Circle the wagons and dates on the calendar

Nearby Sorensen's Resort could provide time away from unsolicited phone calls, e-mails and fax transmissions and television commercials.

Sorensen's offers a fishing pond just for children, with topiary bears created by Markleeville sculptor and nationally-known topiary artist, Jeff Brees.

"These bears," said owner John Brissenden, "teach kids to read, fish and to respect wildlife."

The gift store's shelves are stocked with more than 350 book titles.

John and wife Patty Brissenden, who have remodeled and added structures in their 24 years of ownership, achieving a total of 35 cabins set among the aspen trees, also have established several programs at Sorensen's. The duo invite guests to "climb a mountain, cast a fly, or simply do nothing at all."

"Birding in the High Sierra," an introductory class about bird habitats, nesting, food sources and seasonal adaptations, will be led by naturalist Chuck Campbell on morning walks in Hope Valley on May 24, 27, June 7, 10, The cost, which includes brunch at the Country Café, is $35. for guests or $50. for non-guests.

"Medicinal Plants of the Sierra," is conducted by Dr. Kimball Chatfield, author of Medicine from the Mountains, to take place on July 2.

"Carson-Emigrant Trail Walk and Drive Tours," accompanied by historian Frank Tortovich explains some of the hardships experienced by the emigrants as they slowly pulled and pushed their wagons over our mountain passes.

When we visited Hope Valley Campground, the "sister" resort of Sorensen's located at the cascades of the West Fork Carson River, camp host Eric Gunnison showed us evidence of the emigrants' travails. We saw where the wagons tortuously made their way up the canyon and where would-be gold-seekers wrote their names with wagon axle grease on the wall of a cliff.

Mountain-man Gunnison, who claims, "I'm 50 and single," took us on a walking tour of the campgrounds, which include full RV hookup spots close to the spouts and chutes of the thundering cascades, tent sites with spectacular views of Woodfords Canyon, and a nightly-rental classic aluminum-clad 1947 Manor Trail Coach, complete with a river view at the top of the waterfalls.

Other activities offered at Sorensen's this summer include: "Cast a Line for Trout," by Alpenglow Angling on June 24, 25; "Llama Fun for All," by Chuck and Dianne Campbell on June 30, July 21, Aug. 18; "Tales by the Campfire," by Art Ewart on July 20, Aug. 24; "Photographing the Sierra," by Terry Nathan on July 25; "Sierra Sketchbook," by Jack Laws on July 26; "Sierra Natural History Hike," by David Lukas on July 27; "Wildflower Illustration," by Jack Laws on July 29; Sierra Wildflower Hike," by Karen Weise on August 5; and "Horse Feathers Fly-Fishing School," by Judy Wickwire, by reservation. For exact times, prices and information about these workshops, phone Sorensen's at 800-423-9949.

The Golden Trout Award from the organization of California Trout was presented this year to the Brissendens for "actions and deeds exemplifying the meaning of public service."

"I like working with our staff and informing guests about conservation ethics," Brissenden said. "One of our most memorable encounters occurred in the London airport, when a man noticed the Sorensen's logo on my hat. He asked us, 'Do you love Sorensen's as much as I do?' I replied, 'We better, because we own the place!'"

Other community calendar-circling activities are:

n Parents and Tots Story time at the Alpine County Library will feature Sonja Helfenstein reading stories about spring from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, May 20.

n Alpine Kids will spend the afternoon of Sunday, May 21, in Carson City, picnicking at Mills Park and seeing the musical, "Grease" at the Community Center. Phone Edie Veatch for information at 530-694-2934.

n Alpine County Health and Human Services will sponsor a lunch for the Fifty Plus Club at the Early Learning Center at noon on Thursday, May 25. Lois Denowitz will speak about "Memories."

n Blood Drive, sponsored by Alpine Kids, will take place at Turtle Rock Park from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, June 2. For an appointment, phone Edie Veatch, 530-694-2934.

n Alpine County Bike-a-thon will thrill youngsters as they negotiate their bicycles on closed-to-other-vehicles Diamond Valley Road from 2 to 5 p.m. Friday, June 2.

Consider that the wagons and the calendars have been drawn up and circled 'round the campfires for another week.

I would like to place Alpine County upcoming events at the end of each column, so please email me with notices of organization activities.

n Gina Gigli is a Markleeville resident. Contact her at


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