Cairns are simply man-made piles of stone. Out on a hike, we’ve all seen them used for trail or summit markers. This one on
not only marks the summit,
but acts as a base for the parasailer’s wind sock. Brace
|Connecticut High Point on Mt Frissell|
Around here, most trails are marked by painted spots on trees. But on rocky passes, or in places like utility corridors where there are no trees, those piles of stone mark the trail - especially where the path isn’t obvious. Ducks (
with a pointed
rock – a beak – on top) may point you in the trail’s direction. cairns
|Blue Trail cairn on the Mattabesett Trail|
The rock piles are often about a foot or two high, and whenever I pass I may add a couple of stones to keep the pile neat and pointing the right way.
But things have gotten out of hand! Some of the trails are just littered with little piles of rock – 5, 8, 10 stones high. Hopefully off to the side of the trail, but sometimes smack dab in the middle (at least until someone kicks them down).
|Sleeping Giant White Trail in Hamden|
|Zoar Trail in Sandy Hook|
Whenever I pass, all these questions jump to mind - Are these gnome markers? Are they the beginning of a public art exhibition – like modern art decorating shopping centers or sculpture walks through city parks? Are they the work of worn out walkers, looking for any excuse to take a break – “just give me a minute, statue’s almost done…”
|Whittemore Trail in Beacon Falls|
I've never come across a cairn in progress, I've never spotted someone (or something) actually building one of these. They are just there. In fact, I've found these little decorative heaps hiking out and back trails – nothing there on the first pass, but an hour later – poof, a little pile dropped carefully from the heavens.
Never, that is, until now. The riddle was finally answered when I caught this forest pixie adding to a little garden of trail sculptures, rock piles and
She's tall for a gnome.