Carin in the Woods

Cairn in the Woods

Along a path near Cedar Lake, I found the work of the mysterious Carin Builder of Uptown. It seems the neighborhood dogs like it too.

Spike Cairn

Spike Cairn

I found this awesome public art piece along the Kenilworth Bike Trail. Not sure if I can call it a Cairn, but Railroad Spike Jenga doesn’t really sound right. What’s a Cairn? I wrote a big article about cairns a while ago that strangely gets a lot of traffic, like always second to the home page in traffic.

Who's the Minneapolis Cairn Builder?

Who’s the Minneapolis Cairn Builder?

Imagine my surprise walking around Lake of the Isles to find not one, but seven cairns on the shore. These are nice ones too, much nicer than my stumbling, awkward attempts. This took some time to build.

These are not far from the big one I found a few weeks ago in Cedar Lake.

More information about Cairns, or Stacked Stones.

Cedar Lake Cairn - Stacked Stones

Cedar Lake Cairn – Stacked Stones

Someone has been making Cairns in my neighborhood, there were several on the Northwest point of Lake of the Isles a few weeks ago and I found this one on Cedar’s Hidden Beach last weekend. I wonder if it’s the same person that was making labrynths around here. If you are the cairn-maker or know who it is, I’d like to meet. Whoever it is sure seems to be having fun.

I did some research on cairns last year when I found a bunch of them at Afton State Park, you can read that article here. I think what makes a carin so interesting is that it is so simple in design, yet completely unseen in nature. Animals (lacking thumbs) don’t stack rocks, so it’s a purely human behavior and the skill required is pretty impressive, seriously, take a look at how complex this one is!

Dark Oaks

Dark Oaks

On the news this morning, I heard that last night the low temperature was 35°F, the first time above freezing since November 16th. Spring is coming and soon these bare trees will have some leaves and the rolling hills of the tundra will be alive with the color of green.

Thanks for all the great comments on yesterday’s post about cairns. I continue to be amazed at how quickly information can be found on the web. So many trips to the library avoided, so many projects not held up. I’m now starting to take a serious look at my extensive book collection and ask it why I have to share my space with it. Sure, I’ll always keep the fine-printed art books, but so many reference books haven’t been opened in years.

Soon I’ll be posting pictures I took downtown with the Tips from the Top Floor Group. My freind Bob Kupbens took a shot of me while we were there that I like.

With the warming weather, the ice on the lakes is melting and soon we’ll have open water again. Just follow the ducks.

Cairn - Stacked Stones or Rock Pile

Cairn – Stacked Stones or Rock Pile

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.

Cairn Information and other Cool Stuff

If you like cairns, here’s a few cool cairn-related things I’ve found on Amazon that you might like.
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