A bigger piece of the pie: Joyce Coker wants to move Hope Valley outdoor activities
WOODFORDS – Joyce Coker has grand plans for life in the outdoors that go way beyond the small corner of her world near Sorensen’s Resort.
The owner of the Hope Valley Outdoor Center wants to take her retail and outfitter business out to the Burnside Lake trailhead across from Pickett’s Junction where she’s led many outings.
If all goes as planned, the move would place two outdoor stores within a half mile of each other.
Coker will go before the Alpine County Planning Commission Thursday with her proposal, which includes a 21-foot yurt with insulation at the base of the road flanked by California Fish and Game land and, farther up, U.S. Forest Service property. From there, she expects to rent cross country ski equipment, snowshoes, tours, lessons and guided trips – like she does at the building she leases from Sorensen’s Resort southeast of it on Highway 89. The lease expires August 2008.
Meanwhile, Sorensen’s co-owner John Brissenden said he’s accepting proposals from other outfitter professionals with proposals to take over the building from Coker. He claims she’s “got challenges” ahead of her.
But Coker is going full steam ahead.
“A lot of people show up and say, ‘We can’t ski here,'” she said of her current operation.
She aims to have a location where people can ski from. She likes the location of Burnside Lake Road because of its visibility.
“Could you imagine how many more people would see me, being here?” she said Sunday, pointing to the Pickett’s Junction traffic. Fall is a busy time in Hope Valley for foliage lovers.
She would like to sell retail items in the yurt – a removable, dome-style structure – as well as pre-packaged food. She circulated a petition to gain support from the community for her proposal. When some people realized she wouldn’t be baking pies anymore, supporters joked they couldn’t sign off on such a proposal.
Since she took over the business from Steve Lannoy three years ago, Coker has found she’s spent much time baking pies to go with other homemade foods such as soup.
The outdoor enthusiast – who “got into the scene” while working in Yosemite National Park – intends to lead trips out of the Pickett’s Junction area to Scott’s Lake, Hidden Meadows and Grass Lake from Luther Pass. She has a permit from the U.S. Forest Service to guide and groom trails in the area, but will need a lot more than that. Yurts run at least $6,000, and composting toilets aren’t cheap, either.
“We want to be eco-friendly,” she said.
Coker has other plans that may involve also setting up a yurt four miles up the Burnside Road next to an unused Forest Service cabin with a sweeping view of the ridge dominated by Red Lake Peak.
She’s even discovered cellular phone service is available a half mile up the road from there for those who have an emergency. The remote nature of Alpine County – the smallest county in the state – doesn’t necessarily make it a hotbed for cell service.
If you go
What: Alpine County Planning Commission
When: Oct. 26; 6:15 p.m.
Where: Turtle Rock Park, 17300 Highway 89, Markleeville