Cairn building can be a surprisingly meditative practice that brings you closer to your community and the earth. Making a traditional or creative rock cairn can help you take your mind away from the daily grind and focus on permanence and balance.
Throughout history, different cultures have used cairns in many ways. They were used to mark a route or indicate a food source. In North America Native Americans also made cairns to serve as burial places, a tradition known as inukshuk.
The word cairn is derived from a Gaelic phrase that means “heaps of stones”. They are typically built in the shape of a hill. The size of these man-made hills can vary from small rock carvings to large, man-made hills. Some of them are similar to kistvaens (ephemeral earthworks) and dolmens (ephemeral stoneworks).
Hikers, in particular, have a long and varied use for cairns. They can be used to guide hikers back to the trailhead after a tough interesting facts about cairns day of hiking, or to aid them in finding their way in remote areas of wilderness.
A well-placed Cairn can help save lives, and guide a hiker group that is lost or having trouble finding their trail. However, some people argue that cairns are not a natural part of the environment and are in violation of Leave No Trace principles.