Monday, March 26, 2012

The story of stacked rocks continues...

I'm re-re-posting my old stacked rocks (cairns) post.  Why?  Because after almost 6,000 hits and counting, it has turned out to be somewhat controversial.  I've started to get negative comments from people that feel that cairns are destructive to National Parks. So even though I feel they should get a life, they may have a point. So I left the comments and you can be the judge. If you want to be enlightened about the madness of moving a rock, read my comments.  

That being said, I think it is O.K. out on your neighborhood bike trail, beach or gravel road.  Good grief.  Unless I start getting new haters.  

  I  received an inventive and meaningful piece of art from my high school art teacher Mr. Urness.  Or Don to his grown up friends.  Geez, I guess that's me now!  He has been building Carins for some time now. And posting them on his blog   Now he and his wife Eileen have started to collect small flat stones to incorporate into necklaces.  And if you purchase one they will mark which beach the stones were collected from.  Hopefully not Hawaii though because that would bring bad luck.  And we don't want that! 

But for now here's my (controversial.  See comments) story of stacked rocks... 

                                        Lake Harriet.  Right on my doorstep.

I'd been meaning to do a blog post for a long time about stacked rocks. I've photographed them for years in my travels. And last Summer I caught this man stacking rocks right on my doorstep at near by Lake Harriet. Last week he was there again. But I didn't have my camera. He has a magical talent for stacking. Does he keep gorilla glue in his pocket? The top 3 photos here are his handy work.

Stacked rocks in Duluth, Minnesota

These stacked rocks were found on the super hot Montezuma beach at the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica.

                      It was the mother load of stacked rocks!

This is mother nature's attempt at stacking rocks. I thought I'd     include it just for fun. This photograph was taken near my   hometown.  Alma Center, Wisconsin.          

These stacked rocks were photographed near the entrance to one of the world's most famous hiking destinations. Kauai's rugged Na Pali coastline. It's a beautiful, but very grueling hike. (Although my blogging pal DJan would have no problem!) Even when you're on the trail the only way to really see the coast is by helicopter or boat. I'll always remember a lady that was hiking on the muddy trail. You actually had to cross through waterfalls and up and down steep inclines. Well, she had long white pants on. And darn it all if they didn't have a spot on them. Was she an angel? Did she have hidden wings that carried her across the muddy parts?

This photo was taken in the crater of Volcano's National Park on the big island of Hawaii. It has the honor of being my first stacked rock photo. And it really was an awesome hike full of steam vents and surreal sights and sounds. 

P.S. Be sure to read my comments on this old post for a different perspective on cairns.  They may be beautiful.  But some say they are destructive.  I say the worry warts should get a life.  But it is a good reminder to be respectful of nature.  

To see a new post on stacked rocks click here!


Nina Crittenden said...

Wow! This blog post really stacks up! I mean, it totally rocks! Wonder if they do a lot of rock stacking in Boulder, CO???

Don Urness said...

Thanks Sharon. I really enjoyed that. I am hoping to post more in the next couple days.

DJan said...

This is the time of year when dry spells hit bloggers, I've noticed. Did you know that some stacked stones are known as cairns?I used to see them on hikes in the wilderness and even saw some a couple of weeks ago when we were off the trail (showing somebody where it was easier going, I suspect). I'll go check out don now.

Shirley said...

Wonderful photos, Sharon! Thank you for your kind visit as it is such a delight to meet one of Nina's friends! Looking forward to keeping in touch.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Louis L'amour tells about a legend about such stacks of rocks. The Native Americans would place them in the high, lonely places ... as a tribute to the forgotten, lonely gods whose spirits swept the vast stretches of wilderness, searching for one soul who remembered them.

Al said...

I think I saw them before but not in real life but in NatGeo. The guy was featured in one of the episodes of the show and I was amazed how he do this incredible rock stacking. Does he has magical powers?


The Chair Speaks said...

Stacked rocks are beautiful in their own way. My younger brother and friends did that too when we when river hiking in our younger days.

Serline said...

Many of the things He does are amazing and beautiful beyond belief...

The Retired One said...

Stopped by your blog and now you have a new Follower..loved the stacked rocks, I am going to hop on over to your link as I think I would love to learn how to do this.
Glad you joined my blog too! Thanks!

SquirrelQueen said...

Most of the stacks seem to be well balanced and could be done with a little patience but the ones in the first and third shots look like they would fall if someone blew on them. Amazing stuff.

RE: my book review. You asked if I have seen Into the Wild. I did but I thought it over romanticized a senseless event. I lived in AK when Candless made his trek and I remember the news stories when they found his body. He went in totally unprepared to survive and in the end starved to death. In AK people like him were/are called End of the Roaders. They usually come seeking adventure or trying to find themselves. They don't realize how dangerous the AK wilderness can be if you don't know what you are doing. Candless was not the only one I heard about while I was there, he was one of many.

Nancy Neidt said...

Hi. I love your article on stacked rocks, aka cairns. Last week I was in Grand Marais, and found that Artist's Point has become a mecca of stacked rocks. There are some incredible stacks composed of medium sized rocks that are four feet wide and six feet tall. Others are pairs, and there is a series of stacks running down a rock crevice. Incredible energy and architecture. Thanks for sharing your discoveries.

Nancy Neidt said...

Linda Hensley said...

Gorgeous photos! I love stacked rocks, but I don't think I've ever managed to make anything so gravity defying. I had heard that Native Americans used stacked rocks as trail markers to let you know which way was water, etc.

Good luck with your Kraft competition!

Hilary said...

Some people stack rocks like they haven't a carin the world. ;) Lovely shots, Sharon.

Why would Hawaiian stones be bad luck?

Carol............. said...

I love these and tell everyone they are directions and communications for UFO's!

Tweedles -- that's me said...

This is a cool post! My moms and me stack rocks when we go to the ocean!
Some of these photos that you are sharing are incredible. How do they manage to do those difficult ones?
Its like an art.
It looks difficult to me!

Pat Tillett said...

Awesome! Rocks stacked like that (by people) are called cairns. The most I've ever seen at once spot, is at Sedona, Arizona. There are several "energy" spots around Sedona and one of them has hundreds (if not thousands) of cairns all around it.

Anonymous said...

Not supposed to stack rocks in HI. Very against the Hawaiian culture.

HILO, Hawai'i — Visitors to Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park who build small rock stacks as a show of respect for Hawaiian deities or the power of Kilauea are doing nothing more than tampering with potential scientific evidence of long-ago eruptions and should stop, park rangers and volcano scientists said.

Kupuna Pele Hanoa, 82, said the misguided practice is akin to sacrilege, since the national park contains many sites considered sacred to Native Hawaiians.

"That's desecrating, because we don't want those rock pilings put up all over the place ... ," Hanoa said. "That's desecration of our culture."

Scientists warn that moving rocks around makes scientific research more difficult, and park rangers say the rock piles alter the natural setting, violating both federal law and the golden rule of national parks that visitors should "take only pictures and leave only footprints."

There are 2.5 million visitors to the Big Island park each year. The stacks of rocks are concentrated at Halema'uma'u Crater, the Southwest Rift Zone's 1971 flow and the 1982 lava flow, officials said.

Similar piles of three or more stones in graduated sizes can be seen at other scenic and historic sites throughout the state, and it's unclear how the practice started. It probably means different things to different visitors, but park ranger Mardie Lane said they trigger an obvious "copy cat" effect: Leave one stack standing for a while and more piles spring up around it.

That means the park must quickly assign staff to dismantle the rocks to prevent more from dotting the landscape.

A statement released yesterday by the U.S. Geological Survey, which runs the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory within the national park, notes that study of the location of specific types of rocks blasted out of Kilauea helped scientists to deduce that the volcano had a long history of explosive eruptions. But when rocks are moved, evidence of past eruptions is altered and "the construction of rock piles erases geologic history," the statement said.

In some cases, visitors are even prying rocks from lava flows to build the stacks, causing even greater damage.

Hanoa, who was born and reared in Ka'u, said visitors to the volcano have been making rock piles around the park for decades.

The park's committee of cultural advisers urged officials to do something about it, and Hanoa wants tour bus drivers to warn their passengers that stacking rocks is disrespectful because the piles don't belong there.

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park is planning a campaign to educate visitors and tour operators about the importance of preserving the area's natural beauty, and plans are under way for an informational flier. Advisory signs will be posted where rock piles are most common, and temporary exhibits at the Kilauea Visitor Center and Jaggar Museum will discourage stacking.

"Visitors can help protect the park's dynamic landscape by leaving everything — even the rocks — in its rightful place," said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando.

National park officials warned that federal law prohibits "possessing, destroying, injuring, defacing, removing, or disturbing from its natural state all mineral resources" in national parks.

The park also warns that those who insist on stacking rocks could be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Sharon Wagner said...

I'm leaving the above comment because I think it is an interesting perspective. But for the record I'm just photographing stacked rocks, not building them.

Unknown said...

I REALLY wish people would stop this ridiculousness. National Parks are not ours to deface and destroy. If these 'stackers' can not appreciate natural beauty for what it is, the least they can do is leave it be for those of us that do.

Sharon Wagner said...

This is an old post. But I check it every once in awhile because it still gets so many hits. I've noticed I have another negative comment about stacked rocks. I'm leaving it on my blog because it is a different perspective to the beauty of stacked rocks. I agree that moving rocks around in National parks may be destructive. But then again, maybe there are more important things to worry about. I think the most important thing is that people are out really enjoying nature and our parks!

Don Urness said...

I have been thinking a lot about some of the negative comments on your blog and as a stacker of sorts I felt the need to address some of these concerns. First, I have never been to Hawaii and most likely never will. It is too commercial for my taste. That being said, rock stacking is the least of Hawaii’s problems. If indeed it is offensive to the indigenous people I apologize but I am guessing the roads to get to the park and accommodations to warehouse this many people are far more offensive. If this is at a national park their have probably been other developments added such as trails, guard rails, rest rooms and concessions to satisfy the teaming herds. It seems to me that the 2.5 million tourists pose more of a threat to scientific investigations than stacked stones which are going to fall back down during the next earth quake or wind storm. Granted the signs warning against stacking stones are far more attractive than the stacks themselves. OK, I can understand the problem with millions of people building cairns in a national park but I still think that the amount of resources consumed and the accommodations needed to move millions of tourist in and out of the area is far more obscene than stone towers. It would appear that man has been stacking rocks since soon after Og moved out of the caves. At first it was to mark important areas such as burial sites, food caches and trails. The Scandinavian people used cairns as a way of marking trails through the glaciers. Early Native Americans used them to mark trails as well. Many National Parks, I have heard, use them to mark outback trails where they want to keep them as natural as possible. The Inuit people were some of the first to use them creatively with their Inuksuk’s or stone men. I first saw cairns traveling through Iceland and later Norway where I was inspired to try it myself. I built along a public bike trail and soon met resistance from some of the locals who thought they were satanic. It has always amazed me how something as harmless as stacking rocks could stir up so much ire. Many artists started doing this type of nature works as a way of not leaving another material object lying around. Although I haven’t given up on my other art, I must admit I like the feeling of knowing that a year from now all that will remain of my building is pictures and memories. I have a very strict creed when building. I bring no materials to the area and remove nothing but litter. As I see it there are two kinds of people, those create and those who destroy. I prefer being a creator.

Sharon Wagner said...

Go Don! Good job expressing your side.

Timelesslady said...

I love stacked rocks or cairns as they are also called. I used to visit a place called Block Island in Rhode Island. The beaches are covered in cairns and I mean covered! It was always one of my favorite things about the place and one of these days I will paint a few watercolors of my favorites...because I took many, many photographs. I get really tired of negativity about anything and everything...keep stacking and looking up as you build.