Is it a cairn or a duck?

Day Hiking & general trail related

Moderator: HAZ - Moderators

Linked Guides none
Linked Areas none
User avatar
azbackpackr
Posts: 8365
Joined: Jan 21 2006 6:46 am
City, State: Flagstaff AZ

Is it a cairn or a duck?

Post by azbackpackr »

I like words, and as some of you know, I cringe when they are misspelled or mispronounced. (Not that I don't contribute my fair share to those unutterable travesties.)

Anyway, I notice two things with the younger generation of hikers, regarding rock trail markers: 1) They don't know how to pronounce "cairn," and 2) Somehow, the useful word "duck" has been disappearing from the lexicon, so now if you ask people in a hiking group if they know what a "duck" is, only the grizzled old guys who have been hiking for 50 years can give you the answer.

1. A "cairn" consists of a lot of rocks piled up to mark a trail. Usually more rocks than are necessary. A cairn also might mark the top of a peak, and could be very large, as tall as a person.

2. "Cairn" is NOT PRONOUNCED "Karen." It is not a chick's name, okay? It is NOT a two-syllable word, okay? It's a one-syllable word that rhymes with "bairn." :D

3. A "DUCK" is a trail marker using no more than two rocks. It is a better kind of trail marker. You can easily kick it over, too, if it seems unnecessary, and it won't hurt your foot to do so.

I would like to see the word "duck" to come back into common usage. So, I hereby announce that it is now coming back into common usage. So, please use it, and explain to others what it means.

Thank you! :D
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.
User avatar
chumley
Posts: 8062
Joined: Sep 18 2002 8:59 am
City, State: Tempe, AZ

Re: Is it a cairn or a duck?

Post by chumley »

Apparently I mislabeled this duck as a cairn. http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=203617
33s over 45s
User avatar
azbackpackr
Posts: 8365
Joined: Jan 21 2006 6:46 am
City, State: Flagstaff AZ

Re: Is it a cairn or a duck?

Post by azbackpackr »

Image
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.
User avatar
PLC92084
Posts: 723
Joined: Dec 22 2009 8:46 am
City, State: Vista, CA

Re: Is it a cairn or a duck?

Post by PLC92084 »

Speaking about pet peeves... How 'bout those who pronounce the word so it sounds like barn!? Either they were absent that day from English class or they were too stoned to pay attention. Duck is so much less complex!
User avatar
azbackpackr
Posts: 8365
Joined: Jan 21 2006 6:46 am
City, State: Flagstaff AZ

Re: Is it a cairn or a duck?

Post by azbackpackr »

Image
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.
User avatar
chumley
Posts: 8062
Joined: Sep 18 2002 8:59 am
City, State: Tempe, AZ

Re: Is it a cairn or a duck?

Post by chumley »

If you're Aussie, there's not a whole lot of pronouncing the letter "r" so Cairns sounds a lot like "cans". Similarly, they pronounce Melbourne "Melb'un".

I still prefer "big pile of rocks". I've never met anybody who mispronounces it or doesn't know what it means. :)
33s over 45s
User avatar
BEEBEE
Posts: 239
Joined: Jul 27 2011 6:48 am
City, State: Mesa AZ
Contact:

Re: Is it a cairn or a duck?

Post by BEEBEE »

Agreed or we could just call them Steve.
"I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts."
User avatar
azbackpackr
Posts: 8365
Joined: Jan 21 2006 6:46 am
City, State: Flagstaff AZ

Re: Is it a cairn or a duck?

Post by azbackpackr »

Image
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.
User avatar
Jim_H
Posts: 5248
Joined: Sep 08 2006 8:14 pm
City, State: Marana, AZ

Re: Is it a cairn or a duck?

Post by Jim_H »

The cairn - duck thing seems to a location thing. California people call them ducks, some others probably do, too, but everyone else seems to favor "cairn". Perhaps a duck always denotes a small 2 or 3 rock construct, whereas a cairn can be a small or massive. I regard it mostly as semantics.
Let's go Brandon!!!!! Let's go Brandon!!!!
User avatar
azbackpackr
Posts: 8365
Joined: Jan 21 2006 6:46 am
City, State: Flagstaff AZ

Re: Is it a cairn or a duck?

Post by azbackpackr »

Semantics, shemantics... Some will say we are just...

............beating a dead duck?

Image
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.
User avatar
Alston_Neal
Posts: 2020
Joined: Apr 19 2008 5:53 pm
City, State: Phoenix, AZ

Re: Is it a cairn or a duck?

Post by Alston_Neal »

I like how my Japanese friend says it....kerun.
Now I can't say it any other way.
Semifunctional adult


Our humble abode..
http://www.oldterritorialshop.com
User avatar
Alston_Neal
Posts: 2020
Joined: Apr 19 2008 5:53 pm
City, State: Phoenix, AZ

Re: Is it a cairn or a duck?

Post by Alston_Neal »

azbackpackr wrote:Not that I don't contribute my fair share to those unutterable travesties.
I have to admit I first thought she was talking about transvestites.
Semifunctional adult


Our humble abode..
http://www.oldterritorialshop.com
User avatar
azbackpackr
Posts: 8365
Joined: Jan 21 2006 6:46 am
City, State: Flagstaff AZ

Re: Is it a cairn or a duck?

Post by azbackpackr »

I WAS! I just can't spell it! Transvestite ducks!
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.
User avatar
AZLumberjack
Posts: 358
Joined: Feb 17 2010 10:28 am
City, State: Apache Junction, AZ.
Contact:

Re: Is it a cairn or a duck?

Post by AZLumberjack »

This is all too confusing, in Minnesota, we just whack off a couple of branches that were probably blocking the trail anyway. :sl: No pronunciation or spelling problems there. Note to Joe: Maybe we need a spellchecker.
On every trip into the Superstitions, I find another Gold Mine. Today the mine was filled with Memories. I can not wait for the next trip.
User avatar
azbackpackr
Posts: 8365
Joined: Jan 21 2006 6:46 am
City, State: Flagstaff AZ

Re: Is it a cairn or a duck?

Post by azbackpackr »

Minnesoootans easily confused, yah? :D
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.
User avatar
PLC92084
Posts: 723
Joined: Dec 22 2009 8:46 am
City, State: Vista, CA

Re: Is it a cairn or a duck?

Post by PLC92084 »

@Alston Neal
@azbackpackr


As much as I'm tempted... I won't be goaded into (or accused of) hijacking another thread! And yes... some might say... I'm ducking my responsibilities...
User avatar
kevinweitzel75
Posts: 521
Joined: Apr 04 2010 1:15 pm
City, State: Mesa, AZ.

Re: Is it a cairn or a duck?

Post by kevinweitzel75 »

I went hiking with one of my friends for the first time, and he called it a stacky rock. Now it just sort of stuck. Can't wait for the next time we go out and I call out "duck". I will have to turn around to see what he does. :)
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the road less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
Robert Frost
User avatar
azdesertfather
Posts: 787
Joined: Apr 30 2008 9:57 am
City, State: Tucson, AZ
Contact:

Re: Is it a cairn or a duck?

Post by azdesertfather »

Just read a Dec 2011 article in Desert Leaf (the Catalina Foothills magazine), and it quotes the famous Shawn Redfield of the Arizona Trail Association. ;). He is quoted here saying a cairn is something big that is arranged well so that the rocks all lean against each other rather than simply being piled up, so that with wind and temperature changes they won't fall down. The ATA standard they use for size for a cairn is 24-36 inches. They are therefore at least 3 feet in diameter and can be seen even when there is some tall grass or snow on the ground.

A duck isn't necessarily 2 rocks or a certain number of rocks piled up, but according to ATA trail crews is a small, loosely piled set of stones put together by someone that does not meet these standards and could fall down based on weather conditions.

Works for me! Now I'm gonna start calling a duck a duck! :whistle: :bdh:

Interesting, btw, to see a magazine article on rock piles, sredfield!
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." — Henry David Thoreau
User avatar
chumley
Posts: 8062
Joined: Sep 18 2002 8:59 am
City, State: Tempe, AZ

Re: Is it a cairn or a duck?

Post by chumley »

It's nice to know the real definition, but language is ever evolving, and sometimes you have to go with the commonly used word/definition rather than the historically correct one. If you post a hike description that instructs somebody to turn out of Barks Canyon at the "easy-to-spot duck" there might be a lost hiker... :?
33s over 45s
User avatar
kingsnake
Posts: 1463
Joined: Dec 20 2010 7:14 am
City, State: Sunnyslope, PHX
Contact:

Re: Is it a cairn or a duck?

Post by kingsnake »

Any Egyptians available to build a cairn that large? :roll:
http://prestonm.com : Everyone's enjoyment of the outdoors is different and should be equally honored.
Post Reply

Return to “Trail Chat”