People Are Debating Whether Cairns Should Be Toppled Over or Left Standing

There is a big debate in the world of hiking regarding cairns. Those are stacked rocks that are a mark of human activities, and backpackers have different opinions regarding making those and leaving them untouched in the wild. Some have taken the stance that cairns should be knocked down because they disturb wildlife.

Should People Make Cairns?

People Are Debating Whether Cairns Should Be Toppled or Left Standing
Should People Make Cairns?

The National Park Service has found itself at the center of the controversy surrounding cairns, as staff at Yosemite National Park shared a video of a volunteer toppling a tall cairn and encouraging visitors to do the same. The park’s stance was rooted in Leave No Trace ethics, emphasizing the importance of minimizing human impact on wilderness areas.

The Leave No Trace stance of Yosemite National Park was met with mixed reactions because while it discouraged cairn-building to preserve the natural environment and its inhabitants, other parks like Arches and Canyonlands National Parks believed differently. They asserted that cairns were necessary trail markers in their terrains.

For hikers navigating through challenging and unsigned rocky areas, cairns often provide essential guidance and prevent getting lost. They are especially effective in areas with challenging terrains and limited signage, like in those two parks. Cairns serve as trail markers, guiding hikers along a specific path and indicating the correct route to follow. In remote or poorly marked regions, where traditional trail markers are scarce, cairns can even be invaluable in helping hikers navigate the landscape.

Cairns Can Serve as Land Markers

Cairns Can Serve as Land Markers

To help travelers make informed decisions, several guidelines were proposed. First and foremost, seek advice from park rangers or local experts before tampering with cairns. They possess valuable insights into whether a particular cairn serves as a navigational aid or simply an artistic endeavor. Second, it is universally agreed upon that hikers should refrain from creating new cairns. Disrupting these stacks can harm various wildlife species seeking refuge beneath the stones.

In determining whether to knock down a cairn, the key lies in assessing its context. If an area is laden with numerous stacks, serving no practical navigational purpose, it is generally safe to dismantle them. On the other hand, if the cairns appear to form a clear trail or path, it is wise to leave them intact.

Cairns Can Serve as Land Markers

While the cairn debate may have sparked conflicts between factions, the essence of the issue revolves around understanding the situation and acting responsibly. Cairns can be beneficial in certain landscapes, yet they can also become detrimental when created haphazardly. By embracing respectful and informed hiking practices, adventurers can preserve the harmony between nature and human recreation in our cherished national parks.

Some Indoor Wood-Burning Fireplace Safety Tips for Beginners

Cozy wood-burning fireplaces can add a touch of ambiance and warmth to your home, but it’s important to remember that they can also be dangerous. Heating equipment is one of the leading causes of fires in American households. To ensure the safety of an indoor wood-burning fireplace, here are a few helpful tips.

Fireplace Safety Tips

People enjoying a fireplace

To ensure the safety of an indoor wood-burning fireplace, it is a good idea to have both the fireplace and the chimney professionally inspected regularly. This is an important part of proper fireplace maintenance and can help prevent house fires caused by chimney defects or excessive soot buildup. The cost of a chimney sweep inspection is a small price to pay for the peace of mind and protection it offers. Remember, when there is a fire, there is always a small amount of soot that accumulates in the chimney. If the wood that has a high moisture content burns frequently, there will be more soot produced because the fire does not burn as hot, allowing more soot to rise to the chimney and accumulate. This buildup can potentially catch fire and cause a dangerous chimney fire.

The Chimney Is Also Important

Example of fireplace protection gear

Another essential thing to keep in mind is to make sure your carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly. If the flue accidentally closes while the fire is dying down and using up the oxygen in the house, the carbon monoxide detector will alert you to the danger. It is also a good idea to use a screen in front of the fireplace, particularly when the room is unoccupied. If you do choose to remove the screen while someone is in the room, it is important to be aware of the potential risks.

Fresh, dry wood

To keep the indoor wood-burning fireplace safe, it is important to use kiln-dried or fresh, dry wood. Wet or rotted wood can contain pockets of moisture that can explode when burned, sending hot pieces of wood flying into the room. Before starting a fire, a double check that the flue is fully open is also necessary. If the flue is not open when the fire is hot and blazing, it can be difficult to open it, potentially resulting in a roaring fire with smoke and flames entering the room.

Using a high-quality grate or fireplace andirons is important for safety. These items help prevent logs from rolling out of the fireplace and causing a potential hazard. Low-quality grates can melt and droop over time, allowing logs to roll off the front. Andirons, which are a pair of solid bracket supports, can be used to securely hold logs in place in an open fireplace.