Rock On!

Cairns—we saw them aplenty when we climbed Ben Nevis. We noticed quite a few in Nova Scotia. We spotted them as trail markers in John Muir woods, on Palomar Mountain near the observatory, and now in the shallows of the Boise river—in this case, parents built them symbolically, one cairn each for a family of seven.

Used by people around the globe, cairns — human-made stack of stones — serve many different purposes:

  • Utilitarian: to mark a path, territory, or specific site
  • Spiritual: inviting passersby to stop and reflect
  • Ceremonial: when placed within a circle of enclosing stones
  • Memorial: when friends and family members voice a fond remembrance of a loved one while adding adding a stone
  • Symbolic: the uses are endless including love, prayer, and artistic expression

Have you ever built a cairn?

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