There’s a blizzard coming! (Again.) People are freaking out! (Again.) And thank god for that. In situations like this, constant, irrational panic is your best course of action. Because do you know what happens to people who think everything’s going to turn out fine? Why don’t we ask a hungry little group called The Donner Party.
Unfortunately—the Donners and their party are long dead. Fortunately, Sierra Nevada pioneer Patrick Breen kept a diary during their whole, treacherous ordeal. We’ve provided the particularly applicable excerpts below.
November 7, 1846
beautiful clear day wind E by S looks as if we might some fair weather no thaw
November 10, 1846
Snowed fast all night with heavy squalls of wind. Continues still to snow the sun peeping through the clouds once in about three hours, very difficult to get wood today now...
November 29, 1846
Still snowing now, about 3 feet deep… killed my last oxen today. Will skin them tomorrow. Gave another yoke to Fosters. Hard to get wood.
December 17, 1846
... Milt. & Noah went to Donners 8 days since, not returned yet. Think they got lost in the snow…
January 17, 1847
... Keyburg sent Bill to get hides off his shanty & carry them home this morning. Provisions scarce, hides are the only article we depend on. We have a little meat yet, may God send us help.
February 10, 1847
... J Denton trying to borrow meat for Graves. Had none to give. They have nothing but hides. All are entirely out of meat but a little we have. Our hides are nearly all eat up but with Gods help spring will soon smile upon us.
February 15, 1847
... Mrs Graves refused to give Mrs Reid any hides. Put Suitors pack hides on her shanty. Would not let her have them. Says if I say it will thaw, it then will not. She is a case.
February 25, 1847
Froze hard last night. Fine and sunshiny today... Mrs Murphy says the wolves are about to dig up the dead bodies at her shanty. The nights are too cold to watch them. We hear them howl.
February 26, 1847
...Hungry times in camp. Plenty [of] hides, but the folks will not eat them. We eat them with a tolerable good appetite. Thanks be to Almighty God. Amen. Mrs Murphy said here yesterday that thought she would Commence on Milt. & eat him. I don’t think that she has done so yet. It is distressing.
... The Donners told the California folks that they commence to eat the dead people 4 days ago if they did not succeed that day or the next in finding their cattle then under ten or twelve feet of snow and did not know the spot or near it, I suppose they have done so ere this time...
Friends, don’t let the Donners’ fate be yours: Make sure to pick up groceries on your way home from work, and a safe and satiated blizzard to you all.