Cairn building is a surprisingly meditative experience that can bring you closer with the earth and community. Making a traditional rock stack or a traditional cairn is a great way to focus on balance and permanence.
Various cultures have used cairns for many purposes throughout history. They may have served to indicate a route to follow, to indicate the location of food, or to warn about danger. Cairns are also used as burial sites by Native Americans in North America. This practice is known as inukshuk.
The word “cairn” comes from the Gaelic for “heap of stone”. They are usually constructed in the form a hill. http://cairnspotter.com/what-is-cairn-making They can range in size from tiny rock sculptures to huge man-made stone hills. Some are comparable to kistvaens or dolmens, but built out of stone instead of ephemeral Earthworks.
Hikers, in particular, have a long and varied use for cairns. Cairns can be used by hikers to return to the trailhead at the end of a long day of hiking or to help them find their way in remote wilderness areas.
A well-placed, properly-marked cairn may save lives by guiding a group of lost hikers. Some people believe that cairns violate Leave No Trace principles and are not a part of nature.