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Oxymoron of the Day: Permanent Cairn

While hiking in Canyonlands today,I encountered an oddity: permanent cairns. If you have no idea what I might mean, look at the photo now. Go on - I'll wait.

Cairns are those stacks of rocks one finds which mark trails. Sometimes they mark other things instead, like a cool spot, but mostly, they mark trails. Well meaning fellow hikers stack the rocks to help people maintain their bearings. It's a good thing signifying empathy and team spirit. We're all in this together.

But a key aspect of the humble cairn is that it is ephemeral. In it's ad hoc construction there is a timeless expiration to it. It will fall over, one way or another eventually, as all things do. In it's structure is a nobility of purpose, but in it's frailty, a humble acknowledgement of mortality.

That's why these things (pictured) while born of well meaning, are just a little odious and clueless - that is, those who made them.

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