POTD: Good Cairn

Good Cairn
Butler Wash, Utah
2022

Cairns are built for various reasons and have a long history, especially in places such as Scotland dating back to the megalith days. Large cairns also have a long history of being built on mountain summits. Smaller ones along cross country hiking routes, especially over rocky areas are used for navigation. If you’ve ever followed such a route, you know how important they are to prevent getting lost or at least off track. Unfortunately, a recent craze in building cairns just about anywhere someone finds idle time and a pile of rock has led to people getting off route when hiking. Not only that, but they clutter up an otherwise natural view of the surroundings. I’ve built a cairn or two myself, e.g. on a beach, but never in a remote area where they might be confused as a trail marker. In the backcountry, I think cairns are either good, (i.e. marking the trail) or bad (i.e. leading to misdirection and needlessly marring the landscape). If happen across a bad cairn, I typically dismantle it and scatter the rocks.