Cairn Stories - Have One?
David B. Williams is writing a new book for The Mountaineers Books about cairns and is looking for vignettes to include. Do you have a notable experience with cairns?
David B. Williams is a freelance natural history writer based in Seattle. He is the author of Stories in Stone and The Seattle Street-Smart Naturalist, and is an occasional contributor to Washington Trails. When he told us that he was writing a book about cairns, we invited him to guest blog on The Signpost.
Nearly everyone who has hiked in the backcountry has seen a cairn, or a duck, as those in the Sierras refer to them. Maybe it was at some critical point on a trail, where it provided a needed dose of reassurance that you were on the right track. Or maybe it was on a peak, where you added your name to summit log. No matter where or when, the cairn served its purpose, as a means of communication and a means of connection.
As a writer, geology-geek, and hiker, I had certainly noticed my share of cairns over the years, but it wasn’t until recently that I started to consider them more intently. The reason is that I am working on a book about cairns for The Mountaineers Books. My book will weave together their cultural and natural history, looking at all aspects from the micro-habitat of cairns to Neolithic age Scottish funerary cairns to cairns erected on nineteenth century Arctic expeditions. Worldwide in scope, the book will look at cairns from the Himalayas to the desert southwest. For more info, please go to my web site.
Do you have a unique experience that involved cairns? I hope to include short (200 to 400 word) vignettes about people and their notable experiences with a cairn. In that light, I am soliciting descriptions of that experience to possibly include in the book as a sidebar. I cannot guarantee I will use them all, plus unfortunately, I cannot pay for the story. But if you are interested in sharing a story of an encounter with a cairn, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.