Rock Cairns Here, There and My Understanding of Them as My Training Continues

I am spending a lot of time in the desert lately. I hike every day for several hours and my mind wanders; thoughts and ideas flow freely. There isn’t anything else that brings me the peacefulness that comes with walking a trail.  

 

I am very lucky; I live a short 2 miles from the boundary of Saguaro National Park. I can even hike to the hike should I choose to do that. Every time I enter the desert I find something new and exciting to wonder about or admire.
 

Mountain Lion Track

Mountain Lion Track

 

A week ago while hiking, I looked to the right of the trail and there was a large mountain lion (aka Puma or Cougar) track.

Crested Saguaro cactus just off trail

Crested Saguaro cactus just off trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another time, I looked up and spotted a crested Saguaro cactus.

 

 

 

 

 I have conquered the 10.8 mile hike from one trailhead across the park to the totally opposite trailhead and back. In fact, I have set a goal to walk that trail at least once per week. So far I have walked it three times.

 

At about the 3 mile point, I have begun constructing a prayer cairn. Each time I pass the cairn I add another rock with my intention attached to it.

Intention Cairn

Intention Cairn

When I previously walked the Camino, I also put rocks with prayers attached on existing cairns. This is now what I understand cairns to signify.

Here: The most basic cairns are often a single stack of rocks intended to mark a path, a territory, or a specific site. The intent is utility and meaning, rather than art. Those who place them are thinking of those who will come after. Those who find and follow them are trusting travelers who went before. Many experienced hikers fondly call them “trail ducks” when the top rock is larger and points the way at a turn.
There: In Spain they were called milladoiros, and were thought to be placed there by pilgrims to show the route for those following. This practice was believed to have originated with a pagan rite to invoke the protection of pagan spirits who protected travelers.
My Understanding: During my hikes at home and on the Camino, I have encountered on the sides of roads, trails, or pathways stacks of stones that look like random sculptures. I add a stone blessed with a prayer to the cairn, and I believe my intentions merge with those who have left stones before me, empowering us all.

9 responses to “Rock Cairns Here, There and My Understanding of Them as My Training Continues

  1. Dear Arlene, like drips of water in the desert. That would be your occasional posts here. Thank you so much for keeping us posted with your progress and thoughts around your training and the wonderful and wondrous photos. I spent the weekend with my Hash (as in House Harrier) group at a place called Kangaroo Valley a few hours drive from Sydney. The Hash always means lots of food and drink, but also some quite strong walks and the landscape around Kangaroo Valley is strongly Australian and we were certainly stretched – and saw lots of kangaroos. Like I keep saying, you must come for a visit to see all this for yourself!!

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  2. Hi Britta, I am so concerned with not boring my readers hence the occasional posts. Although we I don’t post for a while, I receive emails asking why. So I suppose I am a poor judge of what might be boring.
    I do want to visit Australia, it is on my bucket list and I will get there probably sooner rather than later.
    It is great to hear from you. Stay well and keep the magic in your life!
    Arlene

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  3. i enjoy your posts, and the featured walks give me some inspiration for how I would like to be training too. Now I need to get out the door and do it!

    Clare

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    • Clare,
      I love walking – hiking in the desert is such a joy. It is so peaceful and quiet out there, far from the maddening crowd as they say! Having an upcoming Camino serves as the springboard for me to get out there every day. I guess I will just have to continue walking Caminos to keep me going 🙂
      Arlene

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  4. Thanks as always for sharing your thoughts and experiences. A joy to read and think of being on the walk with you…in spirit…Judee

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    • Judee,
      I miss you! It was fun when we walked together, wasn’t it? Always talking and always laughing, they surely were good times. I’m glad you are still walking in spirit with me.
      Moriarity

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  5. Aren’t mountain lions carnivores?

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