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Athletes to retrace Sierra escape of Donner Party survivors

FILE - In this file photo taken Monday, March 28, 2011, the Pioneer Memorial, dedicated to the...
FILE - In this file photo taken Monday, March 28, 2011, the Pioneer Memorial, dedicated to the Donner Party, is seen behind snow cleared from the parking lot at the Donner Memorial State Park at Truckee, Calif. A pair of backcountry endurance athletes who became obsessed with the Donner Party spent the last seven years researching and exploring the Sierra on foot to try to pinpoint the final 90-mile route the only survivors of the tragic tale of cannibalism, murder, and mayhem finally cut through mountain snowdrifts to safety in the winter of 1846-47. Now, four veteran ultrarunners from Northern California are setting out on snowshoes to retrace the footsteps of the pioneers who braved the worst blizzard in a century to escape the horrors over the top of what's now called Donner Pass through the Emigrant Gap. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)(Rich Pedroncelli | AP)
Published: Dec. 15, 2020 at 11:47 PM CST
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RENO, Nev. (AP) — Four backcountry endurance athletes from California are trying to put themselves in the shoes of the Donner Party. The modern-day explorers plan to set out from near Truckee on snowshoes Wednesday to follow the last 90-mile route survivors of the infamous tale of cannibalism finally cut through mountain snow drifts to safety in the winter of 1846-47.

Tim Twietmeyer, five-time winner of a 100-mile endurance run, and International Trail Running Association President Bob Crowley spent seven years researching variations of the route and fact-checking theories on the ground. Twietmeyer says the 33-day hike the seven original survivors completed may have been the greatest endurance trek in history.

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