Basque History Explored in High Country Celebration near Gardnerville

Basque history and culture in the Eastern Sierra Nevada will be featured during the 2010 Basque High Country Heritage Celebration that will held this weekend near Gardnerville, Nevada.

Joxe Mallea. Photo: UNR.
Joxe Mallea. Photo: UNR.

The two-day event, on June 26 and 27, will include two guided hikes, a lecture by University of Nevada Reno Professor Joxe Mallea and traditional Basque food prepared by JT Basque Bar & Dining Room in Gardnerville. The cost is $75.

Related Euskal Kazeta article:
Basque Sheepherder Carvings Threatened

The celebration is being organized by local hiker and packer Joe Cereghino.

On Saturday, participants will have lunch and then go hiking with Mallea, who will talk about Basque sheepherder carvings, or arborglyphs, in the area. Mallea is the author of “Speaking Through the Aspens: Basque Tree Carvings in California and Nevada.” Mallea has spent more than two decades researching the carvings, which were etched by sheepherders into the soft white bark of aspen trees across the American West.

From the 1880s to the 1960s, Basque immigrants lived a solitary lifestyle working as sheepherders. During the summer months, herders would trail with their sheep up into the mountain ranges, where fresh water streams and lush pastures were abundant. They sought out the aspen groves, because they knew they would find grassy meadows nearby. The carvings depict names of herders and towns in the Basque Country, as well as other images. But the Basque tree carvings are threatened as aspens are dying by the tens of thousands — crowded out by pine trees or ravaged by infestation.

On Sunday, the Basque heritage event will kick off with breakfast and a guided moderate hike to a traditional stone marker built and used by shepherds to mark the trail. Tickets can be reserved by calling Cereghino at (775) 315-6222.

The $75 cost includes two guided hikes, lunch and dinner on Saturday and breakfast and snack on Sunday, as well as the camp out. Please call for children’s pricing.

Little Antelope Pack Station is located in Coleville about an hour south of Gardnerville. Directions: take Highway 395 to Coleville, turn right on Mill Canyon Road and stay to the right until you reach the top. The pack station is an outfitting and guide business owned and operated by Cereghino on National Forest Service Lands.


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See the Euskal Kazeta Calendar of Events for dates and times of any local events.

Click on the map below for directions to a grove of Basque sheepherder carvings in the Sierras north of Truckee:

View Basque Tree Carvings in a larger map