Charlie Ferris

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 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 […]

Outside with Charlie: Paddle time

If you have a canoe, kayak, or stand up paddle board, now is the time to launch at one of the great lakes in the high country. There’s quite a few choices. each coming with its own beauty and splendiforousness. Here’s four that offer a great time on the water, in different ways. Sly Park  — The closest, […]

Outside with Charlie: Still time

It’s time to take a hike or ride a bike. Really, it is … before school starts in early August. Once school is back in session, trips are relegated to the weekends. If there’s football, soccer, cheerleading, school work or band, all bets are off. Take advantage of what’s left of the summer break to enjoy […]

Outside with Charlie: Tour de Eldorado

The big one of cycling, the Tour de France, entered its 101st year last Saturday. The race, which is 3 weeks long, started in England with a royal send-off. On July 27, on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, the race will end. It’s long and grueling in many respects. All kinds of weather, 100 mile plus […]

July 09, 2014 | Posted in Sports | Tagged ,

Outside with Charlie: Hike prep the key

Summer arrived right on time and the crowds that are beginning to flow to the mountains are ample proof that it’s summer vacation time. The campgrounds are open, excluding Wrights Lake. The campground hosts have been busy making everything ready in the developed areas up in the Crystal Basin, Lake Tahoe, and over on Highway […]

Outside with Charlie: Hit the trails

Break out your mountain bikes. It’s time to hit the trails. We have some of the very best places to ride mountain bikes right here in El Dorado County. Early in the season, the trails are still pretty well-packed down. There isn’t a lot of loose dirt or sand, which means the skidding and sliding […]

Outside with Charlie: Open terrains

Slowly but surely the high country is more accessible. The snow packing the north facing slopes is giving way to the warmer temperatures. As more terrain opens up, there are some things that you do have to keep in mind as you hike way up there. The streams that are fed by melting snow vary […]

Outside with Charlie: Bike adventures

May is Bike Month. The goal this year is 2 million California miles. So far, the count is upwards of 960,000 miles ridden. There is less than two weeks left to make the 2 million mile mark. Placerville Bike Shop’s team has put in over 2,500 miles. Over 1,000 miles of that total was logged […]

Cycling race hit parts of El Dorado County

A professional bicycle race is a pretty amazing spectacle. Nothing about it is static. If you are there to watch, you really have to pay attention. Blink, and you will have missed a large chunk of what you came to see. The Amgen Tour of California is billed as America’s Greatest Race. The route of […]

Outside with Charlie: Bike prep

We know that the spring, summer, and autumn seasons in El Dorado County are truly wonderful, and provide for a long stretch of great outdoor weather. We also know that during the winter months, skiing takes over. Or, the couch takes over. Now it’s time to talk about getting your cycling self safely back on […]

May 07, 2014 | Posted in Sports | Tagged | 2 Replies

Outside with Charlie: Transitioning

Now that the ski season has closed, what to do next. Unless you spent a great deal of time on the slopes this year, you may find your legs get a little grumpy as you transition to hiking or biking. Take this into account when you plan your spring adventures. The best thing is to […]

Outside with Charlie: Switch gear

It’s time to put the skis and boards away. Most of the Tahoe resorts will close April 20th, Squaw Valley on April 27. It’s doubtful a massive snow storm would change those plans. We’re swinging into a different recreational season. Longer days means more time to stay outside. The river sports crowd will have to […]

Outside with Charlie: Extended season

Up until last Saturday, the many mountain bike trails in Lake Tahoe were mostly open and rideable, according to the Tahoe Area Mountain Bike Association. Recent storms have boiled up, and it seems now all the snow dances have paid off. The Tahoe ski resorts are all reporting around 2 feet or so of new snow. […]

Outside with Charlie: Longer days

Daylight savings time is here. Outside of pushing the clocks around, I don’t know what good it does us. Since we’ve jumped ahead an hour, there is an impact on outdoor recreation. The clock switch comes just 10 days before spring officially arrives March 20. It’s called the Vernal Equinox. On this day, daytime and […]

Outside with Charlie: XC skiing

We all know this winter has been stingy with the snow. The ski resorts had to make their own snow and continue to do so. While the resorts keep a fair amount of coverage on the trails for the downhill crowd, the other winter skiers, the cross country types and snowshoe enthusiasts, have had to […]

Outside with Charlie: Avalanche awareness

Winter has returned with a roar thanks to a freight train of storms that graced us over the last week. If you’ve been here very long, you know that predicting what winter brings is risky. The storms came in with lots of moisture and higher snow levels. The Pineapple Express has rolled over us before […]

Outside with Charlie: Framework

Bicycle builders generally use quite a bit of sophisticated tools, some very old, to make their bicycles. The builders use jigs for the frames. They bend and shape the materials, if they are a metal of some kind, perhaps titanium, steel, or aluminum. For other materials, the jig provides a template for other, non-metal materials. […]

Outside with Charlie: Alternatives

Due to the lack of snow, the cross-country skis and snowshoes still hang on the rack. Cycling is very good right now so break out the bikes and helmets and start turning the pedals. Placerville has the perfect place to get a few miles in. The El Dorado Trail has two sections: east section starts at […]

Outside with Charlie: Wanted: Snow

With 2014 showing up right on time we’re all counting on more snow. The last snow storm has faded into memory land while the next isn’t quite on the horizon yet. What about the snow? Where is that stuff coming from if Mother Nature isn’t dropping it? The ski resorts make it. As soon as conditions […]

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