Every weekend in May is a branding event, when the calves are separated from their moms to get their vaccinations, ear tags and castration. Some ranches will brand their calves, while others mark them with a distinct ear cut. It takes a lot of people to do a branding, and while some are paid, many volunteer. After the calves and moms are separated, cowboys and cowgirls will go rope a calf (it’s not so easy!). Once a hind leg is caught, they take the calf to the processing area, where a team does their work in just a couple minutes. Then the calf is released, and it’s time to go get the next calf. Up to about 600 calves can be processed this way, although that’s a long, all-day project, and usually the numbers are smaller. A big lunch is provided for everyone who helps out. You might see some branding events as you drive the roads — just look for those horse trailers.
This year’s graduating class from EskDale High School in Snake Valley is one. She’s the valedictorian. And the senior class president. And gets to have the stage to herself! Needless to say, schools are a little different in this very remote area. We basically have a one-room schoolhouse for grades kindergarten to second in Garrison, Utah, with one teacher for all three grades and 15 students. Then they go to Baker, Nevada for grades third through sixth, with one teacher for all grades (and fortunately some extra help for science, art, and music). Then junior and senior high school are at EskDale, Utah, about 20 miles from Baker. A bi-state agreement makes things work smoothly, and two school buses help collect and deliver students from distant locations. Some students live about 40 miles from school.
R & R Rest Stop
Want to come to Baker and have some extra space to stay but still sleep on a bed? One great option is the R & R Rest Stop, a vintage 1952 recently refurbished trailer. Owners Rex and Rowena Leonard can offer plenty of advice on what to see and do in the area, as they’ve been long-time residents. Pets are allowed, and the views and reviews are great.
The Border Inn celebrates the Cinco de Mayo with a big party on Saturday night.
Great Basin National Park offers astronomy programs on Saturday nights. Bring a chair and blanket and enjoy a program and telescope views into the dark night sky. Memorial Day weekend generally kicks off the busy season for the area.
The Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive should be open to 10,000 feet, and there will likely be snow to play in at that elevation. Be sure to make your Lehman Cave tour reservations in advance at Recreation.gov, as they fill up fast.
And check out the yellow-bellied marmots on the Baker Creek road—just go slow, as they like to dig in the middle of the road and are slow moving out of the way.
— Gretchen Baker
Check out Gretchen’s fascinating outdoor adventure blog, Desert Survivor.