We all knew it was going to get cold, but we figured we were well prepared. And, so far, the snow hadn’t slowed us down all that much. We camped about a mile east of the pass, and planned to stay there for two nights so that we could get some rest for the final push.
It started snowing really hard about midnight. The temperature dropped close to zero, and the winds were the strongest we’d encountered yet. The expected 2 nights turned into a week, and we ran out of food a couple of days later. The first two rescue parties that tried to get to us were forced to turn back. Old Jim Reed was the first to die.
That any of us survived is remarkable, and I can’t find the words to describe the misery we endured, or the pain of starvation. A lot of our group’s members were vilified in the press, but I never blamed them. And I do admit that Jacob Donner, who’d died two days before, was starting to look good to me when the 3rd rescue party reached finally reached us.