Hope (Valley) springs eternal
Alpine County is the home of sweeping mountain vistas and desolate backcountry, attracting sports from dog sledding to cross country skiing to snowmobiling during the winter season.
Dave Beck is a partner in the Husky Express Dog Sled Tours located off Highway 88 about one mile east of Blue Lakes Road. The 10:30 a.m. dog sledding tours are popular. A reservation a week prior to sledding is needed, he said.
“On a Saturday we’re booked all the time,” he said.
As Beck was milling around his truck, Patty LaCava slid to the metal green gate with the help of her four husky pullers.
LaCava, 42, from San Francisco, is associated with the Bay Area Siberian Husky Club. The club rescues Siberian Huskies and malamutes for adoption.
She unstrapped the harnesses from her dog team and her son Nathaniel led them to a steel bowl of water.
“I find as far as coming to the snow with kids (for dog sledding) that kids have more fun than going to the ski resorts,” LaCava said. “It seems like when you take the kids to the ski resorts you have to rent equipment and after the day they want to go home.”
Nathaniel, 12, attempted skiing but found he couldn’t find a way to stop. He now gets his kicks on a dog sled, he said.
“It’s fun,” he said. “Sometimes they go fast but not really.”
Down the highway at Blue Lakes Road, 14-year-old Deven Hall just finished a ride on his grandpa’s snowmobile. The teen-ager from Anacortes, Wash., has never been to Hope Valley but admired the terrain during a sun-splashed afternoon.
“I like it a lot,” he said after pulling off his helmet. “I like how they have a lot of tree runs.”
Hall’s grandfather, John Hall, 64, drives from Tracy, Calif., to Hope Valley more than 10 times a season to snowmobile.
John Hall has been snowmobiling for seven years in such places as Idaho and Utah.
“Hope Valley is nice in that it’s a good place for introductory skiing,” he said. “You can choose your riding from road riding, hill riding, trail riding to drag racing.”
The elder Hall prefers to snowmobile — or as he calls it, sledding — during the weekdays but doesn’t mind when the road is full of snowmobilers’ trucks and trailers.
“(Hope Valley) has a little bit of everything,” he said. “It’s good to see people enjoying themselves.”