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Bowregard
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Joined: 05 Feb 2019
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Bowregard
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PostMon Sep 13, 2021 4:14 pm 
How common is the term "ducks" used to describe rock pile trail markers? and are "ducks" distinguished from "cairns" by size in practice?"

Last weekend I overheard a hiker refer to the pile of rocks trail marker to Dirty Harry's Balcony as a "Duck" (at least based on the context that was what I took it to be). I had never heard the term used that way before. To me ducks swim on a pond or are heavy drafting board weights used to hold a spline (that probably only rings a bell to engineers over fifty). I consulted my friend Google who found some references to ducks being a small pile of rocks (usually 3) often with the top rock elongated and pointing in a direction to indicate a trail or point of interest. The reference went on to say that larger piles of rocks are called "cairns".

Cairns is the only term I have ever heard or used for navigational rock piles. Is "duck" a term most hikers know or is it just an obscure reference that is out of date? And if you use it do you also use cairn with ducks being smaller?

Inquiring minds want to know...

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GaliWalker
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Joined: 10 Dec 2007
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GaliWalker
Have camera will use
PostMon Sep 13, 2021 5:31 pm 
I could be wrong but my understanding was that a duck refers to a small cairn, maybe just two or three rocks. The first time I heard about the term was in one of the old Hundred Hikes books, “ducks point the way.” I don’t know whether a duck is supposed to be a temporary or less obtrusive cairn. I’m sure others here would know.

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'Gali'Walker => 'Mountain-pass' walker
bobbi: "...don't you ever forget your camera!"
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Pyrites
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Pyrites
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PostTue Sep 14, 2021 12:52 am 
Why does this feel like one of those late summer, off trail hikes and you’ve just stepped on the yellowjacket nest, and the yellowjackets are angry, but not really sure why, you’ve only been stung once and you’re leaning and pushing to run, but aren’t moving yet.

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Keep Calm and Carry On?
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Stay Excited and Get Outside!

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