THANK YOU to all cairn builders and maintainers!

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Re: THANK YOU to all cairn builders and maintainers!

Postby CO Native » Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:50 am

I've found them quite useful at times too, but I've sworn under my breath several times too when people build cairns that led me astray. The first time was on La Plata when the trail does a hard switchback in the talus to regain the ridge. The switchback isn't (at least wasn't) very obvious and there was a cairn that convinced me to keep going straight. Not long after that I found myself in a garden of cairns. There was one in every direction I looked. After wasting half an hour hopping through loose talus figuring out my mistake I lost my trust of cairns. Then I climbed Pyramid and have hardly trusted a cairn since.
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Re: THANK YOU to all cairn builders and maintainers!

Postby Jon Frohlich » Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:56 am

There's nothing wrong the idea of cairns. I have a problem with ones that are 2, 3, and 4 feet tall though. Excessive and not at all necessary. I agree with the statement early in this thread that it's a good idea to first learn map, compass, and GPS skills instead of relying on cairns to get you up the right mountain. Cairns are useful on terrain like Capitol. Cairns don't really need to be on the trail to Grays.

I wish I had a picture of the single solitary cairn on the ridgeline of Stewart Peak. No other cairn of any kind anywhere. Where is one cairn leading you? Kind of a philosophical question I suppose.
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Re: THANK YOU to all cairn builders and maintainers!

Postby CO Native » Thu Jul 29, 2010 12:00 pm

Yeah there are some excessively large ones on Quandary. It's been nice to see the big ones on Longs get spread out. There were some massive ones there.

Love the question of where does one cairn lead.
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Re: THANK YOU to all cairn builders and maintainers!

Postby screefieldstevie » Thu Jul 29, 2010 12:01 pm

CO Native wrote:I've found them quite useful at times too, but I've sworn under my breath several times too when people build cairns that led me astray. The first time was on La Plata when the trail does a hard switchback in the talus to regain the ridge. The switchback isn't (at least wasn't) very obvious and there was a cairn that convinced me to keep going straight. Not long after that I found myself in a garden of cairns. There was one in every direction I looked. After wasting half an hour hopping through loose talus figuring out my mistake I lost my trust of cairns. Then I climbed Pyramid and have hardly trusted a cairn since.


Which approach???
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Re: THANK YOU to all cairn builders and maintainers!

Postby cheeseburglar » Thu Jul 29, 2010 12:07 pm

blonderoadkill wrote: At the very least, it'll save someone from unintentionally double summiting,


I hope cairns are the solution to that pesky double summitting problem many of us have but don't even know we have. What is double summiting?

I was on a CFI trip years ago in Chicago Basin. One of the USFS employees who was along went up and started building cairns on the route to Windom. Holy crap, they were huge. I was told USFS specifications for a cairn was something like 5 feet high with a minimum base width of 3 feet.
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Re: THANK YOU to all cairn builders and maintainers!

Postby England » Thu Jul 29, 2010 12:08 pm

CO Native wrote:I've found them quite useful at times too, but I've sworn under my breath several times too when people build cairns that led me astray. The first time was on La Plata when the trail does a hard switchback in the talus to regain the ridge. The switchback isn't (at least wasn't) very obvious and there was a cairn that convinced me to keep going straight. Not long after that I found myself in a garden of cairns. There was one in every direction I looked. After wasting half an hour hopping through loose talus figuring out my mistake I lost my trust of cairns. Then I climbed Pyramid and have hardly trusted a cairn since.

+1 Ten times over. More often than not the cairns here in CO have lead me astray, and sometimes into a dangereous area. There are either a lot of A-Holes here in CO, or people just think let's build one of those pyramid thingies over here. I never had that experience back east. Like someone previously mentioned, get yourself a map, compass, and learn to use them. Ever been in a white out?
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Re: THANK YOU to all cairn builders and maintainers!

Postby Doug Shaw » Thu Jul 29, 2010 12:12 pm

Jon Frohlich wrote:Where is one cairn leading you? Kind of a philosophical question I suppose.


All a cairn can be absolutely certain to tell you is "someone was here once." You have no certainty that that person had even the tiniest clue where he/she was, or that they were going where you want to go.

Maybe I will start building monster cairns off-route and in the middle of nowhere just as a social experiment.
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Re: THANK YOU to all cairn builders and maintainers!

Postby Jon Frohlich » Thu Jul 29, 2010 12:16 pm

Doug Shaw wrote:
Jon Frohlich wrote:Where is one cairn leading you? Kind of a philosophical question I suppose.


All a cairn can be absolutely certain to tell you is "someone was here once." You have no certainty that that person had even the tiniest clue where he/she was, or that they were going where you want to go.

Maybe I will start building monster cairns off-route and in the middle of nowhere just as a social experiment.


Doug, way to kill the fun... I was hoping for some interesting posts on the universal truths of one lone cairn in the wilderness. Is a cairn by itself lonely? Does a cairn require companionship to survive? :D
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Re: THANK YOU to all cairn builders and maintainers!

Postby ColoradoGuy » Thu Jul 29, 2010 12:19 pm

Well said!
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Re: THANK YOU to all cairn builders and maintainers!

Postby CO Native » Thu Jul 29, 2010 12:29 pm

screefieldstevie wrote:Which approach???

The northwest ridge. Happened where I put the orange arrow in this map:
laplata.jpg
laplata.jpg (506.22 KiB) Viewed 1138 times
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Re: THANK YOU to all cairn builders and maintainers!

Postby Jim Davies » Thu Jul 29, 2010 12:35 pm

Last year, my wife and I planned and led a project (through Friends of the Peak) to consolidate the cairns along two flat sections of the Crags route that parallel the highway between Devil's Playground and Pikes Peak. These areas had social trails everywhere, and cairns randomly scattered around. We got 24 people up there and spent half a day removing old cairns and marking the "one true route" (as determined by an experienced trailbuilder). I thought it was quite successful, and when we went back this year it was clear that people had been following the cairns, and the social trails were healing. I was sort of worried that some self-righteous pr*** would tear them all down (some people don't handle change well, even if it's for the better), but apparently that guy hasn't hiked the trail yet this year.

So to the original poster, you're welcome. :D
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Re: THANK YOU to all cairn builders and maintainers!

Postby hatidua » Thu Jul 29, 2010 2:01 pm

g wrote:What about the bulls-eye painters on Longs??


I believe that's what they refer to as "tagging" in urban areas... :-k

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