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Should Rock Stacking be Banned?

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (no name; Tours; Francés; sea; no name)
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.
Well, don't we all. But the thread is about what pilgrims build and leave behind in Spain and never use again - in contrast to the stuff built primarily by local, regional and national authorities for locals and the inhabitants of Spain, and we have no control over their actions but we do have control of our own actions as visitors and Camino walkers/pilgrims.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
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.
I think this is an excellent point. Most of the articles about the ecological impact of rock stacking seem to refer to removing rocks from a natural location. I think it is reasonable to assert that the pathways created for pilgrims to walk upon are not themselves "natural" but are artificial terrain created by people. To move rocks from the middle of these paths where they often are found and can be painful to walk upon or lead to ankle injury doesn't seem to be a bad thing. And, if in doing so, one wishes to stack said rocks, I have no objection (much as I also have no objection to those who gather such rocks into shapes like arrows and hearts).

I'm not so sure that people are walking far off the Camino into the wilderness to find the rocks they stack, or bringing them from home (those are generally left only by the Cruz de Ferro). I think it is much more likely they are picking up rocks from the middle of the path.
 

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 particularly loved this one on the Camini...not a cairn, but so perfectly executed.🤍
Screenshot_20200803-154322~2.png
 

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 an excellent point. Most of the articles about the ecological impact of rock stacking seem to refer to removing rocks from a natural location. I think it is reasonable to assert that the pathways created for pilgrims to walk upon are not themselves "natural" but are artificial terrain created by people. To move rocks from the middle of these paths where they often are found and can be painful to walk upon or lead to ankle injury doesn't seem to be a bad thing. And, if in doing so, one wishes to stack said rocks, I have no objection (much as I also have no objection to those who gather such rocks into shapes like arrows and hearts).

I'm not so sure that people are walking far off the Camino into the wilderness to find the rocks they stack, or bringing them from home (those are generally left only by the Cruz de Ferro). I think it is much more likely they are picking up rocks from the middle of the path.
@David Tallan, this sounds like you are prepared to tolerate vandalising the paths on the basis of some pretty dodgy assumptions. I don't buy that at all.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
@David Tallan, this sounds like you are prepared to tolerate vandalising the paths on the basis of some pretty dodgy assumptions. I don't buy that at all.
I'm not sure which assumptions you consider pretty dodgy. That the Camino paths are made by people and not themselves part of untouched wilderness? That people are finding rocks on the Camino rather than trekking off into wilderness to gather them? Regardless, they don't seem that dodgy to me but then again, they wouldn't, would they?

In terms of referring to moving rocks scattered on the path as "vandalism", I won't argue with your seeing it that way. It just doesn't seem to me to be vandalism to move rocks scattered in the pathway where, in my experience walking Caminos, they can be more of an obstacle than what is created with them.

Do you also see the creations below as vandalism? Or the big rock spiral before Burgos? I wonder how many do.
20160719_073144.jpg20160715_064443.jpg

In terms of tolerating the practice (whether or not it is vandalism), I don't see that I have much choice. I am not in a position to put an end to it. In terms of condoning the practice, I admit that I haven't condemned it harshly in any of my posts. That isn't new. I don't think any of us condone what we consider to be vandalism on the Camino. We just sometimes disagree with what constitutes vandalism. As you mentioned before it is a spectrum. Taking graffiti as an example, For some people, all graffiti may be vandalism, for others, the artistic "Buen Camino" paintings are okay, others seem to appreciate even the graffiti additions to stop signs (judging by the way they take photos and share them). No one condones vandalism, but what one considers vandalism vs improvement can vary from person to person. For myself, previously, I haven't taken a stance on whether the rock piles are vandalism or improvement, believing very much that it is in the eye of the beholder and not having strong opinions either way. However, I will admit that, based on my personal experience walking some sections of the Camino with largish scattered rocks, I am a bit inclined to think that moving some rocks in those sections to make the path easier to traverse might be an improvement. If that makes me a bad person, so be it. Guilty as charged.

Of course, you are not obligated to buy anything.
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
So many things are entirely subjective, aren't they.
Maybe not "entirely" :). These discussions are usually about establishing the facts that we can agree on, once we get the objective information, and then teasing out the different values that we apply to reach different judgements and preferences, as well as decisions.
 

Bristle boy

If not now...when? If not you...who?...........
Camino(s) past & future
2019
I was going to post here but when I sat down and realised that everything surrounding me was originally in the ground or comes from nature I felt that giving an opinion might be a tad hypocritical.
Everything that keeps me warm and dry is somebody elses hole in the ground...so I wont!
 

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'm not sure which assumptions you consider pretty dodgy.
You justify your position on the frequency of both the danger of injury and discomfort of the walking surface. If even a few pilgrims were limping into the towns every day having rolled their ankle on a rock, I might accept this arguement. I have done so - rolled my ankle on a rock - once in some 200 days of pilgrimage walking. It was my own fault for not taking care where I placed my foot even when I had observed a couple of rocks where a track joined a road. On that basis, it would take me several more decades to collect enough rocks for even a very small rock stack.

All I can say is this feels like a rather strained basis for collecting enough rocks for a rock stack or the other creations you have shown.
Do you also see the creations below as vandalism?
I certainly do. I don't see them all that much differently from any other graffiti, although perhaps without the gutsy social messages often seen in the best graffiti. A heart and an arrow? For goodness sake! They are just trite at any time, and particularly on the camino. Although in the instance of the arrow you have shown it might serve an ultimately useful purpose in helping build up what seems to be a low point in the path with poor drainage!

Further, you complain about rocks in the middle of pathways, and applaud their removal. Then expect me to tolerate a collection of them placed there deliberately. I really don't think that this is a very consistent position to take.

And I do hope that we don't get started on the motivation of the individuals. They say little more than 'I was here' and deserve the same treatment as similar graffiti. I reserve my 'I was here' moment for the Cruz de Ferro, accepting my momento, like the time of its placement, is ephemeral. Anything I place there will be removed to make room so that others might have a moment of quiet reflection.
 
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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
Maybe not "entirely" :). These discussions are usually about establishing the facts that we can agree on, once we get the objective information, and then teasing out the different values that we apply to reach different judgements and preferences, as well as decisions.
I agree so will rephrase my post by dropping the word "entirely". My focus was on "many" things being subjective...not all things. The pros and cons of rock stacking is definately a subjective discussion in my opinion as seen in 100+ comments of varying thoughts. I see no real judgements/facts, or decisions...only preferences, unless it has become illegal in certain places. I do not personally stack and see the practice differently than before.
 
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Bristle boy

If not now...when? If not you...who?...........
Camino(s) past & future
2019
Have started a new campaign to get stone stacking banned. I'm starting local and the placard says "put me back from whence I came"

English Heritage and the Stonehenge authorities want Me banned.

Mans need to paint on walls and to build follys go back to the earliest days. A tangible reminder of their presence.
As far as stone stacking is concerned, I have no strong feeling either way beyond preferring that nature and the environment be left as it was intended....and that would include the placing of stones at the Cruz de Ferro.
In an attempt to get to the bottom of this issue...I am determined to leave no stone unturned.
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Have started a new campaign to get stone stacking banned. I'm starting local and the placard says "put me back from whence I came"
Surely such a placard should be made from a large stone collected from somewhere where it was already filling a useful purpose, although pinching a slate tile from someone's roof might be going a step too far!
 

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