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Cairns in Vee Lake

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Cairns in Vee Lake

Postby cgundersen » Sat Oct 01, 2016 3:43 pm

Since I've not posted in ages, and did not search to find out whether this question has been solved, I apologize in advance for my absence/laziness. But, after a great loop through the Bear Lakes area in early September, one of the unexpected highlights was the following:

Vee Lake is that huge body of water with gorgeous sight lines to Seven Gables (memorably recorded in images by SSSDave and others). It also has several small islands. And, in the southwestern segment of the lake, those islands are at least 50 yards from shore. And, two of the islands very clearly have cairns. Yes, carefully stacked rocks (I'll try to post photos; hmm, maybe doubled up, but better than nothing). So, three possibilities: I) strong swimmer with great thermal resistance (even in early September, the water was chilly!); 2) someone carried a flotation device; 3) a visitor got there before the ice melted. Anyone want to own up to this very cute example of route decoration. We're not quite sure what these cairns were denoting other than a good sense of humor.

Cameron
cairn s.jpg
Vee Lake Island Cairn 2

cairn s.jpg
Vee Lake Island Cairn 2
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Re: Cairns in Vee Lake

Postby ERIC » Sat Oct 01, 2016 5:44 pm

Hey Cameron, can't answer your question here, but just wanted to say hi and welcome you back! Been a long time.
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Re: Cairns in Vee Lake

Postby longri » Sat Oct 01, 2016 6:15 pm

Maybe someone swam out there in August.

I've seen cairns on islands in other lakes, most recently in Garnet Lake where I saw a pretty large "artistic" balanced one. I usually knock those down but I wasn't in the mood for a swim and it was too far to hit with a thrown rock. It's probably still there.
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Re: Cairns in Vee Lake

Postby balzaccom » Sat Oct 01, 2016 8:58 pm

Yeah...I am completely over thinking that these are cute, clever, original or attractive. If you want gnomes or cairns, put the in your garden. Leave the mountains alone.

How is this any different from carving your initials In a tree or log?
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Re: Cairns in Vee Lake

Postby Jimr » Sun Oct 02, 2016 10:17 am

Of all of the things people can do and have done, this is probably the least obtrusive, but I do agree with balzaccom. They belong in your garden, not in the wilderness. I think people do this to claim they were there, but nobody cares and most would prefer to not know somebody was there in the past. Leave No Trace goes beyond the campsite and trampling.

Obviously, it is different from carving into trees or logs which is permanent. These are non-destructive, yet semi-permanent due to the difficult place they were constructed. For me, a stacked rock or two once in a while does not detract from my enjoyment, but I'd prefer they not be constructed. I've seen many a rock sitting strangely atop another and knew it rested there naturally, so at least, whoever constructed them was thoughtful enough to not build a multi-rock stack that screams human activity.

Oh yeah, welcome back Cameron.
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Re: Cairns in Vee Lake

Postby longri » Sun Oct 02, 2016 10:52 am

Winter snow will probably take care of the balanced ones.

They're definitely less obtrusive than painted graffiti but in some places the sheer number and continual replacement make them effectively permanent. There's a feature down the hill a bit from Muir Pass that people call the "rock monster" or something like that. I always take joy in tearing it down, knowing that it will be rebuilt again, probably very soon. I walked by it this past summer and there were about 25 people lined up with their phones, taking selfies.

So even though I'll continue to have fun tipping them over I figure it's a losing battle. A lot of people want these things. It's their vision of the wilderness.
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Re: Cairns in Vee Lake

Postby Jimr » Sun Oct 02, 2016 12:02 pm

Yes, sheer numbers become the biggest issue. Tipping them over is not a losing battle, IMHO. If we didn't knock them down, imagine how they will multiply.
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Re: Cairns in Vee Lake

Postby wildhiker » Sun Oct 02, 2016 11:16 pm

It is my personal policy to knock over random cairns or ducks that I find when walking cross-country. They are almost always placed on obvious routes, where they add no real informational value, but just say "I was here". Also, I feel that the people who place them often have picked a poor route, so I am helping the next guy by removing a source of misdirection :-).
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Re: Cairns in Vee Lake

Postby cgundersen » Mon Oct 03, 2016 7:56 am

Hi All,
First, thanks for the welcome back and since I officially retired in June, I'm hoping that I'll be appreciably more regular at getting into the Sierra and then posting. Nevertheless, owing to the fires and weird monsoonal moisture the last few years, there's not been much to "boast" about regarding the trips I've taken, but the recent loop through "the Bears" was as good as it gets. I hope to get a TR posted at some point. But, as for cairns, I think that there is a part of the human brain that feels compelled to erect these structures (think Stonehenge), yet I occasionally share the urge to destroy as many as I can. And, I am most thrilled when I do get to areas that have few cairns (either because the cairn obsessed never get there, or because some equally obsessed person destroyed them all). Still, in spite of my mixed feelings, I was pretty bemused by the structures in Vee Lake, if only because it took a lot more effort to get it done than your "average" cairn. If it had been purple paint, I'd be decidedly less bemused....
Cameron
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Re: Cairns in Vee Lake

Postby Hobbes » Mon Oct 03, 2016 9:16 am

Maybe it was the Sausalito rock artist?

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Re: Cairns in Vee Lake

Postby FeetFirst » Mon Oct 03, 2016 9:35 am

Probably a pack raft. There are now some decent options in the 1.5 pound grapefruit size range. For example, Supai Adventure Gear Canyon Flatwater Boat.
I'm still rather convinced that you can achieve more than you've ever dreamed of if you just lower your standards.
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Re: Cairns in Vee Lake

Postby druid » Mon Oct 03, 2016 9:03 pm

We were eating lunch by Vee Lake in late July this year when a gust blew a salami wrapper into the lake. It bugged me enough that I decided to retrieve it. My daughter captured the moment for posterity (or perhaps for posteriority). It was chilly but I think a good swimmer with a little cold water experience wouldn't have had much trouble making it to the island. We didn't notice any cairns when we were there.
IMG_4728.jpg
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