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People are stacking too many stones


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Brian Shaffer · · NY · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 40
Allen Sanderson · · Oootah · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 1,187

Kicking them over is way more fun.

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 138

Tons of trails in the Adirondacks and Catskills are marked only with cairns. Whether or not the environmental damage is concerning, I don't see this trend changing without the resources and permission to replace these cairns with blazes.

EDIT: Removed reference to Red Rocks, since I'm not sure how that trail was constructed or by whom.

Hobo Greg · · My Van · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 175
David Kerkeslager wrote: Tons of trails in the Adirondacks and Catskills and at least one trail at Red Rock are marked only with cairns. Whether or not the environmental damage is concerning, I don't see this trend changing without the resources and permission to replace these cairns with blazes.

There’s a huge difference between cairns used to mark trails and the social media inspired stone stacks that the article is referencing. 

Trad Princess · · Not That Into Climbing · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 1,175

You should have seen the cheat stones they stacked up BITD at Woodson nawmean? cheers dmet

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 138
Hobo Greg wrote:

There’s a huge difference between cairns used to mark trails and the social media inspired stone stacks that the article is referencing. 

What is that difference exactly? It seems like if you're going to make an environmental argument against "decorative" stacks, the same argument applies to functional cairns.

EDIT: It seems like people are ignoring the context of this post. I'm not saying cairns are okay, I'm saying cairns for trails are just as bad.
Hobo Greg · · My Van · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 175
David Kerkeslager wrote:

What is that difference exactly? It seems like if you're going to make an environmental argument against "decorative" stacks, the same argument applies to functional cairns.

No, not at all really. We allow for safe passage and prevent trail widening with the directional cairns. We don’t create excess erosion by making unnecessary cairns (this happens rather quickly in alpine and desert environments; without rocks, soil blows away in the wind). Trail crews are often trained to know how to quarry rock for cairns in a less impactful way than your average hiker. And people go to wildernss to get an idea of what the world may have been like before our modern takeover. Not to see someone’s art. We have thousands of museums for that. Sadly I think you know all this but enjoy being a contrarian.

Jaren Watson · · Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 2,033
Hobo Greg wrote:

No, not at all really. We allow for safe passage and prevent trail widening with the directional cairns. We don’t create excess erosion by making unnecessary cairns (this happens rather quickly in alpine and desert environments; without rocks, soil blows away in the wind). Trail crews are often trained to know how to quarry rock for cairns in a less impactful way than your average hiker. And people go to wildernss to get an idea of what the world may have been like before our modern takeover. Not to see someone’s art. We have thousands of museums for that. Sadly I think you know all this but enjoy being a contrarian.

These are my thoughts, as well. Maybe not the last sentence—but I agree with the rest.

Colonel Mustard · · Sacramento, CA · Joined Sep 2005 · Points: 1,186
David Kerkeslager wrote:

What is that difference exactly? It seems like if you're going to make an environmental argument against "decorative" stacks, the same argument applies to functional cairns.

I know excessive stone stacking when I see it. It’s like porn, you see. Just right and I’m pleasantly titillated for the trail ahead. Too much and my pants are down and that’s me panting like a pervert behind a pinyon pine.

Victor K · · Denver, CO · Joined Jul 2003 · Points: 170

I think you were supposed to turn left here.
jd4567 · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 25
https://lnt.org/learn/7-principles
The Principles are based not only on a respect for nature and other visitors, they are also based on and supported by scientific research.

Leave What You Find
  • Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
  • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
  • Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
https://lnt.org/blog/how-leave-no-trace-builds-rock-cairns
If you need to build a cairn, naturalize the area after you are done.
Briggs Lazalde · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 0

Bunch of yuppies tryin act like they do the nature thing. Then again in other news "media outlets are in search of shit to complain about"... So I dunno who to hate more. Is Korea still talkin about launching missiles via wrist rocket? Cuz that shit was somewhat entertaining.. I wonder what its like living in places that all these threads are based on. Banana peels, Instagram cairns, dogs, bolting wars, gear theft, break ins... I'd say there are places none of that happens, come check it out, but please dont... 

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 138
Hobo Greg wrote:

No, not at all really. We allow for safe passage and prevent trail widening with the directional cairns. We don’t create excess erosion by making unnecessary cairns (this happens rather quickly in alpine and desert environments; without rocks, soil blows away in the wind).

Let's be clear here: I'm not saying that that cairns for art are okay. I'm saying that cairns for trails AREN'T BETTER.

We can argue about the relative "necessary-ness" of cairns for trail marking versus cairns for art, but the fact is, neither is necessary, and both are just as damaging to the land. Blazes are arguably just as ugly, but they don't cause the erosion that cairns cause. And at least around here, cairns to mark trails are much more common, and therefore a much bigger problem.

Trail crews are often trained to know how to quarry rock for cairns in a less impactful way than your average hiker.

I can't speak to the desert, but this is completely inapplicable to the cairns in the Catskills and the Adirondacks--trail crews use blazes, and the cairns are used BY AVERAGE HIKERS to mark trails that don't have a trail crew. The idea is, you come to a cairn, and if you feel it was hard to see, you throw another rock on it.

Sadly I think you know all this but enjoy being a contrarian.

I don't think you even knew that I was arguing against cairns, not for them, so it's a bit of a reach to claim you understand my motives. Let's refrain from personal attacks and stick to discussing the matter at hand, shall we?

Pnelson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 401
David Kerkeslager wrote:

What is that difference exactly? It seems like if you're going to make an environmental argument against "decorative" stacks, the same argument applies to functional cairns.

Now, that's just a ridiculous statement.  By definition and your own words, "functional" cairns are not the same as "decorative" ones.

Cairns are like chalk "X" marks on perceived loose rock on routes, or mountainproject posts.  They're super subjective, all look equally "official" regardless of how clueless the person to have made them is, and the majority of them are made by noobs who should just shut up and observe.  
David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 138
Pnelson wrote:

Now, that's just a ridiculous statement.  By definition and your own words, "functional" cairns are not the same as "decorative" ones.

They have the exact same environmental impact. Both are bad.

Briggs Lazalde · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 0

I only kick over the misleading cairns. They are used up here in the selkirks for marking the obscure paths/trails and so many show up randomly to lead you into sketchy terrain...makes me wanna slap whoever built them, 3 stooges style.

Tim Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,476

People that like to stack piles of stones are the same ones that like graffiti "art" and carve their names in trees, but have decided to tone it down a little. In the not so distant future, there will be plenty of room against the wall for them. Plennnnnnnty of room.

Josh Lipko · · Charlotte · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 10
David Kerkeslager wrote: 
I can't speak to the desert, but this is completely inapplicable to the cairns in the Catskills and the Adirondacks--trail crews use blazes, and the cairns are used BY AVERAGE HIKERS to mark trails that don't have a trail crew. The idea is, you come to a cairn, and if you feel it was hard to see, you throw another rock on it.

You already did just a couple posts above when you mentioned "at least one trail in Red Rock."  

Al Pine · · The 'yack, NY · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 0
David Kerkeslager wrote: Tons of trails in the Adirondacks and Catskills and at least one trail at Red Rock are marked only with cairns. Whether or not the environmental damage is concerning, I don't see this trend changing without the resources and permission to replace these cairns with blazes.

Actually, ZERO trails in the Catskills are officially marked with cairns. All trails are all below tree line, and all trailed peaks have NYDEC markers. DO NOT build cairns on bushwhacks. It's in violation of DEC regulations, encourages the formation of herd paths and is becoming a problem. The people scratching arrows into rocks are straight up vandals.  I spent a weekend last summer trundling someone's path up to the top of a relatively easy bushwhack. Be a good citizen and learn how to navigate with a map and compass.

Mike Mooney · · Silverthorne, CO · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 0

Don’t belong in National Parks
BLM stack away
NFS one rock wide max diameter 2 centimeters

Hobo Greg · · My Van · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 175
David Kerkeslager wrote:

They have the exact same environmental impact. Both are bad.

Again, they do not have the same environmental impact. I have worked trails, we are trained to quarry in a way that doesn’t erode the surrounding soil. Hikers and instafolks are usually not trained in such a way. Furthermore, a single navigational cairn every hundred feet equals less rock quarried than a field of art stacks as in the photo above. Less cairns equals less erosion. See how easy that was? Didn’t have to resort to a “personal attack” like calling you a contrarian, which, by MP standards, is hardly an “attack” at all.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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