Rock Cairns

A cairn is a human-made pile or stack of stones. Cairns now are often erected as a memorial, landmark or art related purposes. In the past they have also been built for a variety of other reasons such as burial monuments, religious ceremonies, and astronomical purposes. These rock cairns are meant to be temporary and it is encouraged to practice a leave-no-trace approach in creating these rock piles unless they are serving a purpose.

I recently went to Ricketts Glen for a hike and my friends and I decided to stop and make a few rocks cairns at the beginning of the trail close to the water. It didn’t take very long and it reminded me of a meditative practice of art. Using concentration and balance to create something pleasing to your eyes. We decided to leave them there and knock them down on our way back. On our way back we came up to the spot were we made our cairns and there was twice as many! It was amazing to feel a connection between nature and other people. I loved seeing the different approaches to the rock stacks and how beautiful they all were. Sadly I only have a picture of the one my boyfriend made in the beginning of our hike. So we knocked ours down and continued our way back out of the woods.

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The art form of rock and stone balancing is interesting to me. The struggle to balance these rocks is surprisingly relaxing. I work at a garden center and we just created a designated rock cairn area for kids to play in and the kids loved it! I couldn’t believe how entertained and focused they were in creating these stacks. I had also explained to them that their creation is not meant to last forever so it is okay if you knock it down afterwards. Kids were so happy to show off their beautiful little master pieces and even happier to knock them all over. I think this is an amazing art form that connects us with the balance of nature and even other people.

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