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Should Rock Stacking be Banned?

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
IMHO, this is a problem for people who need to visit the Third World.
Painting canvas, squeezing clay, stacking rocks, scribbling your name on everything vertical, carving and smearing and pissing ... it´s all evolutionary "I WAS HERE" primate behavior, just on different points of a time-line. The earth is enormous. One bunch of goobers stacking rocks in a few thousand creeks in an isolated continental system? I don´t think it´s going to matter much. But I am not an expert.
(just don´t do that in MY neighborhood!)
 

MichaelB10398

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes to SdC, SJPP to SdC
No, I don't think it is an overreaction. I support the concept of leave no trace. We walk a path over a thousand years old - there is no place on that path that has not be passed by thousands, if not millions, of pilgrims along the way. It is a trail of silence, tears, sorrows, and release. There is no reason to leave any other mark than your love, kindness, patience, and prayers.
I really do think I am becoming more crotchety as I have become older. It may be time for the monastery. I know and support the Camino being open to all - pilgrims, tourists, etc. I know that Spain and its people have benefited from the money spent along the way and yet I really do wish that the way was not being used by so many. Not only crotchety but selfish to boot.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Currently on a "Virtual" Camino and striding out across Castile y Leon!
And, taken to its extreme, rock stacking can include some pretty large rocks:

1534000289247.png

Having THAT land on you could really mess up your day.

I sometimes build small piles on my local, stony beach but always knock them over when I leave.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I thought ocassionally cairns of stones are piled to help denote a trail, not on the caminos, but in other more remote areas of the world they help hikers find their way. I've actually benefited from them a couple of times myself. I personally don't mind seeing them. (Graffiti and trinkets are another story!) On the Camino I have taken photos, as many others do, of large stone arrows on the path and large circles. If they are just rocks I have no problem. I always think they are probably made by "younger" people as I'm just too tired to even think about bending over to pick up rocks!
 

jmcarp

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2013
Camino del Norte a Chimayó (USA), 2015
Camino Portugues, 2017
No, I don't think it is an overreaction. I support the concept of leave no trace. We walk a path over a thousand years old - there is no place on that path that has not be passed by thousands, if not millions, of pilgrims along the way. It is a trail of silence, tears, sorrows, and release. There is no reason to leave any other mark than your love, kindness, patience, and prayers.
...
I agree 100 percent. Well said, Michael.
 

jmcarp

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2013
Camino del Norte a Chimayó (USA), 2015
Camino Portugues, 2017
...I sometimes build small piles on my local, stony beach but always knock them over when I leave.
Good advice -- satisfies boredom, need for creative expression, primal urge to mark one's territory, (none of which are inherently "bad", but also leaves no trace (assuming the stones are scattered back from whence they came).
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
My one little stack of rocks isn't going to affect anything .... said 7 billion people ....

Didn't Jesus once say that only those without sin should stack the first stone? Or something like that ;)
Yes, He did, in which case there should be NO stacks of stones anywhere, by anyone!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francès (spring 2017), Via Podiensis/Le Puy to Cahors (2018)
weighing in ... I didnt actually see any last spring on CF, but often see these on california coast. I have a different response: a journey, any journey but especially walking the Camino can be an exploration IN balance, heart and mind, loss and gift, perfection and confusion, here and there, now and then. Seeing the stones so delicately placed atop each other, a kind of miraculous dance between heavy stone and impossible precision - well I find these, whether called cairns or piled rock, exquisite and always surprising. I can only admire someone who has such patience, knowledge of physics, and playful spirit!
 

IngridF

Intrepid Peregrina
Camino(s) past & future
2012, 2015 ,2017, 2019
Oh my...aren't we all blessed that we feel the need to passing judgement (I am being nice here) on things we have no business in...as guests in a country that offers it's welcome to us all. Light and Love.
 
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David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Oh my...aren't we all blessed that we feel the need to renumerate (I am being nice here) on things we have no business in...as guests in a country that offers it's welcome to us all. Light and Love.
Oh I don't know, Ingrid. I see all of the above as rather lighthearted and my assumption is that living in a liberal democracy we have the right to talk about anything we want, and to have our own opinions on everything too.
I am not quite certain which subjects I, and the other citizens of my country, have no business in discussing - please send list, would be helpful ;)
 

KJFSophie

My Way, With Joy !
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2014 & 2015 ),Via San Francesco(2017) Camino Portugese (2018 )Camino Ingles(2019) CF
I walked with a woman from California who was grieving the loss of a childhood friend due to alcoholism. She was angry and having difficulty making peace with a senseless loss. I helped her make a tiny cairn on the side of a path overlooking a beautiful vista. She said that despite being so angry at her friend, she wanted her to finally be at peace and 'left' her in a peaceful setting. That tiny cairn interfered with nothing, no one...but meant the world to it's builder. From the earth, on the earth...

I don't personally see something natural and nonintrusive as harmful or distasteful. Having said that, huge monstrosities or ones set in middle of paths may not be appropriate. Those speak "look at me!", more than "I honor you" ...I'm one who cringes from spray painted or marker graffiti , or leaving brick a brick. But I can make peace with something from the earth, giving peace to another left on this earth, struggling with loss of another who has departed from this earth in a non peaceful way. Too corny?
 

Carol Larson

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
April (2017)
I walked with a woman from California who was grieving the loss of a childhood friend due to alcoholism. She was angry and having difficulty making peace with a senseless loss. I helped her make a tiny cairn on the side of a path overlooking a beautiful vista. She said that despite being so angry at her friend, she wanted her to finally be at peace and 'left' her in a peaceful setting. That tiny cairn interfered with nothing, no one...but meant the world to it's builder. From the earth, on the earth...

I don't personally see something natural and nonintrusive as harmful or distasteful. Having said that, huge monstrosities or ones set in middle of paths may not be appropriate. Those speak "look at me!", more than "I honor you" ...I'm one who cringes from spray painted or marker graffiti , or leaving brick a brick. But I can make peace with something from the earth, giving peace to another left on this earth, struggling with loss of another who has departed from this earth in a non peaceful way. Too corny?
Not corny....well said
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
I walked with a woman from California who was grieving the loss of a childhood friend due to alcoholism. She was angry and having difficulty making peace with a senseless loss. I helped her make a tiny cairn on the side of a path overlooking a beautiful vista. She said that despite being so angry at her friend, she wanted her to finally be at peace and 'left' her in a peaceful setting. That tiny cairn interfered with nothing, no one...but meant the world to it's builder. From the earth, on the earth...

I don't personally see something natural and nonintrusive as harmful or distasteful. Having said that, huge monstrosities or ones set in middle of paths may not be appropriate. Those speak "look at me!", more than "I honor you" ...I'm one who cringes from spray painted or marker graffiti , or leaving brick a brick. But I can make peace with something from the earth, giving peace to another left on this earth, struggling with loss of another who has departed from this earth in a non peaceful way. Too corny?

What a lovely post Sophie. All joking aside I sometimes add to certain piles of stones .. just a few of them, and I don't know why nor how I choose, but I do know that it is, for me, always some sort of quiet reverential moment.
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
My first introduction to stone stacking or cairns was during hikes in the U.S. National Parks in the West (Arches, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon etc). I personally was thankful to see them, indicating the path.

My most recent experience was this month walking the Huayhuash Circuit in Peru. The cairn indicated the pass we were to climb to. Seeing the cairn at 4700-5000 meters was a relief - that meant that we had reached the pass and no longer needed to climb!

I find them lovely and in many cases an art form. They are made up of natural products - stones - which come from the earth and return to the earth. No eye sore in my eyes.

_20180812_091912.JPG
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Currently on a "Virtual" Camino and striding out across Castile y Leon!
Oh my...aren't we all blessed that we feel the need to renumerate (I am being nice here) on things we have no business in...as guests in a country that offers it's welcome to us all. Light and Love.
Not intending to be rude but does "renumerate" have a different meaning in Canadian English from the one in standard English? Did you mean remunerate? Either way I don't understand what you mean to say.

*edit: or, perhaps, "feel the need to pass judgement on things . . . "? If so I apologise - still dopey from my siesta!
 
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Neoscan

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (Sept 2016)
I can't stand the sight of them! In recent years they are appearing at every viewpoint in Scotland. Beautiful spots ruined by these awful monstrosities. Yes, the stones are 'of the earth' but not stacked like this- they look much better left on the ground where nature placed them.

I understand a pile of rocks at the top of a mountain to mark the sumit or a cairn built to remember something that took place in a particular spot but not these random piles of stone left by tourists that only symbolise 'I was here' x1000.

If they are appearing along the camino too I think that is a real shame. There is no need to leave any marks on a place you have been whether it be graffiti, stacking rocks, whatever... all impact others that visit after you on some level.

'Take Only Memories, Leave Only Footprints'
 

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Icacos

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
Not intending to be rude but does "renumerate" have a different meaning in Canadian English from the one in standard English? Did you mean remunerate? Either way I don't understand what you mean to say.

*edit: or, perhaps, "feel the need to pass judgement on things . . . "? If so I apologise - still dopey from my siesta!
Ruminate, maybe? Auto correct at work ?
 

IngridF

Intrepid Peregrina
Camino(s) past & future
2012, 2015 ,2017, 2019
Not intending to be rude but does "renumerate" have a different meaning in Canadian English from the one in standard English? Did you mean remunerate? Either way I don't understand what you mean to say.

*edit: or, perhaps, "feel the need to pass judgement on things . . . "? If so I apologise - still dopey from my siesta!
so I was feeling crouchy this morning, sometimes I just feel we stick our noses into things that we have little (see not saying no) business in. No need to apologise... Changed the wording some - english is a most difficult language o_O
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Wow, @Vacajoe, that is a lot of stacks! Hopefully it's not on any of the caminos!
 

William Garza

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, The Jakobsweg
What are the origin of these things..i thought it was a Buddist tradition
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia (May 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2017)
Camino Portugues (June 2019)
For some reason, the first time I saw a whole lot of them... it was on a steep downhill, maybe from Alta del Perdon?... they made me laugh. I pictured people in agony, crunching down that path, thinking of any excuse to stop and stacking rocks was one excuse. I took pictures of that scenario. By the fifth stretch of camino lined with rock stacks, enough was enough. I enjoyed an excuse to stop and knock them down. What bothered me more were the rocks people feel the need to leave on camino markers, monuments, statues, crosses, etc. Why? I also found that a real challenge for me on the camino was prioritizing all the things that bugged me. And rock stacks weren't that high on the list (which doesn't mean I'm tolerant... it means a lot of stupider things bug me more).
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
What are the origin of these things..i thought it was a Buddist tradition
I gather that it is an Inuit tradition (formerly known as the Eskimo). As the high Arctic has no more vegetation than small bushes, it was impossible to build signals or structures for supply caches-- the human-shaped piles of stones were put together to show where caches might be. They are known in Inuktitut as inukshuk (singular), inukshuuk (dual), or inukshuit (plural) -- but broadcasters sometimes anglicize the plural as inukshuks. In some places, they have come to signify a spiritual presence or aspect to the locations. They have also become a symbol of the territorial government in Nunavut, and appear on the flag and arms and in recent years have been erected at some Canadian embassies.

About 25 years ago, I began seeing them in parks and along trails in Canada, and saw a small collection along the banks of the Aragon (west of Jaca by about 10-15 km IIRC) on my first Aragonese in 2005. Like other symbols borrowed from aboriginal peoples, I sometimes find them a bit irksome in other places, but really they do no harm, and are helpful for some people.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Rock stacks? I may have seen one or two...or 50 at once!
All I can say is... :eek:
i thought it was a Buddist tradition
Not, at least in the Southern traditions. Though people in the Himalaya do make cairns at high passes, but I get the sense that that is less Buddhist than animistic.
I also found that a real challenge for me on the camino was prioritizing all the things that bugged me.
I love this!
Me too....both of you...:D
Yeah, I keep thinking I will outgrow it, too. I find that I start to enjoy being bugged by things.
AHAHAHAHA, that's a winner!!!!!!!!!!! :)
Well...it's been superceded by this post!~
I'm 63 years old and proof that, while you are only young once, you can be immature all your life.
:p:p:p
 

William Garza

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, The Jakobsweg
I gather that it is an Inuit tradition (formerly known as the Eskimo). As the high Arctic has no more vegetation than small bushes, it was impossible to build signals or structures for supply caches-- the human-shaped piles of stones were put together to show where caches might be. They are known in Inuktitut as inukshuk (singular), inukshuuk (dual), or inukshuit (plural) -- but broadcasters sometimes anglicize the plural as inukshuks. In some places, they have come to signify a spiritual presence or aspect to the locations. They have also become a symbol of the territorial government in Nunavut, and appear on the flag and arms and in recent years have been erected at some Canadian embassies.

About 25 years ago, I began seeing them in parks and along trails in Canada, and saw a small collection along the banks of the Aragon (west of Jaca by about 10-15 km IIRC) on my first Aragonese in 2005. Like other symbols borrowed from aboriginal peoples, I sometimes find them a bit irksome in other places, but really they do no harm, and are helpful for some people.
It wonderful to learn something new! I never thought of the animistic side.
They have begun appearing here on the island..but it is more of a psuedo new age\hippie affectation...2. It tears up some beach cleaning equipment.
None of the denizens of the surfing community do this, so we figure its visitors making statements...its a PITA really as they wont be knocked over for suprstitious or respect for anothers pov's issue...
Most were knocked over by toddlers who have no such notions.
3. They mark drug drop offs from the cartels and that when seen in remote areas? Are mostly...not seen...
 

smp

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
spain (2017)
Oh my goodness, they are just rocks, stacked, for whatever reason. It's not forever and is harmless. Maybe it meant something to the person doing this, as does the designated, "leave something special behind that means something special to you" locations. Maybe it is done in a playful way. In my opinion it is harmless and not life altering in a negative way. I would see some of the stone built arrows and stacked stones and felt the same as a comment above, not understanding having the energy to bend over or stop to add to or create these structures, good for you for taking the time to do this. It is your Camino!
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia (May 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2017)
Camino Portugues (June 2019)
Re. cairns... Here in New Mexico (USA), I know of some remote, ancient Native American sites that are still visited by those in modern tribes, to venerate their ancestors. There aren't trails, really, you have to look for the cairns to find the way.
 

BeatriceKarjalainen

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Finished: See post signature.
Upcoming: Nothing planned
I once got lost on a trail in the Swedish mountains as stacked stones was the marker for the trail and people was building new stone pilars near the trail. In fog I couldn't see the difference between trail markers and someone having a bit of fun.

In Sweden it has been a problem that people build chairns in nature preservs, destroying the unique nature, picking up stones and destroying the habitant for insects etc. At Fårö they take down 800 stone towers a year on the protected beaches. https://www.svt.se/nyheter/lokalt/ost/sluta-bygga-stentorn.

So I think you at least need to consider the impact on building at the place you are. Normally we talk about just leaving footprints.
 

Icacos

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
I'm 63 years old and proof that, while you are only young once, you can be immature all your life.
:) I've got a few years on you, however, I wonder if your comment refers to just things negative, or includes what some might see as a positive, as in being young at heart, or being 'as old as one feels.' Could that be why the NOT serious thread has flourished for so long? :);)
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
I gather that it is an Inuit tradition (formerly known as the Eskimo). As the high Arctic has no more vegetation than small bushes, it was impossible to build signals or structures for supply caches-- the human-shaped piles of stones were put together to show where caches might be. They are known in Inuktitut as inukshuk (singular), inukshuuk (dual), or inukshuit (plural) -- but broadcasters sometimes anglicize the plural as inukshuks. In some places, they have come to signify a spiritual presence or aspect to the locations. They have also become a symbol of the territorial government in Nunavut, and appear on the flag and arms and in recent years have been erected at some Canadian embassies.

About 25 years ago, I began seeing them in parks and along trails in Canada, and saw a small collection along the banks of the Aragon (west of Jaca by about 10-15 km IIRC) on my first Aragonese in 2005. Like other symbols borrowed from aboriginal peoples, I sometimes find them a bit irksome in other places, but really they do no harm, and are helpful for some people.
I've always seen the inukshuk as a specific style of rock stack, designed to look (more or less) as a person. I would be very surprised if the rock stacks in the mountains of Peru, for example, were a borrowing from the Inuit. I think a more likely explanation is parallel evolution.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
There's also some very serious archaeological issues with the practice:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-41245644
However, I don't know whether the Roman roads or Galicia's Iron Age stone structures are equally at risk from this sort of ignorance.
I think that is a specific case where historic structures are being deconstructed to make new rocks stacks. I don't remember seeing anyone demolishing the roman roads or pallozas to make rock stacks.

It is worth noting that the historic structures in the the UK that they are worrying about are, themselves, rock stacks, as is Stonehenge (on a bigger scale). If rock stacking is inherently evil, perhaps we shouldn't worry about preserving them.

(Speaking as someone who did not himself contribute to rock stacks on the Camino, except for adding a stone at Cruz de Ferro - I did make a twig arrow on the path, though, at one intersection we thought particularly poorly marked.)
 

J F Gregory

Portugal Central - October 2019
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (March-April,2016) finished, (October 2019) Portuguese Central Route.
Stacking stones is a tradition celebrated world wide. I have seen it in Iraq, Africa and some of the Pacific Islands, Papua New Guinea and on Native Holy grounds in North America. In some cultures they are religious symbols, perhaps alters both private and public. I would never remove one I see it may be important to a person or culture.
 

Bala

Veteran member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: SJPdP-Burgos, (2015); Burgos-Sarria (2018); Sarria-Santiago (2018).
Frances (2020)
The first I ever saw rock stacks was back in the 1980s on the northwest coast of the island of Maui. There were hundreds of these little rock cairns, all over the place, marking nothing as far as I could tell. They weren't connected to paths or the road in any way. I don't recall anything about an Inuit connection, but there was some kind of legend about fairies or some mysterious beings setting them up. Colorful tourist lore, passed from one wide-eyed visitor to the next. :)

Back then, northwest Maui was a remote, windswept place, far off the beaten path. Today it's covered with condos, resorts, and golf courses. Frankly, I'll take the rock cairns any day. But I hope they aren't a harbinger of condos, resorts, and golf courses to come along the Camino. :confused:
 

J F Gregory

Portugal Central - October 2019
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (March-April,2016) finished, (October 2019) Portuguese Central Route.
I used to live in Lahaina on Maui and about 5 miles out of town and at the base of the mountains ( you had to hike there) where stone monuments and ancient writings and pictures on the cliffs it was considered a holy sight and the tourists were never directed there for fear of its destruction.
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
I have always wondered who has the time to stop and put more than one rock on top of another and assummed it was an additive addiction. Then I remembered my children and their uncle stacking round creek boulders as high as they could until the feel over when we would vacation in the hills of North Carolina.
 

anthonymhughes

Irish lad heading back for more Camino!
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015)
Camino Frances & Camino Portuguese (Aug-? 2018)
This thread is really interesting. I don't think I would have thought twice about it. I remember seeing a few on the CF in 2015 and found them amusing. Wasn't compelled to build one or to destroy one, just curious. Maybe they are more prevalent now. It's interesting reading both sides of the argument. If they are not in a protected area, then I don't really see the harm. That said, the picture @Vacajoe posted looks ridiculous and does take away from the natural scenery if it continues for more than a few hundred metres
 
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to walk around 2022
Maybe it’s because I’m Canadian, but I don’t really see the harm. Rock stacking in a particular manner here has long been a practice of the Northern Indigenous Peoples if Canada. Known as an “Inukshuk”, they are thought to have been used thousands of years ago as waymarkers and other means to mark special locations on the Arctic tundra which otherwise have little geographic visual markers. While there is the additional argument that we have further co-opted/colonized the practice, the Inukshuk is becoming increasingly used in mainstream modern Canadian society as a symbol of friendship and welcome to the world. You will sometimes see them along the roadways or other special places and given as sculptural gifts. So, I have a particular appreciation and love for stacks of rocks I see, it feels like a tiny acknowledgement and message of friendship. E63330F1-5B75-4D84-A9BE-FEFC9ABF4CC7.jpeg
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
Not, at least in the Southern traditions. Though people in the Himalaya do make cairns at high passes, but I get the sense that that is less Buddhist than animistic.
I think this was discussed before and I'm still looking for the name and more background for one kind of small rock stacks that we saw in Ladakh. It was a field of small cairns similar to the ones that one can nowadays see along the Camino Francés - someone had posted a photo in this thread and I loathe these rock stacks on the CF. We encountered them high up in the Himalayan mountains. We were told at the time that these tiny cairns served as hiding places for your soul (not the correct word/concept but it will do for the purpose of this message) when it roamed around for a certain time (could be 49 days) after death and before rebirth, ie to hide from demons who might be chasing or fighting you during this time. Anyone happens to know anything about this?

BTW, obviously, in true imitating fashion, some of these tiny cairns had been built by tourist-hikers. We built one, too. It seemed prudent to do so, one never knows ... and unlike the ones along the CF, I still feel that it served a defensible purpose. :cool:
 
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Malachiuri

CaminoTranquilo
Camino(s) past & future
St Jean to Burgos '17
St Jean to Fisterra '18
St Jean to Astorga '20
COVID CAMINO!
Norte '21
Yes this ridiculous practice MUST be banned immediately and severe jail times imposed on those who stack rocks.

When the Camino was first walked by early medieval pilgrims it was a dead level, pleasant walk the whole way. At some point some jerk faced pilgrim stacked one small stone on top of another and suddenly it became a "thing to do".

Now we have mountains of rocks stacked up. Thanks guys! No really, Thanks!

Wanna help the Camino in a meaningful way? Great! Take a damn stone from the top of a hilltop cairn and carry it down to the bottom of the next valley and drop it there. In no time we will have a dead level path once again like it used to be.

M

ps... Im almost dead certain my grasp of history and geology are rock solid.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Anyone happens to know anything about this?
I don't know for sure, @Kathar1na , but it may be more of a thing to share with the tourists. My Ladakhi friends haven't said anything and never do that, except to happily make piles of stones at Pangong Lake - just as play. All the Indian tourist come there and they have unfortunately started the trend - same with passes on the Manali Road.
 

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Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
I've stayed out of this thread till now 'cos although cairns and stacks and stela, stelae, stele are a profound part of my family traditions they're our business and none elses. But, watching the thread unfold and new posts popping in (its what mods do) I was finally struck by the thread title " should rock stacking be banned" and this old anarcho-pagan put down his wine glass and started typing...

Banned by whom? Banned how? How would anyone police or enforce such a ban? What exactly would the penalties for the nefarious activity be? Having to put the rocks back exactly where you found them? Being crushed between boards by the weight of them? (now there was a punishment for the wall breakers- I think the Inclosure Act of 1773 is still in Statute and some of the earlier ones probably haven't been repealed.)

I am fairly confident that several government agencies would be able to use face-recognition-technologies to locate all those selfie-takers and the rest could be probably be identified by the location software on their 'phones even if they haven't got their phizzogs in the frame. The law on Joint Enterprise would probably mean that anyone present who could be held to have had reasonable expectation of the felony could also be dragged into the net which would soon put a stop to all those gangs of rock-stackers roaming about disturbing the view. Who knows, perhaps within a few years there will be nothing but tumble weed on the hill above Atapuerca and the beaches of Orkney will have been swept clean by the tides. That will just leave that pile of stones in Westminster to be tumbled into the Thames.

One last thought. With all that is going down in so many places, affecting so many people on this poor benighted planet... there are plenty of stuffs to get outraged about if you feel the need for a bit of outrage.

I'll put a stone in my pocket to remind me of that.
 

Icacos

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
Yes this ridiculous practice MUST be banned immediately and severe jail times imposed on those who stack rocks.

When the Camino was first walked by early medieval pilgrims it was a dead level, pleasant walk the whole way. At some point some jerk faced pilgrim stacked one small stone on top of another and suddenly it became a "thing to do".

Now we have mountains of rocks stacked up. Thanks guys! No really, Thanks!

Wanna help the Camino in a meaningful way? Great! Take a damn stone from the top of a hilltop cairn and carry it down to the bottom of the next valley and drop it there. In no time we will have a dead level path once again like it used to be.

M

ps... Im almost dead certain my grasp of history and geology are rock solid.
:D:D:D
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
@Tincatinker ...
:D:D:D
And...
One last thought. With all that is going down in so many places, affecting so many people on this poor benighted planet... there are plenty of stuffs to get outraged about if you feel the need for a bit of outrage.
Way too true. It's time to lighten up about the small stuff.
 

William Garza

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, The Jakobsweg
But
But are all rocks represented equally?
Are there equal amounts of igneous,sedementary..and metamorphic?
And what of boulders,cobbles,pebbles
Are all the colors represented

All rocks are equal
Just some rocks?
Are more equal!

And what of distribution..some are stacked in posh demesne
Whilst others are cramped,crabbed and cobbled willy nilly in wild and frightfull places.

Were these piles placed together with care? Or mearely thrown haphazard...with hardly a hands hold to help henge and high horizon to ensure harm wont come of hazards???

And what of the odd fellows thrown aside..what equall representation do they have?

No my fellows..this must stop
Regular lined layed out along the ley lines and fung shhwayyys of old
Building codified,modified and transmogrified untill all meet minimum modularity and regularity ensues

In short..let hillarity and jocularity reign among each other...
This sarcastic\iconoclasticand thoroughly plastic thread must go on in light hearted and informative way
Ime sure little piles of rocks are less important than the rocks underfoot on the way west no?
Yours in jest...
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
My Ladakhi friends haven't said anything and never do that, except to happily make piles of stones at Pangong Lake - just as play. All the Indian tourist come there and they have unfortunately started the trend - same with passes on the Manali Road.
So I may have gotten sucked into yet another tradition that is not at least 600 years old? Please keep your ears open for me, will you, if you ever hear anything to the contrary? This was many years ago, on the Markha valley trail, at a time I had never seen either mini stone stacks or love locks anywhere in the world. Both are omnipresent nowadays where many people live or pass through or while away their time ...
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
So I may have gotten sucked into yet another tradition that is not at least 600 years old? Please keep your ears open for me, will you, if you ever hear anything to the contrary?
Maybe, maybe not. But certainly I'll keep my ear to the ground and next time I'm there I'll ask. Because now I'm curious about what the truth is.;)
 

Peter Barker

My dream is to do the long walk.
Camino(s) past & future
In the future is my plan. Hopefully sooner than later.
My thoughts are if you want to do it, if not walk on by.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
Maybe, maybe not. But certainly I'll keep my ear to the ground and next time I'm there I'll ask. Because now I'm curious about what the truth is.;)
I'd appreciate it, thank you. We often think of the tiny homes we created for our souls and hope that they are still there. While I happily wipe away or kick over a mini rock pile on or near a proper waymarker on the Francés from time to time, I wouldn't dream of touching those over there. :cool:

So, coming back to the Francés, I remember an area, perhaps somewhere between Pamplona and Logrono, coming down a gentle hill, where the stone stacks had been created more skilfully than usually as they were of the balancing type or otherwise aesthetically pleasing. I respect those, too. :cool:
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
And the argument continues: Stone Stacking
Saw it this morning. These lines caught my attention:

What [the] critics don’t seem to grasp is the almost industrial scale of this new age of stone-stacking.

And that these personal monuments turn empty landscapes into peopled places. When we reach a remote summit or deserted beach, we know people have stepped there before, but for a moment we can enjoy a place where humans do not predominate. No longer. A forest of stacked stones destroys all sense of the wild. Stacks are an intrusion, enforcing our presence on others long after our departure.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
I'm not for banning much, though I'd love to ban the folks who put their stinking graffiti all along the Camino.
Well, and maybe plastic bags... and toilet paper... and ...
 

Bala

Veteran member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: SJPdP-Burgos, (2015); Burgos-Sarria (2018); Sarria-Santiago (2018).
Frances (2020)
"Sheer quantities of people turn inconsequential behavior into acts with consequences."

Another sentence that caught my attention.

Several people have posted touching and poignant stories of building little rock cairns. And many others have commented on the spiritual and religious meanings cultures around the world attach to them. When they become nothing more than a cute selfie-op, or rock graffiti shouting "I was here too," it desecrates those built with meaning.

But how to distinguish one from another? Good question.
 

jmcarp

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2013
Camino del Norte a Chimayó (USA), 2015
Camino Portugues, 2017
There's a difference between cairns and the typical piles of stones (artistically created or not) seemingly everywhere. The former have a purpose -- to mark a trail where other markers are not practical -- and the latter are usually just monuments to someone's ego oops, sorry, that may hurt someone's feelings. I'd hate to be out on a treeless prairie, or above timberline, on a trail that's marked by cairns on a foggy day and discover that it's impossible to follow the trail because of tens or hundreds of "innocent" stone stacks. Stone stacks fall under the same category as initials carved in tree trunks in a pristine forest or gang graffiti on an architectural masterpiece. Just my opinion.
 

William Garza

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, The Jakobsweg
Could it a metaphorical cry out into the vast emptyness
I..i....
Was here.
A communal joining of kindred who would also add to that graveyard of wishfullness
I too..was here.

The sea holds her secrets
The cairns by the side hodl thier secrets
Whether sacred,profane or simply indifference

I too passed this way
And this is the only way i can mark my wake of passage

Mystic proverbial animus upon canvas of nature rather than cave wall

I
Dont understand the sum total of the experience
Here is ultima thule...as far as my mind will allow me to go
This is the waypoint
This is where the liminal point is

Here
I where i stop trying to rationalise,compartmentalise...analyse
And simply start living

The end
A beginning...maybe after we have burned away ego and self deception and reached that polar moment...

Die to the world
Born to who we are
Stepping through the dark mirror
Leaving a touchstone in case it is too much to bear..this frightening birth to reality...

Or transcendence to our true selves along the Way.

All stones in balance to mirror our selves

Graves
Waymarkers
A point in time...here...I! Was

To be forgotten by most
Revisited by some
Mystery to be pondered over
 

gollygolly

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2000, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-45146681

An article from the BBC website, I don't do it but surely an over reaction?
I was struck by some of the reactions to the stacking rocks when reflecting on the (many) dolmens that I was able to see while in Jersey this summer, while there is another set of stacked stones in Witshire that is now a very famous and much visited location ...
 

Attachments

Houlet

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2014
Via de la Plata 2015
Camino Sanabres 2015
Camino Norde 2017
Traditionally cairns, piles of stones, have been used as route markers and before the days of GPS etc were essential for travellers especially when snow hides pathways. Having random cairns can still cause people to lose their way however small piles of stones close to an path should not be a problem.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Currently on a "Virtual" Camino and striding out across Castile y Leon!
I was struck by some of the reactions to the stacking rocks when reflecting on the (many) dolmens that I was able to see while in Jersey this summer, while there is another set of stacked stones in Witshire that is now a very famous and much visited location ...
Don't forget a dolmen is a prehistoric burial chamber and a Stonehenge an early and crude form of Jenga whereas what we so often see along the Camino is more of a modern attempt at passing fame or, in the case of Angela from Melbourne, infamy. ;)
 

Icacos

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
I was struck by some of the reactions to the stacking rocks when reflecting on the (many) dolmens that I was able to see while in Jersey this summer, while there is another set of stacked stones in Witshire that is now a very famous and much visited location ...
Something tells me this is tongue in cheek. Am I right? :D:D
 
Camino(s) past & future
2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017,2018, (2019)
My first introduction to stone stacking or cairns was during hikes in the U.S. National Parks in the West (Arches, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon etc). I personally was thankful to see them, indicating the path.

My most recent experience was this month walking the Huayhuash Circuit in Peru. The cairn indicated the pass we were to climb to. Seeing the cairn at 4700-5000 meters was a relief - that meant that we had reached the pass and no longer needed to climb!

I find them lovely and in many cases an art form. They are made up of natural products - stones - which come from the earth and return to the earth. No eye sore in my eyes.

View attachment 45347
Beautiful photograph!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Geneva to Irun then Norte to SDC 2015, Piemont Pyreneen 2018
Wow what a discussion. I am presently on the Piemont/Pyrenee path and thank goodness there was a little pile of rocks in two places otherwise I would have had to follow three different paths to find a marker.
Bon chemin
 

Yllib

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2016) (2019)
My thoughts are if you want to do it, if not walk on by.
Yo llevaré la pequeña piedra y la dejaré bajo la cruz. Por acto de fe y de tradición. No creo tenga un efecto nocivo al hábitat. Dios los bey
 

Yllib

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2016) (2019)
Yes, He did, in which case there should be NO stacks of stones anywhere, by anyone!
Yo llevaré la pequeña piedra y la dejaré bajo la cruz. Por acto de fe y de tradición. No creo tenga un efecto nocivo al hábitat. Dios los bendiga
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Don't know what the above poster is saying, but it's been kind of fun glancing through replies on this old thread! It's an old "twin" to the newest one many of us have been viewing the last few days...rock on!
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Don't know what the above poster is saying, but it's been kind of fun glancing through replies on this old thread! It's an old "twin" to the newest one many of us have been viewing the last few days...rock on!
It says "I carried a small stone and left it below the cross. As an act of faith and tradition. I don't think that it has a harmful effect on the effect on the habitat (environment). God bless you."
(I need to keep practicing my Spanish. 😊)
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
It says "I carried a small stone and left it below the cross. As an act of faith and tradition. I don't think that it has a harmful effect on the effect on the habitat (environment). God bless you."
(I need to keep practicing my Spanish. 😊)
Thank you, Trecile! I appreciate you translating the post. I totally agree with him on that. He did exactly what I have done twice.
 

Yllib

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2016) (2019)
Yo llevaré la pequeña piedra y la dejaré bajo la cruz. Por acto de fe y de tradición. No creo tenga un efecto nocivo al hábitat. Dios los bendiga
Lleve la piedrita en el 2016 y la llevaré al próximo Camino espero sea 2021 septiembre. !Buen Camino!
Took the pebble in 2016 and I will take it to the next Camino I hope it will be 2021 September. !Buen Camino!
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Lleve la piedrita en el 2016 y la llevaré al próximo Camino espero sea 2021 septiembre. !Buen Camino!
Took the pebble in 2016 and I will take it to the next Camino I hope it will be 2021 September. !Buen Camino!
I'm with you on that! I've been saying a lot those same words as you these past 4+ months.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Currently on a "Virtual" Camino and striding out across Castile y Leon!
Ah but there's a difference between taking a pebble from home (garden, beach, path) and depositing it at the Cruz de Ferro (from where it will be taken away and dumped in a land fill site after a few months) compared to disturbing a series of stones and possibly upsetting the local flora and fauna.
Who knows, that stone you disturb could be the home of the last example of the lesser spotted nematode (or whatever).
The difference between an artist and an ecologist perhaps: one wants to make their mark or a statement on the landscape; the other would rather you didn't impact on the landscape at all (or at least by very little)?
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Our opinions on cairns, whether about the stacking, or the not stacking, or the unstacking of them, are as varied and diverse as the stones themselves...some quite similar, some incredibly different, but no two are exactly alike.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
The difference between an artist and an ecologist perhaps: one wants to make their mark or a statement on the landscape; the other would rather you didn't impact on the landscape at all (or at least by very little)?
I think this is the crux of it. I appreciate both points of view. The Camino is big; it contains multitudes. My Camino definitely has space for wilderness with minimally touched landscapes. It also has room for landscapes shaped by the human inhabitants and the pilgrimage and the pilgrims who walk it (which, at least on the Frances, quantitatively probably makes up the majority of the Camino, as anyone who has walked through the meseta can attest).
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I think this is the crux of it. I appreciate both points of view. The Camino is big; it contains multitudes. My Camino definitely has space for wilderness with minimally touched landscapes. It also has room for landscapes shaped by the human inhabitants and the pilgrimage and the pilgrims who walk it (which, at least on the Frances, quantitatively probably makes up the majority of the Camino, as anyone who has walked through the meseta can attest).
@David Tallan, I see these two as almost the ends of the spectrum - I don't see the issue as binary. It isn't just one or the other, but a broad spectrum between these two positions. On one end might be art, although it might extend into edgy issues like graffiti - clearly non-functional, but at its extremes disruptive, inelegant, and unappealing. The other end might be wilderness, and the preservation of this for the future for any number of reasons. In between there are a variety of things that might be called functional, although I am not sure that is is necessarily the best word to use.

What to I mean by this? Well there are all sorts of human use of the environment that are based in functional needs. We need to survive in this world, but we don't just need to survive, we also need to live and enjoy doing so. We farm, build towns, make art, play music and compete in sport. We want to move around our world, not just to bring farm goods to market, but to bring raw materials to factories and then for our own pleasure in discovering the world around us.

So what? Let me suggest that these two ends - art and ecological preservation - have to be resolved in everything we do across that spectrum of human use.

We like elegant things - art or music for its own sake, design that is both pleasing to look at but functional in use, a pretty garden to relax in where we can listen to the bird song in the morning. And this is not just about good design and pleasing implementation in our towns - it goes to the way we build and decorate our rural landscapes as well. To be Camino specific, finding pleasing designs in roadside signage and way markers is a nice change to the standard concrete majone, and I find it lifts my spirit a little to know someone has done something a little out of the ordinary for us pilgrims.

At the same time, and I am accepting this proposition, we now want our lives to do as little damage and to inflict as small a cost as possible on our natural environment. I realise most of us could point to examples where this is clearly not a universally accepted position, and tremendous damage has been and is still being done. Worse, some of it will last long into the future, and be a blight for our grand-children and beyond. But I think we are generally getting better at demanding that the environmental impacts are considered just as important as other considerations. We can make ethical investments in companies with good environmental credentials and pressure governments. More, we can practice it in our own lifes - and that includes walking the Camino so that we minimise any damage we do.
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Let me suggest that these two ends - art and ecological preservation - have to be resolved in everything we do across that spectrum of human use
Now we're getting to the more important asoect of this. Excellent post, Doug.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Ban walking
Whether this is a serious suggestion or not for the Camino, it is a useful preservation strategy for fragile areas to discourage any use, even walking.

A large part of the national park near where I live is still closed following devastating bushfires earlier this year while walking tracks are cleared and made safe. I don't think they will remain so this time, but after the previous massive fires here in 2003, tracks in some sensitive areas were not repaired, and the vegetation left to grow over them.

They are not quite inaccessible, and older members of the bush-walking community will sometimes walk the old track alignments. For those of us who do that, it is interesting to see the plant succession sequence as the species that established an early foothold mature, and provide an environment in which species that might not have survived in what were barren areas can now re-establish themselves.
 

Joyce Dunn Rogers

Cleveland Flats
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
Camino Portugal 2021
I say to those critics..puleese. You got nothin' better to when this world is full of seeming endless real issues? 🤨
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
I say to those critics..puleese. You got nothin' better to when this world is full of seeming endless real issues? 🤨
In contrast to the "seemingly endless real issues" in the world which we are unlikely to solve by posting in an online forum about the Camino de Santiago in Spain, the issue of the visual pollution and other kinds of pollution caused by those who walk the Camino de Santiago will not be solved here either but exchanging our views about it all may help to contribute to change some minds who hadn't thought about it at all before or heard and read only one narrative, i.e. "It's what you do when you walk on the Camino". So perhaps it is not a complete waste of time and energy to question this fairly new phenomenon.

And everyone who posts here, whether they are critics in their own right or critics of the critics has obviously nothing better to do than read and post here. 🙃
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
I thought ocassionally cairns of stones are piled to help denote a trail, not on the caminos
erm, yes on the Caminos -- in Mediaeval times especially of course, though the vast majority of them have since fallen down or been dismantled.

---

As for rock stacking, it seems that some people have started carrying rocks up from that rocky path up near Atapuerca on the Francès and piling them up around a big iron cross -- seems like a good idea to me, to help clear that path and make it more pleasant to walk.
 

Dromengro

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP - Leon 1984
Frances (2021)
I'm not a fan of rock stacking, however I'd much rather see a pile of rocks created naturally by passing pilgrims than the artificial concrete pillars and metal motorway type signs that there is now along the Frances.
 


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