People, just stop it!!

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People, just stop it!!

Postby halhiker » Wed Aug 05, 2015 1:26 pm

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Re: People, just stop it!!

Postby zippetydude » Wed Aug 05, 2015 2:35 pm

How funny! The thing I find strangest about it all is how polarizing it has turned out to be. You can never quite predict how people will react...I guess the truth can be summed up in the words of the prophet Billy Currington, "God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy."

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Re: People, just stop it!!

Postby Ed » Wed Aug 05, 2015 4:22 pm

I used to walk my dog in a nature preserve near my house. For a while there was a contest between me and someone who seemed to find spiritual value in erecting large and numerous cairns. He would put them up, I would kick them down. But then I'm an extremist. I even object to highway memorials. It has to stop sometime, otherwise we are going to have a memorial every fifty yards. So why start? Also the crosses, flags, memorials to dear ones who have died of cancer, etc. I've seen on various summits. OK, I'm a grinch, better sign off now.
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Re: People, just stop it!!

Postby Florian » Wed Aug 05, 2015 6:22 pm

605 comments on the original NPR story! The comments are more interesting than the story itself. I'm okay with a couple of stacked rocks marking a remote seldom used route. But most of the piles you see are along popular trails and usually done by someone a mile in and tired of hiking that sits down to rest and stacks up some rocks out of boredom. Knock them down!

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Re: People, just stop it!!

Postby Ed » Wed Aug 05, 2015 6:32 pm

Florian wrote:But most of the piles you see are along popular trails and usually done by someone a mile in and tired of hiking that sits down to rest and stacks up some rocks out of boredom.


I think some people feel a deep urge to mark their presence and passage, like a dog doing you know what. They were doing it on the Oregon Trail in the 1840's.
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Re: People, just stop it!!

Postby cynthia23 » Wed Aug 05, 2015 6:34 pm

I am firmly in the 'knock them down' camp as Florian knows (one time on Garstin he actually caught me knocking one down!) There is something so vacuous and annoying about these purely 'decorative' cairns (I am not totally opposed to a few well-placed guidance cairns on confusing routes). But beyond that, it's my firm opinion that they precede and enable actual painted graffiti. They send a message that it's okay to alter the wilderness for your personal enjoyment.

The only good thing about them is the enjoyment I get from knocking them down. :twisted:

Hal, thanks for posting this interesting article.
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Re: People, just stop it!!

Postby zippetydude » Wed Aug 05, 2015 9:25 pm

Like I said, polarizing. Although I would not take the time to build one, I think they are fun and kooky and hurt nothing. I've seen some amazing balancing jobs and been thoroughly impressed, only to see them destroyed the next time I went through the area. I always attributed it to people who can't resist squishing sand castles, so I thought the destruction was just for fun. Little did I know they were perceived as a form of litter and actually made some people angry. How strange is it that I clean up graffiti, pick up trash, and help to maintain trails, just like the rest of you, but I find myself enchanted by these silly creations rather than incensed? I'm baffled. Reminds me of the "Which way should the toilet paper roll face?" controversy. People came out swingin' hard on both sides...about toilet paper. Well, I'm not mad at anybody, the construction crew and the demolition crew are about evenly matched, so I'm gonna sit back and enjoy the fireworks. :)

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Re: People, just stop it!!

Postby Wildhorse » Thu Aug 06, 2015 8:39 am

Like Z, I have never built one nor destroyed one. I too have seen enchantment in them. In large enough numbers, they would detract from wilderness, but I have not yet seen the large numbers, perhaps thanks to the destroyers.

Cynthia wrote: "They send a message that it's okay to alter the wilderness for your personal enjoyment."

That is the history of human civilization, especially since the emergence of agriculture and, more recently, science. (That was the Baconian dream for science.) In much of the world, even in California, we have drastically altered and destroyed wilderness for our enjoyment, especially for the sake of what we have called progress. It is sad, and if Darwin has told the story right, we have sown the seeds of our own destruction. Our cairns will fall.

I think I have taken cairns to symbolize a love for wilderness, perhaps mistakenly, as little totems celebrating wilderness. And yet, I know, we all know, that they cannot remain standing in large numbers - just like ourselves.

We need to kick down much of what we have built. We need to replant the trees and turn things back over to the soil and the sun and the wind and the rain.
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Re: People, just stop it!!

Postby dstine2 » Thu Aug 06, 2015 3:48 pm

Check this link for the placement of stone mound as a survey monument accessory.

http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/content/wo/en ... ition.html

Chapter 4 Sections 4-90 thru 4-112. Some of these mounds were placed in the mid 1800s.
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Re: People, just stop it!!

Postby cynthia23 » Sat Aug 08, 2015 2:31 pm

There is a very interesting Wikipedia entry under "Leave No Trace", which is a set of wilderness ethics developed in the 1960's. Especially interesting part of the Wiki article is that there's been a later critique of the Leave No Trace movement, arguing that it's too simplistic and ignores the larger impact of global capitalism, industrialism, and development. Another critique argues that humans have always interacted with/changed their environment and it's somewhat artificial to preserve supposedly untouched areas. Worth checking out for those interested in this topic. But, regardless, I think it's pretty much a no-brainer that in a planet with eight billion people, rearranging the rocks on a shared wilderness trail for your own pleasure is a selfish act which disrupts the illusion of untouched wilderness. We all need to feel (even if it's fake) that we're having a 'discovery' moment and finding some area no other human being has ever seen. Finding some tacky 'artsy' rock cairn in that special area is a rude shock and detracts from that sense of privacy and discovery.
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