Photographing an area as beautiful as Donner Summit would seem easy to most people, and it is if you don't mind taking a picture that's a Sierra cliché. But taking a picture of substance here is harder than one would think due to the overwhelming amount of subject matter. You almost feel like you've been dropped into a valley of broken glass, and discerning the interesting compositions is difficult, though not impossible.
I left my campsite around 10AM and stopped along HWY 40. To get a feel for the area, I spent half an hour walking amongst the granite before pulling out my 4X5. None of the spots that I walked interested me so I crossed over to the other side of the highway. The Reno and Truckee fire departments pulled up and parked next to me, and I feared they would interrupt my shooting, but I never saw them, so I assumed they were practicing elsewhere.
Several interesting compositions jumped out at me quickly once I set up my camera, but the wind came up, blowing the junipers, and forced me to wait up to 20 minutes for it to die down before I could make my exposures. When I returned to my car, I found to my embarrassment that the fire departments waited for me to finish making photographs before they started their training.
I continued along 40 and found another area that seemed promising. A group of school children was just leaving when I arrived, and this area forced me to reconsider each composition because the highway keep getting in the frame. I find compositions that I have to fight for are the most satisfying, and these final two of the day left me feeling good.