Art Hikes by Nancy Tieken Lopez

The Creation of the Art Hike

by Nancy Tieken Lopez

“It all started with ONE rock”

On no particular day in the mid 90’s, one small interaction changed my life.  As an artist interested in art in the environment, I started taking out my seed-formed bronze sculptures to photograph in a natural setting, interacting with random hikers to discuss the artwork set along the trail. Enjoying this conversation between stranger and artist, I started placing my ephemeral artwork along the hiking trail working with the interactions of the journey between art, land and the viewer/participant. Off of the well-traveled path I left river poems inscribed on 20 stones that were arranged in a riverbed waiting to be discovered.  A personal connection was made between artist and a hiker/participant by one small rock.  

The interaction happened when a random stranger took all of the engraved poetry stones, but left me only ONE stone... As the artist, I was thrilled to visit the riverbed of the found poem and see only one stone left for me to find, and it was so clever of this random hiker to leave the stone that read "Is No More." To this day I still do not know who took all of the stones and left me this one message, this one rock. This art-happening inspired me to create my thesis project art hike, Spring Streams, one year later, intertwining the discovery of art within nature. I moved from object maker to creating a ritual experience for the viewer/participant to interact with the journey itself while honoring a particular place.

Spring Streams Art Hike, 1997

Spring Streams in the River
Musician plays during Spring Streams Art Hike.

The original art hike of Spring Streams was held in May, 1997, with a community of 55 participants walking along a stream at Alum Rock Park in San Jose, California. Spring Streams featured site-specific performance installation and creativity utilizing the landscape as the palette. Nancy Tieken Lopez's social earthwork art hike was created to induce an experience in the environment through the arts. The viewers/participants made up a walking art installation, tethered by 60 yards of shimmering blue silk as they traveled up a mountain trail and down by a stream. A community was linked together with ribbons of poetry tied to each wrist, each listening to the wistful sounds of an oboe, seeing dancers in white silk suspended off a cliff, and hearing golden bowls ringing deeply. Interactions while on the journey was a blending of themes of the temporality of existence, working with the season of spring, life cycles, and seeds of change. While working on a fleeting earth performance installation, the entire act of creating becomes a meditation of being in the moment, celebrating the interconnectedness of humanity and the earth.

Dancer in creek among boulders.
Water dancer at Spring Streams Art Hike 1997.

“Through the art hikes the act of moving in nature in a small community carries equal importance with the creation of the art and the land. The art within nature experience turns the act of walking into a collection of visual and audio memories filled with emotions, changing each person from the viewer to participant. The art  that appears and disappears into the landscape opens up new experiences of land art, as well as a new perspective on viewing the natural world around us.”
-Nancy Tieken Lopez
Spring Stream Art Hikers create a silver blue fabric river along a trail at Alum Rock Park, 1997

Full Circle

Virtual Art Hike Film, Sierra Nevada, 2020

Nancy Tieken Lopez works and lives on unceded land of the Martis and Washoe, and gathering place for Maidu, Shoshone and Paiute.

Full Circle is a mid-length virtual art hike film about a magical, diverse and inspiring art hike experience. The goal of the film is to transport viewers to the heart of the Sierra mountains through the combination of nature, art, music, poetry, and touching cinematography of live performances.  Along with being the artistic director for the film, Nancy Tieken Lopez created an installation with three life-size encaustic dress sculptures featuring a music performance with jazz harpist Motoshi Kosako. One of the encaustic sculptures was titled Cold Mountain, which was named after a poetry book titled Cold Mountain Poems that Nancy read  in the 90's for a Zen Awaking class at San Jose State University. The two Buddhist monks, living sometime between 300 AD and 700 AD lived on a mountain in seclusion, and would write down poems on rocks and then disappear again up to Cold Mountain.

"For over twenty-five years I have intertwined the Cold Mountain poems and community found poems with my performance installations that I create for the art hikes." -Nancy Tieken Lopez

Making the film Full Circle was an incredibly special experience for the twenty-six collaborating artists to create artwork during a pandemic with beauty, serenity, and deep story-telling. "This is feeding my soul" was shared by collaborating partner, Elizabeth Archer of InnerRhythms Dance Theater, an adult and youth dance nonprofit that has been involved with Trails & Vistas since its inception.


Lake Tahoe, 2019

I selected the theme of BLUE due to the art hike trail being near big blue, Lake Tahoe. I collaborated with poet Jahan Khalighi to use a site-specific spoken word poetry performance with dance to offer a deeper conversation about how we see the world as it grapples with the challenges of our earth's health while offering beauty and inspiration amidst the change. -Nancy Tieken Lopez

The environmental justice poem by Jahan Khalighi with choreography by Jennie Pitts Knipe, Remembering Water Is Life, was written as a love poem to water, a poetic exploration of our connection to this life-giving substance. Seffarine musicians, Nat Hulskamp on guitar and Lamiae Naki, who sang a song from her hometown, Fes, Morocco opened the art hike of BLUE. An ancient place, a blue gate, Bab Bou Jeloud welcomes visitors into the medina in Fes, and the musicians welcomed the groups of hikers along the forest trail.

A beautiful golden meadow cradled in pine trees made a perfect location for an installation with the blue spheres by fibre artist Lorna Denton. Lorna was inspired by “Bubble of Blue Air” ​Riders on the Earth.
To see the earth, as we now see it,
small and blue and beautiful
in that eternal silence where it floats,
is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together,
brothers on that bright loveliness in the unending night—
brothers who ​see​ now - they are truly brothers.

This was written by Archibald MacLeish for ​The New York Times​, after the 1968 Apollo mission returned from space with a photograph of what earth looked like, seen from beyond the moon. The photograph gave humankind its first understanding of our actual situation; we are all riders on the earth together, brothers/sisters on that bright loveliness in the unending night, brothers/sisters who ​see now they are truly one.


Donner Summit, 2018

UNSEEN ART HIKE collaboration with the Nevada Museum of Art, performance with Leigh Collins and Sophie Moeller
Unseen Art Hike performance by Jean Fournier, Donner Summit, 2018 from Anne Brigman's poetry book, Songs of a Pagan

Performance installations featuring Anne Brigman’s poetry. Installations using glass orbs, painted rocks, music, dance, and wearable art.

Unseen Art Hike was a collaboration with the Nevada Museum of Art and Truckee based Performance Installation Artist, Nancy Tieken Lopez. Unseen featured visual art and performances inspired by photographs and poetry from the mountaineer, Anne Brigman (1869-1950). This unique art trail experience retraced Brigman’s steps in the Sierra Nevada and included multiple site-specific art installations inspired by Brigman’s photography and poetry body of work from over 100 years ago on Donner Summit.

“I am honored to collaborate with the Nevada Museum of Art for the art hike Unseen, inspired by the work of Anne Brigman’s poetry, photography, and mountaineering spirit.” – Nancy Tieken Lopez

Doorway To The Sublime

Clair Tappann, Donner Summit, 2018

Doorway To The Sublime Art Hike, Clair Tappaan Trail, featured Nancy Tieken Lopez's performance installation with Juniper wood viewing window with ephemeral materials, featuring white moth performance with wearable art by Angelique Benicio. As an artist working in the landscape,

Tieken Lopez creates site-specific performance installations that fuse visual art, performance, and nature together to offer those rare, fleeting moments when sights and sounds take on an added importance.

The music and dance performance of the deer reminds the participants that we all have a heartbeat and we all coexist with the land and water that we all share. Environmentalist and award winning violinist Scarlet Rivera and wooden flutist Ann Licater filled the forest with a sonic journey. Doorways were created by fabric artist Lorna Denton and painter Susie Alexandar.

When scouting the trail in late spring, Nancy fell in love with the lime green lichen and used it along with Juniper wood to create a viewing doorway into the pine and fir forest with performance of a white moth, the art clothing designed by Angelique Benicio. Lorna Denton's fabric doorway invited the hikers to follow threads of fabric to discover details in the pine forest. The Viva doorway was painted at a community project, Taste & Listen, by Susie Alexander, and installed in the forest for hikers to enter into the art hike The Doorway to the Sublime.


Washoe County's Galena Creek Regional Park, 2017

For the Trails & Vistas art hikes we believe “Music, dance and art transcend all cultures and nationalities, and the arts are the ONE common language that touch the hearts of all people throughout the world. Mountain Eagle shared cultural stories about the Washoe Tribe who are the original inhabitants of Da ow aga (Lake Tahoe).

Hikers of all ages enjoyed exploring the felt seed pods along the creek trail. This interactive art installation invited each participant to select a small felt orb as a gift and listen about how we are all connected. “My felt pieces were created as an invitation to engage with trees. Trees can send, receive, and interpret messages, and we need to not only recognize this but become part of the dialogue. There is peace and joy in witnessing that our landscapes are very much alive, long-lived, and that we are a small, yet significant, part of the story.” -environmental artist Barbara Attwell

Through spoken word, Jahan Khalighi used the power of the arts and performance to catalyze social and environmental action and change-making. Dance and Spanish guitar were featured with Wolfe Shaefer and Leigh Collins. Participants traveled to view jazz harpist Motoshi Kosako, and SambaDa with Brazilian folk songs. Along the two mile trail hikers enjoyed Tim Eriksen and Zoe Darrow with songs of old ballads, shape-note gospel and dance tunes from Ireland, New England and Southern Appalachia. Fared Shafinury crafted a meditative performance that entranced our senses with his powerful voice and a soulful presence on the setar, the delicate four- stringed long-necked Persian lute. After listening to Fared's music the trail guide started a conversation with the participants about "What landscape did his music connect you to?  Throughout the art hike those community conversations were rooted in the art sites, encouraging the participants to soak in the day with sounds, touch, sight, and memory of place.

The Journey Itself Is Home

Spooner Lake Park & Donner Summit, 2016

Site specific performance and creativity in the environment inspired multiple collaborations between music, performance and visual artists working with the theme of home and journey. The meadow photo with women's cords of hair intertwined was a collaboration between musician Emily Tessmer, dancers, and fabric artist Lorna Denton, for Leslie Enfeld Chapman's performance installation titled Roots.

On Donner Summit a poem written by Barbara Tieken, titled Woman Spirit Rising, was performed on the granite cliffs by Jean Fournier and dancer Jennie Pitts Knipe. Woman Spirit Rising created an original participation between the installation artist Nancy Tieken Lopez, the poet and dancer and the small gathering of people surrounded by granite boulders and cliffs. For this performance installation participation by the individual is the self and the not-self identified at the moment of experience, and this identification is as much sensual as it is intellectual. Working with the idea of using granite rock walls, dance and spoken word poetry, Lopez wanted to invoke thoughts on how creativity was born. Woman Spirit Rising created an experience that took participants on a journey to the past, when art was a way of life. The essence of the installation was a feeling, and each participant had similar yet personal experiences with collected consciousness.

At Spooner Lake trail and Donner Summit trail, Angelique Benicio, created Queen of the Cosmos with performance artists utilizing deep storytelling, dance, and music. Performance and visual artist Angelique Benicio explains her process of creating for Trails & Vistas by saying, “Very little is in my control once I am out in the woods performing. The most successful experiences have happened when my work adapted itself to the environment and not the other way around. Nature humbles me. It encourages me to let my mind stay open to limitless possibilities, to listen and to learn."

Finding Beauty

Spooner Lake Park & Donner Summit, 2015

Excerpt from the guide script: “Start close in. Don’t take the second step, or the third..start with the first thing close in.” -David Whyte    
"I invite you to create an experience and start close in. Please take an artcard viewfinder and use it like a periscope or a picture frame to focus on one small thing. Start close in, look at the twist of a branch, your partner's eye or smile, the lines on the palm of your hand. With the viewfinders look at the beauty of the details, and then expand to see the open landscape of meadows and alpine lake, the mountains. The artcard includes a short poem, please read the poetry silently and select a few words from the poem to carry with you today as a walking mindfulness practice."

On the granite cliffs, fan dancers from Tahoe Flow Art showcased the beauty of Donner Lake, with aerial dance from a towering Jeffery Pine. Kansas Carridine's rope dance blended athleticism with skill and grace, lassoing the sky. Artists from different art genres collaborate together, building a new creative community for each art hike.

At Spooner trail, Angelique Benicio created another dramatic performance installation with a 10 foot puppet collaborating with violinist Scarlet Rivera in a lizard mask. Scarlet Rivera shared her experience of past Trails & Vistas art hikes by saying "I have performed many concerts, festivals and special events around the world, but Trails and Vistas stands as one of the most memorable and special of all."

Meadows to Mountains

Spooner Lake Trail, 2014

Meadows to Mountains theme included a gradual change from one type of habitat to another creating a zone called an ecotone. Nancy Tieken Lopez used this change of landscape to create an art hike with sound tones to match each site with sound. The world flute music with Ann Licater invited the hikers to relax..."Let the purity of the wooden flute resonate within you while you bask in the beautiful aspen meadow and enjoy a performance by InnerRhythms dancers symbolizing the story of the wren. The wren, a small bird, will sing from daylight to dark, as if overflowing with confidence."

Angelique Benicio's snail, moth, and white raven performance installation offered a new experience for many of our participants viewing land art. SambaDá’s shared their music with its rich heritage. Samba music reflects the deep respect Brazilians have for the natural world. Samba has strong roots in Afro-Brazilian and Indigenous cultures, and the spiritual connection with the environment in these traditions has a profound influence on the music.

Each year Nancy Tieken Lopez writes the guide storytelling narrative that weaves in cultural and historical information to deepen the experience of place. Excerpt from guide script: "We are standing where the Washoe people lived for thousands of years. The Washoe people of older times were nomadic and moved with the seasons between the Great Basin and the Sierra. They developed an intimate knowledge of the plants and animals in their area of travel. Basket weaving became a skill for practical and cultural purposes and is still handcrafted today. Some of the boulders near the lake have depressions that indicate places where the Washoe ground pine nuts and acorns. There is a rich layer of cultures and habitats around Spooner Lake. As we continue on, notice the diverse surroundings of forest, meadow and shoreline, notice the soft hues of the aspen trees, the shadows of the pine forest contrasted with the blue water of the lake. These overlapping areas offer the broadest range of animal and plant life and a broad range of performance installations. Diversity is vital to sustaining life. Understanding and respecting the history of an area and the fragile ecosystem is key to cultural and wildlife preservation.”


Pacific Crest Trail to Lake Flora, 2013

The land is an important part of the journey of art hikes. "Let's pause here to think about the many people that have touched this trail.  Long ago, the Washoe tribe walked these paths to trade near here. We are standing on the Pacific Crest Trail, which is closely aligned with the highest portion of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges. This trail is 2,663 miles long from Mexico to Canada and passes through 25 national forests. Below the Pacific Crest Trail is Billy Mack Canyon, which is the habitat for the endangered Willow Flycatcher, as well as Northern Goshawk and Peregrine Falcon. Hikers here have spotted fox, Northern Goshawk and beavers. In this canyon, you may find old growth Jeffrey Pine trees that are between five and six feet in diameter. This Canyon is protected by the Truckee Donner Land Trust for all of us to enjoy."

Brooke Bishop's wood and fabric ladder was reflected in Lake Flora. Nancy's brother, Ross Tieken, created a 10 foot oak ladder in his woodworking studio in Texas. “A ladder like a door offers us new possibility, access to a place where we have not been or seen. Only when our awareness is open and present can we begin to notice the doors and ladders offered to us. As we pause here to reflect, reach down and touch the earth, and as we unroll up, breathe in, then reach for the sky like the hands on this ladder. The ladder connects our feet rooted in the earth to lifting to the stars above." -Guide narrative

Leslie Enfeld Chapman's performance with movement and music by Ian Ethan Case on the granite slab had dancers moving in white gauze fabric like glaciers moving boulders “erratic- rock moved by ice.” InnerRhythms Silky Dance with music by the Heath family was an original collaboration that graced a meadow  with local youth singers and dancers. Jamie Vaness played the Dilruba from India, with reflections of Lake Azalea.

The Dreaming Tree

Donner Summit, Donner Ski Ranch, CA 2012

The rich natural palate included granite cliffs with vistas of Donner Lake and the surrounding mountain landscape. The Dreaming Tree held playful environmental songs from The Banana Slugs and storytelling with Blackhawk, along with dance, and painting installation by Brooke Bishop featuring the Jeffery pines and the Juniper trees of Donner Summit. Perfomance painter, Susie Alexander, painted a word from each hiking group about their experience of the art hike The Dreaming Tree in her word catcher old growth painting along the trail.

As one attendee shared "With every step, I felt the snares of the world breaking away. Never before had I experienced the perfect blending of Nature and art that Trails and Vistas provided. And the magic, the love, the time and effort of numerous creative people who put Trails and Vistas together [plus thirty artists and sixty volunteers], especially the creator and visionary, Nancy Tieken Lopez, was an experience that left me not only at peace with myself, but very comfortable in Nature’s silence."- participant, Val Fern

Reflections & Rhythms

Spooner Lake Trail, 2011

Reflections & Rythms featured a landscape with mirroring waters of Spooner Lake, site specific works featuring granite rock, reflection of natures forms with "The Aspens Have Eyes" in a grove of old growth aspens. Rhythms of walking and the sounds of the drum started off each hiking group on their journey blending art and nature.

"Through the art hikes the act of moving in nature in a small community carries equal importance with the creation of the art and the land. The art within nature experience turns the act of walking into a collection of visual and audio memories filled with emotions, changing each person from viewer to participant. The art that appears and disappears into the landscape opens up new experiences of land art, as well as a new perspective on viewing the natural world around us."-Nancy Tieken Lopez

If Dreams were Clouds

Shirley Canyon Trail, 2010

If Dreams were Clouds art hike featured waterfalls and a mountain stream landscape that was the palate of the installations and a two mile trail. Dancing with sculpture Capacitor dance company connected earth to sky. If Dreams were Clouds featured InnerRhythms dancers lifting a pink cloud up to a blue sky, a trickster coyote lurking in the forest playing with each hiking group, and double-neck guitarist Ian Ethan Case with Capacitor dancers honored the cascading waterfall of Shirley Canyon.

"Something draws me to a specific site to inspire the art hikes where I listen to the emotional landscape to visualize the performances along the three mile trail. As I walk, I choreograph the art hike like a musician composing notes on sheet music or a poet writing down thoughts on paper.  I look at a site and pose the question to myself-do I hear notes of a flute, a haunting oboe tune, a poem about breathing, or the rhythm of the drums? As an environmental artist, I take cues from the earth and its inhabitants as well as the creative artists and musicians that I choose to collaborate with each year." – Nancy Tieken Lopez

Terra Caeli

Sundance Trail, Tahoe Donner, 2009

“For Terra Caeli, Earth Sky, choreographer Elizabeth Archer and I wanted to utilize the equine Sundance Trail featuring an impressive mix of dance performance and equestrian arts. In the summer I organized a Dancing With Horses Workshop taught by acclaimed choreographer, Alain Gauthier, celebrated for his work with Cavalia, an acrobatic and equestrian world touring show. He shared his approach to dancing with horses that is marked with kindness, respect and trust.” -Nancy Tieken Lopez
The equine workshop for local youth dancers of InnerRhythms Dance Theatre developed into three Art Hike performance installation sites. Working with Leslie Anne Webb and her Belgium Draft horse, horseman Tom Archer with a quarter horse Ace, and acclaimed choreographer Alain Gauthier, the dance students gained trust and learned how to move in the landscape with horses. The dancers then showcased their new equestrian art dance performances along the three mile Sundance trail for the Terra Caeli Art Hikes.

Songs of the Earth

Donner Summit, Donner Ski Ranch, 2008

Songs of the Earth took the participant on a sonic journey around the world with music rhythms from the Ivory Coast and Middle Eastern belly dancing, blending movement with elements of the earth. Collaborating sites included music with InnerRhythms dance for Let It Be, and Everything has a Voice poem by Cathee van Rossem St. Clair, Lasso artist Kansas Carradine along with thirty artists celebrating Songs of the Earth.

Songs of the Earth Art Hike utilized a Community Art Workshop with installation artist Nancy Tieken Lopez, ceramic artist Alana Hughes, metalsmith Mary Guerra, and 25 co-creators/community members created community clay vessels for site-specific art installation. Using the individual clay vessels, community poles were assembled that were seven feet, six feet, and four feet high ceramic poles reflecting in Catfish Pond, also called Maiden's Pond on Donner Summit.


Pacific Crest Trail, 2007

Passages art hike led each participant on a journey through art portals and cultures with music, dance, poetry and storytelling. The theme of Passages explored the ways people viewed the passage of time and space, with passage to other realms of reality with beginnings and endings. Gamelan Sekar Jaya Balinese Orchestra and their accompanying dancer, Ida Ayu Ketut Suciawani, offered a sonic and visual journey for one of the ten art sites for Passages, installed on a nature trail at Donner Summit, California. Passages Art Hike included a three mile hike to Lake Angela where participants experienced performances featuring Native American flute, Balinese music and dance, American folk songs, Taiko Drumming, poetry, dance, and journey sticks created from a Community Art Workshop, multiple visual art installations, and culminated with an interactive community drum circle.

Origins & Elements

Donner Summit, Donner Ski Ranch, 2006

In this collaborative piece, titled Earth Spiral, Nancy Tieken Lopez used hundreds of pounds of clay to wrap each granite boulder and each dancer in red clay, so the dancers looked just like the boulders. The shaman dancer woke the “boulder dancers” who were hidden by a shell-like clay covering. Rhythms of drums brought the dancers to life as they emerged from the clay, appearing to emerge out of granite boulders. This collaboration was between installation artist Nancy Tieken Lopez, choreographer and dancer Christopher Childers, InnerRhythms DanceTheater founder, Elizabeth Archer, and InnerRhythms youth dancers.

“During this two day performance installation, I wanted to fill each participant with a sense of profound but equivocal mystery, discovering the art that lay hidden in the granite boulders, and within our own imagination.” -Nancy Tieken Lopez

The flower nest floating in the pond was another art performance installation that I hope to create again, featuring Brazilian folk songs. The flower nests were created from a community art workshop. Each hiking group released a flower nest that held a fragile egg into the maidens pond. Each participant held the egg and passed the fragile element of nature to each hiker and then was placed in the center of the flower nest for release. I was working with tradition of flower nests in my family, and the impermanence of a flower and the fragility of a small quail egg representing the beauty and fragility of the world." – Nancy Tieken Lopez

Wind Over Stone

Pacific Crest Trail to Summit Lake, 2005

In 2005 the art hikes featured the Pacific Crest Trail to Summit Lake collaborating with Taiko Drummers, InnerRhthyms Dance Theatre, poets and musicians, and ice sculptor Chris Banovich. Donner Summit offered granite boulders to golden meadows with harp and poetry collaboration performance, and silk hats symbolizing the snowcapped mountains of the Sierra Nevada.

As one attendee shared her experience with the art hike:
"I watched an ice sculpture of an eagle drip onto the forest floor and learned about impermanence. A butterfly dancing atop a rock outcropping against a brilliant blue sky promised that I would fly again. The magical notes from a druid’s harp, in a field of mule’s ears flowers, reminded me of ancient connections to the earth. Taiko drummers pounded a beat back into my broken heart." -Moonshine Ink writer

Wind over Stone Art Hikes: How does an artist give texture to the wind and show the patterns dancing in the air before your eyes?
How do we all slow down and change the way we understand the aspects of our life, our culture, and the history of the land.

The textures of the art installations are from the earth, the soil gathered at a specific site, a rock, stick or water and ice. All ephemeral materials lend themselves to be touched and we hope you interact with the earth installations. The art hikes help to remind us that we need to stay connected with the rough beauty of nature… to touch and feel the land that is around us, and the texture in our own lives. We hope “Wind over Stone” reminds you to embrace the texture in our lives, our diversity, our history, and the history of the land.

Found Poem collaboration of Barbara Tieken and Nancy Tieken Lopez inspired by the writings of Overlay, by Lucy Lippard

The artist’s mark is fleeting, working in the landscape
like the wind blowing over the land strewn with rocks and trees.
Surrounded by the cathedrals of trees, I stop on a path to listen...
the wind travels from a distant land.
Stories are hidden in the rings of the old tree,
reminding me that I’m in this world no more than an instant.
Sitting on a bed of stone,
I behold the immensity of the boulders lying on the earth,
holding intense energy and magical powers that lie within.
Stone– an image and symbol of being.
“Old as the mother stone that sits on the earth since its birth.”
Stones seem to carry their own soul, laying still and quiet.
The permanence of the stone plays off of the temporality of the wind.
The wind is a symbol for the goddess, a whisper like the wind, flow like the wind.

A Celebration of the Environment

Upper Gregory Creek Trail, 2004

Collaborative strategies are integral to the work of multi-disciplinary artist Nancy Tieken Lopez, and are essential to her large scale art-in-nature artworks to build community experience in environment through art that incorporates performance, music, poetry, dance and earthworks. Since 2004, Tieken-Lopez creates her art hikes in the Truckee/Lake Tahoe/Indigenous Washoe land region in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

In 2004 Nancy Tieken Lopez collaborated with InnerRhythms Dance Theater artistic director Elizabeth Archer, youth dancers, Washoe women drummers and singers, musicians, and dance company X, Y and Z. The art hikes were set in the fall season and re-named from Spring Streams to Trails & Vistas. The first Truckee/Tahoe art hikes were held on a snowy day in September in 2004 at Upper Gregory Canyon, Truckee, California. Local musician, Peter Joseph Burtt played his soulful sounds on the Kora harp with winged dancers performing in the first snow of the season.

Just as the landscape is the palate for Tieken Lopez's art hikes, collaborating with artists influenced by the land is key to the success of each art hike that Lopez creates each year. As an example, Burtt's music is inspired by walking. Walking became an important daily ritual of Peter Joseph Burtt’s life when he lived in Africa. Now a Lake Tahoe resident, Burtt often walks beside the waters of Lake Tahoe to connect and compose his thoughts and his music.  Burtt said “I spend a lot of time walking at night. Just that rhythm of the walking, the steps and your breathing and heartbeat, it all really seems to just kind of feed into that creative process.”

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