Off in a corner of Afton, on the far side of the snowshoe trail, on a ridge in the woods lies a cairn collection. Someone started stacking rock and either couldn’t stop themselves or started a movement. There are at least a dozen little cairns on the stumps.
I did a little research today on the word cairn. I knew the word, but couldn’t spell it (it’s pronounced like Karen). I tried every variation that I could think of and discovered that there are a lot of rocker chicks who like to misspell Karen (search: Karyn or Caren rock). That’s why I used a descriptive title on the post today in hopes that I can help someone else. Once the true spelling revealed itself, I was delighted to read about them on wikipedia. Now I want to build more of them when I’m out hiking. They have lots of purposes, but one of them is to denote a path. Often a pointed rock is included in the stack that indicates the direction of travel. This kind of cairn is called a duck or duckie (I know!) because the pointed rock indicating the route looks like a beak. How often does someone who uses a duckie as a trademark find something like this!
The Wiki article also includes a neat term: two rocks do not make a duck. Meaning that a lost hiker might think they see a duckie, but it could just be one rock sitting on another rock. I like that. It reminds me of researching on the web — you want to find more than one or two sources. How many rocks does it take? When you five rocks of different origin neatly stacked, you can be pretty sure you have a duck.
So stay the course, enjoy the journey and mind the ducks.
Since this original post, I’ve discovered many other Cairns and Land Art forms around Minneapolis.