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Old 14-09-2017, 10:44   #1
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Stacking rocks - why?

We are anchored in a beautiful Cove in Desolation Sound on coastal British Columbia. Soaring mountains, forested islets and dead calm and quiet. What a fantastic piece of nature, except that the rocky shoreline is interrupted by stacked stone pillars. Why do some people feel the urge to leave this graffiti behind? I am not here to see their juvenile art projects. Does anyone have a reasoning for this wierd behaviour that will help me understand it? These folks had to travel here by boat and chose this scenic remote area to explore, but need to change it to look more like the urban parks they are used to?
Sad and confused.
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Old 14-09-2017, 10:53   #2
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Re: Stacking rocks - why?

Trying to make an Inukshuk? (Legends of the Inuit people: The Inukshuk.
In the language of the Inuit; inukshuk means "One that looks like a person". The inukshuiit are erected from stones to resemble a human figure.

Not defending it, but if you don't like it (and have a dingy), may I suggest there is a simple solution to a pile of stones on a beach?
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Old 14-09-2017, 11:00   #3
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Re: Stacking rocks - why?

The biggest stack of rocks I have seen in our sailing was at Cook's Look on the top of Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef. That's where Captain Cook finally saw a way to escape east beyond the Great Barrier Reef.

Amazing stack of rocks, and I am not sure why the pile is so big.

I have seen lots of rock cairns in the deserts of the world where they function as primitive guideposts/waypoints.

Some stacks of rocks are there for navigational purposes as well.
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Old 14-09-2017, 11:09   #4
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Re: Stacking rocks - why?

You are confused. Cairns of all kinds, for many reasons, were stacked up literally thousands of years before "urban parks" existed.

Find some online courses in history and anthropology, and maybe you'll come to appreciate the many possible reasons why someone made a cairn, and why it sure as hell ain't graffiti.
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Old 14-09-2017, 11:11   #5
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Re: Stacking rocks - why?

I see cairns a lot, and often wonder why. One of the first I encountered was atop Mt. Agamenticus in Maine. There's a plaque which says something like this (from the Wikipedia article):

"St. Aspinquid (St. Aspenquid) was a Mi'kmaq Chief who was murdered in 1696 and was declared a martyr and buried atop Mount Agamenticus. A cairn on the summit stands as memorial to the sachem, and whoever pays tribute to his soul by adding a rock is assured of luck. The pile of stones, with its promise of good fortune, continues to grow."

I actually enjoy seeing cairns. Maybe it's the mystery of who took the time, and why. I also enjoy train whistles. No point in getting upset about things you can't change. As for slapping halyards, that's another thing...
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Old 14-09-2017, 11:28   #6
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Re: Stacking rocks - why?

I work in an Army Corp of Engineers campground. Apparently, painting rocks is now a thing. Painted rocks are everywhere and that is true graffiti. I read an article a while back about a young woman getting in serious trouble for painting large rock formations and in a national park. They just paint little rocks here, nobody has been arrested for it.
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Old 14-09-2017, 11:44   #7
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Re: Stacking rocks - why?

Painted rocks are graffiti.

Stacked rocks are a meditative state of being. It's a way to be fully consumed by nothing at all. And if you don't like the rocks stacked on a rocky shoreline, go for a walk and kick them over. But to call it juvenile tells me you've never tried it
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Old 14-09-2017, 11:55   #8
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Re: Stacking rocks - why?

Cairns as graffiti. Now I've officially heard everything.

As stated cairns are used for a number of reasons.

1) Summit Markers
2) Trail Markers
3) Aids to Navigation (waterways)
4) grave markers
5) Astronomical markers (e.g. stonehenge NOTE: There are many others around the world. We have a set in New Hampshire, USA which are a set of simple piled cairns marking the sunrise and sunset of the equinoxes and soltices)

Their use is pre-historic. we've been to many places where they are simply built along a deserted beach. Whenever we see a 'Cairn Garden' we always stop and contribute one of our own.

We find them fun to make and beautiful to look at. I built one in the tiered garden along my front walkway at home.
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Old 14-09-2017, 12:04   #9
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Re: Stacking rocks - why?

Wait.... People seem to be jumping to the conclusion here that the cairns Lunita is seeing are ancient and should be appreciated as some sort of archeological artifact. I doubt that.

I think the more likely case is they were built by bored folks on the beach... perhaps someone's iphone died...

Lunita, I have wondered the same thing. Although I guess it's better than carving your name into a tree or something more destructive.

In Bonaire, where we do a lot of shore diving, cairns are often used as marker points for safe entry and exit.
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Old 14-09-2017, 12:18   #10
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Re: Stacking rocks - why?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunita View Post
We are anchored in a beautiful Cove in Desolation Sound on coastal British Columbia. Soaring mountains, forested islets and dead calm and quiet. What a fantastic piece of nature, except that the rocky shoreline is interrupted by stacked stone pillars. Why do some people feel the urge to leave this graffiti behind? I am not here to see their juvenile art projects. Does anyone have a reasoning for this wierd behaviour that will help me understand it? These folks had to travel here by boat and chose this scenic remote area to explore, but need to change it to look more like the urban parks they are used to?
Sad and confused.
When I was a child, we visited Hawaii and on one of the Islands, in one area, there were many Carins. We were encouraged to build one of our own, atop some personal article, by the locals who insisted that doing so would ensure our "safe" return to the Island. We did so and, as predicted, have returned, from time to time, to visit our Carin, for 60+ years. It is an ancient tradition...
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Old 14-09-2017, 12:53   #11
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Re: Stacking rocks - why?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunita View Post
We are anchored in a beautiful Cove in Desolation Sound on coastal British Columbia. Soaring mountains, forested islets and dead calm and quiet. What a fantastic piece of nature, except that the rocky shoreline is interrupted by stacked stone pillars. Why do some people feel the urge to leave this graffiti behind? I am not here to see their juvenile art projects. Does anyone have a reasoning for this wierd behaviour that will help me understand it? These folks had to travel here by boat and chose this scenic remote area to explore, but need to change it to look more like the urban parks they are used to?
Sad and confused.
I've seen what you are talking about, for those of you not familiar they are stacks of small flat rocks 1 to 6 inches in diameter and piled 6 to 12 inches high. One of the places I saw it was in the Virgin Islands, I snorkeled in to a remote beach and there were several stacks, it struck me as a way for somebody to say "hey I found this place before you". It took a little of the majesty from the moment. On a positive note I doubt the ones I saw are still stacked.
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Old 14-09-2017, 12:55   #12
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Re: Stacking rocks - why?

Cairns can be a very useful navigation sign. I think some people see them and just make more not thinking about the context and need. I'm sure some people just like stacking rocks.
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Old 14-09-2017, 14:07   #13
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Re: Stacking rocks - why?

Stacking rocks is graffiti? Maybe you should invest in some self help books or something. Some skin thickening is what you need
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Old 14-09-2017, 14:16   #14
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Re: Stacking rocks - why?

I have seen such stacks in Norway. They are used there as nav aids.

Is it not something related to nordic / innuit tradition? Sort of like road signs.

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Old 14-09-2017, 14:58   #15
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Re: Stacking rocks - why?

One ancient, & not so ancient reason for stacking rocks (building cairns), albeit not on beaches, is that in various locales, hunts by tribes took/take place in specific areas. Often ones where there was/is a lot of open terrain. And the tribes out hunting tended to have limited numbers of hunters. So cairns are placed so that from any kind of distance, they appeared to be men (in silouette) to the animals. Thus thanks to the cairns, a few people could drive (funnel) the game towards hunters waiting in ambush. Greatly increasing the yield of such hunts. Enough to sustain the tribe for quite a while; with meat, tools, furs/hides, etc. As in many cultures, even today, almost all of the parts of the animal get used.

Historically there are other, nautical, uses for them too. Such as when white men were first exploring the W. African coastline, back when sailors had few charts, & many thought the world to be flat. Ships would sail as far south as their courage held, & then built large stone pillars on the beach, visible from sea. Then, the next ship to sail south knew that it was safe to continue until they saw these makers, & then they too then continued on until their courage was maxed, & then built similar markers before turning back. Which, this continued until the horn of Africa was finally reached.

Obviously, neither of these is the case with what you found, necessarily. But for some, building them is a way to connect to one's roots. And it's also part of ancestral & genetic memory. So building them is quite natural. And they've been built all over the world by various peoples for thousands of years.

Yes, they can be an eyesore, but they can also be a window into the thoughts & feelings of their builders. AKA art.
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