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Nundagao (Soda Ridge) Trail cleanup 10/8/19

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  • Nundagao (Soda Ridge) Trail cleanup 10/8/19

    A zealot cairn-killer (I'm guessing) had knocked down the small number of cairns on the ridge that marked the exits from stretches of open rock. So some dufus used half a roll of pink tape to festoon fir branches from Big Crow to the col below Weston. The tape all ended up in my pack. I didn't rebuild the cairns.

    In general I like unmarked routes, primitive herd paths, and game trails because they are fun and a good way for people to develop path finding skills. Nevertheless, and although I understand the impulse to keep unmarked trails unmarked, I've never felt compelled to destroy cairns myself. I don't find them offensive except when they are misleading.

    Any thoughts on this issue from cairn killers or other opinionated hikers?

  • #2
    I certainly would rather see a well-built cairn as opposed to plastic tape! :(

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    • #3
      While I would not characterize myself as a cairn killer I have knocked down a few utterly useless Ozymandian cairns here and there in trailless country.
      As for unauthorized flagging and paint blazes that's a whole 'nuther level of idiocy that merits the death sentence if anyone were to ask me.

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      • #4
        Thanks for cleaning up! Some cairns are important, I leave those, but the ones that are just built by bored people....

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        • #5
          Truth is, Nundagao is popular, and some of the spots are a little confusing. In several places, you come out onto open rock, and then make a sharp turn to find "the hole" back into the woods. A few well placed cairns make that easy. Without the cairns, people will force their way back into the woods in multiple locations, and create the "maze of herd paths." You can rail against the people as "stupid", but it is the reality. So the cairns do a service to prevent the development of multiple braided herd paths. Rail against it if you want to, but knocking down all the cairns will create a much bigger mess.

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          • #6
            I always liked the cairns on Jay and Skylight. I too would rather see cairns than tape or paint and they can be important for safe travel at times for some folks, not everyone is experienced or as informed or as equipped as others and in bad weather or in an emergency a cairn might be important. I would never knock one down but have seen plenty of needless small ones...but better them then those small painted rocks that have a facebook address on them. I take those home and ditch them. I also see no reason regarding harmless cairns to take them down after decades of tradition. I thought it pretty cool to take my first stone to Skylight and wondered who else had carried one there and on Jay in fog seeing the many cairns appear as stone men intriqued me...how long had they been there?
            Last edited by Old Hunter; 10-11-2019, 09:29 PM. Reason: added info

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            • #7
              I appreciate a well-placed unofficial cairn that actually marks the true route, esp. when the route isn't too clear at that point. And I don't really care if people build an extra one along the route (shoot me, cairn purists). But I have encountered times when someone built one off route, and it misled me. That's annoying. It's happened to me in stream beds, for instance, where it's not immediately clear where the path exits, and someone meanwhile has done cairn-building up or downstream just for fun.

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              • #8
                Destroyed many false Cairns on the Dix slides that wasted over two hours and hundreds of vertical feet couple years ago. Approaching Dix from Round Pound, once you break out from the stream and onto the slides, the sign pointing right, into the woods, was missed by my group, and literally a couple dozen other folks. These multiple groups followed false cairns up and down the fingers of the slides, and fought with sliding down them and holding onto branches to retrace incorrect steps.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by tcd View Post
                  Truth is, Nundagao is popular, and some of the spots are a little confusing. In several places, you come out onto open rock, and then make a sharp turn to find "the hole" back into the woods. A few well placed cairns make that easy. Without the cairns, people will force their way back into the woods in multiple locations, and create the "maze of herd paths." You can rail against the people as "stupid", but it is the reality. So the cairns do a service to prevent the development of multiple braided herd paths. Rail against it if you want to, but knocking down all the cairns will create a much bigger mess.
                  That's why I don't destroy well-placed cairns. Nor do I "rail against" people for following them. My point was about the unintended consequences of removing a few useful cairns.

                  How about that enormous, pointless tower on the Jay Ridge? It serves no function whatever but the stonework is good and I've never felt inclined to destroy it. Or maybe I'm just too lazy to move that much stone.

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                  • #10
                    Thanks, GK.

                    I wasn't suggesting that you were railing against the people; but rather that the "zealot" might be doing that. I think the "cairns" thing is a great place for middle ground.

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