

A low-tech ground crew supports Bergthold's latest effort. Bob Brister, a biology teacher at Antelope Valley College here, will track the expedition's progress from a pickup truck on a highway about a dozen miles from the hikers' route.

CAPTION(S):

Photo

PHOTO Lee Bergthold, shown in an undated photo, will begin a 35-day trek in hopes of solving the Donner party mystery.

Associated Press
COPYRIGHT 1996 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 23, 1996
Words:380
Previous Article:WET WINTER WOES : STORM CAUSES CRASHES, CANCELS SNOW PARTY.
Next Article:CLUES SOUGHT IN DEATH : FOUL PLAY SUSPECTED IN N. HOLLYWOOD FIRE.


Related Articles
DONNER PARTY'S FOOLHARDY DEMISE SHOWCASED ON KPFK'S `STORYLINES'.
HIKER'S NEVADA TREK GOING WELL, FRIEND SAYS.
A.V. HIKERS CLOSE TO FINISHING DONNER PARTY TREK.
HIKERS RETURN LIGHTER, ENLIGHTENED ABOUT HISTORY OF DONNER PARTY.
DONNER PARTY'S RELATIVES TO OBSERVE 150TH ANNIVERSARY.
300 DONNER PARTY DESCENDANTS GATHER.
MAN HONORS DONNER SPIRIT : 900-MILE TREK GIVES HIKER NEW RESPECT FOR DOOMED MIGRATION.
ADVENTURER HIKES PERILOUS PATHWAY.
Upfront quiz 3.
UO researcher gets down to the bones.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters