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Friday, May 25, 2012

Did You Know - What a Cairn Is?

Cairn In a Tree

Cairn in a Man Made Arch

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

I learned a new word this week – Cairn. A Cairn is a word used in mostly English speaking countries. It refers to a man made pile of stones.  I saw them for the first time on Saturday.

On Saturday, I went hiking in Sedona, Arizona with my friends Susie and Gene Emery. They live in Phoenix and had driven down for the weekend to join me in evangelizing.  Since we all like hiking and this is the busy season for Sedona, we decided to evangelize on the trails along the Red Rocks.

Gene and Susie

“Have you seen the park with the Cairns?” Susie asked.

What is a Cairn?” I asked.

“It is a pile of stones that someone builds,” said Susie. “There are lots of them in a park here.”

We drove onto the amazing Upper Loop Road. The mountains of red rocks took our breath away. When we came to a ranch called, Red Rock Crossing, Susie pointed and said excitedly, “That’s it. Turn there.”

I’d been on that road many times. In fact, Belle and I had just been on it the day before. Because Red Rock Crossing was called a ranch, I didn’t realize it was a public park there for me to enjoy.

We had to wait in line to go in. The parking lot was full. The cars formed a line and when a car left, they allowed another one in. The waiting added to our excitement. Finally, it was our turn to go in.

Cheryle and Susie
We parked, grabbed our water, and went hiking. We walked along a river flowing beside a backdrop of red rocks. People were everywhere, biking, swimming, hiking, and frolicking. We stopped and talked as we meandered along.

We gave the gospel to a challenging young couple who believed their afterlife involved their mind making its way to the planet that that attracted it. We offered comfort to a grieving family gathered to honor their deceased husband, father, and friend. We asked and gave directions. We gave the gospel to two very tattooed young mothers. It was a day of sowing seeds.

“There’s one!” Susie suddenly exclaimed. “A Cairn.”

I looked over and saw a tiny pile of stones that looked a little like a snowman. 

“There is one in the tree!” Susie said pointing again. I looked up and sure enough, someone had managed to balance round stones on a tree limb.

Cairn Field
We walked around the corner and there were hundreds of them. They were on logs, in trees, and on the ground. Some were simple piles. Others were amazing engineering feats. One was an arch that we could not figure out what held it together.

People bent over to build their own so we decided to join the fun. Suzie and I added a rock to a pile. Hers stayed on much better than mine. 

The word “Cairn” comes from a Scottish Gaelic word. You can find them all over the world on mountaintops, on sea cliffs, in deserts, along rivers, and in tundra areas. Some are tiny with three or four stones and some tower several feet tall.

Apparently, someone comes along and builds something with rocks. Someone else sees it and builds ones of their own. Soon, like Red Rock Crossing, Cairns pepper the terrain. How have I traveled so much and never seen them before? I thought you would find them as interesting as I did.



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