Crossing Donner Pass in Winter

Donner Summit

Image by Telstar Logistics via Flickr

Submitted to One Shot Wednesday:

Crossing Donner Pass in Winter

Cars line up
waiting for a chain monkey:
prisoners bound together.
Semi’s slog along,
splatter the inmates
in mud.

Donner Pass is along Interstate 80 in California and is the route traveled through the Sierra Nevada between Sacramento and Reno, Nevada. In the winter, during snow storms, chains or snow tires are required to provide traction for the crossing. There are areas where motorists can pull out and pay someone to put the chains on their tires. Chain monkey is a term designating these seasonal laborers.


12 thoughts on “Crossing Donner Pass in Winter

  1. Been there. Wonderful “picture.”

    I thought it was going to be a Donnor Party poem. Oh oh! Glad it wasn’t.



  2. Chris G. says:

    Oh dears…the Donners…now there’s a route you certainly don’t want to get stuck on! Quite the heavy snow there, you’ve even got me beat up here in the great white north of Michigan…but seriously, there’s people at the side of the road you can just pay to put chains on your car? Well, we do find a way to profit in any situation I suppose…


  3. Kim Nelson says:

    Reading this was such a pleasure for me. Never having lived in a snowbound locale, I vicariously experienced the road’s challenge and wondered about life for the chain monkeys and the others made famous by Donner Pass.


  4. trisha says:

    that must be a brand new experience for any newcomer.

    I have joined this site as a co-author will love to see you there. 🙂

    in its sister blog i am writing haikus- chasing my love.


  5. Kavita says:

    My gosh!! That seems like a real harsh job!!! Their services must be a blessing to the motorists… whew!
    I liked the metaphors in your poem, Victoria.. they bring vivid images to mind!
    A succinct and really nice write for One Shot!


  6. Bodhirose says:

    Thanks for explaining what chain monkeys are–interesting to I who lives where no snow blows! Great photo too. I love this short but so descriptive poem of traffic on the pass.


  7. Artswebshow says:

    Lol, i bet the chain monkey’s aren’t fond of that title.
    I probably couldn’t put up with a Canadian winter from all of the posts i’ve read.
    And i though England was bad. lol
    Great poem, i like the light humour in it


  8. pamela says:

    Victoria, thanks for the reminder of why I don’t miss the snow:)
    Nice concise piece.


  9. souldipper says:

    Even for a Canadian, that looks cold!! What a terrific service – what a horrid job! But I could see young guys and gals thinking its fun.


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