You can’t help but leave your cares and stress behind at Sorensen’s All Season Resort in Hope Valley, California, where faxes, cell service, and TV’s are not missed and where reservations are still marked by hand in pencil. Nestled in an alpine forest since 1926, this magical and romantic mountain haven makes it impossible to do anything but relax and savor each moment together in such a beautiful locale. With charming Scandinavian style housekeeping cottages, comfy linens, wood burning stoves, and a babbling brook lulling you to sleep at night, there exists no better place for a romantic respite or even a serene wedding or honeymoon. How do I know this? I have been visiting Sorensen’s for over twenty years. And yes, we married and honeymooned there.
Upon arrival, consider the long famous beef burgundy stew in Sorensen’s Café, while you unwind a bit, enjoying a glass of wine and the views. Rise and shine in the morning with a sumptuous breakfast at the café, plotting your course for the day. Exploring the spendor of the valley is easy as Sorensen’s offers varied activities each and every season of the year including snowshoe hikes, cross country skiing, fly fishing, stargazing, historical presentations, hikes and more.
Should you decide to strike out on your own, a multitude of pleasant afternoon excursions abound nearby. Just up the road a mere five minutes, you’ll find the historic town of Woodfords. Once a Pony Express stop, it is now a historical landmark. Take a minute or two to stop for a stretch and to familiarize yourself with the history.
From there, follow the signs to nearby Markleeville, just a short scenic drive through geologic formations. The Alpine County Historical Complex high on the hill, offers a glimpse of yesteryear where you can enjoy an 1882 one-room schoolhouse, and the adjacent historical museum.
After walking off your breakfast, it’s time to think food again. Stop at the small deli, grocery store, or one of the few quaint restaurants on the main street. Perhaps pick up some snacks and beverages “to go” and forge on to Grover Hot Springs State Park up the road. With provisions in hand, you’ll find it in less than three easy miles. There you’ll find, nestled in yet another alpine meadow, a fluid treasure once sought out by the Washoe Indians and early settlers for its curative and therapeutic properties. What was once a resort for Markleeville hotel customers a century ago, now offers a calm respite for visitors from around the world.The water, unlike most hot springs, contains hardly any sulphur, but rather a perfect mix of sodium carbonate, sulphate, and chloride to ease your weary muscles.
Before or after your soak, be sure to explore any of nearly a half dozen breathtaking walking trails starting at the springs. Some meander through forests of Jeffrey Pine, ponderosa, aspen and Sierra juniper, along the Carson River and through meadows decorated with wildlife and flowers. Several spots offer the picture-perfect place for a romantic picnic while watching the still and peaceful nature that envelops you both.
After an invigorating immersion into the wonders of the rugged Sierra, it will be time to head back to Sorensen’s Resort, your sanctuary among the aspens. Anyway or anytime you choose to experience it, Sorensen’s Resort and Hope Valley both offer with their majestic serenity and expansive beauty, the most ideal blend of adventures and experiences.
Plan Ahead with Cold Weather Outdoor Clothing
We all know that preparation is everything, particularly when traveling to climates of extreme heat or cold. Being properly prepared in harsh winter climates means the difference between an enjoyable trip and one of misery and discomfort.
Such was definitely the case on my recent trip to Quebec City, Canada and also to the Hotel de Glace outside of Quebec City where extreme cold temperatures warrant an extra dose of caution and thorough preparation.
While visiting the beautiful and picturesque Canadian city of Quebec, I was able to fully enjoy six days of being subjected to the elements outside for ten to twelve hours a day, partly because of the outstanding quality of REI’s Midweight Polartec Power Dry Zip-T and their Activestretch top.
Both were of superior quality, and by far the most comfortable, warm, yet breathable, base layer tops I have ever experienced. REI did not pay me to rave about these tops, but I can honestly say they are the best I have ever worn. With daily temperatures hovering around single and negative digits, daily, I was amazed how they were comfortable for every activity from tours, to extreme snowshoeing, hiking, and more. Both can be worn alone or used as a base layer. I wore them both ways with perfect success.
Activestretch halfzip top: I also liked the REI Activestretch Half-Zip Top’s thumb loops for keeping the sleeves in place while partaking in winter sports. They added warmth under my gloves and were comfortable.
Staying at the Hotel de Glace was an unforgettable experience where temperatures remain constantly in the 20’s. My overnight stay’s success is owed in large part to North Face’s wonderfulLight Tights and Light Crew Neck.
Both top and bottom provided me not only the thermal protection I needed but they also combine breath-ability and moisture transport, both crucial to a comfortable visit to the Ice Hotel.
Since I was traveling for a week and wore them numerous times for daytime activities as well, I appreciated the odor and stain resistant wicking and quick-drying properties. They are designed for medium to high intensity activities in cool weather and they far exceeded my expectations. Being ultra thin, they did not add bulk to my daily clothes such as jeans or powder pants.
My piece de resistance and staple of my trip was North Face’s Interlude Print Jacket.
Since North Face really knows their stuff when it comes to winter, (they sponsor the Hotel de Glace and even have a store there) I found this jacket to be the best winter jacket I have ever used, and for numerous reasons. First, I was comfortable every single day of my extreme weather trip, no matter what activity I was engaged in. Walking in heavy snowfall, its waterproofing proved invaluable. The breathable HyVent® 2L fabric was wonderful! I can honestly say, I have never had so many compliments by strangers on any jacket.
With its futuristic solar print, it was an attention-getter and stood out in the crowd. My fellow travelers commented, in a good way, that I was always easy to spot. This snow-thirsty jacket is coupled with different amounts of insulation at body and sleeves which gave me warmth where I needed it most. It has many features which took several days to discover and figure out although I came to enjoy them all. Fortunately I didn’t need this one, but it features a Recco® avalanche rescue reflector.
Another bonus is a helmet-compatible fixed drop hood. I especially liked the rotated pit-zip vents, and hand warmer polyurethane zip pockets. The wrist accessory pocket with goggle cloth was more handy than I had anticipated as my sunglasses fogged from the cold, constantly. Extra features included: internal media security pocket, internal goggle pocket, snap-back Powderskirt with gripper elastic and pant-a-locks. All in all, I could not have been more pleased in any regard. This garment is winner in every conceivable way. And this is my non-paid, honest opinion. Traveling to any harsh climate requires extra planning, forethought, and high quality outdoor wear. In my most recent severe winter weather journey, these items made all the difference in allowing me a high level of comfort and a wonderful trip.