What The Cairns?!
Why is rock balancing a trend?
So, what exactly am I talking about? What are Cairns? Well, historically…
A cairn is a man-made pile (or stack) of stones raised for a purpose, usually as a marker or as a burial mound. The word cairn comes from the Scottish Gaelic: càrn [ˈkʰaːrˠn̪ˠ] (plural càirn [ˈkʰaːrˠɲ]).
Cairns have been and are used for a broad variety of purposes. In prehistoric times, they were raised as markers, as memorials and as burial monuments (some of which contained chambers). In modern times, cairns are often raised as landmarks, especially to mark the summits of mountains. Cairns are also used as trail markers. They vary in size from small stone markers to entire artificial hills, and in complexity from loose conical rock piles to elaborate megalithic structures. Cairns may be painted or otherwise decorated, whether for increased visibility or for religious reasons.
A variant is the inuksuk (plural inuksuit), used by the Inuit and other peoples of the Arctic region of North America. - Wikipedia
On the other hand…
Rock balancing or stone balancing (stone or rock stacking) is a form of vandalism in which rocks are naturally balanced on top of one another in various positions without the use of adhesives, wires, supports, rings or any other contraptions which would help maintain the construction's balance. The number of rock piles created in this manner in natural areas has recently begun to worry conservationists because they can misdirect hikers, expose the soil to erosion, aesthetically intrude upon the natural landscape, and serve no purpose. In fact, Some visitors to natural areas who wish to experience nature in its undisturbed state object to this practice, especially when it intrudes on public spaces such as national parks, national forests and state parks. The practice of rock balancing is claimed to be able to be made without changes to nature; environmental artist Lila Higgings has defended it as compatible with leave-no-trace ideals if rocks are used without impacting wildlife and are later returned to their original places, and some styles of rock balancing are short-lived. However, "disturbing or collecting natural features (plants, rocks, etc.) is prohibited" in U.S. national parks because these acts may harm the flora and fauna dependent on them. - Wikipedia
Regardless of how you view them, chances are if you’ve ever set foot in a state or national park in North America, or you’ve just driven through a scenic area, you’ve likely seen this being done. Stacks of rocks, sometimes resembling the shape of a human, sometimes just a tower of rocks. And they seem to be everywhere.
On our recent trip to the badlands in Alberta, we came upon some of these in our outings, and I have to say that I share the opinion of the opposition on this one. I’d rather not have a beautiful scene disrupted by a bunch of rock stacks. I’d rather see the scene in its natural state. For me, it feels as if once again someone else’s cultural practices have be appropriated to form a pastime for other people who don’t even get that this is a cultural practice. To them it’s just another thing you do in nature, so you can take a pic and put it on Instagram. And in that, it’s quite disgusting.
So, my question to you is this… are you for or against this type of art/vandalism? Have you done this yourself? Does it bother you to see these in nature? Let me know in the comments below. An until next time, be loving, be kind, be better!
As a photographer, I want the natural scene, but for the public I would say most don't think anything about it, just as they don't think they are doing anything wrong by picking wildflowers. So, trying to educate the public would help the issue, but as with anything concerning the masses it won't stop everyone and there have always been jerks and there will always be jerks. The best thing about National and State parks is that they're open to the public...and the worst thing about the National and State parks is that they're open to the public.