PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
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Charlie Ferris

Outside with Charlie: Openings

Memorial Day, which in not a national shopping day, brings with it solemn reminders of all the men and women in our military who died defending our nation. I do hope you took time to be quiet for a minute in recognition of what Memorial Day is actually about. It also marks the unofficial opening […]

Outside with Charlie: Placerville stage?

The 2015 version of the Amgen Tour of California has come and gone. The good news is that the start, in Lake Tahoe this year, came off without a weather-related hitch. The two stages that the pro women’s team pedaled in Tahoe were spectacular. One can only hope the Amgen will return to Tahoe in the near […]

Outside with Charlie: Amgen fever

The Amgen Tour of California has launched. The first Amgen was in February 2006, making this the 10th annual episode of this multi-stage pro cycling race. This year a three day women’s race started in Tahoe and finished in Sacramento on May 10th, the day the men’s race launched on its way to Southern California. […]

Outside with Charlie: Wildflowers?

Every year there is a guessing game that happens in late spring. It’s called “When will the wildflowers bloom in the Sierra?” Most of the time the answer spans a period of time from mid-June to July, depending on the snows of winter. A recent tid bit from Tahoe seemed to indicate that the start […]

Outside with Charlie: Camp openings

A little rain, some snow, and April does what it usually does, which is just about anything when it comes to weather. It was wonderful to have all that rain and snow over the weekend. What the snow in the high country does, even with the warm temperatures this week, is make it a continuing […]

Outside with Charlie: Ready to launch

If you have a boat with a motor, and you want to float it in Lake Tahoe, your choices for launching have dwindled. So far, Sand Harbor, National Avenue in Tahoe Vista, Coon Street in Kings Beach and El Dorado Beach in South Shore won’t open this season. The boat ramp at Ski Beach in […]

Ownership change revives Sorensen’s

Editor’s note: This is part II of a look at the history of Sorensen’s Resort. Johan Hultin had quite a vision for Sorensen’s and Hope Valley. Depending on how you look at it, things either turned out not so well for Hultin, or turned out very well for Sorensen’s Resort and Hope Valley in general. […]

Outside with Charlie: Hiking season

This is probably the last week for downhill skiing at most of the resorts in Tahoe. Squaw Valley, Northstar, Kirkwood, Mt. Rose, Heavenly, and Boreal are listing Sunday as their last day for this season. Bear Valley over on Highway 4 will close too. The storm that blew through early last week helped keep the resorts […]

Outside with Charlie: Fine-tuned

Snow is predicted to fall on and off this week — just where and how much won’t be known until it’s over. It’s that time of year when your plans can be changed by how the storm door works. What would be nice is a massive blast of snow. Right now though, we’ll take anything. […]

Travels to resort have produced many stories

The story of Sorensen’s Resort is complex. From the first actual cabin built in 1907, through the years to what it is now. The resort has been an ever evolving story of determination, gumption, blind faith and luck. Travel through Hope Valley long ago was very different from it is today. Travelers, on foot, horse, […]

Outside with Charlie: Shoulder season

Skiing is getting less likely as each warm day goes by. Currently, Heavenly, Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Northstar, Boreal, Kirkwood, and Mt. Rose remain open. Alpine Meadows will close April 5. Generally, the season between shutdown of the resorts and full-on late spring/summer activities is much later, referred to as the shoulder season. This year, […]

Outside with Charlie: Spring’s here

Winter handed off the reins to spring on March 20th, bringing with it a small bit of snow overnight on the 22d. It was good to see it, and to have rain in the places where it doesn’t snow. If anyone has a direct line to the head of the Weather Gods Union, call them. […]

Outside with Charlie: Closures

By now you may have heard that Sierra-at-Tahoe has suspended operations due to the lack of snow. General Manager John Rice said that the lack of new snow, coupled with the recent warm temperatures, has made it necessary to shut the slopes down for now. Sierra-at-Tahoe is known for its varied terrain and very friendly/family […]

Outside with Charlie: Extra light?

Once again, the clocks have been pushed forward as daylight savings time has landed. Before anyone starts hopping with glee about the extra hour of daylight, take a breath. There is no extra hour of daylight. The only thing that happened is that the clocks were set ahead an hour. Sun rise and sunset haven’t […]

Outside with Charlie: Keep the hope

A nice, cold storm blew through over the weekend and Monday. It wasn’t a drought buster by any means. It did coat the high country with a bit of wonderful, powdery snow. The amounts varied from around 6-8 inches in Hope Valley, to over a foot at South Lake Tahoe. Sierra-at-Tahoe reported over 17 inches, while […]

Outside with Charlie: Snowshoe trek

Up Highway 88 there’s some good news for the snowshoe and cross country crowd. It’s hard to imagine when you drop down from Luther Pass onto Highway 89 and  see Hope Valley devoid of snow, but there are a couple of possibilities. A small bit of snow dropped over the weekend and added a few […]

Outside with Charlie: Finding snow

Despite the snow that recently graced the mountains, it’s still slim pickings for the cross country crowd. The downhill resorts made out pretty well though, and reported up to 40 inches of new snow at the top of their mountains. New snow is always good, especially if you are running a ski resort of any […]

Outside with Charlie: Some snow

The storm door has cracked open a bit. The recent storms brought high winds, lots of rain, and in the high country, snow. Now if the East Coast would just ship its storms out here … The resorts in Lake Tahoe, the ones that are open, all reported good new snow and very good ski […]

Outside with Charlie: What lies beneath

Before the storm door opens again and the snows begin to fly, take advantage of it. Wander the shore of Lake Tahoe. The reason to do this is that you hopefully won’t get many chances in your lifetime to walk the shore of the lake, in winter, without snow. Because the rain and snow patterns […]

Fine-tuning for max glide

Editor’s note: This is the second part of a behind the scenes look at those who make the ski and snowboard experience at Sierra-at-Tahoe much more enjoyable. Paul Sokolov has been working as a tech at the ski tuning shop at Sierra-at-Tahoe for the last 15 years. He is one of many people working behind […]

Outside with Charlie: The condition of conditions

Spring skiing conditions generally happen in late March after the winter storms taper off. Classic spring conditions can be challenging as skiers and riders have to adapt to the icy stuff because there isn’t any soft snow. Around noon, there’s generally a couple of hours of really sweet skiing and riding on perfect conditions. After lunch, things can […]

Outside with Charlie: Avalanche beware

Those heading to the back country during winter on skis, snowshoes, snowmobiles or any other type of gear should first check with the Sierra Avalanche Center Website at sierraavalanchecenter.org. When there’s snow on the ground in the high country, avalanches are always lurking around the edges. Experienced back country travelers know that conditions may look […]

Behind the scenes at Sierra

Next time you hit the slopes, carve turns and have an uber wonderful day, keep in mind there’s an entire team of people at the resort, most of whom you might never see, dedicated to making that happen. Ski resorts are multi-faceted, complicated places to operate. There’s somewhat of a moving maze of parts that […]

Outside with Charlie: Weathernomics

A decent set of storms dropped enough snow in the high country last month to allow the ski resorts, big and small, to open. The holidays were great for skiers and snowboarders, cross country skiers, and snowshoe enthusiasts. Recent storms have mostly headed elsewhere. While there have been a few days of very light snow, […]

Outside with Charlie: Now’s the time

Early winter has settled in and the trees in the orchards are beautiful in a wonderful winter landscape. The traffic in Apple Hills is now mostly local and actually moves through the area with ease as there’s simply not many cars and trucks roaming the back roads. It is a perfect time to take your bike, […]

Outside with Charlie: Options aplenty

At last. All the ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe area are open. Downhill and cross country resorts are spinning the lifts and grooming the trails, and skiers of all types are having a great time. Hope Valley Cross Country was the last to open. Located at Pickett’s Junction, the intersection of Highway 89 and […]

Outside with Charlie: Cold hard facts

Last Sunday, autumn switched to winter as they quietly passed each other on the Solstice. Each day will get almost imperceptibly longer, all the way to the Vernal Equinox, when spring will take over. In the mean time, there is a lot to pay attention to if you are headed into the great outdoors. This […]

Part II: Leaving the cross country resorts behind

Editor’s note: Charlie Ferris is the Mountain Democrat’s columnist on outdoor activities throughout the year. Below concludes his two-part feature on the different types of cross country skiing. The first part ran in Wednesday’s issue.  Cross-country skiing, as pointed out Wednesday, doesn’t fit into a simple category — especially true once you leave the cross-country resorts behind. […]

Outside with Charlie: Resort style cross country

Editor’s note: Our columnist on all things outdoors, Charlie Ferris, provides an in-depth look to the sport of cross country skiing. Below is part I. Look for part II in a future Democrat. In the nearby Sierra, the mere hint of snow brings out the Alpine and Nordic skiers. As soon as enough snow is […]

Outside with Charlie: Ski safely by getting in shape for the slopes

The Thanksgiving weekend brought much-needed rain and snow into El Dorado County. The storm door appears to be propped open, as additional storms forecasted rolled in Tuesday and today. With snow beginning to coat the higher reaches of the county, more opportunities for the downhill ski crowd are opening. In the Lake Tahoe area, there are […]

Outside with Charlie: Plan ahead

Autumn can be a bit of a challenge for outdoor types, whatever outdoor venture you participate in. It’s not a difficult challenge, it’s just necessary to adjust what you do a bit. Alpine skiers aren’t immune from it. Snow can fall early or late in the early weeks of autumn. When and where to start […]

Outside with Charlie: Gear tune-up

Just enough snow fell a little over a week ago to fire up the race for bragging rights for first ski resort opening. The snow wasn’t nearly enough but freezing temperatures in the higher reaches of the Sierra triggered another race as the snow guns began laying down man-made snow. Mt. Rose and Boreal hit the winners […]

Outside with Charlie: Light precautions

Daylight savings time has faded out. A cold storm blew in, ushering it out, and dropped a nice dusting of snow in the high country. Autumn is in full residency now but there’s still plenty of hikes, treks and excursions to be had. What’s changed is how to approach any trip into the forest. The […]

Outside with Charlie: Fall tune-up

Autumn shows up with beautiful changes each year and we have a front row seat for all of it. The tree’s steady and stupendous leaps into color show us a rolling canvas of beauty. The days get just a little shorter every day. The wind blows and the leaves fall, and a little rain on […]

Outside with Charlie: East side

We live in an astounding area. The ocean is a couple of hours away, the foothills encompass half the county, the Sierra the other half. That’s just the western side. There’s more. The entire eastern side is also within reach as well. In the spirit of looking for great outdoor spots to visit and experience, we […]

Outside with Charlie: Blue Lake ride

As the aspens in the high country dance into their autumn colors, cyclists take note as it’s a wonderful time to pedal your two-wheeled steed on the roads and trails in the Sierra. The choices are many. One of the best places this time of year is the road leading to Blue Lakes. The Blue […]

Outside with Charlie: Scenic wonders

Hope Valley is famous for the its beauty. The area, along Highway 88 in Alpine County, is a scenic wonderland. All four seasons have a multitude of reasons to visit. There are wide open valley vistas, mountain peaks, the West Fork of the Carson River, and a few lakes in this historic corridor. Scattered liberally […]

Outside with Charlie: Autumn is here

With help from a good storm front that passed through, coupled with the massive effort by fire crews, the King Fire has been damped down. While it isn’t out, it isn’t the monster that it was over the last two weeks. We even had the first snow of the season last Friday night. Impressive. There […]

Outside with Charlie: King’s toll

The King Fire has brought a screeching halt to quite a few outdoor recreation plans, including postponing several youth and high school athletic contests. The fire is massive, complex, and continues to be dangerous. While there are still outdoor recreation possibilities, you’ll have to check not only where the fire is actively burning, but the […]

Outside with Charlie: Take a hike

Autumn will make its debut on Monday, Sept. 22 at 7:29 p.m. It’s called the Autumnal Equinox. On this day, night and day will be equal in time. After that day, the nights will slowly grow longer and the days slowly shorter. Nights in the mountains will be colder, which will trigger the annual splash […]

Outside with Charlie: Quieter times

Labor Day has come and gone. All of the schools in the area are back in session. This is a time of year when things in the great outdoors really do slow down. While the bike rides in the Apple Hill area are coming to a halt, everything else is opening up. There’s plenty to […]

Outside with Charlie: Apple Hill rides

If you are a bike rider, mountain or road, you know this is a fantastic time to ride as temperatures have backed off a bit. Perhaps one of your favorite rides is anywhere in Apple Hill, or you’ve always wanted to ride Apple Hill. This is the time to do it. The apples have ripened […]

Outside with Charlie: Grab your tents

School bells all over El Dorado County have already rung. Football, soccer, band, homework, clubs of all kinds start taking up a lot of time. Which means for the outdoor types around here is simple. The pressure on the campgrounds, trails, and day use areas is much less now. The best bet is — if you […]

Outside with Charlie: Trail dos, don’ts

Taking your trusty mountain bike out on the trails is always a good thing to do. You’re out in the forest, or perhaps an urban/wild land setting, and it’s pedal time. Whether you are on a hard tail or a fully sprung unit doesn’t matter. It’s just good being out there. The recent thunderstorms gracing […]

Outside with Charlie: Rafting denied

If your summertime fun includes heading up to Tahoe City to rent a raft for the float down the Truckee River to the River Ranch restaurant, you won’t like this. Sad but true, the river rafting outfits in Tahoe City have had to close. The flow of water from Lake Tahoe into the Truckee River […]

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