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Falcon
09-11-2014, 12:45
Last week I completed a section of the AT from Pearisburg, Va. to Trout Creek, Va. I noticed many stacked rocks while hiking across a ridge after the Audie Murphy Monument. Does anyone know what these stacked rock pillars are all about?

colorado_rob
09-11-2014, 12:49
simple cairns perhaps? I hiked that section last year, and cannot remember what these looked like...

johnnybgood
09-11-2014, 13:16
Simple navigation tool used where
trail may be hard to follow.

GoldenBear
09-11-2014, 13:26
While on rocky ridges, it is often hard to follow a trail in the way one does through a forest -- by looking at where feet have trampled down on the ground. Thus piles of rocks -- called "cairns"* -- are often placed on the ridge to help you follow the trail. This is particularly true in an area where the ridge may be filled with white quartzite, which can look a LOT like a white blaze.

http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/kitchbath/msg050951344537.0512442928199.jpg

* In case you're wondering, the word is pronounced like "Karen," only it's one syllable.

Grunt
09-11-2014, 13:26
I did that section hike last year and I know that another section-hiker died on the trail just a day before we reached Pearisburg. His hiking pole and make-shift rock pile was on the incline just outside of Pearisburg and I think another one may have been started for him elsewhere.

HooKooDooKu
09-11-2014, 14:53
In case you're wondering, the word is pronounced like "Karen," only it's one syllable.
My dictionary show the pronunciation like this:
cairn (kÔrn)

Odd Man Out
09-11-2014, 15:25
I hiked this section in July. I know what a cairn is and that is not what the OP is talking about. Along one of these ridges there are dozens (maybe hundreds) of large rock piles, scattered all over the place. At first I thought they were some odd geological feature, but I decided they had to be of human origin. My conclusion was that they were gathered by people who used to farm the land on the ridge tops. In other places in VA, people would clear fields for farming and use the stones to build walls around the fields. Perhaps there was no need for walls or fences on the ridge top so they just made piles when clearing the land. Again, this was just speculation on my part.

Lone Wolf
09-11-2014, 16:13
Last week I completed a section of the AT from Pearisburg, Va. to Trout Creek, Va. I noticed many stacked rocks while hiking across a ridge after the Audie Murphy Monument. Does anyone know what these stacked rock pillars are all about?
just some hippy crap

Jeff
09-11-2014, 16:15
I hiked this section in July. I know what a cairn is and that is not what the OP is talking about. Along one of these ridges there are dozens (maybe hundreds) of large rock piles, scattered all over the place. At first I thought they were some odd geological feature, but I decided they had to be of human origin. My conclusion was that they were gathered by people who used to farm the land on the ridge tops. In other places in VA, people would clear fields for farming and use the stones to build walls around the fields. Perhaps there was no need for walls or fences on the ridge top so they just made piles when clearing the land. Again, this was just speculation on my part.

Saw those "neatly" stacked rocks in 2001. Lots of speculation over the years...never heard a definitive answer. I would tend to agree with Odd Man Out's theory.

daddytwosticks
09-11-2014, 16:17
^^^ Ha ha ha! I agree. My wife does this around our property with three rocks on top of each other. Says something about good vibes? I don't know about her lately. She recently bought an indian flute and has been wearing a lot of tie-died clothing. At least she bathes regularly. :)

Pedaling Fool
09-11-2014, 16:26
Saw those "neatly" stacked rocks in 2001. Lots of speculation over the years...never heard a definitive answer. I would tend to agree with Odd Man Out's theory.I've seen them in several parts of the AT (and they were not the Cairns), but I agree that Odd Man Out's theories are as good an explanation as any...

Pedaling Fool
09-11-2014, 16:30
There are a lot of things I think of that I saw and wonder why I never got a pic of it, those rock walls are one of those things.

But I did get a fuzzy pic of them Cairns :D

http://whiteblaze.net/forum/vbg/files/6/9/3/6/09-23-061101.jpg (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showimage.php?i=20610&original=1&catid=member&imageuser=6936)

tiptoe
09-11-2014, 18:18
These are not cairns, they are good-sized rock piles, maybe 9-12 of them, along the ridge to the east of the AT. I remember wondering about them as I passed. I thought maybe they were the remains of Civil War rock huts (I live near Putnam Park in CT, which has similar, though smaller, rock piles that were firebacks in enlisted men's quarters during the Revolutionary War), possibly observation posts. Here are a couple of photos:

28314
28315

Pedaling Fool
09-11-2014, 20:07
These are not cairns, they are good-sized rock piles, maybe 9-12 of them, along the ridge to the east of the AT. I remember wondering about them as I passed. I thought maybe they were the remains of Civil War rock huts (I live near Putnam Park in CT, which has similar, though smaller, rock piles that were firebacks in enlisted men's quarters during the Revolutionary War), possibly observation posts. Here are a couple of photos:

28314
28315Looking at those pictures reminds me of the curiosity of man.

Like Dr. Ian Redmond says in this documentary: "If his intention was to warn humans not to enter...I don't think it's working; it's only going to intrigue us all the more." :D

If you're curious go to 13:35 of the video:)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWlKbgv5mHM

winger
09-11-2014, 22:13
I hiked this section in July. I know what a cairn is and that is not what the OP is talking about. Along one of these ridges there are dozens (maybe hundreds) of large rock piles, scattered all over the place. At first I thought they were some odd geological feature, but I decided they had to be of human origin. My conclusion was that they were gathered by people who used to farm the land on the ridge tops. In other places in VA, people would clear fields for farming and use the stones to build walls around the fields. Perhaps there was no need for walls or fences on the ridge top so they just made piles when clearing the land. Again, this was just speculation on my part.

I believe you are correct.

Odd Man Out
09-11-2014, 22:44
Now there are places where there are cairn building gets out of control. On the trail to the base of Yosemite Falls, there is this collection of hundreds of cairns. It really is more like vandalism or graffiti.

http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w168/lori400/IMG_2744.jpg

Odd Man Out
09-11-2014, 23:01
There is also a particularly distinctive style of cairn called an Inukshuk, which originates in the arctic areas of North America. The flag of the Canadian territory Nunavut has one.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Nunavut

But just as with the cairns in Yosemite, the building of Inuksuk has become somewhat epidemic in natural areas of Canada.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/enough-with-the-inukshuks-already/article1080258/

I think it's safe to say we can blame the tourists.

http://www.thegreatcanadiangiftcompany.com/Inukshuks_c_158.html

Slo-go'en
09-11-2014, 23:37
Regardless of why they stacked all those rocks along there, I'm always amazed at the amount of time and effort it must have taken to do it! Me, I'd be stacking rocks at the bottom of the ridge, not at the top!

vamelungeon
09-12-2014, 07:42
I think Odd Man Out is correct. A lot of places that are forested now were farmed a long time ago, and I can attest to carrying and stacking a lot of rocks on our property growing up.

Don H
09-12-2014, 08:34
"the hike climbs up Sinking Creek Mountain, then follows the ridge where rock piles and old apple trees remain from the days when even the top of the mountain was farmed."
http://www.ratc.org/trail-info/113-mile-hike-list/

peakbagger
09-12-2014, 09:28
The area on the ridgeline near the Sarver Cabin shows the extent that the local sharecroppers went to try to farm. lock like they moved 100 cubic feet of rock to feet up one square foot of soil.